tray with candle, matchbox, potted plant

Anyone else been thinking of revamping their homes?

You too, huh?

More than a year of mostly staying home has got us all looking around the rooms in our house in despair.

Why is there so much clutter?

Why does this table feel too big for this space?

Why does this room feel so heavy?

How come I keep bumping into my sofa?

…and so on and so forth. I hear ya. All of it. And I’m not ashamed to say it, even when I do home revamps and remodels for a living. 

The home is no longer my happy place. 

rattan bed with neutral beddings
Photo from Styled Stock Society

Our homes used to be our escape from everyday worries. It used to be our safe space, our happy place.

But when you’re stuck in it 24/7, it also becomes your work place, your vacation destination, your go-to family restaurant, your Starbucks….

I know that being at home has somewhat made you give up trying to make it look and feel better. There’s just too many things one needs to worry about. Fixing up one’s home falls far below Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. 

You think, “I’m already incredibly stressed at work to the point of burnout, am I supposed to think of my home still?” I think these same thoughts, and it’s been somewhat an existential dilemma for me, Gal at Home, homestylist and design professional.   

Why revamping your home affects you more than you know

home decor items bowl of fruit and books
Photo from Styled Stock Society

But after digging deep into my thoughts—and a couple sessions with a psychologist, and separately with a hypnotist—I realized that part of the reason I have also been feeling hopeless and dejected is because I wasn’t making an effort on that one place that I love the most: our house. 

There’s this really interesting statement I stumbled upon from an article I read in The Atlantic by Julie Beck, and it goes:

A home is not just where you are, it’s who you are.

Julie Beck

That resonated with me so much. Because now, when home is the only place we can stay in or go to, it really does become a reflection of yourself. 

I mentioned earlier that I had been so burnt out. My own thoughts and emotions had been spiraling downward into anxiety and depression, and my house pretty much reflected this. I hadn’t been taking care of myself, and our house deteriorated along with me.

So I’ve come to a decision to start working on myself. Small steps, my psychologist said. Small steps that could hopefully turn into positive habits. 

And part of that decision is to also refresh my home in small, doable steps. You know, without adding any more to our mental, emotional, psychological anguish. 

Home refresh in itty, bitty steps

White bed with decor
Photo from Styled Stock Society

So I listed them down below in the hopes that, perhaps, they might help you too. They’re already things we’ve known for years, but maybe because of everything that has happened, they don’t cross our minds. 

Just remember the saying, “moving forward is a pace.” If you just do 1 or 2 of the suggestions below every day until it eventually becomes a habit, then that’s more than enough. 

Once these do become habit-forming, then maybe sometime in the future, you will find yourselves ready to take it to the next level: Upgrade window treatments? Repair walls with peeling paint? Who knows?

1. Put things back where they belong

Gray cup on desk
Photo from Styled Stock Society

I can hear your inward groan, dear reader. “This is something my mom used to say all the time!” Yes, and now, your mom is me, and I’m telling ya, this small task creates a big impact.

It’s really as simple as just bringing back your unwashed cup of coffee to the kitchen sink. Placing your pens back in the pen stand. Fold and tuck away your laptop in a drawer after work. Return the book you finished back on the shelf. Put your used socks in the d*mn hamper, man. 

Letting these items pile up in a place they don’t really belong in makes it harder for you to:

  1. Find them later when you need them, and 
  2. Clean up when all the mess has accumulated.

So make it easier for your future self. It only takes two seconds—okay, fine, two minutes—to put things back where they belong. And do it with a smile 🙂 Your mom would be so proud!

2. Do a 15-minute room sweep.

woman putting back bowls in cabinet
Photo by Rodnae

This is somehow related to Tip #1. If you had 15 minutes to spare answering back to that troll on Facebook, then you have 15 minutes to go around at least one room in your house (let’s say, the living area), and see if there is anything in there that is out of place. 

Just go around, pick up those things, and bring them to their proper homes. 

That half-filled glass on the shelf. Those unopened bills on the coffee table. Your exercise band. Your phone charger. 

The key here is to keep unrelated things from accumulating in a room or area, as these only add to the visual chaos that greatly affects your mood and temperament. 

(This is also why I feel the Konmari method of tidying up, “woowoo” as it may seem to a lot of people, because when you are surrounded by only the things that spark joy for you, then you are able to easily find a spot for everything that you own. But that is an entirely different blog post altogether.)(Oh, and more on this later.)

3. Fix your bed every morning. 

Man fixing pillows on bed

Did you know that fixing your bed yourself every morning significantly impacts your brain? I didn’t know that either. But here’s what Psychology Today has to say about it:

In a survey of 68,000 people by Hunch.com….71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy. Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired. All in all, bed makers are happier and more successful than their rumple-sheeted peers.

Judy Dutton, Psychology Today

Of course, a survey doesn’t really paint the entire picture, but because I have also not been making our bed every morning, these words made me wince: “Non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired.” They definitely rang true for me.

There’s only one way to find out if making our beds will indeed make us happier and more successful. Try it for a week and see what kind of effect it has on you. I’m on Day 3 and I sure feel much more accomplished at the start of my day.

4. “Pack up” your desk at the end of the work day.

Neat and neutral brown office
Photo by Toto Labrado

This is something that I used to do only until recently. I’ve been working from home since 2015, so I made it a point to always have that “punch out my timecard” feel when I finish. This signals to your brain that you’re ready to rest, and reset.

  • Shut down the computer (don’t just let it sleep. Computers need to rest, too).
  • At the very least, organize your papers. Or if you end up working late, put them all in one neat pile to the side of your desk (or an in-out tray). 
  • Return all office supplies to their proper containers. If you don’t have containers for them, then now is the best time to put them on your desk. Any cylindrical container or mug can be used as a pen stand, and where you can also gather scissors and rulers. Repurpose those (cleaned) plastic takeout bins for smaller office supplies like paper clips, erasers, push pins. 
  • Don’t forget to turn off the printer! (I’ve been guilty of this too)

5. Make small uplifting arrangements in spots that immediately catch your attention. 

Potted plant in corner
Photo from Styled Stock Society

When you have the time and the strength to do so, see if you can prettify any spot that your eye immediately falls on when you enter a room. 

In our bedroom, it’s my bedside. So it cheers me up whenever I fix it up with my stack of books and a faux flower. 

Or if there’s a wide empty corner next to your buffet, how about placing a potted plant in there? Real or faux, doesn’t matter, nobody’s judging.

Here’s another example: Sunday is our “no cooking day”. Because I didn’t spend my energy cooking in the kitchen, I try to arrange our table in a more “special” way than usual. I bring out a colorful table runner, and use our “for-parties-only” plateware. If I’m up to it, I cut some stems from our overgrown plants on our roof deck garden and put them in a vase. It’s a simple, no-frills tweak to an otherwise ordinary meal. 

Just those little vignettes that help cheer you up, over time, can do so much. 

Next level steps to home upgrades

Now that you’ve done those small tasks that will definitely add up and improve your home environment, here’s what you can do next if you feel refreshed and reenergized to take on more.

6. Plan out your goals for your home. 

Home goals planner cover image

Here’s a little tool I made last year that can be very useful in helping you organize your thoughts and ideas for your home. 

This document lets you do a brain dump of all your wants and needs for your house. In order for you to trim down your list so you can take on your home revamp in smaller phases, you may follow my simple rubric for calculating (yuh, there’s a little arithmetic involved!) which items you can prioritize this year, and which ones you can delay for a later time. 

Download the Home Goals Planner below: 

7. Have more time on your hands? Try a pared down Konmari session.

Stack of folded clothes on bed
Photo from Styled Stock Society

Just a disclaimer, I’m no Konmari expert. But I have taken a seminar on the popular method of tidying under Christine Dychiao, the Philippines’ first certified Konmari consultant. In fact, I have a module in my online homestyling course called “Refresh Your Home on a Tiny (or Zero!) Budget” where Christine herself teaches how to do the Konmari method in your home.

If you want to Konmari minus the fear of decluttering, just set aside three hours in a day to tackle one of the categories of your belongings. More importantly, you have to follow it in the order below:

  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Papers
  • “Komono” – basically a collection of various objects that fall under many different subcategories; kitchen tools and accessories fall under this category
  • Sentimental items

If you’ve ever seen the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, then you know that Konmari-ing won’t take you a few hours—sometimes it takes days, weeks, even months and years. It all depends on how willing and committed you are to doing this to better your life.

The key is to take it step by step. Tackle one category for three hours on, say, a Saturday. Once you’ve tackled several categories in their very specific order above, you’ll later find that thanking and letting go of things that no longer spark joy for you becomes so much easier.

Revamp your home without adding to your anxiety

fixing flowers on shelf
Hi! It me.

These are just some small steps that will, when done over a certain period of time, may hopefully become less of a chore, and more automatic. It’s a lot like trying to form a good habit in place of a bad one. You know it’s for your own good, and you know it will be for the best. I myself am also training myself to do all these itty bitty tasks. Slowly, I can feel them improving my disposition, easing my anxieties.

Want to take things further and learn more homestyling secrets from me? I teach everything I know about interior styling in my online homestyling course called “Refresh Your Home on a Tiny (or Zero!) Budget“. And it’s currently at 40% off (only until September 15th, 2021)! If you haven’t enrolled yet and are keen to check it out, click the button below! I teach very specific home styling tips and techniques that you can easily apply to your own home. Hope to see you in the course!