The Top Five Life Simplification Plans for 2014

The theme for this year’s Get A Grip project is “Don’t even tell me you don’t have time!”  But, what if you don’t?  What if you have so freaking much happening, so much new information coming in, so much noise and stuff and nonsense that you just don’t know where to even begin looking for 15 minutes every day to get something done?

My dear,quite simply, it is about simplification.

There are 46,000,000 ways to simplify your life according to The Google.  Similarly overwhelming results come up on Pinterest.  And they’re ridiculous.  “Five Hundred Ways To Simplify!”  Trust me, honey, five hundred of ANYTHING is not going to be simple.  Ever.  “A 365-Day Project for Simple Living”.  Um, I don’t know anyone who isn’t overwhelmed by the thought of committing to a 365 day project.

So I did some digging.  I think any list for simplifying that has more than about 15 things on it is missing the point.  I found some that I really like, though.  Check them out:

  1. Checklist:  Tips To Simplify Life  I love this one.  It’s all about setting boundaries–storage, time, and your personal commitments.  If you have lots of storage space, you’ll need lots of stuff with which to fill it.  If you have lots of junk mail coming in, you’ll find yourself surrounded by it or the stuff it leads you to buy.  If you’re in a group that makes you uncomfortable, you’ll spend time and energy trying to fit in with people you don’t even like.  Lose it.  Lose it all.  Unsubscribe from every last bit of it.
  2. 8 Ways to Simplify Life This one focuses on the stuff that we need to do and have, and looks at it from the perspective of simplifying processes.  Yes, you have a yard.  Does it have to be a complicated yard?  Yes, you have to eat.  Does everything have to be a 3 course extravaganza every night?  Yes, you need potions and pastes with which to make yourself presentable.  Do you need a hair style that takes 45 minutes every day?  Do and have what you need, but there’s no need to put on a show.
  3. 10 Tips To Start Living In The Present  This one is about how we feel about where we are in our lives.  It’s deep.  Only one of them is about stuff, and the other nine are about you.  I keep coming back to it–think  beyond old solutions to problems?  BOOM.  He’s talking about fixing from the inside out, because what’s going on inside of your head is likely reflected in your surroundings.  Ouch.
  4. Almost Amish:  10 Principles for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life I love me some Amish.  I love the quiet community of it.  I love quilts and barnraisings and buggies.  I like that this article includes the idea of knowing your neighbors and sustainability by shopping locally–money is important, and keeping it close to home and spending it wisely provide such peace of mind.  It also touches on God and faith, and while I’m not outwardly religious, I find great comfort in my concept of a higher power.
  5. 10 Ways To Simplify Life By Color Coding Those papers in your office that are just all over the place and you know what’s in there but finding any one thing involves messing all of it up?  Yeah, they go here.  Anything, any process can be color coded.  The first time I ever saw the true genius of color coding was in the movie “Yours, Mine & Ours”–the original with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball.  Two people with 17 kids between them fall in love, and Henry Fonda comes up with a system that assigns them a bed and a bathroom schedule.  Holy crap, it was genius.  Color coding will revolutionize how the people in your home identify and use stuff.

BONUS:  Zen Manifesto:  72 Ideas To Simplify Your Life OK OK I know, 72 ways to be simple CANNOT by definition be simple.  But I like ZenHabits, and I like Leo Barbauta’s blog.  And this isn’t a list of 72 things to be done, at the end of which your life will be simple.  Pick five, ten things on the list that fit your life and go with them.

Simplifying your life is about setting boundaries.  Anything that adds stress to your world, and this includes people, should be subject to the boundaries you set.


House Blast 2013

On January 1, I got a wild hair and posted some crazy talk to the Get A Grip Facebook page.  I’d stepped back a little bit from organizing, mainly because it was starting to feel kind of contrived.  Declutter!  Take control!  Blah blah blah!  Whatever!  I needed to find a focal point.

I called it House Blast 2013, and the response has been astonishing (in a good way).  It’s a pretty simple concept:  in the course of this year, we’re going to do a guided, motivated, realistic overhaul of the stuff in your house.  Every day except Sunday (even God rested on Sunday) I’m going to post a task, a goal, an idea, a plan, SOMETHING that is going to lead you in the direction of getting organized, room by room.

I think it’s important to lay down some assumptions, so that we’re all on the same page.

  1. This isn’t your #1 priority.  You’re not anxiously anticipating my daily offering.  You’ve got other stuff going on, and my words, no matter how wise, are not going to dictate your life.  It’s cool.  My hope is that the One Extra Thing that I come up with for you to do is something you can fit into your day without it becoming one MORE thing, which is something else entirely.
  2. You have different rooms than I do.  One month, we may do “guest bedroom” which may translate into “extra room where junk goes to die” in your house (like it does in everybody’s house, seriously…).  We’ll need to trust each other, and adapt.  I’m open to feedback.  If the current month’s room doesn’t have a place in your floorplan, don’t panic.  There’s bound to be something close that will be applicable.  Stay with me.
  3. Not Everything Needs To Be Perfect.  For realsies.  Most of the time, good enough is good enough.  This is about living on the path of least resistance, and not having to dig through a mess just to get through the day.  I read this article on Lifehacker, about Clearing to Neutral.  That’s all we’re doing, just resetting the space and taking it back to the starting point.
  4. I will occasionally post pictures of my actual home, in the interest of Full Disclosure.  In these pictures you will see that my actual home is not perfect.  There are spots and stains and stuff on the counters and all the things that come from living in a home like a real person.  You will also see, hopefully, that when a home is organized, when the aforementioned detritus of daily life is dealt with on a regular basis, it becomes manageable.
  5. I am always going to be open to requests and suggestions.  I have a pretty good idea of how a bathroom gets piled up, but you may have something going on that I didn’t think of.  Tell me.

Five things.  I like that.

January is obviously the master bathroom, or whatever bathroom in your home in which you get yourself ready in the morning.  February is going to be the master bedroom.  Mid February, I’ll let you know what March’s room will be, and so on.  We’re going to focus on the rooms where you and your family/housemates/pets spend the most downtime, which means we’ll be creating your very own soft spot to land before we worry about fixing the “company” spaces.  Your home needs to be comfortable for you, and once it is, it will be more comfortable for anyone else who swings by.

For those of you who are new to Get A Grip, here’s a link to The First Post of the blog.  I started this as a sort of escape hatch from my actual day job, and it has become a lot of fun for me.  I write like I talk, which means there may be a little bit of cursing (you’re welcome to do so as well, but let’s keep it PG-13ish if we can…).  I understand that there’s nothing more personal than the contents of your home, and that some of the things we hang on to are kept for reasons other than utility.  We’ll talk about it here and on the Facebook page, and you can email me at anytime if you want to chat one on one.

If you like what you’re seeing, stick around and tell your friends.  We’re going to keep this nice and easy.  Again, this isn’t about making your home into a perfect palace, because that would be impossible to maintain.  This is about being able to sit down at the table to eat a meal, knowing what you have in your house and where you put it, and not panicking if someone calls you and says “Hey I’m in the neighborhood and I’ll be there in 10 minutes!”

We got this.

What Are Your Five Things?

I like lists of five.  Five things are easy to come up with on just about any topic.  Like, what are the five best movies you’ve ever seen?  Your five favorite pieces of clothing?  Five books you’d need with you on a desert island?  Today, we’re going to consider what the Top Five things that need to be maintained in your home for you to consider it “picked up”.  

(For the record?  1.  Godfather 2, Inception, Memento, Gone With The Wind, the Usual Suspects; 2.  Denim skirt, ratty Washington State sweatshirt from 1993, fabulous Calvin Klein red/black/camel dress from this year’s Nordstrom Anniversary sale, the components of my standard uniform, my mom’s cashmere swing coat with the fur collar; 3.  Harry Potter #7, Pride & Prejudice, The Buccaneers, Neverwhere, …And Ladies Of The Club.)

In all reality, I doubt if any sane person is able to absolutely commit to an ironclad housework schedule.  Calendars aren’t a universal solution.  Nothing, in fact, is a universal solution.  So if you’ve tried any of the million organizing systems in the world and none has worked, you may feel like it’s your fault.  It’s not.  Well, not entirely.  Maybe you just need to re-examine your approach.

You’ve heard of the phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees”?  This means that you’re so fixated on the details, the minutiae, the micro-ness of the situation that you lose sight of the bigger picture.  It goes both ways, you know.  It’s also very possible to see only the forest, only the whole, none of the parts.  Neither is ideal, and changing your perspective is what resolves this trees/forest situation.  So maybe you’re looking at your situation from way too far away when you rely on a calendar.

Instead of “what do I need to clean today?”, how about looking at it as “what’s my path of least resistance?”  It can be an entire room (like, “clean bathrooms”) or an area (“kitchen counter”) or a task (“laundry”).  At our house, laundry and dirty dishes clog up the entire place when they’re left undone.  What about you?  What are the five quick jobs that, if dealt with regularly, make the rest of your home seem easier to manage?

Stuff I love and with which I cannot part.

I talk a pretty good game.  I make a pretty big deal about how I’m not a collector, and that if I don’t use it, it’s OUTTA here.  Right?  Yeah.  Well, I have my Achilles heels just like everyone else.  I’d like to share the Top Five Things I Will Keep Forever.

1.  Books.  Oh, the day I discovered was the best day in the history of ever.  I looooooooooooove me some books.  I love good books and trashy books  and shameful books (that last one is the hottest three bucks you’ll ever spend, and Gideon Cross makes Christian Grey look like an underachiever).  My current favorite genre is biography/memoir.  I love reading people’s stories.  From Jack Benny to the delightfully sordid complete collection of Kitty Kelley tomes that I keep close at hand, there is nothing more fascinating to me than the lives of real people.  So the 7-foot bookshelf next to my side of the bed that is busting at the seams?  The three more just like it downstairs?   Let’s just assume they will be all full for the rest of my life.  I’m resisting the siren call of the e-reader, but the space-saver in me sees its appeal.  I fear I’ve passed this trait on to Boo, and I’m not one bit sorry :).  She takes so many books to bed with her that she falls asleep on top of them.  Parenting victory, there.

2.  Boo’s Artwork From School.  I never thought I’d be That Mom.  I don’t keep stuff.  Bits of paper and non-specific artistic renderings of nothing in particular?  Good heavens, why would I keep that?  Well I’ll tell ya.  If my daughter made it, it is precious.  And for this reason, I have a bin that contains every.single.piece. of art that she has made at school since she was 3 months old.  It’s probably some subconscious working mom guilt manifesting itself because these were created when she was not in my care, or some such twaddle.  Whatever.  If she stuck a piece of glitter to a paper plate next to a googly eye, you better believe that it’s in that bin.

3.  Shoes.  Oh good heavens.  I’m a shoe girl.  When I find a pair of shoes that makes me happy I must have them.  I must wear them down to nubs until they are mere shadows of their former fabulous selves.  I must have them resoled.  And then I wear them down to nubs again.  And then I keep them because I can’t possibly get rid of something that has been with me through such joys and wonderful memories.  I have shoes that people remember more than they remember me.  And that’s fine.

4.  Greeting Cards.  Shocking, I know.  You’d think this would be a no-brainer for me.  But the occasions on which we are given cards are so fleeting, and cards are so intentional.  In the age of email and texts and Skype where it’s so easy to just reach out wherever you are whenever the whim hits you, the act of going to the card aisle (or a stationery store *swoon*)  to pick out a card that reminds you of the recipient has such weight for me.  I have a friend who sends me just the most amazing cards.  They’re perfect.  They’re SO funny or touching and just perfect for our friendship.  We’ve been friends since Fall 1991 Sorority Rush (go Gamma Phi!) and I have every card she’s ever sent me.  They are the story of our friendship and I treasure them.

5.  Random Useless Artifacts That Strike Me As Ridiculous.  I have a copy of our local power company’s safety guide from the 1950s when the Nevada Test Site was doing above-ground testing.  It talks about how nuclear energy is our friend, but hiding under a desk will protect us.  Last year, we had a required exorcism all-staff retreat, and 200 people were given a 75-page, single-sided handout, and no more than five pages of it applied to anybody.  Stuff like this?  Priceless.  It reminds me of who I don’t want to be, what I don’t want to do, and to keep perspective about who I DO want to be.  I don’t want to take myself too seriously, because when you do that, the people around you wait until you leave and then they laugh at you.  Not with you.  AT you.

We’ve all heard the stories about people who can move across the country and everything they own fits in their cars.  That’s never been my goal. I can’t imagine having this as my living room.

There’s not enough going on in there to stimulate even the most boring conversation. There’s no sign of anyone ever having passed through that space.  When the stars align, our homes are a reflection of who we are.  Not who we want people to think we are, or who we hope we are, or even who we used to be.  When you walk into the house of someone who knows who they are, it just flows.  You know where to put your purse, you sit down in a chair that is in just the right spot. and it just feels right.  That’s my decorating style, and I hope it can be yours as well.

Hit the road, Jack!

We went to Disneyland last week.  Boo is 3-1/2, and we always said that we would take her when she was old enough not to be carried all day (interestingly, “old enough” is not the same as “willing”, but whatever).  I’m a notoriously anxious traveler/over-packer, but I tried really extra super hard not to make everyone else crazy.  I made it until about Thursday afternoon, I think.  More on this in a minute.

Now that we’re home and unpacked and the laundry is done and put away (!!!), I think a wrap-up is in order.  Chances are, this isn’t our last trip to the Magic Kingdom, and we learned quite a bit about how we are when we take our show on the road.

Here are my Top Five Questions to think about when you’re planning a trip.

1.  What’s your priority?  What’s the purpose of the trip?

Mr Incredible and I were on board with making this about Boo–her first time to Disneyland was going to revolve around her schedule, her moods, her interests.  Not every trip is going to be a pure child-focused family vacation–most of our travel is to visit family or attend events.  Those trips have a different dynamic and we have specific expectations for them.  When we’re in visiting mode, we want to be on our best behavior.  We don’t see relatives as often as we’d like (unless it’s WAY TOO FREAKING OFTEN, and stay tuned for some future musings about dealing with family…) so there’s a lot of talking and not always a lot of action.

Last fall, we flew to Arkansas to attend my cousin’s wedding, and we learned that it’s important to scope out where the fun is when you get to somewhere new.  You’re going to have down time, and you can’t depend on good weather.  We spent a lot of time driving around in the rain on our way to sit down and chat and eat.  That can be tough on kids, and they get bored fast.  Most towns have indoor play facilities, and you can sign up for a free “introductory” tumbling or dance class if you have shorties who need to burn off some steam for an hour or two.  Don’t be above Chuck E Cheese (OMG, seriously, it’s its own level of hell, but it can be a lifesaver).

2.  Just how much do you actually need to do?

A family vacation can have such a sense of urgency.  You don’t go away often, so when you do, you want to get a lot of bang for your bucks.  And you run yourself and your family into the ground trying to do and see  Don’t do that.  Don’t be Clark Griswold.   If you’ve never been to where you’re going, do your homework.  Find out the must-sees and must-dos.  Ask your friends if they know anything about your destination.  Chances are, they do, and they can give you invaluable tips.

Another thing, don’t over-schedule your days.  Carve one thing in stone per day, and other stuff can fall into place as it will.  Downtime is important, even for the most enthusiastic travelers.  Will the kids take naps?  Are there places to go during downtime that don’t include locking yourself in the hotel bathroom for five minutes of privacy?

3.  Is all that stuff really necessary?

I’m a notorious over-packer.  Back in the glory days, I would pack a suitcase of just shoes because you just never know if you’re going to need three pairs of black stilettos.  Now?  I’m pretty confident about my stiletto needs.  If I’m not home, I’m not going to want to stomp around in 4-inch heels for 12 hours.

Mr Incredible travels quite a bit for business, so he’s an ace when it comes to packing.  He can fit five days of clothes in a duffel bag and a quarter of our big suitcase.  Love him.  And now that Boo is old enough to sleep in a bed and eat from regular plates and use a bathroom, her packing has gotten seriously lighter.

Check the weather before you go.  Pack for layering, use jackets with hoods instead of umbrellas, bring at least one nicer outfit every time, and extra socks and undies are never a bad idea.  Beyond that, less is more.  It’s not like you’re going to the moon.  If you forget something, or find that you didn’t anticipate something, chances are, you’re not far from Target.

4.  What are the dealbreakers?

Before you back out of the driveway, make sure that everyone, or at least the deciders, is on the same page about key elements of the trip.  For example, I have a pretty firm “No IHOP” rule.  Mr. Incredible knows that barring some unforeseen disaster, our family breakfasts are not going to happen at IHOP while we’re on the road.  We have conversations about wake-up calls and how and where we’re going to spend our time (Park Hopper tickets make this an essential discussion).  Everybody in the group, even the non-deciders, has expectations about what will and will not be a part of the trip, and communication about this is so important.

Which brings me to my previous point about The Crazy.  I tend to get hyperfocused (NO!  really?  Nuh-uh.) and I sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture in my pursuit of whatever I think needs to happen.

I’ve gotten better.  Yes I have.

But it still happens.  A dealbreaker on every trip you take needs to be manners:  we are kind to each other.  Not just superficial and passive aggressive and “OK fine whatever you want to do.”  KINDNESS.  As tired as you are, so is everybody else, and chances are at least one person in the car is about to go all stabbity if they hear someone say or do XYZ one. more. time.  Pay attention to the people you’re with, not just to where you are.

5.  Can you take extra days off from work before and after the actual trip?

We left town on Monday, came back on Friday.  Our Disneyland adventure was bookended by weekends, and I think that’s the way to go.  Ideally, we also have part of at least one business day when at our disposal, just in case.  Like, when we were coming home, we discovered that the brakes on our car needed work (no emergencies, just rough stopping).  We hit town, and there was (technically) time to take the car in before the end of the day.  Of course, it’s important to keep the Dealbreakers in mind when you start piling errands on before and after the trip.  Does someone in the group prefer to stay close to home once we get there?  PERHAPS.

I think my point with all of this is, don’t force perfection upon your vacation.  You’re not going to Hawaii so you can tell people you went to Hawaii.  You’re not dragging your family on a cruise so you can have the best family picture in the Christmas card out of everybody who puts pictures in cards.  You’re not taking your 3 year old to Disneyland so you can jumpstart her love of Pirates in the Caribbean (true story).  This isn’t a show you’re putting on.  These are memories you’re building, and when your kids are grown, they’ll remember how they met ALL the princesses (even the elusive Princess Tiana).

They’ll remember walking across the highway to the beach instead of jumping right back into the car after lunch and going to the next stop.

And so will you.

Top Five Things I’d Say To My Mom

My mother passed away 23 years ago today.  I was 16, and it was horrible for a long time, but it’s OK now.  Really it is.  I will always miss her terribly, but I’m good.  Even after something really awful happens, things work out and the universe has a way of righting itself.  Trust me on this one.

Over the years, and especially since I’ve become a mom myself, I’ve had moments where I thought, JEEZ I wish I could tell her or ask her about blah blah blah.  It’s usually nothing big or existential, but it’s the stuff that you really can only talk about with your mom.  You know what I mean.  So today I’m going to break it down.  If I had One More Day, these are the topics that I’d be sure to bring up.

1.  When we had The Talk when I was 12 or 13, you said kind of in passing that you didn’t ever have trouble getting pregnant.  That has stayed with me for all this time.  For a while, I thought you were just trying to scare me about sex, and maybe you were, but always in the back of my head, I remember you saying this.  I didn’t entirely believe you until we decided to start our family and five seconds later I was pregnant myself.  Lesson learned.  We would probably spend a big chunk of our One Day talking about stuff like this.

2.  Dad hates Beef Stroganoff.  This may not seem like a big deal, but I laugh about it often.  You made it for us at least once a week, and he ate it without a word.  The first time I made it for him, he looked at me and said, “You know, I’ll be OK if you don’t ever fix this again. Ever.”  He ate it probably 1000 times for you.  He picked his battles, and this one wasn’t worth making a fuss over.  That’s the kind of marriage that I strive to have, where the sacrifices are small but their impact is large.

3.  Dried fruit on road trips is a bad idea.  What on earth were you thinking?!  How did you not know this?  From one mom to another, if you must give your kids snacks that cause bathroom emergencies, make sure that whoever is driving the car doesn’t insist on making it all the way to freaking Albuquerque before stopping (I’m looking at you, Dad).

4.  Thank you for teaching me about skin care early on.  You were right.  I wear sunscreen every day, and wash my makeup off and use good moisturizer every night. It was kind of a drag in college to be pale while everyone was tan, but the skin on my neck could belong to a 25-year-old.

5.  I cannot make a decent piecrust, and I know you could. Your grandmother made the best piecrust in the world, and she taught you.  Show me.  This would be useful information.  In return, I’ll show you how to make bread.  You’ll love it.

There’s more, of course.  Stuff that just comes up randomly.  I think of how you let me use the crinoline from your wedding dress to use for a Halloween costume because my skirt just didn’t look right.  I think of all the times you rolled your eyes when I asked what’s for dinner because I get it now (OMG can I get in the door before hearing this?!).   I still polish the silver every year the night before Thanksgiving, whether we’re going to use it or not, but I found some stuff that works way better than whatever you insisted on using.

It’s funny the things that stay with us long after someone is gone.  After the initial shock of the loss wears off, you remember the weirdest stuff, the most insignificant conversations.  Replaying them over and over can make you nuts, but over time, there’s always new information to be found in them.

I wish my mom had known me as an adult.  I wasn’t an easy kid, but I think I’ve turned out well.  That’s a reflection on her, I think.  She gave me a good foundation in spite of what a jackass I so often was.  Sometimes, I’ll do or say something, or make a gesture that is SO my mom and I’ll think, “damn, I get it now.”  So much of what seems important turns out to not matter even a little, and the things we do in passing and the remarks we make offhand are the legacy we leave.

Five Things That Will Make You Feel Like You Cleaned Your Entire House

Shortcuts are a big part of my day.  I’m talking about actual timesavers.  I’m talking about things that, when I do them, something significant gets done in notably less time.  And while that which lurks underneath the shiny surface is important, sometimes, all we have time for is maintenance of the shiny surface.  To that end, I’ve been thinking (because I’m like that…) about easy things that take little time and effort that make a big difference in how clean my house feels.

1.   Dust your TV

How many hours a day week do you spend squinting through an inch of dust while catching up on your stories?  Does your significant other write love notes on your TV screen?  Was the last person who cleaned any part of the TV actually your cat walking past it who just happened to swipe a bit of crud off with her tail?  Swiffer dusters are perfect for this.  Swiff swiff swiff done.

2.  Clean Your Bathroom Mirror!

You don’t even have to clean the whole mirror–just the part in front of your sink where you brush your teeth.  YEAH.  You know what I’m talking about.  Get some Windex (or, you can make me extra happy and use your  homemade cleaner…) and a paper towel.  One minute later, you have a sparkly-clean bathroom.

Not my actual bathroom…

 Bonus points if you take your still-damp paper towel and wipe down the counter.  You know you need to.

3.  Sweep your front walk!

I don’t know about you, but 99% of the time, we enter our house through the garage, and we never hardly ever see what the actual front porch looks like.  When I do take a minute to open the front door, chances are, I see that work needs to be done.  Dead stuff on plants, fliers from businesses who don’t think “No Soliciting” applies to them, the detritus that follows a windstorm… yuck!

Go get your broom.  Take two minutes, sweep the leaves and dirt and (if you live next to my next door neighbor who doesn’t address his pigeon issue…) and feathers.  Ta da.  Look how pretty that is!

4.  Flip Your Couch Cushions

This one may be a bit more involving.  At my house, when I flip the cushions, I also need to vacuum the undersides as well as the surface upon which they sit, where all cookie crumbs seem to end up.  But it’s worth it.  Our couch is 13 years old.  It’s SO comfortable.  And about once a month, all of the slouching we do on it rubs off, and it starts slouching too.  Sad couch!  Rotate the seatcushions, fluff up the ones in back.  Voila.  Better.

5.  Make Your Bed!  

I sound like your mom, don’t I?  Because I know I sound like *my* mom when I say that.  I think my entire childhood was spent Not Making My Bed.  And then when I moved out and there was nobody to get on my case about it, my bed remained unmade in a clear declaration of my own independence.  And it looked like hell.  My dorm room, my room at the sorority house, my bedroom in my shitty college apartment?  All looked. like. hell.

When I bought my own house, suddenly there was a sense of pride in ownership, rather than in my foot-stamping insistence that Ain’t Nobody Gonna Make Me Make My Bed.  Most days, my bed gets made.  It takes two minutes and it makes a huge difference.

First, smooth the fitted sheet.  One sweep of the arm, tug the corners.  Done.

Second, pull up the flat sheet.  Yank it, so it’s snug.  Done.

Third, pull up any blankets and the comforter.  One sweep of the arm to smooth it.

Fourth, pick your pillows up off the floor.  DONE.

And suddenly your bedroom is no longer a bedroom but part of a MASTER SUITE.

Any one of these small things will make a room look better.  All of them?  Totally clean house!  Company ready!