Megan Arquette: Your Home’s Resolution

December 13, 2011

When people ask, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?†I respond, “Nothing. I don’t play that game.†I swear I’m not a defeatist. I just know my limitations. Lose ten pounds? Run more? Eat less? Stop eating gluten…meat…frozen Snickers bars…whatever? I just know myself too well. However, I like the idea that the new year marks the beginning of our own tabula rasa: a blank slate ready to be scribbled upon.

Come the second week of January, with holiday trimmings boxed up and stored, it’s the perfect time to see our homes with a fresh eye…and the perfect time to give the house its own New Year’s resolutions.

So with only a few more weeks left in 2011, let me play this little game with you. I was inspired by designer and author James Swan, and his book, 101 Things I Hate About Your House. Take a look at your house and start noting little things that you can spruce up, replace or just flat-out redo.

The front door: Have you looked at yours lately? Dog nose smudges aside, does it need a new paint job? A fresh paint job is an easy way to brighten up the first thing your guests see when they come to visit. Think outside the box. Maybe paint your door something besides high-gloss black. And don’t forget to replace that door mat. I recommend a natural coir mat over those rubber-backed ones. (While the natural mats need to be replaced more often, they’re so cheap at places like IKEA or your local hardware store that you can change them out every few months.)

Photo courtesy of Canadian House & Home

The entryway:  Having lived in Boston, I know that during the winter season your vestibule can look like a coat and boot bomb went off. Just as you’re trying to keep  your front door as tidy as you can, keep the vestibule welcoming too.

A nice copper tray to catch melting snow looks clean and organized. I also like the basket, shown here, with house slippers–but keep the grunge out. I found an old coat tree at a junk store in Cambridge. It was easy to store in the off season, and, in the winter, it served as the perfect coat collector.

Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart online

Speaking of organized: if you have room for a bench, it will come in handy when you need to sit down and tug on those Sorels. Use personalized storage bins beneath the bench, so each family member has a place to tuck away mittens and hats.

The guest bath: This was one of my favorite tips from James Swan’s book: Watch out for soap soup–that nasty sludge that comes from melting soap. It’s slimy, gray and simply disgusting. Swan suggests that you keep a beautifully wrapped bar for appearances and a liquid soap in a beautiful container to use.

In my house, though, that idea lasted all of two minutes. I think the first time I tried it, one of my kids ripped apart the pretty soap. The second time, a guest did. I believe that if you just replace your soap often and clean out the soap dish, you’re good to go. I also like to put out a new bar when guests come over and banish the regular one temporarily to a nearby hiding place. One of my favorite spots in the Boston area for luscious soaps is Pod in Brookline Village.

Photo courtesy of Pod

A few more easy resolutions: New pillows on the sofa will give your room a fresh look, and Etsy (or your favorite local designer) can be a great place to source these.

Look up: Change all of your bulbs to fluorescent, but make sure you find the ones that don’t give off that weird, glowy blueish-greenish tint. For the bathroom, buy one warm and one cool bulb to balance the effect and create the effect of daylight.

Look down: Repaint your baseboards (an often-forgotten surface). If you have pets, check to make sure there’s not a gray line of dander. Do this weekly.

Create a landing pad: For those miscellaneous items that end up everywhere and can never be found again, grab a good-looking tray and some pretty bowls to place on a small table next to your front door. This will look nice and you’ll always know where you’ve tossed your phone, keys and glasses.

Photo courtesy of Furbish Studio

–Megan Arquette
Megan Arquette is a West Coast–based interior designer and creator of the design blog Beach Bungalow 8. She lives in a bungalow at the beach with her husband, two kids, three dogs and five fish.