If you're dedicated to creating the home of your dreams, spring cleaning is just the beginning. While wiping down counters and dusting off shelves is a solid start, keeping your place organized and beautiful long after spring requires bigger changes to both your space and the way you live in it. I spoke with interior designer Nate Berkus to see what tips he had to share for bettering your living space — from spring cleaning to beyond. He gave straightforward advice for setting yourself up for long-term success while also offering up immediate (but sustainable) solutions to some of our biggest challenges, like cramped living quarters and meaningless clutter.
In celebration of the spring cleaning spirit, Berkus has teamed up with eBay for its "Hello Spring" campaign to inspire shoppers to give their homes a fresh, stylish update. Among his tips and tricks for refreshing your space, Berkus underscores that achieving your ideal home is just as much about filling it with items you love as moving on from items you no longer need.
Now through April 10, Berkus is hosting "Nate's eBay for Charity Auction," giving shoppers the chance to bid on unique items from his home, including stunning art pieces and unique home decor. All proceeds go to the American Brain Tumor Association, a cause close to the designer's heart. Berkus is also encouraging others to engage in some healthy decluttering, using eBay for Charity to support causes important to them.
So before you dive right in to your spring cleaning duties, or finish your final sweep and call it a day, read on for Berkus' advice for implementing sustainable solutions that will keep you satisfied with your living space well down the road. Though the path to a more beautiful space is paved by the decisions we make every day, spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to make sure you're headed in the right direction.
1. Create realistic systems for managing your stuff
Berkus' first tip for guaranteeing easier upkeep after you've spring cleaned is to create realistic systems for managing your stuff. Make sure everything in your home has a specific place that makes sense. He emphasized that these systems be realistic, meaning that while attractive storage options with ribbons and bows might be Intagram-worthy, they aren't necessarily conducive to everyday living. Manage your belongings effectively and efficiently, and put things back in their place as you go, saving yourself from unmanageable messes in the future.
2. Use beautiful storage solutions
Just because storage solutions are realistic and efficient, it doesn't mean they can't still aesthetically enhance the space. Berkus is a fan of simple solutions that are just as pleasing to the eye as they are practical. Woven baskets on shelves and bins tucked underneath a console table can hide away your belongings while subtly adding to the appeal of the room. Whether out of sight, or in plain sight, get creative with your storage. Berkus recommends going to a home improvement store and creating well-designed closet solutions. Be as creative as possible. You'd be surprised how a little imagination and ingenuity can maximize the efficiency of a space while providing added style.
3. Refresh with color and texture
Berkus insists that refreshing your home for the new season doesn't require a complete overhaul. Spring is a time for throwing the doors open and letting in light and fresh air. Your style updates can be just as natural and simple. Come spring, we've been inside for so many months, so it's time to bring the warming outdoors indoors. Berkus recommends refreshing a space with simple additions that have a big impact, focusing on fabrics and color. Spring calls for lighter, airier colors, so bring these in with a new rug, lampshades, or throw. Textured pillows and woven storage options can transform the space, as well as opting for warm-weather textiles throughout. If you have heavy wool pillows on the sofa, switch them out for cotton and linen alternatives.
4. Avoid small scale solutions
A common challenge we face in the pursuit of the home of our dreams is cramped living quarters. While we may have ambitions to transform our place into something from the page of a magazine, we're often limited by square footage. We find ourselves struggling to fit all the things we own into the limited space we have to work with, while also compromising when it comes to buying new pieces.
Berkus warns against using small scale solutions when furnishing your home. While it may seem economical to opt for a smaller couch so you can build a complete living room, he advises instead to invest in things you actually want. Map out the space to figure out what full-sized pieces will actually fit, then choose what you'll still love in the longterm, so you can take it with you when you eventually graduate to a bigger place. A mistake he often sees is that most people try to replace real furniture with small scale solutions that don't work down the road. Get the pieces you really want and negotiate the space by buying furniture that pulls double duty.
5. Do a sweep and audit
When cleaning, Berkus is an advocate for sweeping off surfaces, then consciously auditing while putting each item back in its place. You should consider whether or not each object in your home is adding anything to the space and to your life. If it no longer serves a purpose and you're no longer getting any enjoyment out of owning it, it's time to let it go. Berkus suggests you stop and look at what's bothering you about your surroundings. Does something not fit with the style of the room or the direction you'd like to take it? Good design is not just about what you put in, but what you take out. By removing objects no longer necessary to our lives, we're freeing up space to enjoy in our homes and also finding opportunities to earn extra cash to buy the things we actually desire.
6. Cash in on what you already have
Berkus says there are literally thousands of dollars sitting around your home, whether it's clothing, shoes, bags, art, photography, or lamps. Once you've done your audit (and you should do so every so often), cash in on the belongings you no longer need. He recommends eBay Valet as a super helpful selling service that requires minimal effort on your part. You just box up and send in your things, postage paid, and professionals organize the rest for you. You even have the option of donating 10 to 100 percent to charity, as Berkus did. "We all walk around with Pinterest pages of what we hope our home would be," says Berkus, but money's tight and there's only so much we can squeeze out from our next paycheck. Why not reduce clutter while freeing up space and earning cash for the items you actually want and need?
7. Be a ruthless editor about what you allow into your home
Above all, Berkus emphasizes that building a beautiful space happens before you even bring anything into your home. "Be a ruthless editor about what you allow into your home to begin with," says Berkus. Consider each piece you bring into your home, asking yourself, "does this serve a new purpose? Is it able to replace something else?" Only allow in what you want to look at, and edit year round so your surroundings stay up to date with your tastes and your needs.
Berkus notes that it's a universal thing to want to live better and in a more beautiful space, and the answer goes way beyond cleaning. You're creating your world with every object you let enter into your daily life, so act as a curator to your own environment. If you edit carefully, making sure every object has meaning and personal value, you'll eventually be surrounded by only what you love, and that much closer to realizing your dream home.