Thursday, March 3, 2011

No-cost home improvement

I’ve been thinking, once more, how we all have almost limitless opportunities for useful employment at home, and for home improvement. I almost ceased writing on the subject lately because I felt it was so obvious, but as it is, there are still people who seem bent on thinking that unless you get a paycheck, you “just sit at home”.

The words “home improvement” usually bring to mind renovations or buying new furniture, and that is all undoubtedly very nice – however, we can all improve our homes without any strain on our budget. We can all clean more vigorously and put more thought and effort into our homes being neater and better arranged – I daresay no one is perfect in this regard. Nothing is so welcoming as cleanliness and lack of clutter, nor speaks so obviously of the homemaker’s pride in her home, however humble.

I’ve been in homes where furniture was sparse and the walls bare, but everything sparkling clean; and I’ve been in homes with fancy interior, but with an inch-thick layer of dust on all the expensive furniture. I found the first kind of home more welcoming, thanks to the obvious presence of a caring and devoted homemaker.

Of course, we can’t all keep perfectly clean homes, as we all have our own limitations, especially those of us who have little ones, and cookie crumbs and sticky fingers seem to get just about everywhere. But when you put an effort, it shows, and even if you can’t always keep up it is obvious that the home isn’t neglected, and you have the satisfaction of a job well done.

We’ve had a good deal of sandstorms and dusty rains here lately, and each time a layer of dust was left on the windows, and each time I cleaned (I still have to clean up after the last one). It seemed, perhaps, like futile work, but not so – cleaning was far easier since I didn’t let the dirt sink in.

To my delight, I’m discovering how a two-year-old can be pleasantly occupied by being given a dusting rag, or shown how to pull weeds, without any of it seeming like work at all. It’s so very nice to be able to convey the feeling of real usefulness to such a small child.

There are so many talents that can be pursued while making a home a more welcoming and interesting place to be. To name only a few, trying out new recipes, growing plants (whether in your garden, if you have one, or in pots), making things out of your own handiwork for decoration or for gifts. This, too, is very interesting and useful for little children to observe.

I know we all have periods of low energy and no motivation, and for such times, it’s good to keep a list of inspiring reading – books, websites, and blogs. Right now I have no internet at home, so I’m almost completely cut off from all the wonderful homemaking blogs out there, but I have the wonderful book “The Hidden Art of Homemaking”, by Edith Schaeffer, and some great quotes I printed out to keep. I highly recommend having your own notebook with inspiring quotes, which will lift you up when you don’t feel like there is a lot you can do. 


Kimberly said...

I concur. Clean and clutter free is my motto. We don't have much, but what we do have is nicely arranged and taken care of, so whenever people come to visit they compliment on my tiny apartment. The furniture doesn't even really match and I still get compliments and it's because it's clean and clutter free.

momto9 said...

No matter how old or simple a home is...if it's clean and organized it makes a world of difference!

Kate said...

Having a clean, tidy home is certainly welcoming, however, I've been complimented by people who like my "obviously lived-in" look. They say they feel more comfortable in my home than in a home that's spotless and magazine perfect. Of course, it isn't very comfy being in a dirty house, but there is a happy medium and what obviously prevails is the hospitality of the host/hostess.

Rose said...

My windows are looking a bit filmy and dusty after a dry-ish summer, the rain was north of here. You have inspired me Anna! Thinking of you and the girls and Mr T!

Shorty said...

I find interesting that everyone wants their home to look like they do in the magazines and decorating shows. Personally, I don't.

We sold our house last year, and we had to stage it. Declutter (ok, this i get, you want a clean house to show), but depersonalize. That means taking all the pictures away, put up some generic looking chachkas and throw pillows. For 9 months, our house sat, as far as i was concerned, boring.

I think when people think of redecorating their home, they should maybe look to the magazines for arranging advice, but not shy away from expressing themselves. Why put up some random print when you can frame a lovely creation by your kids?

emily rosenfeld said...

Thanks for this post! I'm curious to check out "The Hidden Art of Homemaking."

Alissa said...

I just love this post! I so often get caught up in the *stuff* I want to buy to make my home welcoming and beautiful. I forget that I can make my house a home without buying anything, and this was such a great reminder! Thank you!

carla said...

Your post on a clean but humble home reminded me of one of my favorite passages in one of Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette books. She described a very modest home that she had recently visited. The elderly person didn't have anything new or up-to-date, but it was all clean and had a simple bouquet of flowers to welcome the visitor. It sounded charming and reminded me of my husband's grandmother's house. I had many pleasant afternoons visiting her when we lived within walking distance.

This all fits perfectly with what my mother used to say: "It's what you do with what you've got that counts."

Thanks for the reminder.

Rei Khalo said...

I love toddler Cleaning :D

Anonymous said...

Hello Anna! It feels so good to make changes in our homes that don't require a major outlay of cash! And cleaning, rearranging furniture or table centerpieces can breathe new life into a tired space. I find that our harsh winters are not nearly as depressing if I put out different items for us to enjoy, & take the time to clean & tidy up.

We've had sickness's been no fun to be "under the weather". Your theme for this post also reminds me how important it is to stay on top of things while one is healthy. Knowing that things might be left for a few days, or seen to only superficially, doesn't have to mean the end of the world!


Helen P. said...

I'm not sure if there's such a thing as no cost home improvement but you can cut down on your expenses by doing it yourself. Many of my friends in townhomes for rent in Phoenix AZ have performed DIY reconstructions for their homes.