Simplifying Home | Week 1: Setting Up + Entryway

Simplifying Home | Week 1: Setting Up + Entryway
Who's ready to jump into Week 1 of Simplifying Home?!

First things first: Go >> here to see what Simplifying Home is all about and download your free 8-week checklist.

Explanations and resources for week 1 are below. Join in with your own thoughts, photos or questions on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #simplifyinghome. And, remember: The point is not to complete every item on the list. If you do, awesome! But if you at least give it your best effort, you'll see great improvements in your home.

Most of all, let's have fun with it and see what simplifying our homes can do to improve our lives!

Simplifying Home | Week 1: Set Up + Entryway

Clean and Declutter

This task shows up on the checklist each week. I share my cleaning + decluttering process >> here with photos. The basic steps:
1. Pull everything out. Start small. A drawer or a shelf is plenty for one quick session.
2. Clean the space. No more dust bunnies!
3. Put items away. First, things that belong elsewhere should be put back in their proper places. Second, things that are absolute keep items should be put back neatly into the space being worked on. Third, anything remaining, even if you think you might keep it, should be set aside in an "outbox" (see below).

Entryway Filter

Thanks to Apartment Therapy I've come to know this as the "Landing Strip." It's basically a systematic place to drop your things when you come in the door, while also processing what you have before it finds a permanent place in your home. It might include hooks and/or shelves specific for regular items like keys, purse, wallet, shoes, jackets or even umbrellas. It should also include a spot to set mail or even small items like rented movies to be returned.

Apartment Therapy has some great ideas on the entryway/landing strip:
6 Components to a Well-Functioning Landing Strip
Entryway Spruce Up: Making a Good First Impression
Tips for Dealing with a No-Entryway Entryway


The outbox is an idea I got from the book Apartment Therapy, but it's found across minimizing/simplifying. The idea is that you need a place to temporarily and quickly "let go" of items before actually trashing or donating them. It's a place to make quick decisions on items that don't seem to fit, are unused, are not needed, or in some way might not belong in your home. No need to over-rationalize or feel guilty.

All items put in this "outbox" collection can be reconsidered later (specifically during week 4 and week 8 of the Simplify Home challenge).

So, choose a place to collect these items. An unused corner with a couple empty boxes or unused totes will suffice. A bigger area will be necessary if you haven't purged stuff in a long time or if you have a lot to go through. Then, go ahead and try it out by going through your entryway/front closet and adding something--anything--to the box.

Vacuum + Dust

Every over week, you'll notice "Vacuum, mop, and dust throughout home" on the Simplifying Home checklist. Why? Because when you start with cleaning the floors, everything else seems to get cleaned along with it. Same with dusting. The more you have to move and touch your belongings, the more you'll think twice before keeping everything. You also get a feel for the little things in the way of cleaning (which mean they might be in the way of living), and other needs in your home.

Overachiever Tasks

Move Furniture

When you clean floors, you don't necessarily always have to move furniture. When it comes to seasonal cleaning, it's a good idea to go ahead and move things around to clean under and behind those bigger items. This can help with allergens, and it can provide an opportunity to rearrange furniture for better flow.

All those dust bunnies are not only irritants (especially if you're allergic), they're also a sign of stagnation in your life. This is true throughout your home. And I don't mean this in a weird energy-from-the-universe sort of way. I mean it literally. When we let dust collect under our furniture, clutter gather on our shelves, and grime linger on our appliances, it's often a hint of an unhealthy habit of neglect. Take a little time to clean deep and get rid of these growing areas of neglect. You just might stir up some much-needed energy in other areas of your life too.

Bonus: Position Furniture

Most of us when we set up our homes, likely positioned our furniture with a bit of trial and error. Maybe you've landed on a layout you love, or maybe you still feel something isn't quite right with your current set-up. Either way, it's worth using a layout tool to easily play around with the flow of your living space without all that heavy lifting and commitment.

There are some online options if you search for them. My favorite is printing grid layouts (find graph/grid printables >> here or regular graph paper works too). I quickly measure out the room and trace it to scale on the grid--also marking windows and doors or other built-ins. Then, I measure the outline of our main furniture items, trace them to scale on a separate piece of grid paper and cut each one out.

I can then move the paper furniture around the paper room to find a good placement. Is some furniture pulled away from the wall? Everything flesh against all four walls tends to feel more crowded and cluttered than if a chair or table is strategically pulled out away from the wall.Is there at least 18 inches between furniture, and more for major walkways?

This seems like a lot of work, but it really doesn't take long to put together and is so much easier to play around with the layout of a room this way. Bonus: I keep the graphs and furniture cutouts for each room in a plastic sleeve in my "Home" binder. Then, in the future when I get the brilliant idea to move furniture around or buy something new, I can see if/where it fits before committing.

When you find a new layout/furniture placement you like on paper, give it a try with your real furniture in your real room with a little more confidence.

Earth-Friendly Cleaning Products

It's simpler than it seems, but makes a silent and important difference in the quality of our homes. The fumes and chemicals from cleaners settle into floors and onto surfaces effecting our air quality and eventually our health.

Finding earth-friendly alternatives can involve exploring green brands like Arm & Hammer, Method, or Seventh Generation. Or it could be doing a quick search on all the uses for simple green staples like vinegar and baking soda. The latter truly can be used for every thing, is a much healthier option, and--bonus--saves tons of money!

Here are some specific ideas for healthier cleaning:
Non-Toxic Home Cleaning
Cleaning with Vinegar, Baking Soda and Lemon
67 Homemade Cleaning Recipes

Repair/Improvement List

Start a list of repairs or improvements you notice around your home. Print the list I use >> here. Write down each room/living space in your home, and take notice of those little things you've learned to overlook. Is there a light bulb that needs replaced, a screw that needs to be tightened, paint to be touched up, or a clutter spot that needs addressed?

List each of these ideas for repairs and improvements, big or little. Then, beside each one write in a short possible solution. It might be as simple as "replace bulb" or it might involve more work like "start organization system" or "repair leak."

You'll not fixing these issues in the weeks to come. For now, simply become aware of them and have a place to write them down as you notice them. An ongoing to-do list of sorts for your home.

Love/Working List

Along with getting inspired by the potential of what our home could be, it's essential to keep an appreciation for what it already is and how it currently serves our needs. Take some time to write these things down and name them by name.

First, what do you love about your home? Go through each room and consider the areas that style or layout or some other element really appeals to you. A comfy couch, a cool piece of artwork, or a peaceful room?

Second, what is working in your home? Acknowledge those elements already working well in your home. An organized shelf, a newly redone bathroom, or a consistently clean table? See, your home isn't so bad afterall. Of course, there's always room for improvement. But there's also always room for appreciation.

Start this project with that simple focus and you'll have a lot more contentment and a lot better perspective for the weeks ahead.

Your Home Projects

Don't forget to add your own projects to the list. Choose just 1-2 tasks you'd really like to accomplish for this week or to improve in the entryway of your home. These are likely the most important thing on the your checklist, so make them a priority!

Simple Home Entryway + Cleaning Products

Simplifying Home: Entryway + Cleaning Products
*Affiliate links used. See full note below.

Following are a couple of my favorite entryway and cleaning products for a simple home...

Entryway Essentials

The entryway basics that work for us include:
1. wall hooks or a coat rack (sturdy enough for coats, bags, umbrellas);
2. a small tray (to drop mail, sunglasses, wallet);
3. an indoor rug inside each entrance (I like something softer and more welcoming);
4. an outdoor rug outside each entrance (something sturdy enough to scuff shoes);
5. a hanging shoe organizer or two (we keep everyday shoes in the front closet);
6. sturdy hangers (they hold heavy adult coats better); and
7. a simple basket or 1-per-person if they're small (to easily collect scarves, hats, and gloves; ).

Earth-Friendly Cleaners

My favorite and simplest earth friendly cleaners are baking soda and vinegar (they're cheaper at the grocery store than online). Seriously, they work in so many combinations to clean every area of the home. The uses we use the most:

1. Scrubbing. Sprinkle baking soda over a moist tub or sink, sprinkle or heavily spray vinegar over the top and let sit for 20-30 minutes, then scrub away. It makes a huge difference!

2. All-purpose cleaning. You can also add a touch of essential oils (citruses and tea tree have disinfecting qualities) to a vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle to make a good all-purpose cleaner. Shake before using, because water and oils don't really mix well. Then spray over surfaces and wipe clean.

3. Cleaning disposal. Sprinkle baking soda in garbage disposal, pour in vinegar, and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Add ice and/or a couple used lemon wedges and turn on garbage disposal until done grinding. Pour in boiling hot water to finish rinsing out disposal and pipes.

For a low-fuss all-purpose cleaner, I like Arm & Hammer. Especially their Essentials concentrate formula so we can reuse the original spray bottle we bought. It smells good and works good for everyday cleaning. Although, vinegar and baking soda work better for the tough stuff.

Simple Cleaning Tools

The few other cleaning tools we use, include:

1. Wet/dry sweeper. We probably "should" own an actual mop to better clean our tile floors. But it's quicker and easier to run a wet Swiffer/Grime Boss wipe over the kitchen and bathroom floors, which means we're more likely to keep up with it, ultimately keeping our floors cleaner.

We've also used a normal kitchen wash cloth on the sweeper--it's seriously a perfect fit. I simply wet the cloth with water, then spray all-purpose cleaner on it or directly on the floor then clean away. This works great if there are some tough spots. I just spray the cleaner directly on the spot and let it set a couple minutes for sweeping over with the cloth-covered sweeper. Then, the cloth just gets thrown in the laundry to be reused.

2. Heavy-duty vacuum. We currently have a Eureka Comfort Clean. My husband chose it a couple years ago based on Consumer Reports, and we've been pleased with it. The point is to get something that cleans well, and attachments to clean stairs and corners and such is a plus.

3. Hand-held or light-weight vacuum. I never thought we'd justify having more than one vacuum. My parents gifted us the Hoover Linx, and I actually kind of love it and the idea of having two vacuums. (Phew, that's not very minimalist, is it?) Having a light-weight vacuum makes everyday/multiple-times-a-day clean-up after kids quick and easy.

4. Microfiber cleaning cloths. My husband got some microfiber cleaning cloths to use in cleaning/detailing the car. In between, I've found them useful in cleaning the home, too. They work great for a quick dusting of surfaces, no cleaner needed.


also read:
simplifying home: 8-week challenge
week 2: living + family
welcome into our mess...y home
living room home tour
monthly dose of simple

*Note: Amazon + Target affiliate links used in this post. Any purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!