“People spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, and a good portion of that is spent at home,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. “Keeping your house in order makes living in the space more enjoyable and it reduces the risk of falling, which increase as we get older.”
Peek suggested starting with a thorough walkthrough of the house to identify any areas that may require special attention, such as loose rugs, less-than-sturdy furniture, poor lighting and clear walking paths.
Walkways, stairs and rooms where family members spend significant time should be well lit. Because shadows can be as much of a hazard as poor lighting, make sure the lighting is even.
Since one of the most common home hazards is tripping over objects in the floor, make sure walkways and floors are clear.
Also, use a tape measure to ensure there is plenty of room to maneuver around and in between furniture.
Generally, allow 18 inches between coffee tables and couches and chairs. Meanwhile, leave 32 inches around furniture and stationary items in areas such as kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms, which should provide plenty of space for everyone to move easily, including people with assistive devices such as walkers and wheelchairs.
For anyone interested in taking a more structured approach to spring cleaning, Peek recommended the KonMarie method.
“The idea behind KonMarie is to discard of all your clutter during one concentrated effort over a short period of time, which will lead to instant results that will inspire you to continue to keep your home in order,” Peek said.
This all-in-one-go approach is based on the international best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by Marie Kondo.
The KonMarie method essentially involves two steps: discarding unwanted items and deciding where to store the remaining items.
“As you’re sorting through items, keep only the things that spark joy, speak to your heart or bring you happiness,” Peek said. “Finish discarding items first, then concentrate on finding space for the items you decided to keep.”
During the decluttering process, tackle categories of items rather than specific rooms or spaces in the home. For each category, collect everything that belongs in that grouping before sorting and discarding.
For best results, begin with clothes, then move on to books, papers and miscellaneous items before finishing up with mementos.
“Beginning with your clothing helps you get used to making decisions about what to keep and what to discard,” Peek said. “Ideally, by the time you get to your mementos, you’ll be comfortable deciding what stays and what goes.”
After attending a February workshop led by Peek about the KonMarie method, Pat Tucker was impressed enough to purchase the book.
“I liked what she had to say and I’m sort of working on it. It’s a big undertaking. I’ve lived in this house since 1979,” she said.
Tucker was drawn to the event, in part, because, while a recent community service project involving making pillowcases for children with cancer made a dent in her collection of fabric, there was more downsizing to do.
Though surprised by the suggestion of piling up all her clothes and belongings first before sorting and organization, she sees the value in the approach.
“I couldn’t imagine that in 100 years, but I hope somebody realizes that’s probably the way to go,” Tucker said.
Peek acknowledged most people are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of their possessions and the idea of piling it up and sorting through it all at once could be daunting, but there is a method to this particular flavor of madness.
“As overwhelming as it might seem, gathering all the items in a certain category is important to the process. It gives you a good idea of just how much stuff you have and makes your efforts at eliminating clutter that much more effective,” she said.
It is important, too, to keep in mind the ultimate goal of an organizing effort based on the KonMarie method goes well beyond gaining a sparkling home.
“Really this is about surrounding yourself with the items that make you the happiest and give you the greatest joy,” Peek said.
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