Junk room no more

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Gracious advice offered by the 19th Century designer and artist William Morris. Yet, almost every client I have ever worked with has a junk drawer or junk closet lurking in some corner of their home. The worst offenders harbor an entire junk (“Spare”; “Store”) room, filled with who-knows-what. What are these places really? Hideouts to stash all the stuff you can’t decide what to do with.

11-1-12-julie.jpg What starts as the room you’ll get around to doing something wonderful with – becomes the project you never get to. Before long it becomes the door you slide past while giving friends the grand tour of your home: “Ohhh, that’s just the junk room.” The financial loss weighs heavy on your mind as you calculate the square footage of the room multiplied by cost per square foot (not to mention the large volume of money spent on all the dormant objects inside). Wasted space is wasted opportunity…not only could this be the place where you can live more fully but it might also be an opportunity to bring much needed income, energy or people into your life.

Transform your “Den of Miscellany” into a fully functioning space. Here’s how:

Step 1: Override your Fear of Commitment. Often, junk rooms grow out of indecision–a fear of assigning the space one particular purpose. Transcend your waffling by making it a space that produces something for you. For example, your “spare room” could be used to:

  • generate revenue (rent to a tenant or start the small business you’ve been dreaming up);
  • create energy (a place to express your creativity as a craft or hobby room);
  • cultivate relationships (a beautiful guest room or a peaceful nook for lounging and conversation);
  • fuel your health (a haven for exercise, meditation, yoga, etc.)

Decide which function you could really use in your life right now.

Step 2: Storyboard the Space. When reclaiming a Junk Room, start conservatively by setting up the room with what you already own. This enables you to truly see the room’s potential before spending a fortune. Let’s say you’ve decided to turn your spare room into a home gym. Instead of rushing out to purchase a top of the line universal machine and wall mounted 63 inch flat-screen TV, just clear out the room of the “junk” and set up a few hand weights, an exercise ball, yoga mat, and a portable TV or even speakers plugged into your computer to play workout tunes. With the basics in place, you’ll be able to see if the space really is a fit for your lifestyle.

Step 3: Test-drive for 3 months. Now comes the fun part-enjoying the new space that sat idle for years. Start working out in your new gym. Invite close friends to stay in your guest room. Meditate in your quiet retreat. Spend a few hours per week in your new home office, or knit, scrapbook and play to your heart’s content. Do you like being in the space? Is it producing the results you had envisioned? Are you making the time to enjoy your new haven?

If the function you selected actually begins to produce what you’d hoped (enhanced revenue, energy, relationships or health) you may be ready to invest in the bigger ticket items,such as carpeting, hanging some art on the walls or buying furniture and window treatments you need. Consider taking the room that is now useful, and make it beautiful. William Morris would be proud.

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4 Responses to Junk room no more

  1. Brandi Briscoe says:

    Great advice! I’ve let the family stash their “junk” in my sewing room, but you’ve inspired me to break that habit, clean it out, and renew the value of my hobby space.

  2. BJ HOCKINSON says:

    I gathered items for a garage sale over the first part of the year, marking them as I stored them in the “Junk” room. Setting up for the sale was simple. After the sale I boxed everything for charity or trash, and did not bring a single item back into the house. I don’t miss anything I got rid of. Feels good.

  3. Laura says:

    What a great idea! There is really no blessing in having too much space — it just ends up being a place to collect. My favorite home ever was a studio apartment that had 3 small closets. I wanted for nothing and had nothing extra!

    One technique that helps make purging the junk room a little easier is to toss 10 things a day. It’s hard to purge a lot at a time — sometimes it takes a few times before we can bear to give something up (sentiment, guilt, etc.). Over time, the decisions become easier. Some days the 10 things may be the easy stuff, other days you’ll have the strength for the harder decisions. Setting a time limit each day helps get you in there — you couldn’t bear the thought of doing the whole room at once, but a little at a time is palatable.

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