Looking to spruce up your living space without investing a large amount of cash – or time? It may be the perfect opportunity to try out some principles of the ancient practice of feng shui – or the more modern art of decluttering.
Feng shui, which translates from the Chinese words for wind and water, entails arranging the various aspects of one’s living space to maximize harmony and balance and achieve a desired outcome such as health, prosperity or good relationships. With so many people spending most of their time at home – which in a number of cases had to double as an office – for much of the past year, it’s no wonder the 3,000-year-old practice has sparked interest, with experts even offering tips for utilizing feng shui to maximize the enjoyment of working from home.
While various elements can be incorporated depending on the goals for the space, feng shui principles generally address alignment of key pieces of furniture such as beds and desks; maintaining a clear path to the door; ensuring proper proximity of items to doors and windows; incorporating specific colors and shapes into the focus areas; letting in plenty of air and light; and keeping the home free of clutter.
The practice of decluttering has itself become somewhat of an art – and undeniably a wildly popular buzzword – in the past few years, thanks in large part to Marie Kondo and the KonMari method outlined in her 2014 book and brought to neat, tidy life on her Netflix show. More and more people have found themselves asking Kondo’s signature question, “does this item spark joy?” – particularly since the beginning of the pandemic, as people looked to boost their enjoyment of the spaces where they found themselves suddenly spending the vast majority of their time.
While some people might shudder at the thought of organizing and arranging their new living spaces to maximize form and function, there are others who absolutely relish the thought – and fortunately for those moving into Lexington Square, residency counselor Betsy Charney counts herself among them. Charney, whose degree is in interior design, said she absolutely loves helping people arrange their new homes in the vibrant retirement communities in Elmhurst and Lombard to best suit their personality and needs, and she sees her role as “being a realtor, an interior designer, and salesperson all wrapped into one.”
Decluttering may seem like a daunting task, but as with so many challenges in life, getting started is half the battle. Experts offer a variety of tips to help you dig in to tossing out – and organizing what’s left when you’re done. Here are just a few.
- Tackle one or two key areas or rooms at a time to avoid overwhelm and maintain motivation; if you want your bedroom to be a peaceful sanctuary or have in mind a more user-friendly kitchen, that might be a good place to start.
- Not everything that seems to have reached the end of its useful life in your life needs to be tossed. Consider ways to repurpose items when possible, whether that means finding a new use for it at your own home (old T-shirts can make great dust rags!), giving it to a friend or loved one, or donating it to a local charity such as Elmhurst Walk-In Ministry or Poised for Success in Lombard.
- When deciding whether to keep something, use the 90/90 rule: ask yourself if you have used an item in the past 90 days, and whether you will use it in the next 90 days (or any time span that feels right to you). You can also ask yourself whether you would buy a particular item again if offered the opportunity now.
- Here’s a fun one: pretend you’re getting ready to move and ask yourself what you would want to go to the trouble of packing to bring with you to your new place – then unpacking and finding a place for when you arrive. If it doesn’t seem worth the effort, perhaps it’s not worth holding onto.
Rearranging living spaces or plowing through clutter can not only help maximize enjoyment of your home – and make it easier to find the things you do want – it can also function as a form of self-care by fostering productivity and a feeling of accomplishment. If you haven’t tried feng shui or decluttering before, why not choose one or two rooms and give it a try? You just may be surprised by the results and want to keep on going.