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Operation Clean House: Part 5 {Master Closet Mess}

It's been a while since my last post, but you better believe I have been a very busy little bee in this mission to clean my house once and for all. Because our home is small, messy overlap often occurs when I start a project. During the holidays, the dump zone ended up being our closet because it was the most spacious and concealed  room in the house. That quickly took a turn for the worst when gifts, shopping bags, gift wrap and the like all ended up piling into my closet.  Since embarking on this mission, I knew the closet was going to have to get cleaned out sometime. That time is today.

For dramatic effect {more like time constraints, but we'll call it drama}, this post is dedicated only to the before. Welcome to my mess as I like to say. Our closet is rather large and each set of double sliding mirror doors is divided on the outside by a wall, but the inside is all one space split up by shelving. Below is a diagram of the before state of our closet.

I have several goals for this closet

  • Purge my side of everything that is damaged, old or not my current size 
  • Consolidate storage boxes into one space of the closet 
  • Create an office nook in what remains of the closet space 

Here's a look at my side of the closet {I apologize in advance}

This was another project I tackled alone, and because of that, I didn't {and couldn't} remove the closet doors, so I cropped and spliced together what I could of each side...you get the idea...mess.  Now, like many, I have kept items that should have been donated long long ago, but never did for fear that I might like it again or it might come back into style or I might fit into it again. All lies and all holding me back from a greater good {order}. I'm telling you, there are some items in there that I have had since I was in high school. I am 10+ years past those days and was finally in a state of mind to accept it and purge the clothes to go to someone who will actually wear and fit them.  What's more therapeutic than that?

Here is my hubby's side of the closet

He has some purging of his own to do, but what was most frustrating for him {and me} was that his everyday clothes and his golf wear were all mixed together, and when it came time to put something on, he couldn't find what he was looking for in the mix up. It was fine to have them all organized by polos, but for this man, all polos were not created equal and the order needed to reflect that. On the floor of his side are some storage boxes full of our memorabilia from his childhood, my childhood, our dating journey, and a small box started for our son.

The middle portion behind the wall is where we squeezed in our storage boxes. It houses items like office supplies we don't have room for, a bin full of my old purses, and my son's clothes. All his clothes. Those that he wears now, those that are too small, and those that have been given to him to wear later. I am the proud recipient of hand me downs and as of today, he has clothes up to 5T! I don't mind having them, what I do mind is not having a clean system to keep track of them.

So that is my current mess. But, there is a wonderful plan to get it ship shape! Enter the diagram to get me to happily ever after.

As you can see, I plan to consolidate all storage to one corner of the closet and fit the office nook beside it. That leaves the entire second half of the closet for all our clothes {his, hers and baby's}. Putting all our clothes on one side of the closet also brings them closer to our dresser where more clothes live, making all things dress up living in one side of the room so we don't have to go walking back and forth across the room. It's a steep proposition, but I have full confidence that it is achievable and will meet every goal I have set out for the space.

Stay tuned for updates on this massive project. If you think about it, it's really several projects wrapped up into one {organizing closet space, organizing storage space, creating a child's hand me down system, and building an office nook}! Talk about multitasking! That's a gift that keeps on giving.

How are your spaces? Is there a space in your home that you are thinking could pull double duty when it comes to functionality? I'd love to hear about it!

Operation Clean House: Part 4 {Bathroom Boom}

Today was another one of those "get it done now" kind of days, which worked out well for me since today is my usual Clean-the-bathroom Day.  My son was playing nicely by himself so I thought I'd take a few minutes to tackle the bathroom sink and medicine cabinet.

Welcome to my mess

What I loath about this space

  • Everything is out on the sink counter making it very disorganized to look at {in my mind} because there is so much stuff; moreover, it's a pain to wipe down when the counter is hardly visible and I have to move mountains {also in my mind} to clear it just so I can wipe it.
  • The medicine cabinet holds medicine which could be better placed elsewhere {read more about that here from one of my favorite blogs} and other items that just sit there for weeks or sometimes months before they get any attention.  Inefficiency...bad!

Goals for this space
  • Create more storage
  • Clear the counter and leave only the essentials
  • Utilize the medicine cabinet better

Stumbling before starting
As I was thinking through this project before even starting it, my initial vision included an over the toilet cabinet to create more storage and add some visual interest to the room, but do you know how much those things cost!?!  Anywhere from $70-$300!  Um, nevermind!  This gal did not have that kind of money laying around, so I had to get creative.  I needed to make the space I had count.  

Here we go
First order of business: empty the medicine cabinet and put most of what was on the counter in the cabinet.  This {like many other orgazination projects} gets worse before it gets better.

Ah, a blank canvas

Simple Sorting
From the picture above, my categories included
  • Dental
  • Optical
  • Hers & His care
  • Random {my not favorite}


 Look, I do have a counter!

And now for the medicine cabinet {before and after}
As you can see, I only made a couple of simple changes to the shelving, but the contents is what makes this a major improvement in my book since now everything that was crowding the sink has its own special home right here.  

From top to bottom {and left to right}
  • Hair accessories and eyeglass case
  • Toothpaste {for Daddy, Mommy & little guy}
  • Hers & His care placed together
  • Optical just below
  • Toothbrushes, floss & razors
  • Mouthwash & Contact solution
    • I ran into another stumbling block with the mouthwash...huge bottle, little space.  It worked while there was little order, but not in the new arrangement.  So I thought and shopped around in our kitchen hoping I could find a glass bottle.  What I did find was a white plastic bottle that I had been saving {just in case}.  It was the right size, an okay shape, but it was white and I wanted to see the contents of the bottle.  Strike one.  Then it dawned on me to dig in our recycling and use one of our water bottles.  This would work in the short term while I wait to reuse our salad dressing bottle as our permanent solution.
This project took a good 20-30 minutes I'd say, just enough time away from my toddler.  I knew it was time when he started peaking his cute little head into the bathroom asking what I was doing.  So with my counter cleared and my medicine cabinet organized, I was off to toddler playland!

But wait!  There's more!
I knew the linen closet was staring me in my face just taunting and teasing me to have a go at her too.  After all, some of what came out of the medicine cabinet went quickly into the next door linen closet.  But, I thought, that could be best spent another day.  

We went along our day as we would any other day.  He had just gotten over a cold and I thought this would be a great day to get him outdoors again.  After hours of playing and doing what we do, I began inviting my son to go play outside, when he rediscovered his animal bin and began playing with his dinosaurs!  He hadn't played with them in a while and was quite happy to be playing with them and not me.  I guess he had had enough of Mommy for one morning.  Perhaps, a little birdie knew how badly I wanted to get back to my organizing and gave me just the right opportunity to do so!  So I slipped away again to tackle the linen closet.

The linen closet is bad, but it's not that bad
Okay, maybe it is a little bad, but it is organized chaos in there, I promise!  The top shelf was for my curling irons and back stock toiletries, the second shelf was His care and travel toiletry bags {and my nail polish remover!?! Ignore that}, then there was Her care on the third shelf with a random sample of teeth whiting, and back stock of lotion that we don't use, and hair spray, and...um, ignore that too...then there is the toddler shelf where training pants and baby cotton swabs abound, next is where the actual linens are kept...along with some table cloths and a runner and a set of bed sheets and some washcloths smooshed in between somewhere...hey, don't judge me!  That's what organized chaos is, right?  I know where everything is {but no one else knows where anything is}.  {deep sigh} Well might as well get to work.

I thought that since it was mostly organized chaos, I didn't need to take everything out {even if I had, I would have no where to sort everything}.  So I attacked one shelf at a time thinking it just needed a little tidying up.  I started with my own shelf and thought I did okay.  Then I did the hubby's shelf and found that I could be using the space a bit better; so I emptied half of my shelf and put both storage bins on the same shelf with my husband's hair clipper case underneath his bin to give both bins some breathing room.  Once I did that, the boy's shelf was pretty easy and removing the towels we won't use {to be donated to my mother-in-law who has a full house} and grabbing other towels from our closet {yes, yes, I know...ignore that too}, all the towels and washcloths live happily ever after in the linen closet.

Let's take a look at it now

How sweet it is!  Now for a closer look..
Hair products now live with the hair styling tools up top, right next door to our back stock which didn't move, but I did gather up other floating back stock from randomville.

Just below that, feminine care and travel bags have been placed together.

Moving on down...
The Hers and His section in the back row and front and center is my manicure kit along with a container for cotton balls and another for brushes and combs.

Tidied up with toddler shelf a bit by removing the remaining Pull-Ups from their packaging and laying them out neatly, leaving the Night Time ones packed so there's no confusion and doing the same with Swimmers.

And last, but not least...the linens for the linen closet
At last all the linens are together and I put the random table cloths and bed sheets in the closet.

As you hopefully noticed, I wasn't all that disorganized to begin with.  When we first moved here it was just as organized as you see it here, maybe not as functional, but it worked for us for this long.  After a while {as does happen every now and then}, I lost my way, got lazy, ran out of time, rushed to put things away and forgot to maintain my organization.  My goal is to maintain this system for as long as possible and add some of those wonderful labels that I love so the hubs can follow the system along with me.  Sometimes the gift of organization is best when re-gifted.

Has this given you any inspiration?  Even just one nugget of something?  What did you do when your initial vision for a room was too expensive?  How did you make it work with your family's budget?  Share your wisdom with the rest of us!

Operation Clean House: Part 3 {Fridge Frenzy}

What you may not see as I post lately is that in the process of working on one project {the analyzing, purging, sorting and organizing}, each step leads to the beginnings of two or more other projects.  So, at any one time, I could have two or three different projects going on all at once.  I start with this because it gives you a little bit of background to this next project.

Often times, change needs to come slowly and rightfully so.  Too much change at once can be overwhelming.  For this lady, it needed to be as quick as the rip of a band aid.  Along with organizing the physical space of our home, we are trying to get our finances in control {in this economy, who isn't, right?}.  So with the new year, we have decided to begin a meal plan.

A meal plan will work well for us in many ways because:

  • We won't have to answer the dreaded question, "What are we going to eat?".
  • We will use up the groceries we have on hand, creating less waste.
  • I will save loads of time by knowing what to prepare for ahead of time.
  • I can plan a better variety and ensure our family eats the best possible meals throughout the week.

Having said that, today was my weekly grocery shopping trip.  It was a rather nice one because my son was spending the day at Grandma's house, leaving Mommy to shop in peace!  Sadly, that peace was short lived.  When I got the groceries home to my kitchen, it was anything but peaceful.  Mess like you wouldn't believe...let's refresh, shall we?
Leftovers everywhere and randomness ensued in our one and only fridge.  How could I put all my lovely meal-plan-groceries away in this chaos!?!  I wasn't.  I had to fix it right then and there.  Once and for all.  What comes next is all therapeutic from here.  I turned on some happy tunes and began the process of elimination.

Since I was at this all alone, I wasn't able to photograph each step in my process, but here's a breakdown:
  • Empty the door
    • Sort each item as it was taken out of the fridge, onto the counter, and into one of the following categories.  {Beware: these categories evolved themselves as I sorted, I did not create these categories beforehand}
      • Condiments
      • Sandwich condiments
      • Italian cooking
      • Salad dressing
      • Hot sauces and salsas
      • Other cooking sauces {soy sauce, oyster sauce, BBQ sauce, etc}
  • Empty shelves from top to bottom
    • Sort again as each item was taken out
      • Trash it all {container and contents}
      • Trash contents, save container {mostly glass jars and bad food in storage containers}
      • Dairy
      • Miscellaneous
  • Remove shelves and clean
    • As I did this, I discovered the most glorious root beer can explosion that went from the very ceiling of the inside to a sticky, syrupy pool below the drawers.  This only reminded me why we do not keep soda in our house.  Yuck! Glad you didn't have to see that...it was not pretty.
  • Remove drawers and hand wash
  • Towel dry and replace drawers
  • Replace shelves from the bottom up
  • Replace all food to be kept
    • This process was my favorite, because this is where the artist fills in his {or in this case, her} canvas!  I looked at all the different groups and categories I had made while sorting and decided where their new home would be.  After a little bit of re-adjusting the shelves to  meet our needs, and create the space for bottled water I had been only dreaming of prior, we come to the lovely after shots!!!
The view from afar

Now some side by side action {before and after}

What I love about this after shot is how I tried to be more efficient with the space we have.  I know the eating habits of our family and know that when we eat out, we almost always bring back leftovers {because most portions at restaurants are enormous}, so I made sure to give us lots of space up top to keep leftovers, but want to confine it only to that corner.  This will help us to be better about throwing out old food if we have it and not just placing it anywhere there is room in the fridge.  Another major shift I made was with the shelf height.  Our family eats bread and tortillas along with yogurt and eggs.  All of those things can be classified together {bread/grain and dairy}; and since they are all on the shorter side, I adjusted the shelf height accordingly.  This made room for the other dairies we have {sour cream and cream cheese} to fit right below our cheese drawer making almost the whole left side of the fridge diary related.  Another benefit of adjusting the shelf height was that I was able to put our drinks inside of the fridge where they belong instead of in the door.  Having the milk and juice in the fridge will ensure the optimum temperature of those drinks and since I decided to buy less milk {from a gallon to a half gallon}, it made room for our bottled water!

What better way to finish off an organization project than by fostering an easy to way to maintain it?  Now I could post this after picture on the fridge door, but that wouldn't be helpful because our needs may change week to week.  So in true organizing fashion, I fashioned some labels for each of our categories!  I have to tell you that labeling is bittersweet for me since I love to label, but am without a label maker! {sigh} So what does one do?  One uses the gift of handwriting and scotch tape!  This also works out well for me because I love looking for fun fonts...that all end up looking like handwriting!  Since I don't mind my own handwriting, I wrote away on my tape and labeled to my hearts content!
Up close, the tape looks a little a bit messy, but that's because I folded the ends to make it easier to remove as needed.  From a normal view from above, it's hardly noticeable.  But notice this; I labeled the order in which the drinks were placed from front to back!  Guess work, good-bye!!!

Now for the door
Ah, look how much neater it is! And with the milk and juice out of there, the door is much lighter too!  The labels for the door shelves were done a bit differently as you can see.  Because we don't always look at the door in its entirety like the picture depicts, I didn't think it made sense to label the shelves on the front.  Instead, I labeled the shelves from a bird's eye view to make it more discreet and user friendly.  

The updated contents of my door consists of {from top to bottom and left to right}
  • Butter
  • Hot sauces and condiments {our family uses ranch more for dipping than for salad}
  • Italian cooking in its tiny nook
  • Sandwich making condiments
  • Salad dressing and other cooking sauces

What a day!  This really took a big chunk of time, but the pay off is sooo worth it!  Let's take one last look at the fabulousness that is the fridge!

Can you hear the choir singing HAAALELUJAH! Hallelujah!  My heart and my groceries are now at peace with me and my kitchen.  One kitchen pet peeve down!  Yessss! {Insert fist pump here}

What is your kitchen pet peeve?  Did this post inspire you to rethink your fridge space?  Maybe even another space in your house?  I'd love to hear your plans!

Operation Clean House: Part 2 {Entryway Progress}

Entryways are one of my favorite spaces to organize because there is so much going on in such a small space {especially when it comes to our place}.

If you recall, this is what we started with.

  • Inefficient use of shoe storage.
  • No seating {we would have to grab our shoes and walk halfway through the house and sit on the stairs to put the shoes on...ugh!}.
  • A blank canvas niche.

Here is where we are today... 

  • Stacked shoe racks to make room for seating.
  • Repurposed ottoman that didn't fit in the new playroom where I intended to use it.
  • Bought a wall hook unit to hang our everyday light jackets and sweaters {instead of hanging them on the dining room chairs...aaah!}.
  • Moved stroller to the garage until further notice.

What comes next?

  • Perhaps cover the shoes up with some kind of fabric, but since purging some shoes, the rack looks much better than before {And since my sewing skills are close to nill, the cover would need to be a no-sew project}.
  • Maybe add a couple of storage boxes to house accessories like hats and scarves.
  • Beautify space by finally decorating the nice little niche provided.
  • Tackle the entry closet.

What do you think? Any ideas on how I can discreetly {and simply} cover up shoes? Anyone else done a lot to a little space? Please share!

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