Improve your living environment with home resolutions

FARGO -- After sweeping up the 2016 confetti and gathering the empty Champagne bottles from New Year's Eve, you may be left looking around your home wondering, "Now what?"For many, the new year presents an opportunity for a fresh start, with heal...

FARGO - After sweeping up the 2016 confetti and gathering the empty Champagne bottles from New Year's Eve, you may be left looking around your home wondering, "Now what?"

For many, the new year presents an opportunity for a fresh start, with health and fitness dominating most New Year's resolution lists. But it's also a good time to set some practical home-improvement goals.

Whether you have a studio apartment or a sprawling mansion, these suggestions for home resolutions, organized by category, will help improve your living environment, making it more enjoyable to return to after a long day.

Control your clutter

You may be tempted to resolve to "clean more," but you have to take care of the clutter first. You can't really clean the bathroom if the counter is littered with beauty products and there's dirty laundry covering the floor.


In fact, keeping clutter at bay is Trisha Lake's No. 1 suggestion for a New Year's resolution. Lake, owner of the Fargo-based TLC Cleaning, says clients who use her service on a regular basis are more likely to have a handle on clutter because they're required to pick up before cleaning staff arrive.

"When clients choose to go with us and start a routine, their homes are five, six, even 10 times more likely to stay organized," she says. "If we're coming every week, there is very minimal clutter they have to pick up."

If a cleaning service isn't in your budget, use guests or other visitors to motivate you. With your book club coming over, say, on Saturday, that's your deadline. Even if you're doing your own cleaning, it helps to block off the time and put it in your planner.

Manage your papers

Deb Williams, professional organizer with Ducks in a Row Organizing, says writing it down is the trick to making any resolution stick. Her home resolution choice addresses a common problem for her clients - managing a household's influx of papers, which inevitably pile up over time.

She says people think they need to keep more than they actually do, especially now that banking statements, medical records and other documents are easily accessible online.

Start by gathering all the loose papers and stacks of papers scattered throughout your home. Then separate it into two piles: things you need to know and things you need to do. Instead of leaving the "things to do" pile out as a visual reminder for you to sign forms or pay bills, put their deadlines in your planner.

"A lot of people leave stuff sitting out to remind them to take care of it, but it gets covered up and you forget about it. Put it on your calendar instead. Once it's in the planner, then you can file it," she says.


After you complete the action, decide whether you need to keep the paper. Ask yourself, "Will I need to refer to this again?" "How easy would it be to find this again?" If you don't think you'll need to look at it again or it can be easily replaced, throw it out or shred it.

Williams files her "keep" papers in a binder separated by tabs. There you won't find old energy bills, but you will find papers she might need to reference, like a list of volunteers and their contact info.

"I think almost everything has an expiration date. Very few things need to be kept forever," she says. "Legal documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates, death certificates, mortgage documents, etc., should be able to fit in a small file cabinet."

Once you've minimized your existing paperwork, make the process a regular part of your routine. Once a week (or more, if you have kids), go through any new mail and papers that come into the home. If you do it that often, it's not as big of a job, Williams says.

Rearrange your furniture

When asked for a home decor resolution, Julie Alin, visual trends consultant for Scheels Home & Hardware in Fargo, says the first thing that comes to mind is to rearrange the furniture. Alin, who runs a service through Scheels Home & Hardware called "Altering Spaces," says she's asked to do it up to three times a week.

"Rearranging the furniture can give the home a whole new look and flow," she says. "It can make it more functional, it can make it cozier, and it can make it more suitable for conversation."

When Alin rearranges furniture, she first assesses the space for its focal point. Most people assume that's the TV, but it could be a water feature, a view of the lake or a gallery wall.


She says pulling the furniture away from the walls can give a room a new feel, too.

"Believe it or not, it kind of 'classifies' your space a little better," she says.

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