Husband and I have lived together for three years. Last year, we married and up-sized from a small apartment to our first (rented) home. When we moved in, we weren’t used to having so much space. We had a yard to deal with, a garden to maintain, a hot tub to balance, a fireplace to use, and major appliances. We had SPARE ROOMS.
At first it was great, but we quickly found ourselves overwhelmed. Rooms kind of took on lives of their own. A suite with wood paneling, a rock wall, a bathroom, and in-room tub (which we call The Sex Room since it looks like a ’60s porn set), became “Storage Room B” instead of a swanky guest space or a darkroom for Husband’s photography.
Our dining nook was crowded with a table that didn’t fit. The front room, after serving as our dumping ground for moving boxes, sat empty except for a sofa that awkwardly faced the front door (not my idea of a Focal Point… Oh hi, you’re home? I’m just sitting here staring at you…).
We discussed one bedroom serving as my office, but ended up becoming a retreat for our cat (who is scared of our large dog), while my stuff sat in boxes.
We would say “Let’s use the hot tub!” then remember it had been two weeks since we last balanced it, and wake in the night to hear the sucking sounds of our suddenly bone-dry water feature.
For a few months we were busy planning our wedding reception party, but afterward it was time to realize that our house, though great in layout, character and space, was a hot mess with no system. After a summer’s worth of tripping over boxes and feeling overwhelmed, I made it my project to GET ORGANIZED, PEOPLE.
I got the idea from Nonny from A Slob Comes Clean to start with a daily checklist (you can download her printable ones here for $2, a worthy investment) to tackle everyday things like laundry, the hot tub, the dishes (maybe now that we have a dishwasher, we should run it every other night instead of letting the sink pile up with disgusting pots?) and making sure our pets ate.
Our checklist is now on our fridge, and we have both daily and weekly charts. It’s a great way to help us realize when our floor hasn’t been mopped in two weeks, or when one of us is doing too much of the shared workload. It also doubles as a shopping list organized by store, which helps minimize the multiple weekly trips we were making to Ralph’s, Home Depot, etc.
For figuring out how to organize, decorate, and actually USE the rest of our house, I made a shared Google document with Husband called Home Intentions. This was part checklist and part journal, where we listed and discussed what systems we needed, what we wanted out of each room in our home, what we currently had in there, and brainstorming ways to solve the problems.
We realized we hated the dining nook being crowded by the table and the front room being empty except for Awkward Sofa. We decided to use the front room as our dining area, with the table in the middle and a nice little sideboard, and put the sofa in the dining nook for a place where one of us hangs out while the other cooks, does dishes, or feeds the dogs. I realized that rather than just an office, the Cat Retreat could also be a sewing room, reading room, and Craft Center.
The Sex Room is now where I get ready in the morning, as well as a place where we store our camping, photography and sporting gear, and where Husband keeps his tools so he can work on projects. I use the tub for my weekly pedicures, and it’s a great space for guests to use when they stay over. It still needs some creative shelving solutions to make it complete, but at least we KNOW what the problems are and what the goal is for the room.
Looking back over our document, we can see how far we’ve come when things feel oppressive. (Yeah it took us three months to hang that crazy Ikea light fixture in the dining room, but by golly it’s DONE!) Now we truly enjoy our home, and can enjoy sharing all of the extra space with our friends. If you need help, I’ve made a free, public copy of our home worksheet available here. You can make your own write-able copy from it and specify it/ fill it out to your needs.