Organizing The New Year

by | Jan 9, 2019 | The Writer's Life, On writing | 7 comments

Bear with me, everyone, because I’m not going to talk books for the new year in this post, (for that please check out Rogue Karna Small Bodman’s excellent post here), I’m going to talk resolutions! The new year is upon us and I’m doing what I imagine everyone else is–making resolutions. I’m plunging into a home organizing project, because I’m eyeing a kitchen renovation in a few months. I also wanted to redo the lower level bedroom into a home office, while still maintaining a bed for guests, and I decided to start there. 
My first foray into the project involved cleaning out the room. Like a good writer–and reader-I immediately headed to the local library for a few books on organizing. 
Bad idea. Until I actually read the books I thought I knew a bit about organization. My house, while not completely clutter-free, is not horrific either. We make our beds every morning and put the dishes in the dishwasher and the dining table and garage are clean and can be used to host a dinner and park a car. The Christmas decorations go up in mid-December and come down after “little” Christmas and as I type this are stored and organized in the crawlspace. So you can see why I thought I was ahead of the game. 
But these books discussed so much more. Was my closet organized by color? (No). Were my shoes neatly organized? (No). Did I have old, expired makeup lying around that I still used? (Yes). Ditto on the spice rack? (Lots of expired stuff there). And on and on. I dove in, and I’m here to report that once you start organizing (or tidying, as Marie Kondo calls it), it gets easier and you become more and more ruthless. Things I at first thought to keep on the first day, I later went back to and donated three days later when I was in full swing. The room is fairly empty, organized, and ready to be beautiful. 
And while I was reading these books I realized that I’d better not buy paint or new flooring for the lower level until I looked into that as well. 
Good idea, because while the house has hardwood floors the lower level is below grade. We had carpeting but wanted hardwood. Nope. Apparently it will buckle with the humidity fluctuations. The contractor suggested Vinyl Plank. I’d never heard of it, but posted on facebook to my friends to find out if any had it and how it held up. The response was quick and unanimous–everyone loved it, but warned me to get a product marked for Eco installation. I called the company that manufacturers the plank, because their assurances on the website didn’t seem to match the product I was purchasing, and a wonderful woman, who introduced herself as a chemist, answered. She assured me that the line I picked was free of certain troublesome chemicals. She also said “This is the number one question we get every day.” She said it in a cheerful voice, which was nice of her given the monotony of the request. (I have to admit, I was glad the rest of the floor buying consumers were concerned too). The floor is in and so far so good. 
Then I got into searching for paint and learned something else: that paint colors have a “Light Reflective Value” that is expressed in a number. I went to the Benjamin Moore site and, sure enough, they helpfully provided an LRV number for each color. Who knew? The lower the number the more light the room should get or it will appear dark. Since my room was below grade with those narrow garden apartment-type windows, I was informed that a color with an LRV of 60 or above was best. Now, did I fully buy into this LRV thing? No. But I was willing to test. So I purchased four colors, with LRV’s ranging from 52 through 68 and slapped them on the walls in large test strips. Sure enough, 68 was the best. The color is on the wall (Benjamin Moore’s Moonshine– a lovely light gray) and looks amazing.          
The Murphy Bed 

 And finally I decided to toss the traditional bed and get a Murphy Bed. One of those things that look like cabinets, but pull down into a bed when opened. This way the office was an office when I used it, and a bedroom when a guest did. Again, I searched far and wide. These things are expensive! But here is a picture of mine-you’d never guess a bed is incorporated in that, would you?

The work continues, and I’m still making daily trips to Salvation Army and still filling big black garbage bags. But I also imagine myself and the house becoming lighter and happier as I do. I’m happy knowing that the kids’ toys that my children have outgrown will delight some new child, that the book I left in the Free Library down the street will be read again by someone new, and that the comforter will keep someone else warm on a cold night. And I’m moving onward to the kitchen project, two bathrooms and another bedroom. Wish me luck! (And any tips would be greatly appreciated!)

Happy New Year!

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Gayle Lynds

    I am so impressed and inspired, Jamie. What you're accomplishing! Of course you feel lighter. I need to do the same, even though we've lived in this house only 8 years. Whenever something is out of my sight, it seems to multiply geometrically. How does that happen! Onward!

  2. Chris Goff

    When we were downsizing, my daughter came up with a great idea–create a private Instagram space for all those things you struggle to part with. I call mine vitual nostalgia.

  3. Robin Burcell

    I strive to get organized every year! Good luck!!!

  4. Jamie Freveletti

    Right? But out of sight out of mind. and yes, Onward!