Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Cleaning Part 1: The Mess

This series of posts is not for the faint of heart.  You will be shocked.  Neat freaks and germophobes beware.  We may be the messiest couple on the planet.  They should make a TLC reality show about our apartment.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  

Mudhole?  Slimy?  My home this is! (skip to 1:50)

When my boyfriend and I first started dating, he thought it would be fun to tell each other all of the things that the other person might hate about us -- to get it out on the table right away.  First on his list: "I'm really messy and decoratorally challenged (and I make up words)."  That turned out not to be a point of conflict at all because I'm equally messy (and also frequently make up words)!  While we are both responsible adults who go to work every day, pay bills on time, cook for ourselves, avoid spending money frivolously, and so on, neither one of us is a "type A" personality.  We seem to have trouble cleaning up after ourselves right away, so by the end of the week, the mess can be somewhat overwhelming.  On the other hand, we are both homebodies who would rather make a nice dinner and watch TV than go out to a bar.  But the more time I spend at home, the more I wish it would look like a home (rather than looking like someone's junk-filled basement).  Last week, we helped one of our neighbors carry some shelves up to her apartment and I marveled at her pretty curtains, painted walls and plush rug, saying, "Oh wow, I didn't realize these apartments could actually look nice."  There are even several studies that link messy, cluttered environments to increased stress and belly fat.  Well, I've had enough!  This calls for a major "spring cleaning"

One of our biggest problems is that we have too much stuff and not enough places to put it all.  We are both avid readers and we both like to collect things, but all of our shelves are full, so stuff just kind of accumulates on every surface around the apartment.
Here, we have a side table in the living room full of books, important papers (including a parking ticket!), magazine pages I want to save, and a random toy gun I bought for him at the dollar store on the boardwalk last summer.  In the middle is our dining room/office/junk room which is full of all the stuff we don't know where to put anywhere else: cat stuff, an ironing board, music recording equipment, his old couch (standing on its side), and a desk that has become a big "deal with it later" pile.  Better view of the desk on the far right.  There's a computer under there somewhere.
My plan for dealing with this clutter is to first sort through it all; I may find that if it's actually somewhat organized, then we might have space for more of it than I thought.  Next would be to throw away anything we don't need or to put it in a box in one of the closets.  Which brings me to our next biggest problem...

This is our bedroom closet (left) and office/dining room closet (right).  The boyfriend has been using these as places to throw things he doesn't want to see since before I moved in and I've been afraid to open them the whole time I've lived here.  Both are filled halfway to the ceiling with dirty clothes and/or junk.  I don't want to touch anything in the office closet because some of it might be important, but I'm inclined to just throw away everything in the bedroom closet.  Most of it has been in there for a year and he doesn't even know these clothes exist anymore.  Anything that looks too nice to throw away, I might have to wash two or three times to get the musty smell off of them.  Once this closet has been cleaned and aired out, I might finally have a place to put my clothes.  In case you couldn't tell where I was going with this, our third biggest problem is that when I moved in, I brought a lot of clothes with me.  I have been sharing some of his dresser drawers, shoving clothes onto small shelves that I think were intended as a cupboard, or living out of laundry baskets.  I finally bought myself a dresser yesterday, but that was only enough space for one of the three baskets full of clothes in our bedroom right now.  Cleaning out this closet will take care of a lot of clutter, so it's a major priority.

Once the apartment is clean, then I can focus on the aesthetic side of our apartment.  We have a lot of fun things to display: oddities, masks, autographed photos, collectible toys, artwork, etc.  I think the place would feel more like a home if these things were hung up on the wall or given a designated shelf so that we can see them all the time.  We also have a lot of souvenirs we've brought home from our various adventures.  Making these things visible around our home -- instead of shoved into a corner or tossed on a desk -- would be a constant reminder of the fun experiences we've had.

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