I really enjoy seeing all your before and after pics!  Keep ‘em coming.  Today is day three, which is part two of the living areas.  If you feel like your spring cleaning is done in this area, feel free to move on to the next phase, or you can take a day off.  However, I encourage you to really make sure you’re done in this important living space.

To answer a question from some of you that perhaps haven’t bought my e-book, Spring Cleaning for Normal People.  Yes, we’re doing more than decluttering – we’re following a basic three-step process outlined in the e-book, following a routine of decluttering, cleaning, and organizing.  We’re methodically going through different rooms in each of our homes, so that this process doesn’t overwhelm us before we’re done.  Getting specific assignments for only one section of the house is much more manageable than a huge checklist for the entire home.

So, that said, I encourage you to download the e-book, if you haven’t yet!  But you don’t have to.  You’re welcome to still join in the Spring Cleaning Party and follow your own routine.

I want to focus a little on the cleaning and organizing phase of the living room today.

Cleaning

Have you been using the homemade cleaner recipes from the e-book? If so, I’d love to hear how they’re working for you. Or if you’ve got your own unique cleaner concoction, I’d enjoy reading your recipe on your blog. Please share.

For me, cleaning is my least favorite part of this three-step process. But it’s an important one, and I find it helpful to clean when the surfaces are cleared from the first decluttering stage. It makes it so much easier.

I focus on cleaning well, but not with the unattainable goal that this is all the cleaning the room will need for awhile. I know I’ll need to clean it again soon.

I love what The Accidental Housewife said in the comments yesterday:

I know the pain of ‘re-cleaning’, I get it. But I find that once I’ve cleaned up, even if a tornado comes through right afterwards, you’re still better off than if you hadn’t cleaned at all. There is a kind of residual neatness and sanitation that remains under the mess.

Be encouraged that your work is not in vain! There is benefit to cleaning, no matter how long it lasts.

Organizing

Now, since the goal with this ten-day spring cleaning process is to declutter and purge your home of needless things, the organizing phase should be much easier than your attempts before.

My best advice is to keep like things with like, and to keep things where they’re naturally used most often. Keep games with games, books with books, and movies with movies. Keep movies near the TV, and your magazines in a basket where you like to read them.

Although we have a separate playroom for most of our kids’ toys, we keep the kids games and puzzles out in our media cabinet, since they’re played out in the living room. That way, it’s also easier to contain all those little pieces and not get them absorbed with the playroom toys.

media cabinet after

Several of our puzzles were secondhand purchases, and the boxes were in bad shape. I cut the picture from the top of the box, and put that and the puzzle pieces in a mesh bag. The company I bought the mesh bags from have since gone out of business (hence the broken link to Kids Klutter Katchers in my e-book – sorry about that), but I’ve grown to love Lara at Lazy Organizer’s Organizing Bags. I recommend using those sturdy bags for all sorts of things.

And since I detest clutter, I keep clutter-able things behind closed doors. When we’re not watching the TV, we keep our media cabinet closed. It’s much more peaceful.

media cabinet closed

Decorating

Finally, just a few thoughts about decorating (although I’ve got a post in the works full of frugal ideas for making your own easy art). If you thrive on change, make the color-specific items easy to change – like throw pillows and curtains. Keep the walls a neutral color.

I like using cloth napkins to make throw pillows for the couches, because they’re usually the right size for pillows, and they’re already neatly hemmed. For simple, lightweight curtains, I bought a set of sheets on clearance at Target, cut the flat one down the middle and hemmed it, and hung them with simple hooks.

teacups on the shelf

If you keep any collectibles, also keep like things with like. It packs more punch. White teacups and saucers are one of two things I collect, so I keep my collection above the bookshelves.

scrapbook paper artScrapbook paper makes for easy art as well, and it’s super easy to change them out of frames. It also makes for great crafting tools, and you can decopauge simple pictures or designs on canvas. Awhile ago I posted about an art idea I got from Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles. I still love doing this, and have four of these simple circle art canvases throughout the house.

The blank wall above our couch is waiting for a homemade art project in the works. We collected scads of free wooden crates, and we are disassembling the pieces to create this expensive art from Pottery Barn. If it works, I’ll include it in my series on homemade art.

empty living room wall

Today I’ll leave you with this discussion question:

What’s your style? As you’ve decluttered, cleaned, and organized, have you explored your different tastes in decor? I’m curious if you’ve enjoyed the more minimal look in your living room, with your surfaces emptier.

Get ready for tomorrow’s room – the kitchen!

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