How to Tackle Spring Cleaning with a Little Marie Kondo Inspiration

Spring is in the air, a time of blooming flowers, warming temperatures, and two words frequently uttered in homes across America: “Spring Cleaning.”

Celebrated organizing expert Marie Kondo champions a simplified, thoughtfully arranged environment as central to a serene life. Her much-ballyhooed KonMari method encourages a hands-on approach to home organization that begins with removing items that no longer belong in the home.

The KonMari method is the perfect complement to spring cleaning, where a commitment to tidying up, a focus on the essentials, and a work smarter-not harder approach can help you tune up your home and reduce the anxiety that a cluttered, messy home can induce.

Begin with a good decluttering escapade. If you can declutter first, you will capture some early feel-good spring-cleaning vibes and can more easily discern your next steps. Clear out any excess or out-of-season coats, shoes, umbrellas, purses, and other personal goods. Trash, recycle, and donate accordingly. Keep what you must and, in the spirit of KonMari, vanquish everything else.

Organize with a purpose. Everything you keep should have a place and then be in its place. In kitchen cabinets and the pantry, for instance, think like a grocery store merchandiser and stack items in a neat, orderly, and logical fashion for quick discovery.

Corral your cleaning supplies. To maximize efficiency, gather all your cleaning supplies together at the onset. Some must-have household items for spring cleaning: an all-purpose cleaner, a multitude of rags and paper towels, glass cleaner, gloves, a duster, and a sponge. Assemble the goods in one portable bin so you have what you need as you travel from room to room.

Enlist the help of the kids. Though few kids will volunteer for cleaning, it is important to make them a part of the solution – albeit with realistic expectations – so they are contributors to a well-kept home. While kindergartners might do little more than place items in a donation bag, that alone saves you some time and energy. Give one simple instruction at a time and perhaps outfit younger children with a “uniform” – gloves and an apron, for instance – to help them feel more engaged in the project.

Hit one room at a time. Adopt the baby-steps philosophy. Rather than thinking you must clean and organize the entire house in one motivated whirlwind of activity – a monumental, if not impossible task – focus instead on tidying up one room at a time, which is much more doable. Yet more, savor a sense of accomplishment when you leave that room sparkling and can move onto the next as opposed to having a series of in-process projects.

Slow and steady with the vacuum. Resist the need to hustle with the vacuum. In fact, the slower you go, the more dust and allergens you will remove.

Cap off the adventure. Find a candle or air freshener with a pleasing scent and let it run. Or, better yet, grab some fresh, fragrant flowers and place a vase on the dining room table. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

The Suburban Single-Family Home Surge

After years of homebuyers showing a preference for urban living, including multi-unit housing, the COVID-19 pandemic has put an intensely bright light on single-family homes in the suburbs.

In mass media and industry forums, mortgage brokers and real estate agents across the Chicago area and many other U.S. big cities have shared tale upon tale of city folk turning their eyes upon suburban homes. Some observers, in fact, have called it the latest urban exodus, the first of which occurred in the 1950s alongside the mainstream adoption of cars.

The appeal of dense, urban living has declined for many considering the novel coronavirus pandemic. With concerns over public health and safety, the city’s inherent allure – shorter commutes for downtown workers, public transportation, cultural events, and the city’s overall bustle among them – has withered.

More and more, urban dwellers are targeting the suburbs for a single-family home purchase, including never-before-lived-in new construction homes. Here are the top five reasons why.

#1: More Space
With homes doubling as workplaces, schools, recreation centers, and gyms throughout the pandemic, many urban residents have realized their homes are too small inside and out to accommodate such diverse needs. People, and particularly those living in space-constrained multi-unit housing, want more elbow room, more freedom of movement, and improved access to outdoor living. Quite naturally, that has spurred an increase in online searches of single-family suburban homes.

#2: Shifting Work Routines
Remote work soared amid the pandemic – and it is likely to exist well into the future for many Americans. While the swelling work-from-home reality has driven urban dwellers’ heightened interest in larger homes, including those with a dedicated workspace, the ability to telecommute has also empowered many to redefine their criteria when searching for a new home. With daily commutes reduced, if not eliminated, workers do not consider a close-to-city residence as critical.

#3: Affordability
Even the most ardent urban dwellers admit it is a challenge to get larger, economical homes close to a city’s downtown. That has fueled interest in the suburbs where homebuyers can often secure more bang for their buck.

Consider this: the median selling price of a single-family home in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood hovers around $1.5 million, while condominiums in the North Side neighborhood sit over $500,000, according to Chicago area real estate data. In Gallagher and Henry’s Covington Knolls community in Lemont, a new 2,604-square foot Danbury home – a brick 4-bedroom home with 2.5 bathrooms and a three-car garage – runs less than one-third the median cost of a Lincoln Park single-family home and even less than a Lincoln Park condo. The Danbury at Covington Knolls starts at $488,700 with plenty of luxury features baked into that base price.

#4: Changing Dynamics of City Life
With its cultural events and hip restaurants, the urban lifestyle compelled many to trade space and affordability for the action outside their doors. Amid COVID-19, however, museums, ballparks, theatres, and restaurants closed, putting a dent in the urban lifestyle that is only now begin to relent.

Yet more, the pandemic has increased awareness around healthy home environments. Those who may not have thought twice about a shared elevator ride or a communal fitness center in a high-rise condo before the pandemic are now more attuned to the potential risks such spaces carry.

#5: More Focused Eyes on the Future
For many, the anxiety, stress, and uncertainty of COVID-19 prompted reflection about what they really want in their overall life, including their home. And as pandemics have happened before and could certainly happen again, individuals are increasingly open to making more permanent changes, including opting for larger homes in suburban communities.