Detox Your Dining Room

What images come to mind when you think of a dining room? Is it a peaceful place for a candlelight dinner? Or a festive atmosphere where the whole family is gathered? Or perhaps that special occasion location has become overrun with clutter and you couldn't eat at that table if you wanted to!

When we don't use spaces for what their original intention was, they don't seem to feel right. We have a huge, high dining room table that takes up most of the room. When that table is piled high with papers and computers and the contents of my purse, the rest of the room could be spotless and it would still feel oppressive.

I'll admit that we don't eat at the table all that often. We use it more for working on our computers in the same room or as a collection place for things leaving the house. The unfortunate problem is that it's also the collection point for things coming in, and if they don't make it past that table, that's where they often stay.

One of my "first thing in the morning" chores is the dining room. It's the first room off the front entryway and if it's cluttered, I feel like the whole house is cluttered. I can get the rest of the day flowing by taking a few minutes to send "stuff" to their rightful homes and clearing off that huge flat surface.

The dining room can be returned to its original and intended use by simply looking at it as such: a room to dine in. Files and paperwork have other places to live. If they stay out too long, you'll forget why they were there in the first place and they'll never leave! Handle the piles, sort the piles, move the piles to the piles storage area and keep future piles off the table. Imagine how much more peaceful your dining area would be with just the removal of those few things on the table.

She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. Proverbs 31:14-15

As with all the other rooms of the house, we need to tackle the dining room from top to bottom and in a circle. Get the cobwebs out of the corners, wipe down all the picture frames and curtain rods and clear out shelves. You might be surprised how much dust has gathered in that hutch or in the glasses on the bookcase. And one task that will change the air and the feeling of the entire room - clean the light fixture! Wash the glass, change the bulbs and clean the fan blades. A few minutes of work and you might see the room in a whole new light...literally!

Now, here's a bone of contention for some. I've heard a suggestion that you should sort through your cookbooks and only keep the ones you use regularly. Others say only save the recipes you like or want to try and get rid of the rest. You could even start a folder of favorites and keep just those copies, not the entire cookbook.

Here's my personal take on the matter: I have enough shelves in my dining room to hold the 60-or-so cookbooks that we have collected over the years. As long as we have shelves to hold them, they will be staying in our home. Books are precious to me to begin with and I can't even imagine tearing one up for the sake of space. We are also avid readers and avid cooks, so when you combine the two you get cookbooks! I love knowing that I have access to founts of information whenever I need them, and I can actually hold the book in my hand. I love paper and I love books, so this collection is one I will gladly allow to grow.

In your home this may not be so big of an issue. Take a look at the "things" that are collecting in your dining room. You may need to pare some down before the overrun the house. They may just need to be dusted and re-dispursed throughout the room or house. If it's clean, lovely, used and loved, then find a home for it. If not, find someone else's home for it!

This is when you need three things nearby - a box for moving things to other rooms, a box for donations and a trash bag. You will find tons of things for each container, so label them well. You'll probably surprise yourself if you'll be ruthless enough in your sorting. Who knows, you may find some priceless treasures you forgot you had!

Once you've got the room cleared out and sorted, clean from top to bottom. When the floors are all done, load those few things you've decided to keep back in. Anything that doesn't look like a dining room stays out! Anything that makes a lovely eating environment gets to stay.

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