Closet Cleanout – at it again!

Do you know what I like about cleaning out my closet? Practically nothing. However, I happen to love the results, so I make myself re-evaluate my wardrobe ever few months. I’ve been pretty diligent over the last year about getting rid of clothes I don’t wear anymore. I think I had cut the amount of items down by more than 1/3. Here were a couple of my methods:

-I had done the ‘hanger trick’ and turned all of my hangers around. If a hanger was still turned around at the end of the season, that meant I hadn’t worn the item and I had to get rid of it.

-I had tried every single item on and asked myself “Would I buy this again right now?” If the answer was no, away it went!

-I realized that there were a few things that I had been hanging onto that I loved but had a stubborn stain or irreparable tear. I made myself weed these items out because, though I may have loved them, I would always notice the ‘problem area.’

These methods got me pretty far in my purging. Yet I still felt there was more I could do. I had found the website of a very popular Japanese professional organizer named Marie Kondo who has an intriguing way of looking at possessions and of paring them down. She is insanely popular in Japan and elsewhere in the world. While some of her methods might seem overly strict, there is a great basis to the way she works. She asks you to evaluate every single item with the question “Does this spark joy?”  The theory is that everything has the potential to bring you joy….or not. When you honestly ask if an item brings you joy, often the answer is no. Why do we hold on to so many things that don’t bring joy into our lives?

I decided to go through my clothes again using this method. Even though I thought I had gotten rid of the things I didn’t like, when I asked if each thing sparked joy, I realized a lot of things brought me nothing positive at all. I was able to get rid of 50 more items from my wardrobe. 50!

I also realized that my drawers were out of control and needed to be re-organized. For several years, I have rolled the clothes in my drawers because it makes it easier to see more of them. But if you still have too many clothes, they tend to pile up. I knew I needed to go from this:

Konmari and Clothes 1To this:

Konmari and Clothes 2And in the drawers, they look even better:

Konmari and Clothes 3I plan on using this method to clean out my clothes a couple of times a year. Then I’ll know that everything I wear brings a little joy to my life.

~Erin

Upcycling for Organization in the News

This week I did a short guest spot on Fox 21 News in Colorado Springs. I gave a few suggestions on how to upcycle items in your home for organizational purposes. From trash to treasure to upcycling old dishes, there’s a variety of tips for everyone. Click on the photo below to see the segment.

Fox News - 2015 April

And if you want more in depth ideas on the upcycled drawer, see my previous post!

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Happy Upcycling!

~Erin

One Old Drawer – Many New Uses

Tomorrow I am doing a short news segment on Fox 21 News in Colorado Springs about Upcycling for Organization. If you miss it or aren’t in the area, I’ll post the link shortly!

I’ll have some fun and easy tips but I wanted to give a preview of one of my upcycling projects. Old drawers are one of my favorite things to upcycle. They have so many uses, there are so many different sizes available and you can find them cheap, cheap, cheap if you don’t already have some on hand. I want to show you a few ways you can use a smaller size drawer for storage and organization.

First, find a drawer…maybe like this one:

DSC_0190Then, dress it up a little. I used some blue paint and distressed it a bit with some stain. I added a knob on the front and some painted feet to elevate it a little.

DSC_0220I wanted to see how many uses I could find for this little gem. I went from room to room and looked for creative storage inspiration and I was amazed at all of the ways it could fit in.

It’s a great way to leave out guest towels or other guest accessories. DSC_0241

Or display some extra magazines.

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It would also make a great counter-top fruit and veggie holder.

DSC_0261It adds a personal touch to the closet where you can store scarves or a variety of other accessories.

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In the kid’s room, you could use it for books or other toys. Or what about changing table storage?

DSC_0329DSC_0378Set it on a window ledge to hold small plants or herbs.

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Or how great would this look as part of a bar set up?

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You could pair it with another drawer and it would be a great self-serve area at a brunch or party.

DSC_0291I’m sure there are a million more uses, these are just my first thoughts. What else would you do with this?

~Erin

 

Junk Drawer Switch Out

PicMonkey Collage 1The Junk Drawer: my albatross……growing like one of those weird dinosaur shaped sponges you put in water and they quadruple in hours.

I have been trying for 2 years to find the perfect organizers for our junk drawer. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to organize something so small. I think it’s because it’s kind of a small drawer. All of the one piece organizers are too large. Believe me, I’ve tried to cram them in and try to mentally will the drawer to get bigger. But it doesn’t. I’ve tried plastic bins, different baskets, bamboo organizers, acrylic trays. I’ve tried to tetris them in there to fit perfectly and hold all of my miscellaneous items.

Then I realized that I wasn’t following one of my basic rules of organizing…..Don’t feel like you have to fill up all of the space.

Empty space can be tempting….nagging…taunting. We have a tendency to want to fill every drawer, shelf and closet with stuff, even if it’s not necessary.

I decided to downsize the amount of items and upsize the empty space. I also bought some bright orange plastic bins from Home Goods. I am not known for my vibrant color palette; almost everything I own is a neutral shade of blah. So I decided to add a pop of color to an unexpected place and I can’t tell you how much I love it.

From this:

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To this:

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One other quick switch I made was in another kitchen drawer. This one holds most of our cooking utensils. The organizer I had before fit perfectly, but it wasn’t right for the stuff I was trying to store. Some of the compartments were too small and it just ended up being cluttered and frustrating.

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So I took some of the previous junk drawer bins and put them in the utensil drawer.

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I also discovered I owned not one, but two, turkey basters. Ummmm. I don’t even use a turkey baster when I’m actually cooking a turkey, so why I had two of these things is completely beyond me. So they have now been delegated as the kid’s official science experiment basters and I have more room in my kitchen drawers.

So, to sum up my mantra for the year: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!

PicMonkey Collage 1

Purge, Rearrange, and don’t be afraid of a little color!

~Erin

 

Kitchen Desk – Reorganize and reuse

Hi friends! I am visiting sunny Phoenix, Arizona right now and it.is.hot. I mean really hot:

hot

That’s almost 9:00 at night! I grew up here, but I forget how blazin’ hot it is. So we’ve been doing some inside activities instead of braving the heat. I’m helping my mom with a few organizing projects while I’m here and the first one was the desk/workspace in the kitchen area.

Now this space was difficult for two reasons.

1) There is an office in the house so the desk doesn’t really need to be used for many office supplies or files. However, it is a desk, so it has some little drawers and some super deep drawers for hanging folders. So its’ purpose has been kind of undefined for a while.

2) There are 8 cubbies near the top of the desk. While this seems practical, it also can end up looking cluttered because everything is in view.

First we re-evaluated the drawers.

Desk Before Collage - text

My mom had decided to use one drawer for tools. This is great because they are conveniently located in the main living area of the house but they aren’t taking up valuable kitchen space. The drawer just needed an additional bin and a quick reorganization.

Then we did the middle drawer which held the office/ desk supplies:

The 3rd drawer held misc items and it still does. However, there are fewer of them!

 

As for the top half of the desk, there are several shelves and 8 smaller cubbies. Please excuse my horrible iphone before picture.

Before

Before

My mom had a small CD cabinet that she was planning to get rid of. So we stole the drawers from it!

IMG_1873

Filling all of the cubbies with a drawer would have been too overwhelming, so we used 4 of the drawers and used the other 4 cubbies for decorative accents. We had to decide which cubbies got a drawer though….that process took way too long!

Choice A

Choice A

Choice B

Choice B

Choice C

Choice C

We went with Choice C!

Now the drawers are organized and the cubbies look more updated and might get used a little more!

Drawers after collage - text

Choice C

On another note, don’t forget to sign up for our Self Care for September newsletter. It’s a whole month of self care challenges and ideas brought to you by Neaten Your Nest and Life Sprinkles!

We are offering a weekly Self Care Giveaway to a different participant each week. Tag us, link back to us, let us know your progress or ideas and get entered into the drawing for the giveaway! Sign up for the newsletter to start participating.

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Holiday Organizing and Getting Creative with Dishes

We have a hutch/cabinet in our dining room that has been home to our ‘not-often-used’ dishes as well as some of our holiday decorations. It has served its’ purpose well, but between my husband and I, one of us hates it….I won’t say which one of us. :) So we have decided to add this item to the whirlwind of Craigslist and see what happens. Here is what it looked like with everything on it.

DR Hutch Post (1)The shelves held the dishes we really only use for Christmas and Thanksgiving and the cabinet and drawer held small decorations for the minor holidays. It also held extra place mats, napkins and tablecloths too. I actually reorganized the cabinet and drawer in a post here. So all of these items went real estate shopping for new places to live in my house.

My first challenge was the serving dishes. They are big, bulky and breakable….hardly the kind of thing you can toss in a closet. I managed to put the trays in the back of a deep cabinet in the kitchen. But the pitcher, salt and pepper set, serving bowl? Where in the world???? Then my husband had a brilliant idea! We have a space above our cabinets where we put our holiday garlands and decorations, but the rest of the year it sits empty, pining away for some decorative accent. My husband said “just put the dishes up there.” Awesome, right? Now they are prominently displayed in the kitchen.

DR Hutch Post (3)Not only do they take up an empty space that was just crying out for a little love, but they also allow us to somehow enjoy the dishes all year long. The best part is that when we have to put the garlands up, it’s the same time of year we actually serve food on these dishes, so they have to come down anyways!

Now the next challenge….all those pesky little holiday decorations. Except for Christmas and Halloween, I usually only put a few holiday accents around the house. However, I like to have a little something for each holiday. Enter the ‘under the bed organizer’! I decided to put all of these little doo-dads underneath the guest bed in a large, flat bin. It’s totally perfect. They are out of the way, but easily accessible. Another win!

DR Hutch Post (1)I also put the extra tablecloths, napkins, etc in a smaller organizer under the bed.

DR Hutch Post (2)The lessons here?

-Sometimes items you want to keep and don’t use often can become part of your decor. That way they aren’t taking up valuable storage space.

-Under the bed or guest room storage is a great place for smaller seasonal items. Sidenote….I also just moved my wrapping paper under the guest bed as well!

-It’s a good idea to re-evaluate the larger items in your house at least once a year. A couple months ago, we created another doorway through a wall into our dining room so that is why we decided to get rid of a large piece of furniture in that room…there just wasn’t the wall space anymore. I think we are also just a Craigslist post away from parting with a never used futon. It’s good to periodically survey your home for items, large and small, that are no longer needed.

-Think outside the box when it comes to organizing!

~Erin

 

Kid’s Craft Organization

I had way too much fun with the organization for this post.  I had a 3 drawer plastic drawer system where I kept all of the kid’s crafts in addition to a couple of small plastic bins for the overflow. It was a good system, it was an effective system, it was a small system. The problem was that, as my older son got, well, older, he used a bigger variety of craft supplies. And now I have a 1 year old who is also capable of scribbling, flinging finger paint and lovingly tearing up every piece of paper I give him. So now I need more supplies….and a bigger place to put them. Well friends, I have found the perfect place. Who remembers when I did a 15 Minute organization on my den cabinet? The bottom half of the cabinet ended up empty and was just waiting for the perfect organizational project. I moved the CD cases elsewhere and freed up the whole cabinet for my new Craft Storage System!

I knew I wanted a good way to store construction paper so that I could easily grab any color I wanted for the kids. I also wanted the kids to be able to reach it. Before, a search for one piece of construction paper resulted in a giant rainbow mound of paper on my floor. Enter the office organizer…

Kid's Craft Organization (2)

I was a little giddy when I realized that we had this organizer in our office and it was currently empty, awaiting it’s organizational life mission. So I spent a ridiculous amount of time separating our construction paper by color and ta-dah!

Kid's Craft Organization (3)

I put this on the top shelf of the den cabinet and used the bottom of the cabinet to stack several craft items, such as a travel craft case, a box of stamps and ink, and a large markers set.

Kid's Craft Organization (4)

I purposely left space in this cabinet for future craft kits that I know will magically appear in our house.

I still had a million other craft items though and needed a place for them. I decided to use the original 3 drawer storage system for 3 categories: Paint, Coloring Books and Play-Doh. It’s amazing how Play-doh seems to breed when you’re not looking and suddenly you have a litter of little Play-Doh containers.

Kid's Craft Organization (1)

I had also acquired a collection of craft idea books and seasonal craft papers, along with sticker sheets and scraps of construction paper, which I know I’ll absolutely use so I can’t throw them away, right?  I needed to organize these and I shopped my home office once again. I had a small file box that wasn’t being used effectively so it became home to all of these loose papers. I also busted out a few of my favorite organizing tools…file folders, my labeler, and some pretty decorative tape.

Kid's Craft Organization (6)After a little labeling, here is what I came up with:

Kid's Craft Organization (7)

Kid's Craft Organization (8)

The first section is for craft books, then I have a folder for each major holiday that we do crafts for. Keep in mind, this is different than my Holiday Organizing books that I made for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. Those books include some craft ideas and photos, but the craft folders pictured here are for coloring pages, holiday cutouts and the actual items needed for the crafts. I also have a folder for sticker sheets and another folder for the construction paper scraps.

By the way, I know I’ve mentioned my little ‘helpers’ before, but I just had to share a photo illustrating how I usually organize around my house.

Kid's Craft Organization (5)It’s not easy, but it’s fun!

Anyways….I wanted a good way to organize all of the little craft supplies that end up tangled in a giant crafty mess. I have 4 clear storage boxes which I grouped items into and labeled the boxes.

Kid's Craft Organization (9)

I also had a storage ottoman that was underutilized, but so very cute.

Kid's Craft Organization (10)And it just so happens that the storage boxes I had fit upright in the ottoman.

Kid's Craft Organization (11)So now I have all of our craft supplies perfectly organized and there is even room for more! I’m so excited to have this project done and to be able to craft without drowning in a pile of felt and googly eyes. :) And my favorite part is the construction paper!

Construction Paper Holder - B&Y

~Erin

Playroom Closet Makeover

It’s time for a playroom closet makeover and reveal. I am super excited about this project.

Nan & Gary - 2013 January - Playroom Closet (10)

It was another room to tackle at my in-laws house and it was fun for me in a lot of ways:

1) This was a fairly big project and I LOVE a challenge! And who isn’t ridiculously excited about organizing a playroom closet? Wait, I’m the only one?

2) This is now the place where my kids play when we visit my in-laws so there was an added benefit for me too!

3) I also got to help go through so many toys that belonged to my husband and his siblings while they grew up. How adorable is that?!

So let’s start with the before pics of this daunting task:

Left side of Playroom closet - before

Left side of Playroom closet – before

Right side of playroom closet - before

Right side of playroom closet – before

This is a large closet and the door is in the middle so when you walk in, you can go to the left or the right. Or, NOT go to the left or right because of all of the stuff. The space was filled to capacity and partly dark because you couldn’t get to the burned out light bulbs to change them.

The first step was to take out everything! This took a long time and resulted in the main playroom area looking like this:

Nan & Gary - 2013 January - Playroom Closet (3)Holy Moly! My initial thought was that we would never get all of that stuff back in there. Then came the realization that if all of that stuff had to go back in there, I wasn’t doing my job. We quickly started a sell/donate pile that eventually grew to about the size of a dinosaur.

Nan & Gary - 2013 January - Playroom Closet (12)There was also a pile for trash that started growing out in the hallway.

After everything was out of the closet, we looked at our organization options. There were three existing shelving units that were perfect for toy storage. There were also 5 large storage bins and 2 of these were completely empty!

We got our general layout in mind and put the storage bins and shelving back in the closet with nothing in them, just to make sure we liked the flow and that everything fit well. We also moved a smaller shelf from the playroom into the closet.

We decided the left side of the closet would be mostly focused on non-toys. There was a large file cabinet with activities and papers that we pushed back against the wall. There were also numerous boxes of items that my husband and his siblings needed to go through because they were filled with their memories and personal storage. All of those items got piled up next to the file cabinet. Now obviously these need to be gone through, but my mother-in-law was the only one there with me and it wasn’t her stuff so we designated that as a safe zone for the clutter. We did try to make it as pretty as possible. Here is the left side now.

Left side of playroom closet - after

Left side of playroom closet – after

You can also see the small wood shelf which now holds clear plastic bins of toys. These separate smaller items like toy cars, dinosaurs etc. They are great because the kids can see exactly what is inside each bin without taking it off the shelf. There are also a few baby/ toddler toys on lower shelves which my one year old can pull off and play with.

Since this closet has an angled ceiling, I thought it might present a problem with fitting everything in. However, it turns out that the 5 large storage bins fit perfectly underneath the angled edge. You can even open the lids without them hitting the ceiling. These bins became storage for larger items. One for stuffed animals, one for balls, etc.

Nan & Gary - 2013 January - Playroom Closet (11)

The best part is that one of these bins is still empty so if another storage need comes up, there’s an option!

The right side of the closet is my favorite part. We put the 2 large shelving units and the smaller shelf on this side. The small shelf is now for books and board puzzles.

Nan & Gary - 2013 January - Playroom Closet (10)

One of the large shelves is for games and the other is for misc items (though they are all grouped and/or containerized).

Nan & Gary - 2013 January - Playroom Closet (7)Nan & Gary - 2013 January - Playroom Closet (8)

Basket for dress up hats

Basket for dress up hats

I am beyond thrilled with how this turned out. The space is clean, bright and organized. The best part was that when my 3 year old went in there, he stayed in there for more than 2 hours playing….in a closet! See, even 3 year olds rather be in a space that is organized!

Ok, one more time with the Before & After photos!

Left Side - B&A (3) Right Side - B&A (3)I love it!

~Erin