Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Best of Everything

“The happiest people don't have the best of everything--they make the best of everything”—author unknown

Whether it’s a tight-budget Christmas, a too-small apartment, or nothing to wear, you learn to make the best of it. How? By working with what you’ve got.

The first place to look, and the usual trove of answers, can be found mostly in closets. Pick one, root around in there, and pull out every single thing until it’s completely empty. What have you unearthed from those bags stashed way back in the corner? What was harboring in those cute little decorator boxes on the top shelf?

The most important question: do you still need it?

Is anything reusable in another form, such as fabric from old clothing? Is anything gift-worthy to give to someone else? Can something be dolled up with dye, new buttons, different accessories, or trim to make a new look? Is there another room this item can be used in besides the obvious manufacturer-designated one? How can you make the best of it?

Another good place for rooting around in is the kitchen. How many appliances do you have, still in boxes, unused, from holidays past? What do you really use a lot, and what can you get rid of (either by gifting, donation, or yard sale)? Take a closer look at seasonal things too—not just the everyday stuff. Do you really need Santa eggnog glasses taking up that shelf space when you only use them about 1/12 of the year? Won’t another regularly-used glass suffice?

I would be remiss if I left out the bathroom. Lay out and assess those cosmetics and medicine cabinet doodads, including under the sink vanity area too. What do you absolutely use regularly, and what can you part with? Is anything gift-worthy, donation fodder, or yard sale fodder? Can anything be used in another form or manner? I recommend sticking to one makeup/nail color scheme, one perfume, one shampoo/conditioner, one hair spray (if used), and as few stomach remedies as you can get away with.

Another idea for looking at: the walls. Is the amount of stuff hanging from your walls too little, just right, or too much? Perhaps some of your once-treasured art pieces, mirrors, and other hanging bric-a-brac could use a new home—whether it’s just a new location in the room, a whole new room, or a whole new address. Is any of it gift, donation, or yard sale fodder?

Then, there’s the living room. Something that really irritates me about furniture is how sales showrooms group living room sets together in couch-loveseat-chair scenarios, never acknowledging that some of us don’t have as much square footage for “living” as their well-appointed showroom partitions do. Display designers assume you have a house, and the living room to go with it, otherwise you wouldn’t be coming to buy real full-size furniture. The truth is that you DON’T need to have the usual 3-piece living room group when a loveseat alone will do. Sometimes a lamp and end table will suffice, instead of the coffee table-two end tables-sofa table group they WANT you to buy, plus the matched lamp set. Once again, you have to look around and ask if anything’s reusable in another location, gift-worthy, donation-worthy, or yard sale fodder.

Conversely, there’s always the flip-side: not having enough (or not seeming to). How can you make the best of THAT situation? By making less do more with double-duty clothing, furniture, cosmetics, kitchen contents, art objects, you name it. Imagination and creativity are good friends to have around in this instance—don’t be afraid to call upon them often.

Instead of simply buying more or getting more, start innovating more. Make the best of everything you have, and quit trying to have the best of everything. You’ll be much happier!


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