Have you seen the movie Two Weeks Notice with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant? There’s a scene where Hugh Grant’s character, an extremely rich businessman, visits Sandra Bullock’s parents’ home and is astounded by how small the apartment is.
I was thinking about that movie while I wrote this because our master bathroom is pretty darn small. Our house is 50 years old - Jeff likes to call it mid-century modern - and people didn’t have huge bathrooms back then. I can stretch out my arms and touch the walls in both directions. Unlike Hugh Grant, I don’t have to take any steps at all to cross the room.
This teeny little room is not only the master bath, it serves as the guest bath as well. Sure, we could remodel and make it bigger, but you know what? I really like it how it is.
Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist says,
“The makeover your bathroom needs is not more square footage and newer fixtures; it is a removal of all the excess stuff that’s giving it that messy, distracting look. I don’t know how big your master bathroom is, but get rid of the clutter, and I guarantee it will seem more spacious. You’ll begin to enjoy greater calm and relaxation right in the bathroom you’ve already got.”
He’s right. I’m happy with what we’ve already got because there’s less of it to clean, it’s uncluttered, and it’s peaceful.
Here are a couple things that help us keep it that way:
This is one of the first steps in the KonMari Method. Pull out everything in your bath area and determine which of them bring you joy. If you have lots of partially used products that you decide weren’t right for you, donate them to shelters. The idea is to keep the things you love and let go of the excess. We have two bottles of shampoo, a bottle of conditioner, a razor, face wash, and a bottle of body wash. Declutter first. You’ll be surprised at how many things you’re keeping that you no longer use.
At one point in my life I subscribed to a couponing club. Every week I’d get an email telling me where the best bargains were and where to find coupons to make those bargains even better. I’d spend a couple hours organizing coupons, then spend a couple more hours driving to 3 different stores. Honestly, it was kind of fun, and I often got 70-80% off my grocery bill. But one day I realized I had 30 bottles of conditioner in my closet. I wasn’t using the things I bought, I was just buying them because they were cheap. What a waste. There was no way we would use all of them before they went bad. These days I try not to buy a replacement product until the one I’m using is almost gone. There’s something really rewarding about using up a whole bottle or box of something. Our oldest daughter Kelsey has a silly instagram series devoted to celebrating using up products completely before buying more. It would be best if we bought in bulk and never used anything that came in packages, but this is at least a step in the right direction. And incidentally, since we are more intentional about what we bring into our house, we’re producing about a fifth of the garbage and recycling we used to produce.
Buy what works well enough
I’ve quoted Barry Schwartz from the book The Paradox of Choice before because the things he says make so much sense. The premise of the book is that having tons of choices isn’t always the best thing. I know I do much better with fewer choices. Too many overwhelm me. If I spend 15 minutes in the shampoo aisle trying to decide which one of them is the very very best, then move on to the cereal aisle to do the same thing, I’ll be in the store forever. If you’re happy with the product you’ve been using, grabbing the same thing without looking at other possibilities can be one less decision you have to make while shopping. If you love reading all the advertising on the containers and it brings you joy, go for it. I’d rather get in and get out and get on with my life.
My daughter Carly has discovered one brand that she loves, and Kelsey is happy with almost anything as long as it’s lavender-scented.
Remove everything from the bathtub or shower
This was a game-changer. I resisted doing it for a while by trying different wire racks and hooks in the shower to try to keep it tidy, but when I finally broke down and got a little plastic tote to put our shower products in, I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. It makes it so much easier to keep the shower clean and uncluttered. Sometimes we don’t realize that looking at all the words on bottles creates visual clutter until we store them out of sight. Having the shower empty is very calming and makes it look extra clean. Also the bottles don’t get covered with that weird orange shower slime. I put the basket next to the tub, then when I’m done, I put the bottles back in, tip it a bit to let any water drain out, then store it under the sink on a tray. It takes one second to get it out and put it away, and it probably contributed most to making our bathroom more serene.
Centralize your cleaning supplies
We used to have cleanser, toilet bowl cleaner, floor cleaner, multipurpose spray and window cleaner under each bathroom sink. It seems like it makes sense, but centralizing all the supplies in our hall closet has made cleaning easier. I can see at a glance what we have, I don’t have to buy multiples of anything, and it keeps our bathroom cabinets tidier.
Joshua Becker shared this quote from Edward Lewis, a British bathroom designer:
“The bathroom is the one room in which we are able to finally switch off from all that is going on around us and simply be alone with our thoughts, and reflect on the day. A chance to relax and wash away life’s little stresses, and above all, where inspiration strikes. It’s an experience!”
What a lovely sentiment. I think I’ll go take a bath.
Sue Fehlberg is Arkansas’ only Certified KonMari Consultant