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How to Simplify Your Life in 2018

Say goodbye to chaos, clutter, and overwhelm, and hello to breathing space, simplicity, and a wider margin to your days. Sounds delicious, right? If simplifying your life is at the top of your resolutions list for 2018, but you’re not sure where to begin, start here. Put these 5 tips into practice, and you’ll be on your way to a more spacious home and schedule before you know it.

Avenue Lifestyle
Avenue Lifestyle

Tip #1 — Decide how you want your home to feel

Instead of getting hung up on how your home looks, zero in on how you want to feel when you are spending time in your home. For example, would you like your home to feel peaceful, spacious, and clean? Or creative, welcoming, and warm? Aim to choose three keywords that capture the essence of how you want to feel (and how you hope others feel) when you enter your home. Once you have your words, use them to evaluate your space and everything in it. For each item in your home, consider whether it contributes to, or detracts from, the feeling you wish to create.

Avenue LifestyleHYGGE
Avenue Lifestyle

Tip #2 — Name your essentials

Once you’ve let go of some of the clutter that doesn’t mesh with how you want your home to feel, it’s time to move on to the experiences you want to have in your space. So consider this: What are your essentials? What activities, rituals, and routines bring you joy and peace? For me, this includes waking up early so I can sip coffee from my favorite mug in peace and quiet, reading great books, and having cozy game nights with my family. Perhaps for you it’s yoga, knitting, and playing the cello! There are no right or wrong answers here, but do keep your list short and sweet. And then make these items your top priority. To find extra time, pare back on non-essentials that don’t feed your soul, like aimless internet browsing and scrolling through social media feeds.

Shira Gill2
Vivian Johnson for Shira Gill

Tip #3 — Choose quality over quantity

Throughout the year, whenever you need to shop for something new, make ‘quality over quantity’ your new mantra. Making this one change means you’ll choose items that you really love, and stop filling your home with clutter. For example, pick the one lovely leather bag you love, rather than three so-so bags that you bought because they were on sale.

Tip #4 — Schedule regular clutter clearing dates

There are regular times throughout the year when we get new things: birthdays, holidays, back-to-school shopping, but we hardly ever make regularly scheduled times to clear out the old things. No wonder we end up with cluttered homes! So grab your calendar, and pencil in at least three dates when you can commit a day to clearing clutter from your home. With these in place, your space has a much better chance of staying clean and clutter-free throughout the year (and beyond).

Shira Gill1
Vivian Johnson for Shira Gill

Tip #5 — Make small choices that add up

The little things really do add up to big results, and this is definitely true when it comes to decluttering and simplifying your life! Aim to pick up just one tiny new habit at a time — for example, opening your mail immediately and recycling all the junk — and once it’s fully integrated into your routine, add another tiny habit, like doing a ten minute tidy up before bed each evening. To keep your awareness on simplifying, I highly recommend keeping a simplicity journal where you record your thoughts on new habits you’re trying, and the progress you are making. You can do it!

Rug Roundup
Rug Shopping Guide: 1. Surya Jill Rosenwald Orinocco Webs in black and cream; 2. Jaipur Rugs Naturals Lucia Mayen in white and tan; 3. Surya Contemporary Pillows Teori IX in ivory and light gray; 4. Loloi Rugs Justina Blakeney Kahelo in ivory and aqua; 5. Loloi Rugs Phoebe in white.

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at LauraGaskill.com!

Copyright © Rugs Direct ®

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3 Tips for a More Peaceful Morning Routine

How your morning goes can set the tone for the entire day. Just think back to the last frantic day you had, and I’m sure you’ll agree! Instead of starting with the snooze button, skipped breakfast, and forgotten appointments, why not cultivate a more calming routine, instead? Read on for 3 key ingredients to consistently create more peaceful, positive mornings.

Yvestown
Yvestown

Key Ingredient No. 1: A good night’s rest. There’s no getting around it, if you want to bounce out of bed ready to greet the day with a positive mindset, you’ve got to have enough sleep! As a former night owl, I can assure you that (while not entirely pleasant) it is possible to adjust your sleep schedule and become a morning lark. Start winding down a bit earlier each night, put away the screens (pick up a book instead), and begin to dim the lights to create a more restful ambiance. A neat and tidy bedroom, free of clutter, with fresh sheets on the bed and a cozy rug underfoot doesn’t hurt, either.

VT Wonen
VT Wonen

Key Ingredient No. 2: Create a cozy morning nook. While you’re waking up, bleary eyed and wondering what on earth possessed you to set the alarm so early, it can really help to have an inviting nook to retreat to. This should be somewhere in your home that gets lovely morning light, and includes a comfy spot to sit. Use this space to practice a nourishing morning routine like writing in a journal, recording a list of things you are grateful for, reading uplifting books, or meditating. Open the shades, let in a bit of fresh air, and greet the new day with positive intentions.

Local Milk
Local Milk

Key Ingredient No. 3: Slow down and savor your favorite simple pleasures. Ahh, the rich scent of freshly roasted coffee beans, golden light streaming in the window… Instead of gulping down your first cup of coffee or tea as quickly as possible, consider slowing down and savoring those few precious moments of morning peace. As you sip, think about how you would like your day to unfold. A beautiful morning is bound to lead to good things!

Morning Rugs

Rugs fit for a morning nook (clockwise from top left): Surya DwellStudio Riad; Surya Lotta Jansdotter Decorativa in dark purple; Surya Lotta Jansdotter Decorativa in dark blue; Surya Jill Rosenwald Orinocco Webs in cream and mauve.

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at LauraGaskill.com!

Copyright © Rugs Direct ®

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5 Heartfelt Touches for Valentine’s Day and Beyond

Growing up, my grandfather always made a point of surprising me and my mom with cards, flowers, and raspberry pastries from our favorite bakery on Valentine’s Day morning, so I still associate this holiday more with family and love in general than romantic dinners. So whether you are planning something special for your sweetie, or want to celebrate with friends (or your kids!) here are 5 great ideas to make the day special.

Valentines 1
Maison Hand via Honestly WTF

1. Breakfast in bed. Who can resist a special tray of sweet treats and freshly brewed coffee enjoyed propped up in a comfy bed? Bring a bit of extra sweetness in by adorning your bedside with a vase of flowers, and swapping out your usual pillow cases for dusky pink versions.

Valentines 2
Sf Girl By Bay

2. Light it up. If you’re planning a Valentine’s Day party, the quickest way to create a festive, romantic atmosphere is by boosting the mood lighting. Wrap a pillar in strands of twinkle lights or drape them across the ceiling, and load up on candles. For a really special smile booth worthy prop, consider tracking down a great big light-up heart, which can double as decor long after the holiday.

Valentines 3
Sf Girl By Bay

3. Get creative with flowers. Tired of the same-old same-old red rose bouquets? Try something unexpected and crafty instead by hanging single stems of flowers from the ceiling using fishing line. Hung above a self-serve bar, it looks like a modern art installation!

Valentines 4
Rue

4. Set a special table. Whether you are planning an intimate dinner for two, or a sweet school day breakfast, taking the time to pull out the “fancy” dishes and fold the napkins into hearts is all it takes to set the meal apart.

Valentines 5
The Nester

5. Get crafty. If you’re searching for a Valentine’s Day craft project that won’t get tossed after V-day, I suggest this embroidery hoop project from The Nester. Simply fill embroidery hoops of various sizes (available at any craft store) with linen fabric, and embellish with sequins, embroidery thread, pom poms, or any other fun supplies you happen to have on hand.

And of course, to set the mood, wouldn’t it be fun to roll out a super-soft pink rug underfoot? I would love to use any of these options in the dining room for a Valentine’s Day dinner party:

Valentine's Rugs

Rug shopping guide (clockwise from top left): Safavieh Vision in pink; Artistic Weavers Madeline Rosey in brown and pink; Safavieh Valencia in pink; Jaipur Rugs Ceres Eris in grey, silver, blue and pink.

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at LauraGaskill.com!

Copyright © Rugs Direct ®

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New Year Clutter Clearing Tips

The new year feels like a natural time to make a fresh start: and what better way than by finally letting go of some of the clutter that has been building up in your home over the past year? Read on for 5 ways to begin a new year’s purge. Out with the old, and in with the new!

Jersey-Ice-Cream-Co-Old-Chatham-House-Remodelista-eaves-bdrm
Photo: Beth Kirby of Local Milk for Remodelista

1. Create a peaceful bedroom haven. The bedroom is where we go to rest and recharge, so I find that this is the best place to begin. Remove everything here that distracts from the primary purpose of deep, restful sleep, and especially anything work-related! Get back to the basics with a nice set of bedding, a cozy rug underfoot, a good lamp, and perhaps a scented candle and vase of flowers at your bedside. Donate tired old bedding, and store the rest neatly by tucking each set of sheets inside one of the pillow cases.

Jersey-Ice-Cream-Co-Shower-caddy
Photo: Beth Kirby of Local Milk for Remodelista

2. Simplify the bath for a spa-like feel. A jumble of half-used products (most of which you don’t really like) makes the bathroom feel cramped, and makes it harder to keep things neat and clean. Toss (recycling if possible) any bath or beauty products you do not use or like, and give the space a thorough cleaning before placing only your favorite products back. In the long run, it’s actually less expensive (and far more pleasurable!) to treat yourself to a few high quality products you love, rather than a host of less expensive lotions and potions that don’t live up to their promise.

Reading my Tea Leaves
Photo: Reading My Tea Leaves

3. Reduce paper. Of all the pieces of the clutter clearing puzzle, handling paper tends to be our least favorite task, so brew yourself a big cup of coffee or a strong mug of tea, and put on some encouraging music as you tackle that paper pile! Take yourself off of catalog mailing lists, shred and recycle old documents you no longer need, and set up a simple system to keep up with incoming paper. And when it comes to bills and other paperwork, opt for the digital option whenever possible to cut down on physical papers to file.

Bookshelves
Photo: MMM Architects via Houzz

4. Edit your book collection. As a major book lover, I have come to the realization that the act of choosing and reading a new book is one of my life’s greatest pleasures. I’ve also come to realize that I do not need to keep every book I buy forever! Instead, I aim to keep up a personally curated library of favorites by regularly editing my book collection. If you are a big reader, doing a big book clear-out is a great way to start the new year. Take your boxes of no-longer wanted books to your local used bookshop to sell, or donate them to a local charity.

Jersey-Ice-Cream-Co.-Old-Chatham-house-kitchen-corner
Photo: Beth Kirby of Local Milk for Remodelista

5. Clear out the kitchen. As one of the most often used spaces in the home, it is important to keep the kitchen well organized and running smoothly. Unfortunately, because it’s one of the most-used spaces, that also tends to mean it gets out of hand the quickest! Open up all of those cupboards, and pare back to the essentials (whatever that word means for you and your family), removing the obvious junk (freebie plastic cups, Tupperware without lids) and bizarre kitchen tools you never use. If you like to have lots of extras on hand for entertaining, consider storing them neatly in a single bin, somewhere other than the kitchen. We keep a box of extra wine glasses and silverware (the things we always seem to run short on at parties) in the upstairs hall closet.

Once you’ve finished clearing clutter, you may feel the urge to bring in something new to refresh your space – but instead of getting something that will only re-clutter your home, aim to choose something that is beautiful, but also practical. After clearing your bedroom, for example, if you notice that your old bedside rug has seen better days, you might want to replace it with a new version (which won’t add to your home’s clutter as long as you remove the old rug first).

I have my eye on these beauties, made from sari silk, any of which would feel luxurious in a bedroom:Sari silk rugs
Rug shopping guide (Clockwise from top left): 1. Loloi Rugs Giselle in Fiesta 2. Feizy Rugs Sattika in Crimson 3. Feizy Rugs Sattika in Meadow 4. Feizy Rugs Arushi in Purple.

For more inspiration from Laura, follow along with her at LauraGaskill.com!

Copyright © Rugs Direct ®

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