Saying Goodbye to Old Friends

kimberlyWith the changing of the seasons comes the perfect time to declutter, purge, deep clean and say out with the old, in with the new! But when was the last time you actually dove into your closet, your home or your garage and took a good long inventory of what exactly you were using and what was just taking up space?

The art of decluttering our lives seems like an ordinarily easy task from a ‘things acquired’ perspective. But have you honestly really tried it lately?

When moving from my large 3-story home to my tiny little apartment, a friend told me about a book by Marie Kondo on tidying up your life.

The philosophy is simple: touch each thing and ask yourself ‘does it bring me joy’? If so, place in one pile, if not – out to the dumpster it goes.

So I sat upon the task of starting with my wardrobe, since Marie recommends tackling categories in your home one at a time.

As I pulled clothes from the shelves that I hadn’t seen, let alone worn in years, some still with tags on them, I realized I had my work cut out for me.

First task-anything with a tag was bagged for Good Will. I figured if I hadn’t worn it yet, it wasn’t important. Were those clothes bringing me joy? I didn’t even know they were there – seems easy enough, right?!

Next came the varying size chart of my hanging clothes-I seriously could have opened a ladies clothing store! I had garments ranging from Size 2-Size 14 and everywhere in between…yet I still stressed about ‘not having anything to wear’! So what to do? My heart said keep the clothes cuz ‘when you finally lose the weight you’ll have stuff to wear.’ My head said ‘IF and WHEN you lose the weight, you’ll want to reward yourself with something new NOT something that’s been sitting in a closet for several years and probably out of style anyway’.  Was looking at all those clothes and feeling sorry for myself about my current weight bringing me joy? Absolutely not !! Fifteen-some odd garbage bags later, I delivered those clothes to several women’s group and shelters. NOW I was beginning to be filled with joy!!

Hardest part? Walking down Nostalgia Row. Opening boxes that I hadn’t looked through in years took me down a slippery slope and had the potential to derail my declutter train. But I took Marie’s advice-if you haven’t needed, wanted, missed or been curious about what was in those boxes for at least a year-don’t even open them-get rid of them immediately! And bam-that dumpster was filled to the brim in less than 2 days!

I continued this joyful movement throughout my entire house and, man, did it feel good! My new place is very small and very minimalist by design. But I can honestly say I’ve surrounded myself by only the things that I truly love and that I can use and appreciate everyday.  It’s a very freeing feeling!! Whattaya think? Feel like finding some JOY today? xx

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Blood, Sweat & Years

Rightfully or wrongfully, I’m just gonna start this entry by saying that the signs of the Zodiac are seldom wrong. In fact, the sign Brian blog 2 1crabunder which I was born, Cancer, could not be more spot on. Cancerians value family, love and not the least of which, their home and surroundings. In our homes, we find expression, peace and, when necessary, escape from all those other Zodiac signs that can drive us nuts.

I have to admit I never really got how much I appreciate creating a home until I was in a place long enough to invest in one. Up until 12 years ago I was always on the move, from college to grad school, to jobs in marketing, entertainment news and then to home shopping. It seemed that I was in a different city every couple of years.   It didn’t make sense to paint walls, much less buy a home.

Finally, upon moving to Minneapolis 12 year ago, I knew it was time to settle in. Designing and decorating my first home was fun, easy and in no time it was complete. I thought it was nice, but when local publications were asking for interviews and photo ops, I felt a sense of possibility in the air.

Brian blog 2 2BAgarden

It was around the time when friends like Wendi Russo and others were telling me to sell and create a new home, that I went to Lowes Hardware to buy the necessary items to add some much needed extra storage in my garage. No sooner had I put all the materials in my car and I said to myself “Forget it. I’m going to move.” It wasn’t so much that I needed extra storage, but that my heart was saying there is more of you to express and more ideas you have to create.

Which leads me to the Blood, Sweat and Years.

After days of looking at over 700 homes online in my price range, I found my Grey Gardens Home in Minnetonka and didn’t look beyond it. It was love at first sight.

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I kept it a secret from almost everyone, including my family. Only my agent, broker and financial advisor were in the know. The house needed so much work that I didn’t want friends and family calling me crazy.

Brian blog 2 4BAstair

Then it was love at first fright. The day of the home inspection it was raining and dripping inside several areas of the house.   (Luckily, that brought the sale price down considerably!) Nothing a new roof wouldn’t fix. Then, the day after I closed, my dog Molly discovered a family of raccoons under the back porch. Nothing a frantic call to a local pest control wouldn’t fix. Cha-Ching! And so many other ‘Discoveries’ both large and small on top of the inspector’s finds that I accepted with large exhales. Like needing a jack hammer to remove kitchen tile set in over an inch of cement (Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching) and chewed wires in the floor (Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching, Chaaaaa-Chinggggg!).

Brian blog 2 5BA kitchen

 

 

Brian blog 2 6NicoleDid I have help with the construction? I certainly did. Did I do any of the work? You bet. All the redesign and any stripping, sanding, painting and landscaping where I could save myself some cash. Did I eat a lot of dust ? Absolutely, for breakfast, lunch & dinner! Was it uncomfortable at times? YES! At one point I had the refrigerator in the dining room, the coffee pot and microwave in the powder room, and only the working sink in the laundry room. And that was just one room of 4 that were out of commission at the same time. But I would do it all over again. Yes, let me repeat: I would do it all over again. Just in a different house that needs a whole lot of love.

Brian blog 2 7 BAliving

Seeing potential in homes and creating beautiful, inviting spaces for living and entertaining are some of the gifts God has given me. And being able to see what’s possible in homes other people would reject is so incredibly satisfying to me. (My house was on the market for two years before I came along.) Shopping for materials, finding amazing fixtures and decorating the spaces all bring me incredible joy. And knowing where and how to find all of the materials and furnishings at such huge discounts is a resourcefulness I value in myself as I am not one to ever pay full price. More like 40-80% off retail. And I’m talking for both the materials and the home.

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To say which room brings me the most joy would be hard. I took on every space in this home over the last six years with a lot of passion.

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Of course there are a couple more designs I am currently working to incorporate. But then what? Like the sand crab, is it time for me to find a new shell?

So many of you have been so supportive of my projects.   And some of you have even let me help you with yours. Know that any tips I’ve learned over the years are yours for the asking. Write me for any ideas you may want to add to your list of considerations. If you find it really helpful, then I will invoice you for a nickel.   Let’s learn from each other to make our nests (and shells) the best they can be.

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