REFRESH and RECHARGE this SPRING
Cabin fever got you restless? It's probably time to freshen up!
Periodic home maintenance is important, and while some things (like dusting) are worth doing weekly, there are other things we should do on a more periodic or seasonal basis to make for better living.
As a real estate broker it's my job year-round to bring the home-life equivalent of the "new car smell" to my clients, and over the years I've cultivated some Best Practices I'll share with you today.
These tips will help bring new life to your place, whether you're currently in the market or not!
Here are five of the greatest hits from my Spring Refresh regimen:
FRESHEN THE WINDOWS
This is a “Must Do” for anyone who is about to sell an apartment, and a “Should Do” (seasonally) just in general. Get that winter coating off the windows and refresh your sun rays!
New York has gotten cleaner and cleaner but still, despite continual environmental improvements, our windows are bombarded with various elements all four seasons of the year. The dust, dirt, and grit build up imperceptibly over time on the inside and outside of our window panes. We often don’t even realize how dirty they have truly become until we see them clean again!
Natural light is a valuable commodity in New York that is often scarce even in the nicest apartments. Dirty windows diminish what natural light we already get, and increase ambient stress levels just like grayed, dusty furniture.
While there is certainly something to be said for the therapeutic value of performing our own maintenance, I like to provide referrals for those clients of mine who would prefer to outsource the labor for high quality results.
For my own windows, I’m a fan of Condor's Window Cleaning, based out of Queens. They’re local, professional, efficient, and deliver quality results. It’s worth it to have them do your windows, especially if you’re about to list your apartment for sale.
Every new listing of mine receives the offer complimentary professionally cleaned windows if needed. When the windows are sparkling, offers come in...
REFRESH YOUR CLOSET
Once a season make a point of separating the wheat from the chaff inside your closet. It's time to re-charge your mornings and start to re-fresh as your wardrobe!
Retail therapy is a real thing. The part Madison Avenue doesn’t tell us about, though, is that a bulging closet full of clothing we rarely wear is the perfect recipe for decision fatigue first thing in the morning every day. We also run out of space for new acquisitions! Moreover, people who will appreciate your under-used belongings don't have the chance to appreciate them.
The common experience is, we tend to buy new items, wear them once, twice, a few times, and store them away to collect dust. In fact, people on average wear about 20% of their wardrobe. (See the Wall Street Journal’s article, “A Closet Filled with Regrets” from April 17, 2013)
After a while, the overwhelming amount of clothing we can’t bring ourselves to wear regularly creates enough negative feelings (a la: guilt over splurging on items we don’t wear, or stress from not being able to neatly store or retrieve the items we do wear) that it becomes worth it to cull out what we want to keep and what to get rid of.
Here’s the process:
- Remove every item from the offending closet, drawer, or cabinet
- Re-stock with every item in your regular rotation for whatever season
- Package whatever you rarely wear into bags or boxes, especially the stuff you forgot you had or can’t remember the last time you wore it
- Bring it to Housing Works (my absolute favorite) or your preferred neighborhood thrift shop (or sell it to a place like Buffalo Exchange) immediately
Points of caution:
- Don’t procrastinate on getting rid of the stuff you’ve sorted out - it’s totally normal and natural for us to bond with our purchases, and the trick is to clean house in one swift action before we can second-guess ourselves into keeping things we really ought to get rid of.
- Your friend/brother/daughter/house pet probably won’t take your hand-me-downs if they aren’t motivated enough to help you clean your closet. Give them first dibs, maybe, but don’t hold your breath or you’ll risk staying cluttered forever!
- A spouse can be of great assistance as a neutral third party that can remove some emotionality from the equation. This process is best conducted out of logic and reason because our enemy is the attachment we have to objects that have ceased truly serving us.
- That threadbare tee shirt you got from Bergdorf’s in 2006 isn’t worth $250 any more. Chuck it.
- That designer bag you bought for an undisclosed sum 3 years ago (and used exactly once) probably still has some resale value - get rid of it and get some room in your life for something new (again, Buffalo Exchange).
The simple fact, though, is that reducing our closets to the minimums of what we actually wear creates room for growth, and by extension a sense of hope for a prosperous future.
DE-CLUTTER THE PANTRY
Apply the principles above to your pantry the same as to your drawers and closets.
It makes me immediately happy when reaching for my can of Designer Whey Vanilla Almond protein powder and my 8 bottles of balsamic vinegar stare happily back at me like soldiers at attention.
Most people do this somewhat regularly with expired food in the fridge, but dry goods taking up valuable pantry space are often overlooked. Storing these in mason jars can add a nice "pop" of color and reduce the cluttered feel of disparate packaging.
I feel that part of why the contents of many Manhattan pantries are a moot point - as in, the reason why we eat out or order in more than we cook - is the ever-present specter of decision fatigue that we get from having too many choices and too little time.
The New York work- and life-style involves constant decision-making, which taxes the brain and creates stress. Once we’re spent, we’re spent - we all have limited energy and mental resources that are typically better-spent on important decisions than on choosing which cereal (out of 10 different options) we ought to be eating for breakfast.
Applying the same steps as with re-freshing the closets (and avoiding the same pitfalls), the pantry and kitchen as a whole become more inviting spaces to use rather than avoid. And in the process, re-discovering a long-forgotten spice may inspire you to cook something interesting!
HOME COOKING WITHOUT THE HASSLES!
Last but not least, here's a way to "Spring Refresh" your diet by making it more enjoyable to prepare great meals without the stress of deliberating over recipes and shopping for groceries.
One of the biggest difficulties I find about cooking at home is that new recipes often call for ingredients I don't have, rarely use, and have trouble finding in single-use quantities. I like having variety in my diet, but once again: decision fatigue - it takes a lot of effort to settle on what to eat, then to buy the ingredients and so on, especially if I don't want to make the same old thing every time.
If you also grapple with this, a delivery service like HelloFresh could be the solution. They deliver the recipes and exactly-portioned ingredients for a menu of three new meals every week, with portions for up to four people per order.
I recommend HelloFresh because their recipes are simple, easy to cook, delicious, and easily replicable with grocery store ingredients.
Any of these services (and there are several I haven't mentioned) promise healthy eating, variety, and no excess ingredients to clutter your pantry.
use Offer code 949YKF to get $40 off your first hellofresh delivery
CLEAN THE AIR
Last but not least, I recently wrote a full-length piece on the benefits of sage smudging the air in your home. This practice is near and dear to my heart because I've found it helps so much in my own home to clear out the still air left over from winter time.
When I talk about bringing in the home-life equivalent to the "new car smell," this is the most literal way to do it. The sage smoke imparts a light and pleasant aroma throughout your space, which gives way to fresh, neutral air as the smoke particles adhere to lingering toxins.
If you're curious about this practice, I have a standing offer to come sage the air in the homes of any of my clients - past, present, or future - their friends, family, and really anyone who'll take me up on it! I find the process incredibly relaxing, and it's a meaningful experience to me when I get to share it with anyone new.
You can find more articles and tips for the Happy, Healthy Lifestyle on mikelubin.com and if you've enjoyed this, please Comment, Like, and Share!
Be kind to a stranger and have a happy, healthy week!