Five-C's criteria for my condo

Spending more time than usual at home, we might be feeling as bored with our dwellings as with ourselves. The blahs can bring on an itch to redecorate. I had hardly changed anything in my South Loop condo after making it livable when I moved in seven years ago.

Before scratching the redecorating itch, though, I decided to get a fix on my criteria for a shipshape home. It didn’t take long to come up with a list; a six-month lockdown has tested how well our homes work for us.

My realistic criteria can be described with words beginning with the letter C:

Clutter-controlled: I finished a decluttering sweep just before the coronavirus struck, and although more could be purged, stuff is organized and boxes labeled. A home doesn’t have to be minimalist — unless that’s your preference. If I have a place for everything and know what I have, I’ve met my goal for controlling clutter.

Clean: My standards aren’t those of my mother, who washed walls and everything in the kitchen cabinets once a year. But I am antsy when the place looks like it needs cleaning. A couple of hours a week with microfiber cloths and the vacuum cleaner keep my antsiness at bay. Clean also required replacing the pet-stained bedroom carpet with hardwood flooring, a recent in-between-cats project.

Convenient: Several things fall into this category. Having suitable space for reading, desk work, cooking, entertaining a few people, and storage. Storing things so they’re findable and — especially things used often — reachable. Fixing things that break down.

Comfortable: Whatever one’s decorating style, everyone wants a comfortable home. For me comfort especially requires a back-friendly mattress, reading chair, and desk chair. Calming colors, good lighting, and the right temperature are also fundamentals.

Cozy: Differentiating cozy from comfortable, here it applies to decor. Cozy is an informal, lived-in style that invites relaxation. I put cozy last because decorating should come after clutter control, convenience, et al. are taken care of. My condo is never going to be the subject of a photo spread, but when visitors call it cozy, I’m happy.

Note that the five C’s are not a condo-shopping wish list. I was fortunate to get my main wants when I bought here seven years ago: a downtown location, a balcony, space for an office, and a controllable thermostat (missing in my previous radiator-heated building). The five C’s are about how you live in the space after you move in.

Also note that the C’s are not how-tos for a dream decor. They’re foundational, not cosmetic. An abode that wows isn’t my aspiration, and I doubt that I could achieve it if I tried. Besides, a condo that looks great but falls short on convenience or my other criteria would not be one that works for me.

Rather than reporting how I graded my place on each of the C’s, I’ll just say that making the list was valuable for putting expectations into perspective. Boredom is likely due to the circumstance of being confined. A home featured in House Beautiful might seem blah after six months of unrelieved gazing at its walls.



“I’m not surprised that the president cannot grasp the nature and quality of selfless service. It’s all transactional for him. It’s beyond comprehension that we would have to tolerate a commander in chief who behaves the way this president does.”
— Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton

Leave a comment