Friday, September 13, 2013

Converting Zone 1: The Front Entry

This is part of a series of posts on The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. I will be recording what I'm doing to transform my house into "one that cleans itself." I will also be helping my Mom work on her house and she has graciously given me permission to blog about her transformation, too. You can find all the posts in the series by looking for the label HTCI. Today we're talking about my place. My apologies, it's long.

Clark stipulates that the first zone or area to work on is the entry way.

Mine is essentially ell shaped.

At the stairs the hallway turns left where there are four doors and a dresser.

Identify the housekeeping issues in the area and figure out the cause of them. Solutions come later, much later, but since I am presenting everything at once, I will list those here, too.

  • The front hall carpet and the floor is filthy.
  • -------I have no cleaning routine in place for the floors.
  • solution: schedule a time to clean the rug and floors. Once a month is fine for now.
This needs to be washed in the machine and hung out to dry.

  • The back dresser is piled up with junk.
  • ------Once again, I need a routine for regularly cleaning it off.
  • solution: I think that once I get back to the daily pick up, this will resolve itself.

  • Coat closet is crowded.
  • -----Too much stuff. My husband has probably one too many coats in there, there's ironing which has been in there all summer and the drapes I've been meaning to sew. Time to get those things done.
  • solution: There's not much I can do about this--stay on top of the ironing, I suppose.
closet, before

  • The hall lights are not working.
  • ----It hasn't worked properly since I took the fixture down and painted it a year or so ago.
  • solution: Replace the light bulbs and see if that fixes the problem. It did!

  • The back hallway is dingy
  • ----The wall colour absorbs too much light for the space.
  • solution: Paint with a new colour.

The steps to Convert your area into one "that cleans itself."

1. Clear the clutter.

There really wasn't all that much to do....get rid of the mop I never use.......collect the odd gloves and wonder what to do with them........iron the shirts which have been patiently waiting in the closet all summer.......find a new home for the few art supplies which still remain.  It is no exaggeration to say that I have been working on this area for more than six years. All you have to do is follow the label "Front Entry" to read of all my different attempts at decluttering and reorganizing this area.

drawer before

drawer after

2. Open Up and Clean

....washed the drawer (hint: vacuum it first, then use a damp rag to wipe it out.)
...the dresser top and sides
...the walls, doors and door frames
...the floor
...cleaned the mirrors, the glass in the door, blah blah blah....

3. Neaten, Organize, Solve problem spots.

I think figuring out the purpose of the room or area is absolutely essential to know how to organize it at all. Clark doesn't talk about this in her book though Julie Morgenstern does in Organizing from the Inside Out. An entry way is fairly easy to figure out and it is basically the same for all of us, though the details will differ. Essentially, entry ways need to be set up to handle things coming into and going out of the house and store those things we need to wear outside the house.  As well, it is prime real estate so only the most frequently used items should be here. That means the camo hunting jacket and matching pants would ideally be somewhere else!

closet, after

Here's my in and out system:

The front door is used primarily by the kids to go and from school. My husband pretty much uses the back door (closer to the garage) and I use both. The chair in the hall way captures my daughter's back pack. I have met her half way on this--and I only require her to move it somewhere else--her room, the closet, I don't care--on Fridays. My son's room is on the main floor and he just carries all his stuff into it directly when he gets home.  Shoes and boots stay on the mat as needed. Mail is sorted the minute I bring it in. It is taken to the "office/dining room." Any papers which the kids need me to sign go into my folder on the dresser.

Library books to be returned go into the bucket (now lined with a library bag).  Letters to be mailed go on the shelf. Any papers or other similar items which I need the kids to get go into their folders on the dresser. Bags we use for shopping live in a basket on the floor of the closet.

The coat closet and the one drawer in the dresser. The closet holds coats, and sweaters. (It also holds projects and ironing (there is no where else, I'm afraid.)The drawer has scarves, gloves and hats...and the dog's mitts and coat. We only have one toque each and maybe two sets of gloves. We each have a scarf. That's it. When the kids were little we had more, of course, but not that much more. The more you have, the more you lose.

4. Verify the Rabbit Trails and Set up Stations.

I have no rabbit trails. Really, I don't. My daughter will be leaving not just her backpack, but her coat here soon. For many years I considered it but I decided not to hang up hooks because hanging a back pack and a coat out in the open for everyone to see, here, in my front hallway would be just as ugly as the coat and backpack lying on the floor or set on the chair.

Clark (as well as Garvey at Simplify 101) makes a distinction between a home "good enough" for living and a home that's "company ready." One of the things a house that cleans itself does is convert from the former to the latter pretty quickly. I think that asking my daughter to move these two items when we're expecting company is good enough, thank goodness. I don't know what I'd do if there was my son's stuff to deal with, too.

By the way, the collection bucket for the library books could be considered a station--the rabbit trail all the library books left all over the house. The thing is, we've had a designated spot  for finished library books for so long, I barely even think about it.

The silver bucket is our library book collection bin.

5. Examine Sight Zones.

Is everything within view of the entrance to the room that could turn into a disastrous mess out of sight?
Yes. As much as it can be. Though, I noticed when I was taking pictures that the mirrors reflect and import messes from other rooms. I don't want that!

6. Record Future Improvements Needed.

1. Scrape popcorn off the ceiling of the back hallway
2. Paint the walls to match the front hallway.
3. Paint the trim and the doors in the back hallway.
4. Re-paint the stair risers. They look pretty ratty.

7. Take Steps Now for Ongoing Maintenance

In Clark's book, she has a long discussion about setting up "Quick Cleaning Stations" in each room. It mostly involves keeping things like disposable wipes handy suitable for each of the surfaces in the room. I will not be doing this for this area. Again, if my kids were still littles, I just might stash a package of mirror wipes in the top drawer of that dresser. I remember the kids used to play in front of it quite a bit. And a little hand held vac would have been handy for the dustbunnies which collect in the corners.

8. The Checklist.

The checklist is a review of the principles introduced in Step 9 of the preparation chapters. Unfortunately, it is a long list and it is not entirely clear to me what Clark means, for example, by  “Use your family’s natural tendency towards convenience to keep your house clean" except, of course, to hang hooks in the hallway to catch my daughter's coat and back pack which I've already discussed. I imagine I'll go into this part in more detail when working on my Mom's place.

Next area for me is my back entry way. Hopefully, I'll have a post about Mom's soon.


onshore said...

One thing that cought my eye was that you have the ironing board and iron in a different cabinet than the stuff that needs to be ironed. Why is that?

Alana in Canada said...

It is mainly because the space on the back of the door where the ironing board is isn't very deep. There's not much you can put on the door to make it useful. Second, there's no hanging space there for the things to be ironed. It's not a big deal because the closets are kitty corner from each other in the same hallway.

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