transform your space into
your personal haven




a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation


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copyright 1999-2004

cull, baby, cull: living room edition 
by Yee-Fan Sun
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continued from page 1

The plan of action
Start with the no-brainer stuff first: if you have any clothing strewn anywhere in the living room, find another home for it. Coats and other outerwear go in a closet or coatrack; all other clothing belongs in the bedroom (if it's clean) or in a hamper (if it's not). Seriously, I know this might sound obvious, but I know all too well how easy it is to let the coats pile up on that unused armchair, to let the folded (maybe) laundry sit on the edge of the coffee table while you wait for that elusive free moment for you to get around to putting it away. Quit making excuses and deal with it all now. In all likelihood, your abode is small enough that it'll take just a millisecond more -- tops -- to dig your jacket out of the closet or off a wall hook than it would to grab it from the back of the sofa when you want to go out.

With your clothing all picked up and stowed away in its proper place, congratulations! You should now be able to see your sofa. Next up are all those other surfaces. If your pad is anything like mine, these have a tendency to get covered by newspapers you're waiting to recycle, magazines you've only half-read, opened mail you have yet to deal with, random post-it notes you've scribbled to your roommate, your sweetie, yourself, whoever. Yes, all that paper stuff has a tendency to breed on any and all open surfaces around the living room. The lazy person way of dealing with this generally involves sliding the old paper stuff over and stacking the new paper stuff on top, until your living room looks like one big, solid mountain range of paper. Instead of creating ever larger and more precariously-balanced piles, take the time to actually look through all that junk that's covering your coffee table, your end tables, the top of your entertainment center -- you get the picture.

Unless you're living in a dentist's waiting room, there is no reason in the world you need to have more than one newspaper and a couple of magazines out on the coffee table. Any newspaper other than the one from today should pretty much go directly in your recycling box; you're not maintaining an archive here. Magazines are a little trickier to deal with, though, as you might find yourself flipping through that issue of Budget Living from three months ago and realize there's a project in there you'd really like to try. Here's where you just have to get honest with yourself -- are you ever really going to put the ideas in that fabulous article to use? Really and truly? Seriously? If after a good ponder you can firmly answer yes, snip out that article and start keeping a binder for this and other clippings. The rest of the magazine can go into the recycling bin. If you have any whole magazines for which you have no use, you might also consider donating those to a thriftshop or finding out if a used bookstore wants them. As for mail and post-it notes type clutter, separate it into two piles: stuff to attend to and stuff to pitch. Toss the latter in the recycling/trash, and stick the former into your to-do file folder.

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