While it does not feel like Spring in Chicago, I am already thinking about the coming season of fabulous brunches, luncheons, and dinners when I can take advantage of the dazzling fresh delights that will be available from the farmer’s markets in my neighborhood.
To be ready for a Spring of fun events and soirees with friends and family, it’s time to plan for a little refreshing of my entertaining spaces and accoutrement. This is an opportunity to shake off what now seems like the heaviness of holiday entertaining for something cleaner, brighter, and lighter.
While the idea of doing a little Spring refresher to your entire home might seem a bit overwhelming, I like to put the primary focus on my kitchen, living room, and dining room to ensure that when I am in the mood to host a fabulous dinner or even a last-minute party set at a moment’s notice. Below I have outlined a few of my top ideas to help you get started.
Start by removing everything from your refrigerator and freezer. Clean the inside of each using an all-natural surface cleanser.
Go through each product and toss anything that has expired (or has mutated). Make a list of things that your discard so that you remember to re-buy them the next time you are at the grocery store.
Wipe down each can, jar, box, container, etc. with a clean damp cloth to remove any residue that may have spilled down the sides or gummed up the bottom of the container.
Reorganize the shelves on the refrigerator door with products that go together. Keep the jams and jellies together, condiments together, vinegar-based things like pickles and olives together, etc. This makes “shopping” your refrigerator easy.
Use the drawers of your refrigerator for stacking both still and sparkling varieties of bottled water, flavored sparkling waters, cocktail mixers, and cans of soda.
Use food-safe acrylic trays to store and organize little items that don’t stack well, such as cheeses, tubes of tomato paste, smaller jars, or anything small that can easily get lost in the back of the “abyss”, I mean refrigerator.
If you buy fresh vegetables often, store them lying flat on shelves. Place anything that comes in plastic containers (like berries or packaged tomatoes) in glass bowls. This puts all your fresh produce in clear view and will help encourage you to cook what you have bought.
Toss all ice cubes that were made more than 30 days ago. Old ice can easily ruin a drink. Use the old cubes to water your plants by placing a few in each pot—it’s like time-release watering.
If something in your freezer isn't clearly marked with a description and expiration date, discard it.
Dining Room Refresher
Check each cloth napkin for stains, holes, and frays. Do the same with tablecloths, table runners, and placemats. Either repair the item(s) or donate what is not longer useable.
Check your candle sticks for any left-over waxy residue. To remove wax, scrape away excess wax, then apply heat with a blow dryer set to medium heat, wiping off the wax with a soft cloth (lint free) as it softens. Wash the area with hot, non-abrasive soapy water to remove any left-over residue.
Check your stemware and flatware for any water spots. To remove water spots, dip a small cotton ball into white vinegar. Gently rub to remove the water spot. Wash the area with hot, non-abrasive soapy water to remove any left-over vinegar.
Fill in any minor scratches, dings, and dents in your dining table with a matching paint pen.
Reorganize your china cabinets, hutch, and other storage. Not only will this help remind you of what you already have, but you will easily identify what gaps you may have in serving pieces, dinnerware, etc. (which means a shopping trip!).
Clean as you go! If you move something take the opportunity to clean it, and its shelf or space, before you put it back.
Living Room Refresher
Thoroughly vacuum your sofa, side chairs, and other upholstered furniture to remove any dust, crumbs, and debris. Use this time to re-stuff any sagging cushions, decorative pillows, etc.
Clean your draperies either by hand or by enlisting the help of a trusted dry cleaner. Freshly laundered draperies can really make a room look crisp and clean.
Discard any out-of-date magazines that you are no longer interested in. Keeping a selection of in-season magazine for guests to peruse while relaxing and enjoying a cocktail is a fun way to spark conversation either before dinner or after dessert.
Evoke the season change with fresh flowers, lightly scented candles, and even a new throw for your space.
Re-merchandise any displays of accessories on top of your coffee table and side tables. Do the same to your book cases, and other displays you may have curated in your space. This will liven up a room and help you “re-love” what you already own!
My original article was published on VRAI Magazine - March 2015