Hanging a wall shelf in a small area where you just need a bit
of a surface can really make a major organizational impact. I’m in
need of one over my washing machine, so I can get the detergent,
fabric softener and stain removing products off of the dryer. Here
are a few ideas of other places where a little shelf might come in
Near your front or back door, with a stylish dish for keys and
The area between your bathroom sink and the
Instead of a bedside table in a small bedroom, like mine.
Just above or to the side of the stove or cook-top for
commonly used spices and oils.
On the wall just above your desk, to keep office supplies off
of your work surface.
Above your dining room buffet for extra glassware and
I searched Etsy and found some beautiful, handmade options that
just might enhance your home and fill an organizational
last feature for the paper, I wrote about how using the
Marie Kondo method of
decluttering my home has impacted me as an organizer to my core.
She encourages us to keep only the stuff that makes us happy. This
is actually a tall order, and not an insignificant psychological
feat. While I was on my organizing kick last year, I hit a wall
when it came to the paper purge, and the whole process got put on
the shelf. Then I hit critical mass, with the excess stuff of
having two growing children cluttering up my basement and work
As I continue to work on “the purge of all times”, it is easy
for me to get sidetracked and lose my motivation. Luckily, Marie
Kondo’s new book,
Spark Joy arrived just in time. I’m in the middle of it,
and have to stall the urge to put it down, just so I can go get rid
of some more unwanted stuff. This book is much more in-depth and
descriptive, complete with illustrations on how to fold your
clothes properly to maximize drawer space.
I’m eagerly anticipating reading Chapter 6, about getting
rid of paper. I’ve built this task up so much in my mind that it
has paralyzed me. I’m afraid I’ll shred something I may need down
the line. Yet, if I’m being honest with myself, when was the last
time I actually needed to reference one of my paid bill statements?
I can’t remember. Surely, going through this category of stuff will
feel just as liberating as shedding the bags and bags of clothing I
did last March. Wish me luck, this duty is next on my list.
Our house is 95 years old. We live in a very modest 900 square
feet upstairs, and need to use every square inch of our mostly
unfinished basement. Previous owners had chopped up the space into
small chunks, and until recently, we were using almost every area
as just storage space. With our family of four seemingly outgrowing
our house, and my husband and I each spending hours working from
home, our basement must now function as additional living
I have made it my mission this year, to carve out little zones
for our various activities. I also need to purge and
organize each area and get it looking as good as an
unfinished basement can, on a tiny budget. You can do this in your
small home too. Just really consider the way you live and what you
want to actually do in your space. These are the zones we need for
our small house to really work well for us:
Storage for toys, off-season items, and momentos
Music area for drums and piano
Office for me
Art studio for Thomas and Lucy
Project space and tool storage
Lawn care items and extra furniture storage
Office for Chris
While I know where all of the areas will be, and some zones are
already serving their purpose, there’s a lot of work to be done
before I share more before and after photos with you.
So for the time being, I’ll show you how the music area is
Removing the odd shelving and painting the mismatched walls
white totally transformed the drum nook.I still need to paint the
wall by the piano, change the light fixture above the drums and
hang some pegboard near the drums, for storage of other instruments
and drum hardware.I’ll surely be posting more photos as I complete
In Sunday’s Life section, I wrote a column about my own
home organizing challenges. Even as an organizing professional,
I still wage a battle against clutter on a regular basis. I hope
that you’ll find some of my ideas about how to tackle that looming
mountain of stuff in your living space, inspiring.
Our family uses a lot of bags for different activities, and
without a proper coat closet upstairs, the bags end up in a jumble
in the basement- bags for swimming, overnight stays, store returns,
trips to the library, and reusable grocery bags. To solve this
storage dilemma, I’ve hatched a plan to cover an entire wall
in my basement with white pegboard and hooks.
Pegboard is available at your local hardware store, and the
pricing is super reasonable. I’m going to head to Home Depot in
Silverdale, where I know that they can cut the 4 ft x 8 ft
sheets down to the height I require. All sorts of hooks and bins
are available to customize the wall to serve my needs. I can’t wait
to tackle this project and share images with you!
Yes, I have just two favorite home organizing books. I’ve read
many, but only two have actually changed the way I think about home
organizing. This is the best time of year to gear up for
organizing your living space to better fit your needs. You’ve
just accumulated more wonderful possessions from the holidays, and
now you need places to put them. In next Sunday’s paper, I’ll
write more in depth about the process of purging. For now, here are
two book recommendations, as you consider what to get rid of
and how to fit your new belongings into your daily life.
The Life-Changing Magic of
Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book really has changed my life
for the better. Her determinant for what to keep and what to
toss is, does it spark joy? Not only did this help me get rid of
lots of excess, but it stays on my mind as I shop, so I am less
likely to buy impulsively. Kondo also encourages you to purge
by category of item, not by room. This was a game-changer for me.
I’ve got her newest book
Spark Joy, due out on January 5, on order and I am so looking
forward to its arrival.
My next favorite is Organizing From the Inside Out
by Julie Morgenstern. I love this book because she really
delves into how to arrange your living spaces so that they make the
most sense for how you live your daily life. She also gets specific
about filing systems and how to store all kinds of items.
Morgenstern encourages you to think of your spaces in terms of
zones, and how you use them. For example, a living room might have
zones for reading, watching TV and doing homework. Then you work
off of that footprint for where to put things you’ll need to access
for those activities. She compares it to the way a Kindergarten
classroom is organized. I just loved that principle and it has
really stuck with me.
I hope the approach of the new year has you motivated,
energized and ready to improve your home’s function through the
power of organization. We can go on this journey together.
I love when it’s time to trade out last year’s calendar for the
new year’s. As my husband and I have yet to sync our i Cal’s
to keep tabs on each other’s engagements, we stick to the old
fashioned method of writing things down and occasionally
double-booking. For our family, the wall calendar is our go-to spot
to check what events are on the horizon. Calendars also make
great last minute Christmas gifts! Here, I’ve rounded up
some pretty little calendars to accent your own decor taste in
Like so many of you, I have a junk drawer in the
kitchen. And, while this next admission may be damaging to my
burgeoning career as a self-proclaimed home organizer, my junk
drawer gets completely out of control at times. I like to
consider myself an organized person in general, but I’m also
human. I hold onto little things that I think I’ll need someday and
they all seem to get stuffed in the junk drawer.
All organizing systems require regular maintenance. That is the
one step that lots of articles with home organizing tips seem to
leave out. You’ve got to frequently purge so as to not overwhelm
your organizers with the stuff of everyday life. Chargers,
receipts, match books, coupons, pens, tape, Chapstick, keys. Tiny
items come home with us every single day.
So here is what I did with my junk drawer problem.
Take it all out. Sort it into piles of like items. Some of mine
were as follows, tools, writing instruments, adhesives, keys,
batteries, personal care, curtain hardware and chargers.
Consider the items. What items did I actually go to the
drawer to use? (Pens, scissors, nail file, tape measure.)
What things were just in the way? (Curtain hardware, knobs, carpet
tape.) Are there things that really just need a new home?
(Receipts and coupons.) Is some of this trash? (Yes, lots of
Assess your drawer organizing unit. Is it the right kind for all
of the things that will be returning to the drawer? Maybe its time
for a different one.
Now purge. Only return items to the drawer that you actually
need access to. In my kitchen, storage space is precious, so I
really tried to hone in on what I actually used on a daily basis.
Find other homes for the stuff that was just getting in the
Okay, now don’t forget: you’re going to need to go through this
drawer every couple of months to keep it from getting clogged up
again! I just set a reminder on my phone for the first week of
January, to check in and assess how my good old junk drawer is
holding up. Maybe you should too!
Keeping Thomas and Lucy’s toys contained in a house with no play
room takes constant organizing. Space constraints aside, having
proper toy storage is always a challenge, because we always seem to
bring more play things home. As our kids age out of what they used
to play with and get into something new, we need to purge and box
old toys up, so our systems don’t get overwhelmed.
A few things have worked pretty well for me, and although it is
an ongoing battle, we have mostly managed to keep the house from
feeling overloaded with toys. Here are a few tips!
With Thomas’s birthday this weekend, and Christmas quickly
approaching, I always do a pre-party purge of his room, assessing
what he doesn’t favor anymore. I’ll tuck those things away, usually
while he is at school, and save them for a rainy day. This makes
room for all of the new stuff. Keep this idea in mind, before new
toys enter the house, and you are one step ahead of the game.
Keep a storage tub or two, of less frequently played with
toys that your child is still likes, in the basement or a
closet. When they want to play with some of them, swap
them out with something currently in their room, like a little
borrowing system. We have done this with Thomas’s train set, toy
dinosaurs and some other toys that he is still interested in, but
doesn’t need to have out all of the time. If he wants to play with
them, he gives up something else for a little while, until he is
ready to put the older toys away again. Or, simply create a
regular toy rotation every couple of months, so that old toys
seem new, and perhaps they’ll tire of things less quickly.
For babies, keep just one basket of toys in your main play area.
While young babies do like bright, talking toys, they mostly want
to explore their environments. They don’t need a ton of complicated
play things. When I took a few minutes to
observe which toys Lucy, my nine-month-old, was actually
interested in, it was far fewer than what I had on hand. While I
plan to keep a few extras to switch things out every so often, I
was able to let go of quite a few toys. Babies change so quickly
anyways, there is just no good reason to have lots of toys for one
Store toys where the kids can see and reach them. I’ve said it
before and I will say it again, clear shoe boxes are the best. Of
course, they don’t fit larger toys, but you might be surprised just
how much you can fit into those little bins. I love that they are
stackable and not so big, that they become heavy for kids to lift.
We use them for LEGO bricks, play food, Thomas’s tool set, and many
other items. Zippered mesh bags are good for larger sets of toys
too. They can fit more than what a shoe box can hold, but you
can still see what’s inside.
Create zones within a room. In Thomas’s small bedroom, we have
several different areas to keep specific types of things. I promise
I am not militant about the lines between these zones, but it
totally helps when it is time to put toys away or when we are
searching for something. His zones are as follows: musical
instruments, LEGO, games, books, miscellaneous toys and CD’s and
records. This principle is a classic organizing trick which can be
applied to every single room of the house.
As I just wrote about for the
Sunday paper, I prefer the patina of an old, rusty bin to the
plastic sheen of a storage tub. This is not to say that I don’t own
a great many plastic storage bins, but I do like re-purposing old
stuff as organizational implements.
Tired of the mismatched baskets that I use as my snack pantry
above the buffet in the kitchen, I went out in search of vintage
metal bins and wooden boxes to replace them with, and found these
Uptown Mercantile and Red Plantation
Another of my favorite vintage organizing devices is this old
tool box. I used to use it as my “market box”, when I was a vendor
peddling vintage furnishings at flea markets. Now it holds some of
my crafting supplies:
I use this metal basket to organize papers, magazines and
notebooks that I need at the ready. I have another one similar to
it in the bathroom, corralling clean towels.
How do you use your vintage treasures to organize everyday