By Debbie Gardner
EAST LONGMEADOW – There’s a simple way to give your home a fresh look for fall, and all it will cost is a little elbow grease.
Taking the time to deep clean, declutter and organize your rooms can go a long way toward refreshing your living space, said Yvonne Afonso, owner of Dressing Homes by Y.L.A., a home styling service that assists sellers and homeowners in optimizing the style and space in their homes.
As the weather cools and families move indoors for activities, Afonso noted, “we’re closing up houses that have so many allergens from the summer season,” it makes sense to make the time for a fall cleanup – with a restyling twist.
She outlined these simple steps to making the most of an indoor fall cleanup.
1. Make decluttering easy.
Nothing can freshen the look of a room faster than clearing away the clutter.
“Get the donation bags out [and] put trash bags in all the rooms you want to declutter,” Afonso said. “If the bags are in the room, you will execute [the decluttering] and not put it off.”
She added that many nonprofits are always looking for good, usable items – from home goods to clothing – and by decluttering your home you can help out others in your community.
2. Get the allergens out.
“Go above and beyond the regular routine cleaning [of your home],” Afonso said, adding that by doing a thorough washing and cleaning of surfaces you are improving your home’s indoor air quality for the colder months ahead.
“Wash the windows, clean the carpets, wash your bedding,” she noted, adding that upholstery and window sheers and draperies should also be given a good cleaning before the heating season begins.
3. Think about your home’s traffic pattern.
Afonso said the ease – or difficulty – of moving through a room creates a feeling for that space, one that often transcends the décor you’ve chosen for a room.
“There should be a natural movement through a room, a fluid movement,” she said. “You should not be bumping into things.”
Don’t be afraid to remove a chair, or even a large piece of furniture such as a bookcase to allow people to move freely through a room.
“If you have to zigzag your way through a room, there’s something wrong [with your floor plan],” she said. “If you have exhausted all of your mental energy trying to figure out a flow pattern, it’s time to call a professional.”
4. Let the light in.
Look at how you are placing furnishings in the room, paying attention to their proximity to windows, Afonso said. Proper placement maximizes natural light in your home, an important asset, as the days grow shorter.
“You shouldn’t [not be able to] see outside because there is a bookcase in front of a window,” she said.
5. Organize those high-traffic spaces.
Afonso said certain rooms, such as the kitchen, could benefit from a periodic tune up of how you use your space. For example, by re-thinking where you store certain items, you can often cut down on the time it takes to complete everyday tasks.
“Store your plates and flatware near the dishwasher [for example],” Afonso said, adding that by placing kid-friendly dishes and flatware in a basket at an accessible height, you can both empower your kids to do things for themselves and encourage them to help with daily chores.
6. Revisit the organization theme throughout your home.
“Organizing is a big deal,” Afonso said, adding that so much everyday family strife often stems from people not being able to locate something they need.
She noted that popular stores such as Ikea, The Container Store and even the mass retailer, Target, carry such things as stylishly lined baskets, decorator shelving and other of-the-moment types of organizing units that can be used to help keep clutter from returning in nearly any room.
Yvonne Afonso of East Longmeadow owns Dressing Homes by Y.L.A – Home Styling Services for Selling or Dwelling. Her website is www.dressinghomesbyyla.com. She can be reached by phone at 374-9161.