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The Naked House: Five Principles for a More Peaceful Home

The Naked House: Five Principles for a More Peaceful Home

By Mollie Player

 

Copyright © 2015 by Mollie Player

 

Shakespir edition

All rights reserved

 

Photos by Brittany Van Horne

Visit her at facebook.com/BrittanyVanHornePhotography/

 

To contact the author, subscribe to her blog or discover your next great read, visit mollieplayer.com.

 

 

Also by Mollie Player:

 

[+ You’re Getting Closer: One Year of Finding God and a Few Good Friends+]

[+ The Power of Acceptance: One Year of Mindfulness and Meditation+]

[+ The Emergency Diet: The Somewhat Hard, Very Controversial, Totally Unheard Of and Fastest Possible Way to Lose Weight+]

[+ What I Learned from Jane+]

[+ Unicorn+]

[+ Being Good+]

Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby

 

 

Chapter One: The Naked Home

h1={color:#000;}.

Your house is like a person; it has a soul

 

The other day, I read the craziest thing.

I mean, not just crazy in the metaphorical sense—really and truly crazy. Here’s the weird part, though: I actually kind of believe it.

It was in the book Zero Limits by online marketer/spirituality enthusiast Joe Vitale, and the words came from the spiritual guru who is the subject of the book. His name is Hew Len, and according to him, he has regular two-way interactions with inanimate objects.

“This room says its name is Sheila,” he says of one conference room with which he converses.

I know, I know: that’s what I thought, too. Still, it is definitely a product of my reading choices of late rather than an actual coincidence that only a few weeks before reading that story I read the book Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul by Jane Roberts, which discusses something very similar. Seth is the spirit entity channeled by the author back in the 1960’s, and the supposed true author of this and several other of Roberts’ books. I figure that anyone who lives in another plane of existence is a pretty good authority on ours, and because of that I’m tempted to believe him when he says, “There is consciousness even in a nail …”

Okay, so I get that you may not be as susceptible to superstition and mysticism as I am, and that’s fine. The point is that after reading this stuff I feel just a bit less kooky when I make the first major philosophical statement of this book, namely: your house is like a person; it has a soul.

Has anyone ever told you that, or has the thought ever crossed your mind as you sat in front of your fireplace contemplating life? If like me you love decorating, cleaning, or organizing—or you just really love your house—it very well may have, though probably in slightly different words. You thought, What a nice grandmother this old place is, or What a lovely proper lady or crazy bloke.

You have on at least one occasion given your home a personality.

And why not? Like a person, your house has a soul, and that soul can, like a good book, be a friend.

 

Your house can make you happier

 

If I were to walk through the front door of your home, whether happily or sadly or angrily or otherwise, my mood would immediately change—at least a little bit, and maybe more. Because that’s what happens to us all when we enter a new space.

We take on a little bit of its mood.

The good news is that when it comes to our own homes, we are responsible for choosing and creating that mood. You can have a sunny, high-energy home, or a morose, lackluster home, or a chaotic, angry home … but if you’re anything like me, the home you really want is one of peace. After all, how often is peace our dominant emotion? How often do we say “I am calm” when people ask us how our day is going?

Answer: not nearly often enough.

I like feeling cheerful. I like feeling upbeat. I even like getting excited once in a while.

But when I’m home, I just want to rest.

Is that you, too, I wonder? Do you want more serenity, simplicity and restfulness in your life? If so, the tips in this book may help. Because here, we’re not just talking about home décor, or cleaning, or organization. What we’re talking about is changing our environment in a way that allows for a fresh new perspective on life.

We’re talking about how to be happier.

 

What, then, is the Naked Home?

 

Okay, then. Let’s get to it. The Naked Home is, in five words, ordered from most important to least:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Bare;

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Organized;

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Matching;

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Clean; and

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Quality.

 

And really, folks, that’s it—the Naked Home philosophy in a nutshell. Our homes may have souls, or they may not, but either way the mood they convey affects us. And a house that has all or most of these five traits is the one that I believe helps us find the inner calm that we seek.

In this book we will tour the Naked House room by room, noticing how these concepts are applied. First, though, an overview of each of these five principles in turn.

 

The Naked House is bare; or, The solution is almost always fewer things

 

When it comes to making your home a more peaceful place, the solution is almost always fewer things.

That’s not the only place in this book I’m going to make that statement, and there’s a good reason for that: the first and most important principle of the Naked House is that it’s bare. (That’s why it’s called “naked,” after all.) And so, the question becomes: what exactly do I mean by this term?

Well, what is the image you have in your mind when I use the word “bare”? Is it a room that is completely empty, as if no one lives there at all? Or is there a couch and a few chairs, maybe even a vase with some flowers?

For the purposes of this book, the terms “bare” and “naked” aren’t so much about wearing no clothes as they are about wearing nothing that distracts from your beauty.

It is the total and complete absence of clutter.

 

Things don’t cost what they cost

 

It’s as true of a blender as it is of a dog: things don’t cost what they cost. They cost what they cost to buy, maintain, move around and store. All these factors cost money (yes, space alone costs money: square footage is the number one factor in home price, and have you seen your heating bill lately?), but there are several other costs to consider, and both are more valuable than cash. The first is the cost of your time: the sheer number of minutes that add up to hours that add up to days that you spend rearranging, cleaning, protecting, and working around your stuff. And the second is the cost of your emotion.

In the home I grew up in, the kitchen cupboards were a mess. Because of that, it seemed that no matter which pan I needed, it was always on the bottom. This was annoying. Only slightly annoying, maybe, but multiply that experience by as many similar ones that you have throughout an average week in your home due only to clutter, and you’ll have begun to calculate the emotional cost that I’m talking about. Contrast that with your daily experience in the Naked Home, where there is a place for everything and everything in its place—at least most of the time.

And, of course, it’s not just the hassle of finding stuff that bothers us about our junk; it’s the very existence of it at all. It’s the visual distraction, the constant feeling of overwhelm that motivates most people to start their spring cleaning tradition.

Yet, most of us still vastly underestimate the significance of this emotional cost. Though we know we prefer the look of clean, open space, we rarely realize how much difference the presence or absence of each individual item will make.

Here’s a simple exercise for you: picture a beautiful living room, with perfect flooring and beautiful paint and just a few couches, a lamp table and a lamp. Now imagine you can see the lamp cord trailing along part of one wall. And oh—there’s a book lying on the arm of the couch, and a water glass on the lamp table, and a dog toy in the middle of the floor.

You get the point. The truth is—well, okay, far be it from me to use a lofty word like “truth,” but the facts as I see them, are this: most people use unnecessary decorative items in their homes—wall hangings, knick-knacks, fully loaded bookshelves and the like—to camouflage the mess that lives alongside it—to justify its existence, so to speak.

Now, it doesn’t happen in that order, of course. More often we start with the decorative stuff, then add the mess and clutter later on. However, if there were never piles of clothes on the bed and piles of dishes in the sink and piles of paperwork on the dining room table, eventually we might realize that the knick-knacks aren’t adding to our pleasure in our homes, but rather taking it away … and slowly, we’d begin to clear them out.

Here are a few of the larger items that I’ve pruned away over the years in order to bring out the natural, unadorned beauty of my simple, one-story home:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Blinds and heavy drapes;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Books (for now, most are stored in the garage);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Stand-alone shelves and bookcases;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Wall hangings, for the most part;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Living room and dining room lamps and lamp tables;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Kitchen appliances of various types;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bed frames; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Much more.

 

Think of each item in the home as a small negative dollar amount. Each one that you bring into the home costs you a bit of enjoyment, so it’d better add value in other ways. Conversely, each item you get rid of is like money in the bank.

This idea in mind, here are a few general tips for lessening clutter in every room of your home:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Give stuff away. Continuously. Remember: it’s often much cheaper in the long run to rebuy stuff you gave away a few years back than to deal with the hassle of keeping it all along. Also, every item you donate to (participating) thrift stores is tax deductible for the approximate amount it can sell for—the amount that other similar items sell for in the same store. This means that a coat that is priced at $50 puts $10 in your pocket (if you’re in the 20 percent tax bracket)—about as much as you could sell it for at a garage sale. (Note that this rule doesn’t apply if you take the standard deduction on your taxes, only if you itemize, and only in the U.S.)

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Get rid of your furniture. Also, try not to store furniture you aren’t currently using. You can replace anything you end up needing later on with someone else’s giveaways—which are often much nicer than your own. Craigslist.org features a “free stuff” section, and Facebook Buy Nothing groups are also a pretty cool option.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When you purchase something new, consider more than the item’s functionality. Picture also how the item will fit the look of your home. Does it match your color scheme, or will it stand out? Is it tacky? (Remember, lots of stuff that looks cute in the store looks that way only because it’s part of an entire set, in a showroom that is designed specifically around it.) Is it something that you want to welcome into your experience of life on a daily basis? For example, when deciding which coffee maker to buy, I looked for one that was white (to match my other kitchen appliances) and small (so that I could tuck it away on the shelf next to the coffee rather than leave it out on the counter). I was very happy with that coffee maker for a long as I continued to drink coffee.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Store the clutter-making stuff that you can’t throw away not on shelves or in closets, but rather in the garage. Most people don’t realize the full value of this invisible room, viewing it as a place to tread as lightly and as infrequently as possible. If you use your garage as storage for everyday items (backup toiletries, chemical cleaners, photographs, etc.), it may get a bit overfull. With excellent organization, though, it will not feel cluttered. Besides, if the garage has to suffer a bit, so be it—you’ll still have a Naked House.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If the garage is tapped out, or you have stuff you don’t want to keep there for reasons of proper preservation, store it all in a single dedicated, well-organized storage room in the home—or, better yet, a single closet. It feels better emotionally to keep the clutter sequestered together than to tuck some under this bed, some on that closet shelf, and more under the sink over there.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If you don’t have a garage but do have a backyard, purchase a moisture-proof shed.

 

The Naked House is organized; or, A place for everything and everything in its place

 

As much as I love to expound on the beauty of a clutter-free home, the truth is that there is something that, in terms of home enjoyment, fairly rivals the importance of getting rid of stuff.

And that something is home organization.

But not just any organization—real, thorough, a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place organization. The kind that drives everyone you live with crazy but that they nevertheless benefit from on a daily basis. The kind where no matter what item is requested, you’re able to pinpoint its location immediately within a three-foot radius. The kind that allows for growth, reorganization and expansion. The kind that considers not only ease of item location recall, but ease of access to those items, too.

Simply put, the Naked Home calls for the kind of organization that allows you to rest your head on your pillow at night knowing that every corner of your home is in order.

Sometimes I think that when it comes to keeping a house, my main responsibility is moving objects from here to there. All day long, it happens: clothes to hamper. Remote to DVD player. Hairbrush to basket. Plate to kitchen. Toy to playroom. Fortunately, this process is automatic; because I know the exact place where each of these objects belongs, no time, effort or stress is spent thinking about what to do with them.

That’s not to say that it’s easy; some days I do experience picking-up-stuff burnout, and on those days I have to take a break before continuing—maybe even take a day off. But awesome organization does reduce the difficulty of cleaning considerably. More important: it makes the “naked” part of the Naked Home possible. ‘Cause when a bunch of random things are laying around the house with no dedicated space to call their own, the accumulation of clutter is practically guaranteed.

You may be tempted to skim this section, thinking that you pretty much know where your stuff lives—it’s just the keeping of it there that’s the problem. But I’ve been in a number of very clean, well-kept homes that would have been truly naked—if only they were a little better organized.

You probably know what I’m talking about. As you walk through the house for the first time, getting a feel for the place, you see immediately that someone has cared for it well: carpets are vacuumed, garbage cans are empty, dishes are washed, bathroom fixtures sparkle. There are no toys or clothes on the floor, and generally it looks really nice.

But then you look a little closer. (Well, if you’re as curious-slash-judgmental as I am you do, anyway.) And that’s when you see what the house could easily be, if only everything in it had a place.

On the kitchen counter, appliances crouch protectively, guarding their small squares of space. A set of pots and pans hangs on hooks near the stove, embarrassed by their exposure and awkward pose. Twenty perfect knives flaunt their collective beauty on a magnet on the wall. And an overfull junk drawer stands open, revealing an array of unrelated tools like a glutton loosening his pants.

And then there’s the living room. A stunning, carefully decorated place it is—with no box or shelf on which to hide the pile of books, papers or magazines that are currently in use. Several remote controls lie about, and an array of mismatched functional items line the bookshelf in full view. On the coffee table there’s a small collection of projects-in-progress, and the TV sits under a pile of movies.

Taken one by one, these are merely slight violations of the Naked Home philosophy. Taken as a whole, though, they change the entire character of the room.

But what’s really significant here is how easy the solution is to carry out: matching baskets for the books and projects currently in use, some utility drawers (preferably not in the living room or kitchen) for the tools, and a clear spot in the DVD player cabinet for the movies and remotes. Organizing appliances, knives and pans into cabinets is a bit more time-consuming, but not impossible, and the reward is well worth the effort: the room goes from nice to naked. (Then get rid of the coffee table in the living room and you’ve really made a good home great.)

Okay, then. Before I leave this topic, I invite you to consider the following list of common household objects and whether or not your home has a dedicated space for each—one that keeps the items largely out of view when not in use:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The book(s) or magazine(s) you’re currently reading;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The clothes you’ve worn once but want to wear again before washing (I have a basket set aside for these on top of the dresser);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The outfit you plan to wear tomorrow;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Remotes, remotes, remotes (yes, these can be kept out of sight when not in use);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Food and drinks you want to eat a bit later (I keep all our water glasses in a dedicated spot on the end of one counter till bedtime);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Keys, wallets and purses; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Letters waiting to be mailed.

 

I will say it again: Create a place for everything—everything—and then keep everything in its place. (At least as often as you reasonably can.)

 

The Naked House is matching; or, How to get a one-story home

 

One of the subtitles I came up with for this book during a brainstorming session was How to “Unspeak” Your Home … but then I realized it was terrible. However, when discussing the importance of color and style continuity, the metaphor of noise reduction rings true.

Here are some of the words that I found in the thesaurus under quiet: still, tranquil, restful, breathable, placid, calm, muted, silent, soft, hushed, low, muffled, mute, reserved, noiseless, secretive, soundless, speechless, and unspeaking.

These words, to me, represent peace (or a big chunk of it, anyway)—the kind of peace I want to bring into my home. And so, the question becomes: how does one make their home quieter? My answer: by matching. Matching colors. Matching styles. Unity, if not uniformity, removes a great deal of distraction.

Which colors to use is, of course, your choice to make. Personally I dislike the color blue, but I can imagine an awesome all blue and white house with various shades of both throughout; done right, it would look like a painting. For me, though, neutral colors like black, tan and brown are the most emotionally satisfying.

Muted colors, for me, dim the noise.

Whichever colors you prefer, here are the four related ideas the Naked House incorporates:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. There are only a few colors (three at most, though black and all shades of white are free);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The same colors are used throughout the entire home;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A single base color is used for 80 or 90 percent of the decor; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The colors help the inhabitants feel calm.

 

Why so much rigidity here? Well, it’s like this: a truly Naked House—one that feels light, clean and, above all, simple—doesn’t distract the inhabitants with lots of color noise, or with color separations in each room. Instead, it allows people to walk throughout the home and experience (in a subconscious way, of course) the same sense of harmony in one room that they felt in the last—no jarring transitions or out-of-context ideas. The feeling of unity, of oneness they get—well, you may even think of it as spiritual.

Your house has a soul, and it has a story to tell—and it’s best if that story makes sense.

Now, there’s more to matching than color, of course: there’s also matching styles and such. This, admittedly, is a bit more difficult and requires some planning in advance. However, if every time you shop for the home you keep the principle of matching in mind, eventually the small changes will make a difference—one that you will certainly appreciate.

Here are a few ideas to implement as you are able:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Choose a single theme or era to represent—one that matches the basic personality of your home already. (Mine is the 1950’s.)

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Try not to go overboard on your theme. Instead, buy mostly plain stuff so it doesn’t date out and so you can easily replace it with look-alikes later on.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Whenever possible, avoid buying just one set of anything. Buy several at least, so that you can use the same product throughout the entire home and for a long time to come. (This tip particularly applies to: dishes, towels, bedding, laundry baskets, storage baskets and boxes, and lamps. I regret not buying more of my lightweight, baby-safe, high-quality bedroom lamps, which at the time I thought were overpriced, for the kids’ room and office, too.)

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Try not to mix woods. Choose a stain hue and stick with it.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Reconsider your home’s hardware. Make it a goal to little by little replace all the doorknobs, cabinet handles, sink fixtures, towel racks—even the fireplace grate and the vent covers—with a single simple color and style. One of my first home improvement projects in my new home was to replace all the outlet covers, light switch covers, and bathroom cabinet knobs with polished brass. (My husband fights me on this, though, saying plastic is safer for electrical stuff. Whatever!)

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. As stated before, choose a single base color and buy everything (or nearly everything) in that color.

 

Remember: your home is a work of art. So make sure it’s a single, unified work—not a big, eclectic, strange collection.

 

The Naked House is clean . . . or, at the very least, easily cleaned

 

I remember a time not too long ago when I truly and honestly loved to clean. Those were my pre-kids days, of course, when cleaning actually provided me with a convenient excuse to get out from behind my computer screen or book and do something that felt immediately productive. I would straighten pillows and clear off tables and wipe counters. I would wash every dish in the sink nearly every day. For a period of about four years, I even took real pleasure in cooking.

Alas, these days are no longer—a time for everything and a season to every purpose under heaven, as they say. Now I spend every free minute I have trying to get behind the computer, the notebook, or the book (which is also, of course, fine with me).

The point is this: my house is not perfectly clean all the time—and I don’t expect yours to be, either. When I say that the fourth principle of the Naked House is that it’s clean, here is what I’m trying to convey: it is easy to clean. Since there is a place for everything, the before-bed routine is a simple matter of unthinkingly returning objects to their proper resting places (rather than trying to reorganize them at the same time), wiping the few surfaces you own and maybe emptying the dishwasher or folding some clothes. Having a whole lot less stuff overall supports this goal too, of course: there’s less stuff to put away, less stuff to work around and less stuff to wipe down or dust. As you’ll see later on in this book, cleaning most of my rooms is a simple matter of picking the clothes or toys off the floor and vacuuming. (Of course, this isn’t true of the kitchen, but we’ll get to that later on.)

And here’s something else you should know: even when the Naked House isn’t clean, it feels okay. Most of the time, there are some dishes in my kitchen sink. Most of the time, there are some toys strewn around my family room floor. A lot of the time, there’s toothpaste residue in my bathroom sink, and I normally don’t make the bed. (My living room is nearly always perfect, but that’s just my way of satisfying my obsessive-compulsive tendencies in a not-so-all-consuming manner.)

And yet, my house usually feels under control.

And so, here is what I say about cleaning the house: if it comes down to a choice between cleaning and organizing, choose organizing. Then just do what cleaning you can.

The Naked Home is quality; Or, Invest in the home—not so much the stuff in it

 

Though it is admittedly the least important aspect of the Naked House, it’s a principle worth expounding on nonetheless: The Naked House is of high quality.

Now, while price is often a preventative factor in this matter, I do not mean to convince you to choose only the most expensive items for your home, or that spending more money is always necessary. When I say “quality,” what I mean is that each and every item in the home is chosen with great care and serious attention to its relative merits. Paint samples are pored over, and walls are repainted if the first shade isn’t quite right. Kitchen appliances are carefully considered and selected. Gifts are sometimes (often?) given again. In short: Everything that becomes a permanent or semi-permanent part of the atmosphere of your home earns it’s right to be there by fulfilling all or most of the following requirements:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. It is the appropriate color;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. It is truly useful;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. It is not cheap-looking, tacky or otherwise distracting; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. It makes you feel proud to own it.

 

Of course, these ideas don’t apply just to the objects in your home; they apply to an even greater degree to the design decisions you make. In my experience, good flooring—plush, unstained carpet or professionally finished hardwood floors—and high-end paint can together make up 90 percent of the home’s décor.

Let’s take a moment to consider that statement. Imagine your home exactly as it is now, but with absolutely no furnishing at all, as if you hadn’t yet moved in. Now imagine repainting it in any color or colors you choose, buffing the hardwood floors to a shine and getting all new carpet. Wouldn’t “decorating” the home then seem mostly unnecessary—something that would subtract from rather than adding to the simple, beautiful effect you just created?

Eventually, when the time and bank account balance is right, you can add to these basics excellent, indirect and dimmable lighting and a number of other quality improvements you’ve no doubt thought of yourself. For now, though, I recommend that you invest in the walls and floors if you can, then give great care and attention to the items you layer over that beautiful base.

A few additional thoughts on the subject before I move on:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When planning a move, consider buying a smaller home in a better location with a better floor plan rather than a larger home that’s a bit further out or that you don’t love walking into. Quality relates not just to durability, but also to lifestyle enjoyment. Remember: the Naked Home is much bigger than it at first seems to be.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. As I mentioned before, buy plain, durable items that don’t date out. High-quality is not a synonym for fancy. If you like fancy or embellished objects, buy just a few and keep the rest plain; this way you can easily change styles later on.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If you don’t have the money to redecorate, your house can still be impressive. A good friend of mine who (happily) lives under the poverty level has a house I consider to be brimming with potential—one I could enjoy without spending a dime. You’d be surprised how beautiful a comfy old couch and a scuffed floor can look, when the space around them is bare, well-organized and clean.

 

And so, the Naked House is bare. It is organized, and it is clean and high-quality. Above all else, though, the Naked House is a place in which you feel good. You have everything you need. You feel comfortable with the way it looks. You know where everything is. You don’t feel suffocated.

It’s a place where you can truly relax.

If you can say that about your home, you can ignore every tip in this book and still be aligned with its message.

Now we turn to our tour of the Naked Home, starting with its pride and joy: the living room.

 

Chapter Two: The Naked Living Room

h1={color:#000;}.

The Naked Living Room is bare

 

Anytime I ponder the concept of the Naked House, the same single image comes to mind.

It is the image of my living room.

My living room isn’t the room in my house that has the least amount of furniture—the family room has only a single shelf, and the bedroom has very little, too. And yet, this room to me is the better image of “bare,” because it lacks the single greatest obstacle to this quality.

And that obstacle is of course what we call clutter.

My family room has it; though we sit on a blanket or bean bags on the floor, that floor is often strewn with toys. My bedroom has it; there are visible clothes in the hamper at all times, as well as a book or two by the bed. But the living room is the soul of my house, the place that lives up to the ideal. Here, there are no pictures on the wall and only a single one on the shelf. There are no end tables to collect water glasses or magazines, and no coffee table to do the same. Every object in the room is placed exactly where I want it to be—and each and every one serves a purpose.

Here is a list of everything that’s visible in this (admittedly small) room:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Two matching black leather couches;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A matching black leather chair;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Three matching black leather foot rests;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A TV;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A small TV stand;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A fireplace with a metal cover;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. One built-in wall shelf;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Two matching vases;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. One picture;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. One candle;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Two matching decorative pillows;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A decorative throw blanket; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Lightweight curtains.

 

And here are just some of the items commonly found in living rooms that I think often—maybe even usually—need not be there:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Lamps;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Lamp tables/end tables;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Fireplace pokers (we use only one, and it stays in the garage);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Knickknacks;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Dishes;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Papers and mail;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Books;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Toys;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Wall hangings (no, not even one, particularly if you have nice big windows);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Blankets and throws, especially those that don’t match;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Shoes and slippers;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Coats;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Coat racks;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Coffee tables;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Shelves, drawers or cabinets;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. CDs and DVDs (these can be hidden or, if too numerous, kept in the office or garage);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. TVs and related equipment, if you have a room for them somewhere else;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Music players (I keep ours on top of our fridge, well out of sight);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Home entertainment centers (use a small TV stand instead if you need one);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Furniture that’s purely decorative, such as china closets, uncomfortable antique chairs and benches, hope chests and the like;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Ornate furniture and fixtures, unless used sparingly;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Heavy or heavy-feeling curtains (unless the style and size of your home can handle them without seeming overwhelmed);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Other practical daily items that rightfully belong in other rooms.

 

In addition, some items, such as the TV remote or the movie you’re going to watch later, can be hidden out of view (in this case, inside the TV stand).

The good news for people who love pretty things: the living room is still the best place to put them. Just keep it to one or two—not more than three—so their beauty can be truly appreciated.

 

The Naked Living Room is clean; or, When there’s a party, drag the mess to the kitchen

 

Unlike most of the other rooms in the Naked House, the living room need not be especially well-organized; after all, there won’t be much of anything in there, including drawers, desks and shelves; the living room is simply not used for storage.

However, here is where the principle of cleanliness is quite possibly most easily followed. Unlike in the kitchen, in the living room there’s no time-consuming process like dish washing and counter wiping to carry out. Even if you spend a lot of time here, working on projects, watching TV and the like, at the end of the evening everything can be put away somewhere else, so that for most of the rest of the next day it is perfect.

Here is what I do after a typical dinner-and-movie evening:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. I clear the dining room table and wipe it down. I push in the chairs.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. I sweep the floor or run the Roomba.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. I put our movie back into the case and put it, along with the remotes, into the TV stand.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. I put away the blanket, if we used one.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. I push our foot rests back into position.

 

On a recent morning after a dinner party at my home my friend Julie came by to drop off a container.

“Your house is always so clean!” she told me, surprised. “I’d never know there was a party here last night!”

Of course, she didn’t see the disaster in the kitchen.

But I didn’t feel the need to mention it.

 

The Naked Living Room is quality; or, Splurge on the paint, not the couch

 

As I’ve already discussed the importance of matching, I won’t say much more on that here. But there is one more Naked House quality that I think the living room has the best chance of showcasing, and that quality is, well, quality.

When I walk into my home, the first thing I notice is our newly refinished hardwood floors. I also appreciate on a daily basis the designer paint and expensive cable lighting complete with LED dimmable spotlights pointed away from the eye line. What do all of these improvements have in common? They have nothing to do with the furniture. Nearly all of the home improvement money we’ve spent since moving in has been spent on the home itself—not on the stuff that sits in it.

Our couch set has been with my husband for fifteen years, and one of the cushions is terribly torn. Our (admittedly ugly) dining room table and chairs are even older—hand-me-downs of the cheapest variety.

But here’s the cool thing: no one notices. And that’s because the house itself looks nice.

And so, my advice on increasing the quality of the living room (and any other room in the home): Splurge on the professionally redone floors and good paint; this is probably all the décor you will need.

 

 

 

Chapter Three: The Naked Kitchen

h1={color:#000;}.

The Naked Kitchen is matching

 

When I was growing up my mother didn’t give much thought to the way her kitchen looked. The living room—sure, that was always picked up and vacuumed. The family room was kept clean and functional, too.

But the kitchen was just a place to store the food.

The cabinets, especially, were a mess. Though Mom never gave in to the kind of appliance proliferation that is so common today, it wasn’t because she was purposely trying to stay more organized; she just didn’t have the extra money.

Following, a brief tour of the kitchen cabinets of my childhood home. (Oh, and just for the record: my mom’s house is totally minimalist now.)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Under the bar (south side): Papers. Stacks and stacks of papers, plus a great assortment of other non-kitchen items: pens, art supplies, toys, books and more, all mixed up together on the shelves.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Under the bar (north side): A collection of beautiful, delicate china so large, varied and crammed, we could hardly ever locate two teacups that were the same. And more papers.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Over the counter (east side): Mismatched plates, glasses, bowls and mugs, especially—oh, especially!—the mugs. I think I must have been truly traumatized as a child by having to choose between the light pink “Happy Mother’s Day” cup that came beautifully wrapped and filled with chocolates one year, or one of the chipped Christmas mugs that (to her very great delight) Mom won at a white elephant gift exchange. And so, one of the first things I bought for our new house—even before moving in, actually—was a set of matching glasses and mugs—so many of them I still have an overflow section in the back of one cabinet. (They are beautiful.)

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Corner cabinet (east side): The spice rack. Need I say more?

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Corner cabinet (west side): Assorted pantry items small enough to fit on a turntable-type rack, canned goods and vitamins.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Over the counter (west side): Larger pantry items.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Under the stove and under the counters: Appliances and cookware that rarely made an appearance on the same shelf twice in a row, and tons of empty sour cream, yogurt and cottage cheese cartons of all different sizes to use on the go (don’t even bother trying to find a matching lid). Again, these made a deep impression on me; my initial purchase of twenty-eight rectangle Pyrex containers, all of exactly the same size and shape, was sent straight to my new house before we even moved in. This set was eventually joined by forty-two more of the same, and today they line an entire cabinet shelf, an entire refrigerator shelf and two or three separate shelves in our freezers. I also bought lunchboxes of the same dimensions that hold exactly three rectangle Pyrexes with enough extra room at the top for a piece of fruit.

And so, that is a glimpse into my childhood kitchen, with a bit of psychology mixed in, too. (You’re welcome.)

Here’s the thing: Lots of people can’t afford to buy hundreds of perfectly matching containers for their various culinary needs. I get that—really, I do. However, there are also a whole lot of people that find a set they like and can afford, then don’t buy enough of that set to be able to get rid of the old set entirely. Then they get a few gifts or souvenirs that also don’t match, and before you know it their cabinets are no longer visually appealing (or space efficient).

Now, I know what you’re thinking: having matching dishes isn’t exactly your priority in life. And so, if you’re truly unable to afford new stuff right now, my advice is that you pare it down as much as you can (at the very least get rid of the mismatched china you never use, no matter how “valuable” you think it is). Then, when you do eventually decide to replace a few things, keep these simple guidelines in mind:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Buy everything in the plainest possible style, particularly tall glasses which tend to break most often. If you buy clear pint glasses in the style used by most bars and restaurants, you’ll never have to replace a whole set at once.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Don’t get the expensive stuff. High-end dishes will almost certainly date out. My choice: Correll bowls and plates in plain white. They are thin and lightweight (qualities that with daily use turn out to be even more awesome than you think they will be), very durable and go with any décor. And the manufacturer hasn’t changed the size or shape in years and years.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Copy my Pyrex purchase. After an afternoon comparison shopping online, I bought the Pyrex® Simply Store® 3-cup Rectangular Dish. Unlike round containers they fit perfectly in fridge, freezer and cabinet corners, and they hold more food than round ones, too. They’re also the perfect size for dinner or lunch. If you think you can’t live without the larger containers, try it first. Whole-family meals can easily be divided up among several containers, and so can potluck contributions. (Remember: The Naked House isn’t about not having stuff; it’s about only having the stuff that serves you well.)

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. No matter which to-go container brand you decide on, try not to be tempted by the lower price of the multi-piece set. Instead, choose a single size and shape, and buy more of that one piece than you think you’ll ever need. As I mentioned before, this saves tons of space in your cabinets, fridge and dishwasher—but it’s also a whole lot easier to find the matching lid.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When updating, use only plain tile of a single color, with no distracting patterns of any kind.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Decide on a single towel color and buy potholders, too, to match.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Buy all appliances—large and small—in the same color. This will usually be stainless steel or white. Doing so, of course, gives a cleaner, more uniform look to your kitchen. Personally, I’m proud to have all white appliances since in my humble opinion, stainless steel looks out of place in a 1950’s style home. (Plus, I saved a bunch of money when replacing them.)

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bonus points are given for matching spatula sets, knife sets, pots and pans, etc., even though these are kept out of sight.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Four: The Naked Family Room

h1={color:#000;}.

The Naked Family Room is organized and bare

 

When Dave and I bought our current home, we didn’t have any children. We loved everything about the house—the size, the entryway, the layout, the big yard. However, behind the beautiful living room was another much smaller room, and I found myself wondering what I’d ever use it for. A meditation room? A reading room? A library? Then I made one of the luckiest purchases of my life—thick, high-quality carpet in dark brown, discovered by chance after already having paid a deposit on a much cheaper, thinner style—and suddenly the room just made sense. It’s a play room, I realized. A place to wrestle and read, to spread out our toysto do anything you’d want to do on a floor. A few years and about a thousand toys later, I laugh at myself for wondering if I’d ever use this wonderful, special room.

There’s something about sitting on the floor that’s just fun. That’s what I think, and apparently I’m not the only one: Steve Jobs (famous as much for his simple design aesthetic as his technical accomplishments, as you know) reportedly eschewed the use of couches in his home for many years. For comfort, we use bean bags and reading pillows, those pillows that come with arms that you put against the wall. (My husband dubbed them “chillows,” as in, “pillows for chillin’.”) We can rearrange the “furniture” anytime, making room for chasing, dancing and forts, and our square-footage-challenged family room never seems to me all that small.

I don’t have to remind you of the joys of the family room, though, I’m sure. Even if you just use it to watch TV and relax, it’s a place in which you always feel comfortable. Because of that, perfect tidiness probably won’t be your priority here. However, as stated about other rooms with clutter control issues, if you adhere to the guidelines of the Naked Family Room, even the messy times won’t overwhelm.

Not that this solution is easy to carry out. In my experience, the family room (or the living room/family room if there’s just one) is the home’s central magnet of clutter.

There are good reasons for this, of course. You read here, so why not have a bookshelf? You watch movies here, so obviously this is the place to store your collection. You eat here, so cups and plates are commonly found.

And then, of course, there are the toys.

Much of this mess is excusable; however, that doesn’t mean that all of it is. A bunch of things frequently end up in the family room for reasons other than usefulness and convenience.

They are they because there’s nowhere else for them to go.

This, in my not-so-humble opinion, is a tragedy. Extra lamp tables, barely-used box fans, and the antique rocking chair you bought at a garage sale one year … larger items like these are only the beginning. Even more insidious is the small stuff: stacks of paper. A can with assorted pencils and pens. Disorganized junk drawers. Light bulbs, cleaning supplies, batteries, last week’s knitting project, a pair of scissors. With no other set-aside home base for these necessary little things they’ll end up on the coffee table every time.

My solution: a pantry or office shelves or both. If your home comes equipped with neither, an inexpensive cabinet insert can be placed in a hall closet.

And that is where all the extras will go.

In my home, we have a pantry as well as an office. One pantry wall holds food items, while the other has a set of five drawers that we call our utility drawers. Here’s what’s in them:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The top drawer: Scissors, writing tools, tape, glue, and the like, as well as one of each type of screwdriver.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The second drawer: Batteries, flashlights and candles.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The third drawer: Vacuum bags, plastic gloves and other non-liquid cleaning-related items.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The bottom drawer: Miscellaneous stuff, making it the only true junk drawer of the house. Here, items are separated in plastic bags by type. The bags are home to spare keys, twist ties, fabric scraps, and more.

 

All other office supplies, like envelopes and paper, books, computer paraphernalia, current paperwork and a few other things, are in the office. Photos are kept on the computer and the few photo albums that haven’t been digitized live in a single box in the garage.

When you really sit down and think about it, you may be surprised at how few items are truly “at home” in the family room; in ours, there are just bean bags, pillows, toys, diapers and clothes (our baby changing station is on the family room floor) and a low two-drawer cabinet with books.

Here are some additional tips for an awesome, Feng Shui-worthy family room:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Keep the walls bare, free of wall hangings of any kind. Not only do they bring the walls in closer, they lose their freshness quickly, becoming tiresome to look at.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When looking for a new home, consider choosing a separate living room and family room over a larger single front room. It’s also preferable to see only the living room from the front entrance of the home, not the family room.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Consider not using bright paint in an older home. Unless you’ve remodeled down to the last door handle (and that includes the doors themselves), bold, bright colors bring out the imperfections in the home: cracked drywall, old vent covers, old-fashioned wall and window trim, etc.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Get thick, plush carpet. It’s comfortable and brings the look of quality to a room—and it’s not usually much more expensive.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Hide electrical cords to the largest possible degree.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Place music devices, speakers and cords well out of sight (mine are on top of my refrigerator).

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Limit cabinets and bookshelves to the smallest size possible—no large, looming shelves here or anywhere else in the home. Items on bookshelves can be arranged in matching baskets or boxes, also, to reduce the look of clutter. Better yet, experiment with keeping toys in baskets on the floor and office stuff in the office and eliminate the shelves altogether.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Replace clear cabinet doors with opaque ones to reduce the look of clutter.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Use lightweight, plain, unpatterned curtains rather than heavy-feeling curtains or blinds—and keep them open most of the time.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make your family room a “floor-only” room, doing away with the couch. Rediscover the bean bag; it just may change your life.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Get a Roomba or a non-electric carpet sweeper. I know how much you hate to vacuum, and freshly vacuumed carpet just feels good.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Get matching baskets for toys and other stuff to use throughout the entire house. These really shouldn’t be see-through, and preferably not plastic, either. With so few design elements in the Naked Home, the color and texture of these is important.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Try not to mix styles. If you buy the plainest items, you won’t find later that you have a Grecian-inspired shelf next to a modern couch with a 1920’s-inspired painting nearby.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Replace floor and table lamps, which take up floor space and feature ugly cords, with wall-mounted lamps or just good adjustable ceiling lighting, or limit your lamps to one reading lamp only per room.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Finally, my favorite family room tip: get rid of your coffee table—stat. Coffee tables are almost never empty of junk, and when they aren’t they serve no purpose at all. Coffee cups can be placed on a low shelf, an upturned basket, a small tabletop with no legs, or even just a book.

 

The Naked Family Room is one of the most enjoyable parts of the home—but it won’t be enjoyed the same way if it’s full of stuff that doesn’t belong.

 

 

 

Chapter Five: The Naked Bedroom

h1={color:#000;}.

The Naked Bedroom is matching; or, Oh, how I love the color brown

 

I have a confession to make: I want every house in the world to be decorated entirely in brown. Okay, maybe not entirely in brown, but with brown as the base color and all other colors as accents. Brown is my favorite color and let’s face it: it just makes everything look beautiful.

Now, I know how that might sound to you, someone who even though you like a Starbuck’s visit just fine from time to time, doesn’t feel the need to live in one. So take this first piece of advice with a handful of salt, and enjoy:

Choose a single, soft, muted color to use throughout your entire house, then deviate not from that base come what may. If it’s black, buy everything in black: towels, furniture, sheets. Choose a color that’s easy to match closely across all types of products, and deviate from it only when considerable thought is given to the choice.

Here are some of the items in my home that are dark brown:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The laundry baskets;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. All of our other storage baskets (which are in the same style as our laundry baskets);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Our bean bags;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Our family room carpet;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Our living room accent wall;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Our kitchen chair covers;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. All of our towels;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Most of our bedsheets;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. All of the top blankets on our beds (they’re replicas);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. All of our curtains (again, replicas);

*
p<>{color:#000;}. All of our reusable shopping bags;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The screensavers on my three computer monitors; and, just for fun,

*
p<>{color:#000;}. My Kindle cover, my phone background, all my favorite shirts and all of my handbags and baby carriers.

 

Now, before you decide that I have after all just gone nuts, consider how all this matching helps keep my home looking nice. Everything—the hampers, the baskets, the blankets—are completely interchangeable from room to room. Whether my husband hangs his towel to dry in the same bathroom he showers in or leaves it on the floor in the bedroom, it looks like it belongs. It blends in. It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the room.

It looks less like the clutter that it is.

Single-color decor also helps inhabitants overlook small imperfections in the home: patched drywall spots suddenly don’t look so patched. Nail holes in the wall suddenly don’t look so holey. Paint splotches on door handles are now just minor concerns.

Even with little flaws present, the house always looks put-together.

 

The Naked Bedroom is bare

 

Sometimes, when we think back on something we did or said even just a short while ago, we find ourselves amazed that we were ever that person. When a few years back a good friend of mine casually mentioned that she and her husband had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for over ten years, ever since their first child of four was born, my reaction is surprising to remember.

I was horrified.

“Get yourself a bed frame already!” I told her in a sort of judgmental awe.

Obviously, I knew nothing about kids, I thought when only a year later my husband and I, too, got rid of our long-used bed frame. At first, we just stored it in the garage. But not long afterwards, after Dave decided to tear out the wall the frame stood against, he consented to taking the plunge. We hauled it and our smaller full-size frame onto our front lawn and attached some signs that said “free.”

They did not linger long.

And we were glad they didn’t, because the arrangement worked beautifully for us. My rolling-age baby could come dangerously close to the edge of the mattress without an expletive accompaniment (though infants should never be encouraged to roll over without supervision). And later, when he started crawling and walking, the bed became his most enjoyable toy.

And it still is. These days when I think of my bedroom, I don’t think of hours spent with a stack of library books, a cup of coffee and a block of empty afternoon hours, like I used to. Instead, I think of hide and seek. I think of bouncing and tickling, somersaults and airplane, and a game David likes called “baby tossing.” Some of these games would be possible on a bed with a frame. But it wouldn’t be possible for us to have two mattresses in the same room—one king-sized and one full—doubling the excitement and fun. It wouldn’t be possible for our toddler to jump over the gap between them, or make a bridge, or to easily move from one to the other at night when half-asleep.

He might even have to have his own bedroom.

And so, Mattress Land, as we call it, works for us. But don’t worry—I understand that your bedroom needs may be different. The point of this story isn’t that everyone should kick their bed frames to the curb. The point is that when it comes to the bedroom, it often makes sense to think differently.

If your house is anything like ours, you don’t have much square footage to spare. Why, then, reserve an entire room for a single purpose like sleeping? A guest bedroom can be a kids’ room, too—or a play room, or a changing room, or a project room, or an office—or some combination of these. If you’re careful about how you do it, you can have a bed, a TV, some toys and a closet full of sewing stuff and art supplies in a spare room without it feeling overly full. Three kids can play there during the day or use it to store their things, then two can sleep with Mom and Dad at night, leaving the older children with a little alone time. When the teen years hit, the bedrooms can be “owned” again, but two teens in one room is fine; they’ll be alone in the world soon enough.

The flexible nature of the bedroom in mind, it would be an impossible task for me to decide what does and does not belong in yours. Instead, I’ll tell you what’s in view in our main bedroom, which we refer to as “the big bedroom”:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Two large mattresses;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Matching bedding;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Curtains;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A dresser;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Two matching lamps;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Two matching lamp tables;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Two matching hampers; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Three matching baskets on the dresser.

 

And there you have it. Our bedroom: fun, yet functional in the extreme. Eventually, our toddler will decide to move into his own room, the “small bedroom,” which he’ll share with his younger brother during the day as well as with guests at night when needed. After a time, the two children will share the room at night, too, one or both making frequent excursions back to our bed. Thus, David and I will likely be sleeping on a mattress on the floor for over a decade.

Here are a few additional ideas that may help you maximize your bedroom space while at the same time keeping it relatively free of clutter:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Use two matching hampers, one for darks and one for lights, to reduce time spent sorting laundry.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Have a drawer, shelf or basket that holds only the clothes that you intend to “reuse”—to wear again before washing. That way they don’t just collect on the floor with no place in particular to go.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Take advantage of the potential the bedroom offers for matching. All you need here are curtains, hampers, sheets and bedspreads of the same color to bring the room together.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If possible, get rid of your dresser. Replace it with several sets of large, spacious drawers (none of those specialized small compartments, please!) to place in the bedroom closets.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Clean out your closet. Regularly. (No—more often than regularly, whatever that means.) Replace the mounds of clothes you don’t really love with just a few truly awesome ones you do. Personally, I find that my work wardrobe is easily managed, while my casual wardrobe is in constant flux due to its difficult-to-fulfill requirements: comfort, more comfort, and of course flattering good looks.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. [* Store seasonal and temporarily unneeded clothes in the garage in moisture- and pest-proof clear boxes, *] clearly labeled.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Don’t buy fancy closet organizers. They’re impractical. Larger drawers are best—it’s easier to remember what is in there and you can always put two types of clothing in one drawer. (All my pajamas and underwear are together, for example.)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Try not to store anything underneath the bed. This is just bad Feng Shui.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Store coats, jackets and even some sweaters, as well as your entire shoe collection, in your hallway closet, not your bedroom one. Shoes can be placed in hanging shoe racks, not standing ones, to give the look of open floor space and to make sweeping much easier.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Because bedrooms are often small, not well-lit and short on windows, the Naked House rules about wall hangings (e.g., don’t have them) don’t always apply here. If your bedroom needs a bit of cheering up, choose a few low-key color-coordinated hangings. Plastic frames look cheap and wooden frames with glass can sometimes feel too burdensome and heavy; therefore, I like hanging special quilts instead. You may also consider installing a special shelf for a grouping of framed pictures and knick-knacks, which often looks classier (and barer) than a wall full of pictures.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If you do have a large, well-lit and large-windowed bedroom, enjoy it! Don’t mess it up by hanging pictures.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If you absolutely can’t live without a bookshelf in your bedroom, consider installing a few solid wood wall-mounted shelves to save floor space.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Do consider getting rid of your bed frames, particularly if you have children. Remember: this is your space, and your choices, no one else’s.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. There’s usually no need for a bed frame with posts, in any case, particularly if you’re trying to make the room look larger.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Buy lamp tables with drawers or closed-door cabinets so that you can easily keep bedside stuff (in my case, a diaper, a stack of books, a glasses cleaning cloth and the remote to the air purifier in the closet) permanently out of view.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Kids don’t necessarily need their own room for long, if at all. Consider not buying a home with an extra bedroom if you can instead buy a smaller one with a shorter commute. Of course, your unique family situation will determine your bedroom needs, and that’s fine.

 

Of all of the rooms in the house, the bedroom is the place to unleash your creativity to the greatest degree—but not necessarily on paint colors or curtain styles. Instead, it’s a place to use your imagination concerning the room’s purpose and potential. Of course, if you don’t live alone, there will very likely come a time when some of the bedroom décor decisions aren’t yours to make. But that’s what’s so cool about the bedroom: without expensive fixtures and the like, it’s the easiest room in the home to redecorate.

The bedroom is, above all, flexible—and the Naked House ideals can be, too.

The Naked Bedroom is bare. It is matching, and organized and clean, and high-quality.

And it’s whatever else you want it to be.

 

 

Chapter Six: The Naked Bathroom

h1={color:#000;}.

Even in the Naked House, buying new stuff can be awesome

I still remember the day I discovered that new, unstained kitchen rags came in ten-packs that cost a dollar.

It happened when I was in college. I was shopping at the local dollar store, and I wasn’t looking for rags—and yet, when I saw them sitting there on the shelf next to the Ajax, I stopped dead in my tracks. I can’t believe what my eyes they are a-seeing, I thought. Ten perfectly absorbent, high-quality bright white rags, cheaper to obtain than a large soda.

I quickly grabbed five packs.

I enjoyed the rags, thinking always of my good bargain when I used them. However, the real value of the purchase was the lesson it taught—even though it didn’t sink in till later.

When I married my first husband, my bleach-stained, mismatched towels—including the one I bought while living in China that I carted home with me halfway across the globe—married, too. Their partners were my new husband’s family’s hand-me-downs (two sets of two: one blue-and-white striped, one plain green). One day, though, bored and roaming the nearby Kmart as unemployed housewives sometimes do, I found them: good quality plain white towels of the Martha Stewart lineage—cheap, and cheaper still since on sale.

I bought four. I brought them home and did the unthinkable, the act that in all my life my mother had never even once considered: I threw out the worst of our old towels. I didn’t cut them up into rags, like my mom would’ve done—I just tossed them into the garbage.

When I separated from my husband, those four white towels traveled halfway across the country in my suitcase, joining me on my next adventure. (Apparently, towels are my security blankets. It’s Freudian.) Then, when recently I completed my new home’s all-brown towel collection with some lovely $10 additions, I gave those white towels to my mother.

She cut them up into rags.

The moral of these stories: stuff really isn’t that expensive. When I consider how many years I chose to make do with worn-out, ugly objects in my daily environment and visual space—well, I’m just a little bit shocked. Some of these items may have been too expensive for me to replace at the time, but others I kept for one reason, and one reason alone, namely: I was used to them.

Which is why, even though I so strongly advocate minimalism, I’m not going to tell you to never buy new things. Whereas some people think that it’s unwise to shop too much, to bring new stuff into your life, I say that the problem is not buying new stuff; the problem is refusing to then throw the old stuff away.

Consider this: if you allow yourself to buy nice new things on occasion, it may be easier for you to let go of the junk.

And the word “junk” here is no exaggeration. No matter how nice you think that old computer case is, if it won’t sell on Craigslist it’s probably not worth your keeping it, either.

In the sociology classic The Paradox of Choice, author Barry Schwartz makes an insightful point. He says that generally speaking, people greatly overvalue the stuff they already own, and fairly value stuff they do not. He calls it loss aversion, and it’s the reason most people feel worse about unexpectedly losing $100 than they feel good about unexpectedly gaining the same amount.

In other words: if tomorrow you came across that beautiful red pillow that no longer matches your decor in a garage sale giveaway pile rather than in your own linen closet, you wouldn’t think twice about passing it up.

Certainly this is true of clothes. No matter how many wearables I give away each year (and believe me, it is more than a few), in the left-hand corner of the top shelf of my clothes closet a little collection of stuff I just can’t seem to let go of remains, despite the contents’ itchiness or too-small size.

 

The Naked Bathroom is bare and matching

 

However, as this is the bathroom chapter, not the bedroom one, let us explore the skeletons not in our closets, but instead those under our sinks.

Here are a few of the most common necessary (in some cases arguably necessary) bathroom toiletries that steal the square footage of the smallest room in the house:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Toilet paper;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Towels currently in use;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Backup towels;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Toothpaste, toothbrushes and other mouth care items currently in use;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Backup toothpaste, toothbrushes and other mouth care items;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Diapers;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Feminine hygiene products;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Soap currently in use;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Backup soap;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Lotion currently in use;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Backup lotion;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Shampoo, conditioner and other hair products currently in use;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Backup shampoo, conditioner and other hair products;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Hair dryers, curlers and the like;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Makeup currently in daily use;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Extra makeup for special occasions;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Jewelry;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Combs and various hair decorations;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A scale;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A trash can;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bathroom cleaning supplies and air freshener;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A plunger; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Vitamins and medicine.

 

All of these items are important. All of these items have their proper place in the Naked House.

But only about half of them belong in the bathroom.

Can you guess which half is which? The answer is simple: any of these items that are not used daily can be stored elsewhere. In addition, bathroom cleaning supplies can be stored with the rest of the home’s cleaning supplies, in order to lessen the number of bottles and implements needed (and to keep them secured away from children). And in my home, vitamins and medicines have their own cabinet in the kitchen, where use of them is much more convenient. Jewelry may be kept in the bedroom and the plunger can be kept in the garage. Backup towels can be kept in the linen closet, and all of the other backup items can be kept in neatly labeled, clean, clear storage boxes in an accessible location in the garage.

That’s right: alongside my admonition to please buy matching towels and new rags, for goodness’ sake, my favorite tip for simplifying the bathroom is this: take all the junk out from under your sink and put it in the garage.

Need a bit more inspiration? Following are all of the items—each and every last one—that sit on the counter in my guest bath:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A small basket of clean single-use hand towels;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A small matching basket of used single-use hand towels; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A bar of soap.

 

Here are all of the items that currently sit on the counter in my master bath, and that after our upcoming bathroom remodel will almost without exception be stored in a small cabinet over the sink instead:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Toothbrushes in a glass;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. My electric toothbrush and its stand;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. My husband’s electric water pick;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Soap;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A basket containing my husband’s razors, some lotion, floss, a lens cleaning cloth and some Q-tips; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A basket containing my husband’s contacts and contact solution and our deodorant.

 

Similarly, here are all of the items in my guest bath cabinets under the sink:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Diapers;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Toilet paper;

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A baby scale; and

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bath toys.

 

And here are all of the items in my master bath cabinets:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Toilet paper (yes, really only that)

 

Everything else—my sewing kits, my old hair products, even the few pieces of (cheap) jewelry I own—are stored in a single clear plastic box in the garage that’s marked “toiletries.”

And this one change has made all the difference.

Now, I should tell you that other than keeping your bathroom relatively clean and such, most of my bathroom-maximizing tips are a bit less gratifying—and quite a bit more expensive—than these two. So take it or leave it as you like when I say that when Dave and I remodel our bathrooms, here are the changes we (okay, I) plan to make:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. We will install full-room drainage. Theoretically this would mean the kids are free to splash in the bathtub to their hearts’ content—an ease-of-living improvement that will be appreciated for years to come.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. We will get a deeper-than-normal (but not necessarily wider than normal) bathtub. The ideal bathtub easily covers two or three people with water. When only one person is in it, less water can be used (unlike with wider Jacuzzi-type tubs).

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A high-end, super quiet fan. (How often does a noisy fan interrupt your bath time reverie?)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A stand-alone sink (or two) with no cabinets underneath. This serves two purposes: first, to give the illusion of greater floor space, helping to provide that “spa feel” we’re after; and second, to eliminate the possibility of countertop clutter.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A limited number of cabinets placed at eye-level or above, again to increase floor space. (One is a good number.)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A single small cabinet over the sink that holds all of the frequently-needed stuff.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A good deal of space between the toilet and the bathtub, so that it is not within easy view during your relaxing soak.

 

The perfect bathroom is a difficult thing to find. Ideally, the bathroom is as relaxing, functional and beautiful as every other room in your home, providing a spacious, clean and spa-like atmosphere.

Fortunately, since most of your time is spent elsewhere, a perfect bathroom need not be your priority; rather, keep the one you have clean and tidy. Take it from atmosphere-conscious me when I say that having an ugly bathroom really isn’t all that bad, but peeing in a dirty toilet is.

 

 

Chapter Seven: The Naked Garage

h1={color:#000;}.

Garages are inspiring, I swear

 

Last spring, I experienced something amazing—and pretty ordinary as well: I cleaned out my garage.

It was a project that took all spring to complete.

One afternoon in the midst of this, I was watching my young child become engrossed in a box of tools in a way he’d never been with his regular toys when suddenly, it hit me: We’re having a really good time. He’s in his zone: screwing with screwdrivers and hammering with hammers and examining every facet of the motorcycle.

But I’m actually having fun, too.

And it’s true; I was. I was pleasantly challenged by the task of ensuring each item in the garage found a dedicated, clearly labeled home. I was enjoying the re-labeling, the re-stacking, the re-sorting, the re-categorizing. I got to relive a bit of my past while making sure it would be protected for the future. After a time, the whole endeavor took on a life of its own, starting with a bit of straightening up and morphing into a monumental effort that by season’s end enabled us to park our car in the garage for the first time since owning our house.

And so, for a while after that, I got a little excited about garages. Soon after the task was complete, I took up a terrible new habit (okay, maybe not entirely new, but definitely terrible): I started embarrassing myself at dinner parties.

See, approximately one Saturday evening each month my husband and I host a dinner or game night at our house. We love the quality time we get to spend with our friends in this way—and they love not having to cook. But starting around the time of the Epic Garage Makeover, it happened: I started cajoling our guests into taking unexpected excursions to our garage—garage tours, so to speak.

Now, admittedly, the roots of the problem had taken hold before this time. I had long enjoyed expressing my ideas on the importance of good flooring, my hatred of tile and my theory that all bathrooms should have full room drainage—no matter what the company or occasion. And when the subject leaned even remotely toward home organization, it was even worse. I have opened my kitchen cabinets to illustrate a point about Pyrex (see “The Naked Kitchen”). I have had inappropriately long discussions in my bedroom with other peoples’ husbands about our home’s lack of bed frames. And the advantages of bean bags are not unknown to most of our family and friends.

But when I actually started dragging our guests into the garage to show them what I’d recently accomplished there, I realized that a line had been crossed. (I’m working on it, okay?)

Here’s the thing, though: I’m not the only one to be fascinated with this interesting, uniquely purposeful home location.

Consider this example: the other month, a friend of mine held “space camp” in her garage. After decking out the place with the rarest of rarities and the nicest of niceties—including walk-in-sized cardboard boxes, old motorcycle helmets and mismatched gloves—she invited a group of kids aged three to seven over to play.

And they stayed all afternoon. See, there’s something little people (and many moms) understand that the rest of us seem to miss: the garage is a wonderful place to be. It’s a place of motorcycles and cars. It’s a place of tools and tool chests, toys and toy chests that resemble treasure chests in many key ways. It’s a place of sports equipment of all kinds and varieties, of boxes filled with almost anything you can imagine.

You can get dirty in the garage. You can use the garden hose if you need to, and get wet. You can do impossible things there, like building and collecting and investigating … and most anything else. The possibilities are endless, and the ideas flow easily and fast.

In short: the garage is one very inspiring place.

And it’s not just children that feel it—we adults are nearly as susceptible to its charms, though often in an unconscious way. Some of us use it to build and create, others to sing in a band. Some of us think of garage organization as a serious hobby, while others just appreciate this location’s unique ability to keep some of our most relied-upon possessions safe.

Whatever your perspective may be on your garage, I hope this chapter encourages you to take better advantage of this special space, to help it fulfill its potential.

And maybe the most significant aspect of that potential is this: it can enable you to have a Naked House.

 

The Naked Garage isn’t bare—but it is the apex of organized

 

As I vehemently argued already, things don’t cost what they cost; they cost what they cost to buy, maintain, move around and store. And there’s no better place to demonstrate that truth than in the prized real estate of your garage.

For this reason, the basic Naked Garage organization philosophy is as follows: the garage is not a place to store all the junk you can’t bear to throw out. Instead, with its plentiful space, few aesthetic concerns and ease of access, the garage is a vital part of the Naked House. It serves as not just the main, but the only real storage area—even for things you use on a regular basis. This way, the rest of the home may be pruned back to only the necessities.

Now, realistically speaking, your garage will never be perfect; stuff will sit in there for years that you think you’ll need but never do. After all, who can talk a stubborn husband into getting rid of all his lame DVDs? (You can try, of course, but please be gentle and take it slow. A Naked Garage isn’t worth a heated argument, just a cheerful nag here and there.)

Nevertheless, it’s almost certainly possible to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff in your garage, and to beautifully organize all the rest.

Here are my tips for doing just that:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Create a “box wall,” a single garage wall that is easily accessible and can accommodate small- to medium-sized everyday items. If possible, put the boxes on shelves; if not, just stack ‘em on up.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Label boxes clearly. I know, I know, it’s a pain. But the effort will pay off, I promise.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Underfill boxes. This is one of the more difficult garage ideals to achieve. However, when later you need to add items of the same type to the box, or just find something you put in it, you’ll be glad you didn’t cram.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Get a ton of boxes. I keep going back to the store to buy more.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Use clear boxes.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. [* Buy boxes that are moisture- and rodent-proof— *]not the cheapest boxes you can find, particularly for stuff that’s susceptible to damage. Cardboard boxes aren’t good enough for the things that you enjoy enough to keep. (Besides, they probably won’t be of uniform size.)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Consider leaving one box empty. The empty box is something like the empty space in a sliding puzzle: it gives you flexibility, room to maneuver and reshape the wall.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Buy boxes in just one or two sizes, which will make stacking easier, and will provide flexibility when reorganizing later on. Also, a wall of same-size boxes looks more organized, which subconsciously encourages people to keep it that way.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make the switch to ebooks. Or do what I do: borrow the hard copy from the library, then buy the ebook later on if you want to make it a permanent part of your collection. Hard copies you’ve already read can be passed on to others, of course. And as with all the other guidelines in this book, exceptions may be made here; reference books may be worth their heft, and we have lots of kids’ books in our family room.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Scan and digitize all of your photos. This process saved me at least two storage boxes worth of space—and our pictures are now better-preserved, better-organized and much more accessible.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If you have kids, repurpose some of the stuff in the garage into toys. Kids love real, adult stuff like nothing else.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Keep an in/out box near the garage door for items that you plan to return to their dedicated boxes when time permits. It’s a weird little idiosyncrasy of mine that I’m ridiculously proud of the in/out box in my garage. (Humility is not my strong suit, okay?)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Organize the garage frequently. Don’t get too attached to your first stab at logically combining all your stuff into those beautiful new boxes. Reorganize as often as your collections grow and shrink.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Purge the garage even more frequently. The things I wish I hadn’t thrown out could probably be counted on five fingers. (A favorite jacket with a broken zipper that I should’ve just had fixed, and the key for a ski rack we never use but could have sold are the only two that come to mind.)

 

In order to better illustrate my point, I offer you this virtual tour of the boxes in my own garage, with each phrase representing one box. (I promise not to use a crackly megaphone to help me guide.)

 

Medium-sized clear totes:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bottom-level (least accessible) boxes: Books; books; CDs and DVDs; books.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Level two boxes: Books, books, CDs and DVDs; my husband’s personal memorabilia.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Level three boxes: Photos, my personal memorabilia; computer stuff and electronics; holiday and craft items.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Top-level (most accessible) boxes: Chemicals; giveaways and other people’s stuff; toiletries; an empty box.

 

The most useful boxes of these: toiletries, other people’s stuff (how long do you want that borrowed book to sit on your desk awaiting the next visit?), and computer stuff.

 

Oversized opaque totes:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bottom-level boxes: Empty product boxes; empty product boxes; my husband’s miscellaneous stuff.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Level two boxes: Camping stuff, snowboarding stuff, miscellaneous stuff.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Top-level boxes: Skating and biking stuff, cords, miscellaneous sports stuff.

 

The most useful box here: the cords. We are always, it seems, changing out or adding electric cords.

Our second box wall, recently added, includes a box of painting supplies, tools too large for our large rolling tool chest; electrical supplies; car supplies (including gas cans and snow chains); work clothing; and kids’ clothing we may one day use again. We also store large items (our lawn mower, saws, work tables, snowboards, bicycles and more) in the garage, though I’d like to get one of those cute pre-fab sheds for this stuff someday.

Think of your garage as a continuous work in progress. As your stuff comes, goes, shrinks and grows, your storage boxes will get reused, reassigned and reorganized. The garage isn’t meant to be a stale, moldy, scary place where your stuff goes to either die or get lost. Instead, it is a living, breathing space—one that is appreciated as much as any other room in the home. People who have a Naked House visit their garages every day, retrieving and replacing sewing kits, carpet cleaner, library books and other borrowed items that are on the way back to their source.

Embrace your garage. Visit it and interact with it often and with delight.

Allow it to be the place of inspiration it wants to be.

 

 

Chapter Eight: More Naked

h1={color:#000;}.

My house isn’t really all that nice; it’s just empty

 

I get a lot of compliments on my house. Thing is, though, my house really isn’t that nice, relatively speaking. I live on an average-looking street. There are lots of trees (each and every one of which I love dearly), but other than that nothing there is obviously special. Most of the houses were, like mine, built in the 1950s or ’60s. None of them except the remodels are large, and many, like my 1500-square footer, are actually of rather modest size. One of my neighbors hasn’t cleaned his roof in, like, thirty-nine years, so that it’s now all but invisible under a thick layer of clumpy moss. Another has changed nothing about his home’s appearance in much longer, including the exact position of the 1976 Ford pickup parked under the carport, trusting nature’s grand but gentle touch to make all needed aesthetic improvements. And one of my former neighbors used to hoard relatives (and their cars) like gallon jugs of water in a drought.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I love my neighborhood, and all of the people and houses therein. If nothing else, they remind me that I’m not actually living in the proper suburbs—or if I am, at least it’s one with some personality.

Also, they don’t mind when I leave my garbage out on the curb a few extra days.

In any case. My home, like the neighborhood in which it resides, is ordinary indeed. So what do my friends mean when they say it’s “super nice”? I think I know the answer to that: they mean that it seems well-organized and well-cared for, and that it has a nice, peaceful feel. It’s also fairly clean most of the time, but not just in the usual way of being clean—it’s minimalist. It’s empty.

And, above all, it’s this emptiness that inspires admiration.

The solution is almost always fewer things. That’s the Naked House philosophy in a nutshell, and there’s a good reason for that: freedom from clutter is the foundation of the four principles that follow. When a room is bare, it’s easy to organize, and even easier to clean. When it’s bare, matching the items you do have is simple. And when it’s bare, the few high-quality items you really need are together more affordable than would be everything else.

With this in mind, here are a few additional Naked House tips regarding rooms I haven’t elsewhere discussed. Following this, I offer a summary checklist of all of the action items previously mentioned in the book.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The Naked Dining Room: Dining rooms are for dining tables—period. No shelves, no display cabinets and absolutely no paperwork, books and the like. If you don’t have an office and like to use the dining table for work, set aside a clearly separated corner somewhere else in the home for a desk and your basic office supplies. Keep all of the papers and supplies in the desk’s drawers (no pencil containers or paper trays, please), and store any overflow in the garage.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The Naked Hallway: Again, less is more. Hallways and entryways should be entirely free of furniture, wall hangings and, well, anything else. I love the feeling I have when in the morning I open my bedroom door for the first time that day … and see nothing but a long, empty hallway leading to a clean, open living room.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The Naked Closet: Try not to overcrowd your precious closet space. Use it only for often-used items, particularly the aforementioned coats and shoes, and store most everything else in the garage. (There are a few exceptions, such as anything that is susceptible to mice and too large for waterproof containers, like suitcases). Floors are best kept bare, with shoes kept on hanging shoe organizers, not clunky floor racks.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The Naked Yard: The Naked Yard philosophy is different from the Naked Home philosophy in that here, it’s best to let nature rule. Rather than pruning back your trees and bushes and keeping a perfectly manicured lawn, consider simplifying your yard upkeep by planting moss rather than grass, hardy flowers like tulips and crocuses in beds, not flower pots, and letting a little wildness in. (Trees don’t grow in rows, remember.) Curves are good and so are hills, and keep as much green as possible. Remove as many harsh lines and demarcations (like wooden plant bed markers) as possible so that one section of the lawn flows naturally into the other. Here, if you like, fill the empty spaces with more plants rather than keeping a wide-open lawn. If you have kids, don’t worry about keeping the yard free of toys—this is a place to let them use their imaginations. Also, eat outside as a family whenever possible. Personally, when it comes to time and money spent on home improvements and chores, I prioritize the inside of the home over the outside, feeling that our trees and moss-crowded lawn make our yard a beautiful, peaceful place all on their own.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The Naked Den, Workroom or Office. If you’re like me, you like having one room in the house that doesn’t require perfect neatness every day—a place to store that odd item that is making a temporary appearance in the home and doesn’t belong anywhere else. If that is the case, I say make that room the office. Use it as a place to have that bookshelf you eschewed elsewhere, filled to the brim with relevant, important stuff (and maybe a favorite knick-knack or two as well).

*
p<>{color:#000;}. The Naked Pantry. The pantry is the perfect place to keep your utilities as well as your extra food. If you don’t have a pantry, you’ll probably want a set of utility drawers somewhere anyway. Trust me when I say that when your partner asks where the batteries are, you’ll be glad you took the time.

 

Tips for getting even more naked

 

Finally, a few more miscellaneous tips from the field:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If you sometimes forget to pay bills or answer mail on time, keep all of your mail in a single box and sort it regularly.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If you have kids or even regular kid visitors, childproof your drawers, cabinets, outlets and, well, everything else. Your time with the little ones will be so much more fun and relaxed.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Consider employing three of the most common household tips from Feng Shui experts: incorporate a sense of nature, reduce hard edges, protect the back (make sure sitting places don’t expose people’s backs to others), and use good lighting.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Keep your curtains open most of the time. In fact, while you’re at it, open your windows, too.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Kits—boxes of items that you normally use together such as hair care supplies—can come in handy.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Particularly if you have children, consider replacing your silverware drawer with a silverware bucket that you keep in a cabinet. This way, you can easily carry it to and from the dining room table.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Remove tags from everything: clothes, furniture, curtains, whatever. The room will be just that much less messy looking.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Consider purchasing a large set of matching oversize sandals and distributing them at each door of the house. This makes quick trips outside easier and encourages people not to wear shoes inside.

 

The Naked Home checklist

 

And now, as promised, the Naked Home checklist, including all of the action items mentioned in this book, and some more as well. A word of caution here first, though: don’t let the process of cleaning and reorganizing feel tedious, and don’t do something just because I recommend it. Have fun with this experience. Do what feels good to you. If possible, make reorganizing your home a hobby that you enjoy, and if that’s not possible—well, do it less often but with a great deal more commitment.

You will not regret it.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Undertake a pre-purge evaluation. First, picture your home completely clean and bare, with nothing inside it at all. Then, as you declutter, keep that image in mind.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Decide which room or space will accommodate your overflow. This is the place your purge will start, in order to make room for more stuff.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Clearly identify your pantry and your office space, and which related item types will go in which. This will save you tons of time from the start.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Purge, purge, and purge some more. If you’re really enthusiastic, you can empty your rooms entirely first, then bring back only the items that make the room better.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Start organizing. This is something normally done in layers; no need to sort out each and every clothespin before you get your pantry drawer designations figured out.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Don’t cram. Keep all cabinets, particularly lower cabinets, underfull. Try not to store anything under the bed. Keep closet floors mostly bare.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Consider which furniture items can go. When in doubt about a large item, haul it to the garage first—then see the difference not having it makes. Clearing out a few large things right off the bat is motivating. It also makes your workspace easier to access.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Choose your colors. Remember, you only get three besides white.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Choose your theme or era and your wood stain type.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Consider getting rid of the following items: Lamps; lamp tables/end tables; fireplace pokers; knickknacks; dishes; books; toys; wall hangings; unmatching blankets, throws and sheets; coatracks; coffee tables; shelves, drawers and cabinets; heavy blinds and drapes; dressers; and bed frames. Also, make a good, honest assessment of each of your kitchen appliances.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Consider purchasing the following items: A Roomba, matching storage baskets to use throughout the home, Pyrex and Correll dishes, bean bags and housekeeping services.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When replacing the stuff you throw out, choose plain, high-quality items that match the rest of the home. When buying something in a set, buy a lot.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When updating your home, keep simplicity and quality in mind. Get thick, plush carpet. Buy better, not bigger. Don’t buy cabinets with clear doors. Invest in quality lighting, flooring and paint.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Replace your hardware. Get doorknobs, cabinet handles, sink fixtures, towel racks and vent covers that match.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Clear off your kitchen counters. Entirely.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Create a designated, non-visible home for each of the following items: The book or magazine you’re currently reading; clothes you’ve worn once but want to wear again before washing; the outfit you plan to wear tomorrow; remote controls; keys, wallets and purses; and letters waiting to be mailed.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. When straightening up after a meal, leave the dishes for last.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Move the bathroom and kitchen cleaners to a single location.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Clean out your bathroom cabinets, and put everything not needed weekly in the garage.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Keep an in/out box near the garage door for items that you plan to return to the garage when time permits.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. In the garage, create a “box wall,” a single garage wall that is easily accessible and can accommodate small- to medium-sized everyday items. Label the boxes clearly and don’t overfill them.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Scan and digitize all of your photos.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Make the switch to ebooks.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If you have kids, repurpose some of the stuff in garage into toys.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Organize and purge some more.

 

Your home can be a better, barer place. It may even help you find peace

 

It’s a strange fact but a fact nonetheless: most people greatly underestimate the effect of their environment on their mood and enjoyment of life.

I don’t know why this is. Shouldn’t we have figured it out by now? We pay three times the normal price of wine, just so we can drink it on an uncomfortable stool in a sexy, cool bar. We do the same with coffee at Starbucks. And we spend a whole load of cash to sit by a pool in Mexico, rather than the one at the Y.

We think we have other reasons for doing these things, reasons that are much more logical and detached. The bar is convenient. Starbucks has free Wi-Fi. And in Mexico you can scuba dive or ride a horse.

But home is convenient. Home has the internet, and there are bodies of water and horses here, too. We don’t go for any of that; we go because we want to get away.

Our homes can’t give us that getaway experience, of course, but they can offer something even better: an ongoing sense of well-being in our everyday life.

Allow me to say again what I said in chapter one: Your home is like a person—and, like a person, it has a soul.

It can speak to you. It can communicate with you. It can make you feel something unique.

Of course, I don’t blame you for not behaving like my aforementioned spiritual gurus and speaking back—or for thinking I’m a bit kooky for even mentioning the idea. But I do hope that reading this book has helped you think about your home’s potential in a different way. I hope you’ve seen that the atmosphere in which you spend the majority of your time can make a difference in your life. It can comfort you. It can calm you.

It can even help you find peace.

 

 

So, What Did You Think?

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Mollie Player gratefully welcomes all reader reviews on [+ Amazon.com+].

 

Also by Mollie Player

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[+ You’re Getting Closer: One Year of Finding God and a Few Good Friends+]

[+ The Power of Acceptance: One Year of Mindfulness and Meditation+]

[+ The Emergency Diet: The Somewhat Hard, Very Controversial, Totally Unheard Of and Fastest Possible Way to Lose Weight+]

[+ What I Learned from Jane+]

[+ Unicorn+]

[+ Being Good+]

Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby

 

 

About the Author

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Mollie Player is just a regular person. But that doesn’t mean she can’t at least attempt feats of great strength. Like overcoming depression. Getting skinny. Never arguing again. And, of course, finding inner peace.

Her spiritual memoirs include You’re Getting Closer: One Year of Finding God and a Few Good Friends, The Power of Acceptance: One Year of Mindfulness and Meditation, and What I Learned from Jane.

Her self-help books include The Emergency Diet: The Somewhat Hard, Very Controversial, Totally Unheard of and Fastest Possible Way to Lose Weight and The Naked House: Five Principles for a More Peaceful Home.

In her blog, The Ordinary Mystic, Player writes about the best spiritual practices to overcome depression. Subscribe at mollieplayer.com.

 

 

 


The Naked House: Five Principles for a More Peaceful Home

The solution is almost always fewer things. That's the Naked House philosophy in a nutshell, though the importance of top-notch organization ("a place for everything and everything in its place"), design unity, cleanliness and quality round out this book’s description of the most desirable, peaceful home in which to live. With a tongue-in-cheek, personal style, The Naked House is an inspiring but not-too-serious primer on cleaning, organizing and reducing clutter—and on changing the way you view the purpose and soul of your home.

  • Author: Mollie Player
  • Published: 2017-09-10 02:20:35
  • Words: 15942
The Naked House: Five Principles for a More Peaceful Home The Naked House: Five Principles for a More Peaceful Home