So as the long British winter slowly thaws to a slushy close, it’s time to think about that major spring clean or – to give it a slightly more fashionable twist – the Domestic Detox.
The Domestic Detox is a must if you’re about to sell your home ( because by the end of it you’ll have lot less stuff to move ) but also good at any time. Remember your house is not just a cash cow – it’s also a comfort zone.
For most of us, our houses or flats are so familiar to us that we cease to notice them. We develop a blindspot to their failings. And en masse all those little unnoticed failings add up to a big toxic ball of bad energy.
That cupboard in the hall that is full to the gunnels with unsorted photos, old bank statements and 7 years phone books sits there silently screaming “clean me!” each time you come in the front door
The bedroom wardrobe bursts open as it always does and a dozen pairs of shoes tumble out and your coat falls off the hangar because it’s just too full.
The cooker in the kitchen is sulking because it’s so overdue a clean and each time you move past it you feel guilty.
Those armchairs you inherited from your grandma make the sitting room feel a little cramped. And everytime you get up from the sofa youbang your shin on the glass-topped table infront of it.
Walking round your property becomes an unconsciously depressing experience…
..but don’t be down. Do the domestic detox and make your home zing with energy.
It’s by clearing away all these tiny but cumulatively devastating annoyances that you make your home wholesome again. There are really 4 stages.
Clear, Clean, Reconsider and Cultivate.
CLEAR: This is the most satisfying and most revolutionary. I defy anyone to have a good clear-out and not feel better afterwards.
Start with those bulging cupboards and drawers around the house. Be ruthless and bin anything you haven’t used in the last 6 months. This includes unnecessary paperwork, out of date documents, photos that make you feel depressed, letters that do the same. Clear it all out. Once you’ve emptied one shelf/drawer/cupboard you’ll have space to empty out the next.
Tackle your clothes. There’s a charity shop five minutes from most people desperate for good quality contributions. Believe me, having a wardrobe with just 15 quality items makes every morning a treat. You don’t agonize about what to wear, you don’t feel guilty about those trousers that are too tight or that suit that cost a fortune but makes you looks ridiculous. It will be one of the best benefits of detoxing.
CLEAN: This is self-evident and as every visiting mother will tell you – clean cupboards means a clean conscience. The joys of knowing a kitchen cupboard is sweet-smelling and free of alarming sticky patches will lift your spirits each time you open it. That’s well worth half and hour’s grumpy scrubbing.
Buff up the bathroom. Do the hoovering and use all the nozzles. Clean your windows. (The more clean sunshine comes through those windows the brighter you feel.) Take all those odd items to the dry cleaners. You know what to do, for heavens sake. Just do it.
RECONSIDER: Now the place is thinned out and shiny clean, time to put your feet up and have a cup of tea. Consider the layout of your home, try and analyse what it is that annoys you.
A good place to start is with lighting. Do the lights you have illuminate the right spots? Where do you sit to read – is there a suitable lamp? The kitchen should be bright with all the worksurfaces well-lit. You should have good light over the bathroom mirror for shaving and makeup. It might sound obvious but I bet there are a few spots in your home that are too dim or uglily bright.
Furniture is another major consideration. If you have too much stuff in your home think about losing some big pieces. Inherited furniture often doesn’t sit well in it’s new surroundings – sell it on or donate it elsewhere. It’s a big wrench separating from expensive items of furniture… but if sofas and beds and archairs don’t make you feel totally comfortable, then they’re not doing their job.
Sometimes what’s needed is a new layout. If a coffee table always hits your kneecap then it’s in the wrong place. Think about how you move around the house and reposition stuff accordingly.
Finally in this section: consider all the minor irritations that add up in your home. The banging front door, the broken handle, the leaking shower, the cluttered cupboard under the stairs. If your ironing board falls on your head every time you get the hoover – then sort it out! Mend things, do little odd jobs, eliminated minor irritations. Together they can ruin your home’s harmony.
Finally, CULTIVATE. This is the creative bit. Essentially the first three stages have been stripping away all the accumulated toxins that accumulate in homes over time. Now you’ve got a clean, sparkling slate, you need to add some wholesome features.
Remember your home is a little factory of moods. You come in tired from work and you want your home to regenerate your state of mind.
Smell’s an easy one to crack. We’ve all experimented with essential oils and incense sticks… But colour is also important.
On House Doctor we’re always encouraging to go for neutral colours – but that’s because we’re thinking about selling the property. When you’re living there, I think you should chose colours that you like. There are countless books and theories about which colours do what – but in the end if the colour makes you feel positive, chose it. You don’t have to do a whole room in your favorite shade of lilac – a feature wall is often enough to bring in the chromatic feel.
Paying attention to daily rituals is also important.
Make your cooking and eating time more considered. Matching quality bowls and plates. A table mat, a napkin – even if you’re eating alone. Use fresh, new bed linen and I bet you’ll sleep more soundly. Buy new soft towels if you can afford them. Pay a little extra for quality soaps or shampoos. Beautiful daily details make for a beautiful day.
Buy yourself fresh flowers.
When you’re all finished you should be bouncing off the walls with positive energy. Every evening stepping in through your front door should make you glow with pleasure. That’s what makes a house a home.
Good luck detoxing. It’s worth the effort.