Tag Archives: organization

The Uncluttered Life: Kid’s Toys

Are you tired of spending your free time dusting, picking up toys or generally taking care of your possessions?  Wouldn’t you rather be reading a book, taking a walk with a friend or hanging out with your kids?  Around two ago, my husband and I decided to make a conscious effort to get rid of our ‘junk’.  Basically, we grew tired of not being able to find items when we needed them.

Fast forward six months, and I would say there is definite progress being made.  I am now a regular in the donating line at the thrift stores instead of in the purchasing line.

IMG_6144Donations ready to go!

I can easily find items in the kitchen, our bedroom and in every closet in the house. Progress has been made in every room, but one area that we are still really struggling with is the kid’s room!

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So, this photo was taken over a year ago, but if you really look at this picture, you will notice that our kids like to play with the laundry baskets, toy baskets, blankets and pillows.  I tried sorting toys into plastic bins and plastic shoe boxes, but the system is hard for my 5 and 3 year old kids.  I love sorted toys and the kids could care less.  I have also used pretty cloth baskets to corral toys, but they either don’t play with the toys inside or they dump the entire bag out to find what they are looking for.

In my search for a solution, I came across the book, Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home, by Joshua Becker.  I was sold from the beginning where he writes, “Living life is more enjoyable than managing and organizing stuff.”  We spend so much time trying to organize our possessions, only to have to do it again in a week or so.  If we owned less stuff, we could spend our time and money on efforts that actually bring us joy.

While the messages and tips in the book were very helpful for all aspects of downsizing, there were some great hints for making it work with kids.  One of my favorites was ‘periodic minimizing,’ where you go in every month or so and remove toys that aren’t being played with.  I’ll admit to ‘sorting’ toys into a toy basket that I then snuck out to dump into a donation bag. This eliminates excess clutter and allows kids easier access to the toys they love.

Another tip I loved was to be intentional in your buying (or not buying) of toys.  Instead of a lot of cheap toys that will likely break in 10 minutes, consider holding out for quality toys that encourage creativity and exploration.

Kids playing

Legos everywhere

We have eliminated a lot of excess toys over the past year, and the kids haven’t missed any of them.  These days, our biggest (littlest?) problem with clutter is Legos!  Both of our kids love Legos, and honestly, I do too.  Aspen is incredibly creative with all of these colorful little pieces, and Landry loves the Lego duplo sets.

Yesterday, the kids and I very purposefully went through all the clothes and toys in their bedroom once again.    They spent the remainder of the day playing in their room with their favorite toys.  I call that a win/win!

Any tips for keeping Legos in check?  I am all ears!

 

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Bright and Breezy Office Update

Pretty much everyone has some sort of ‘office’ in their home these days, whether it be at the dining room table or in a room by itself.  It is where you sit to pay your bills, organize your finances, search the internet and maybe even do some paid work.  I am currently working on a home office remodel for a local couple, and want to share some of the thoughts and ideas in the early stages.

Bunker Office Ideas Numbered

1. Color Palette: BHG 2016  2.  3. Ceiling Light  4. Orange Mirror 5. Gray Bookcase  6. Corner Desk with Hutch  7. A Little Window Photo: Minted.com 8. Ranunculus Photo 9. Tape Dispenser and Stapler  10. Desk Lamp  11. Blue Monday Photo: Minted.com  12. Storage Basket  13. Desk (similar to client’s)  14. Succulents: Image  15. Blue Box Planter and Mint Planter  16. Orange File Cabinet

The first thing I like to do is to make a list where I break down the requirements and challenges of the space.  

-The office needs to accommodate two people and their furniture.  

-The room is small (~10’x10’), with three desks currently in it.  Two of the desks will be staying, because one is a family heirloom and the other is a corner desk that does help maximize the space.  The heirloom desk is nice looking, but the corner desk isn’t beautiful.  The corner desk is also the home of a desktop computer.  

-The office now has a tall almond colored filing cabinet and two shorter ones, which are topped with a printer/copier.  The closet is filled with books and other miscellaneous supplies.  There is florescent lighting and tan carpet, both of which need updating.

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My clients are a fun couple who will be retiring in the next few years.  They like bright and unfussy spaces, so there will be no dark ‘den’ or ‘man-cave’ designs here!  We both fell in love with Better Homes and Gardens 2016 color palette, which includes a light gray, dusty blue, bright orange, mint green and blush pink.  In the right combination, it is both masculine and feminine, which is ideal for this couple’s shared office.  Adding in black or a dark stain on the desks also keeps the look from being too soft.

 A few DIY projects using some of the existing furniture will help keep the budget down.  Their current filing system will likely be downsized, but we plan to paint the filing cabinets that remain, since they are high quality.  We will be working on the two desks to help them blend more cohesively.  My clients are happy with the comfort of their current office chairs, so we will be recovering at least one of them with new upholstery.  Fresh paint on the walls and ceiling will brighten up everything, as will the addition of a new ceiling fixture and a desk lamp or two.

The closet space will be reconfigured to store books and office supplies more efficiently.  Quality shelving might have a combination of open and closed storage, possibly with some baskets or closed doors.  They are considering a small chair for a reading nook, so we will see how the space goes together once we get the space plan worked out.  For now, check out the idea board I created for a bright and breezy office space. 

 

 

The Uncluttered Life: Pantry Overhaul

This pantry project has been a long time coming. It has been a jumbled disaster for several months, but I didn’t bother to reorganize it because I wanted to do a complete overhaul on the pantry closet while I was at it.

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Horrifying.

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The problem with ‘overhauls’ at our house is that the rest of the house then becomes a complete disaster. Also, I usually have a lot of help.  This week, we finally tackled the pantry, and I am excited about the results.

To begin, I brought in a garbage bag and a donation box. I got rid of a toaster oven that burned everything, a Salad Shooter, a manual food processor and the Magic Bullet. I recently bought one nice food processor that does everything except burn toast. It was such a relief to finally send those appliances to the donation box! I tossed opened bags that were stale or that no one was going to eat. I took every item out of the pantry and washed the entire thing. IMG_6572

Then, I found some ceiling paint and a half gallon of paint left over from our bedroom closet makeover and painted walls, floors and ceiling. I decided to stain the shelves instead of painting them. I used a water-based Minwax stain in Pecan. I chose to use water-based stain because I was working in an enclosed space and it is less toxic and smelly.

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Dark phone photo, but it feels fresh!

One thing about our pantry is that it is the closet over the stairs to the basement. In the 1950s, they often made these closets with deep steps all the way to the back. I have been researching solutions for making our closet more user-friendly, but haven’t found any help. So, Jer and I decided to put horizontally adjustable shelves across the shelves we put in a few years ago. They can be pushed back if needed, but we pulled them forward so everything is reachable from the first step. I found that things would just get lost and piled in the deep cave, so the shallower adjustable shelves are nicer for us. (We can access the back, so I put a few very infrequently used items back there, like the dehydrator and angel food cake pan).

A pantry works best with multiple shallow shelves. When Jer and I added shelves to our closet, we made the ones on the sides 6 inches deep and the ones on the back 11 inches deep. This keeps items from getting lost in the black hole that often happens when shelves are too deep. If you happen to have deep shelves, consider installing pull-out bins or drawers.

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I also wanted to add a little fun to the steps, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on it. Jer suggested using half a grapefruit. The ones we had were pretty large, but I spotted some Cuties and decided they would be perfect! I found some orange and yellow craft paint and two paper plates. After practicing on a piece of paper, I started randomly stamping the Cuties on the steps. The final look is not for everyone, but I like the 70s retro look and think it will be fun for awhile. When I get tired of it, it will take 10 minutes to paint it again.

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After the pantry is clean (and the paint is dry!) it is time to put things back. I arrange items according to use and size. Most frequently used things go at eye level. For us, that means canned goods and cereals are readily available for easy grabbing. Multiple cans of the same food are stacked together.

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I prefer to take things out of larger packages so I know when it needs to be restocked.  At lower levels are individually wrapped snacks and things that are ok for our kids to grab. The highest shelves are reserved for empty glass bottles, extra spices and lesser used appliances.

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As far as other organization tools, I use plastic half gallon and gallon containers with labels for things like rice and granola. I also decant extra flour and sugar, etc into labeled containers to keep random bags from leaking everywhere.  I wish they were clear, but they are recycled (aka.free) so I like them. Clear containers of any kind are nice because you can see the contents inside and know when it needs replacing. There are many container options for sale, but make sure it fits the food and fits into your space before you buy. I am using baskets to corral picnic supplies, extra Kurig cups and bags of chips. I tried a few different baskets before I remembered this orange one that goes better with the ‘citrus’ theme.

We mounted a broom holder on the inside door of our pantry to keep them from falling out every time we open the door. I also have a grocery bag holder mounted to the inside of the door. Other options for the inside of doors are over the door racks, spice shelves and shoe holders. Painting the inside of the door is an upcoming project.

Now that the pantry is stocked and organized, the food will just cook itself, right?

The Uncluttered Life: Kitchen Continued

I cannot even begin to tell you how awesome it feels to have our kitchen cleaned and organized!  I finished the cupboards and tackled the countertops early this week, and it was a full day job (with two little messers and lots of play breaks).  I feel so much less stressed that I am even more committed to keeping the clutter out.

I put everything that was using the kitchen as ‘limbo-land’ back in it’s proper place, and found places for things that used to reside on the countertop.  I decided the mixer wasn’t used enough to warrant a permanent place on the counter, even though I loved the cheery red color.  Having it in the corner just seemed to attract more items to want to congregate with it!  Into the lower cabinet it went, fitting in nicely with the red crock pot.  The only things on the counter are the Keurig and our kombucha brew. The kombucha is waiting for a hidden spot in the pantry, because really, it’s not the most beautiful thing to look at.

I am embarrassed to show you the ‘Before’ photos of my counters, but in the name of keeping it real and knowing that there are others out there just like me who are ‘creatives’ with a thousand things going at once, here they are:

I forgot to take photos before I put the mixer away…

And now the ‘Afters,’ our Fresh Start.

For those of you who love a true Before and After, here’s a comparison of when we moved in and how it looks now…

 

Lots of changes, and it feels like us.  Now that we can see the counters again, I have plans to resurface them.  But for right now, I am going to enjoy the simple feeling of clean and organized.

Laundry Room: ‘Before’ pics

Yes my friends, this is where I do my average of 400 loads of laundry per year…

Our laundry room is extremely neglected and uninspiring.  But, it has great potential and I am extremely grateful to have well-functioning machines to keep our clothes clean.  There are two decent-sized windows and it is a generously sized space (more than the size of our kitchen and dining area combined).  With a minimal budget for laundry room renovation, I have been thinking of ways that will increase the appeal and function of the room while also cleaning up and organizing the entire space.

1. Declutter the entire room.  The generous size of the laundry room is nice for storage, but it also means the laundry room is a convenient dumping ground for items we don’t know what else to do with.  I predict a thrift store donation run or three in my near future.

2. Give it a good scrub.  The place where we clean our clothes is by far the dirtiest room in our home.  It is time for some serious cleaning, from the ceiling to the floor.  Our dryer has lint and spilled stain remover on its top, and the washer could use a good scrub in the little nooks and crannies.

3. Paint.  Painting the concrete floor a bright color and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint will rejuvenate the entire room.  I considered painting the ceiling’s exposed floor joists, but I don’t really mind the look of the wood enough to go through the multiple coats of primer and paint it would take to get good coverage.  There is a dividing wall along the stairs with a row of border paper that is definitely getting a face-lift though! I thought it was ducks, but it is floral/cottage.  Either way, not our style!

4. Add function and organization with shelving and storage.  Jer already built a large folding station/workbench along one wall, which is currently housing all of my paint and painting supplies, along with a tool chest and miscellaneous items waiting to be donated.  We will be adding shelves or cabinets above the washer and dryer for storing detergents and other cleaning supplies.  A utility sink, drying rack, folding space and some hanging rods are other conveniences that help a laundry room work more efficiently.  Our current hanging device works really well, but needs some aesthetic work.

5. Don’t forget the details!  Adding art, rugs, window coverings and good (and pretty) lighting will make this room more comfortable to be in.

With some elbow grease and imagination, you can turn an often-neglected space into a fun and organized room you won’t mind spending a little time in.  Have you transformed a basement laundry room?  I would love to hear all about it!  Stop by in a few days for a look at my Laundry Room Idea Board.

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Kitchen Update

It has been awhile since I updated you all on the kitchen progress.  Over the past year, we have been working on making our kitchen/dining area function for our family.  Our kitchen, dining table, main entrance and basement access are all located within this 15’-6” x 10’-4” space, so we have been coming up with Small Space Solutions to work with what we’ve got.  If you are just joining me on the blog, see our Pot Rack, the Fruit Basket, and the Microwave and Hall Closet ideas.  We also took out an upper cabinet and installed some open shelves, along with a row of coat hooks and a sliding door.  Here is the microwave in it’s current home:

All of these solutions have really helped our kitchen accommodate our little family much better, which brings me to a few more tips on updating your kitchen relatively quickly and somewhat painlessly.

1. Clear out unused items.  Go through cupboards and drawers, and be ruthless.  Decide how many spatulas and rolling pins you really need, and get rid of the rest.  When your drawers aren’t cluttered up with excess stuff, you will be able to quickly find things you need, and it will be easier to put them back in the correct spot.

2. Arrange according to function.  If possible, locate items in cupboards according to the function of the space.  If a section of the countertop is frequently used for baking, locate all baking supplies in the cupboard above the counter.  That way it is readily available when needed.  It is also convenient to locate frequently used dishes and utensils close to the dishwasher and sink.  They can be unloaded directly into their spots with minimal movement around the kitchen.

 

3. Update cabinetry.This isn’t a super quick update, but it is relatively simple and has a big impact.  I recently painted my basic cabinetry and added hardware to the cupboards and drawers.  I chose white because all of our appliances are white, and because the kitchen is very small and I wanted to keep it looking clean and bright.  Adding handles and drawer pulls where none existed has made the biggest difference as far as function. *all remaining pulls have been added since the photo below was taken.*  I also used the same pulls for drawers as well as cupboards, and chose to center the pulls on the bottom edge of the upper cabinets.  I love how they look and they are very easy to open.

4. Look for unused or wasted space.  We recently added labeled baskets above our upper cabinets for extra storage.  It really helps with overflow from our pantry closet.  We also moved some white dishes from the pantry to above the cabinets.

5. Paint the walls a happy color.  Since you likely spend a good amount of time in the kitchen, choose a color that is reflective of you and your family.  To make our small kitchen/dining space seem larger, we have painted it a bright and light gray.  This also allows me to use pops of color in art and other kitchen accessories.

6.  Change out your accessories.  A new dish towel or two will go a long way in sprucing up your kitchen.  Decorative mixing bowls displayed on a shelf, a fun patterned rug, simple curtains, or new chair pads are all simple and quick ways to help make your time spent in the kitchen a lot more fun.

Go ahead, rethink your kitchen a bit.  See if you can make a few changes and add some zest to your space.