The other day I arrived home just as my 18-year-old daughter was walking out the door. Rather than saying hello, she blurted, “I’m in a rush, so I didn’t have time to replace the toilet paper on the toilet paper holder.” This may seem like a bizarre greeting, but both my kids know that failure to replace the TP is one of my major pet peeves.
Nevertheless, I get why my family fails at this. Replacing toilet paper on the common kind of holder is a pain; the tension rod often falls apart, and the inner spring pops out. It’s a flawed design. Frankly, I am not sure why we all haven’t updated our bathrooms with the single-arm, just-slip-the-tissue-roll-on style.
Which leads me to my New Year’s resolution: I am swapping out, hanging up and doing away with any past decorating decisions that are hard for my family to maintain. First on the list: a trip to Restoration Hardware for new toilet paper holders.
Next I am throwing in the towel — or, more accurately, hanging it up. I am tired of my kids leaving their wet towels on their beds, sloppily shoving them on their respective towel bars or, even worse, leaving them in a puddle on the bathroom floor. From this day forward, I am barring towel bars from my bathrooms and installing hooks instead. (Anthropologie has great whimsical ones!) Hooks are much easier, no folding is required, and as long as you only hang one item (towel or robe) on each hook, it’s perfectly hygienic.
Speaking of towels, everyone in my house is getting the same white towels and the same white sheets (providing it’s the same-size bed). No more matching sets for each person. It’s like buying all the same socks; if one wears out or mysteriously gets eaten by the washing machine, the remaining sock is not worthless.
Another thing about our bedding: I am doing away with flat sheets and blanket covers. From now on, every bed in my house gets a fitted sheet, pillowcases, and a duvet with a duvet cover on it. When it’s time for us to make our beds, all we have to do is pull up the duvet and fluff the pillows — we’re talking a fully made bed in five seconds flat! (The duvet covers from Matouk are my favorite because they have a zipper at the bottom instead of buttons.)
When it’s time to replace our window treatments, I am not reinstalling Roman shades. Not only do I not want the hassle of cranking them up and down, morning and night, but I am also tired of having the mechanism break or having the shade get out of alignment. Instead, I am going to install simple curtains on a rod that I can quickly pull open or close.
I am also making one change to my kitchen: I am installing pot racks so that I can see my pots clearly — no more digging in the back of a cabinet through a stack of frying pans. I’ll be able to see and grab the one I need when I need it. And yes, my pots have to be pretty and I’ll have to keep them well-scrubbed if they’re exposed on a rack, but a little elbow grease is worth it to improve access and free up some storage space.
All in all, I predict my changes will go over well. Less nagging, less work. Certainly I will be giving up some of the precious decorating details that I love (beautiful sheets!), but I’ve learned over time that those decorating details are associated with work and maintenance. It’s time for me to simplify and focus on what really matters — friends and family, not toilet paper, wet towels and unmade beds.
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Mayhew, a “Today” show style expert and former magazine editor, is the author of “Flip! for Decorating.”