The perfect place for sheets!

I have been trying to organize my bathroom closet for months now. For some reason, I just can’t get it where I want it. I finally realized that part of the problem is that I hate the way our sheets look in there. We have a few sets and one of them is a super soft and comfy, fluffy set….but they’re huge! They were all crammed in behind the towels and would topple over. Believe me, I’ve tried the fancy folding…I just can’t get it right. And I usually just want to do it fast and get it over with. So, long story short, my towels decided they didn’t want to deal with the sheets as their roommate anymore. My solution???? Under the bed sheet storage!

Sheets - Under the Bed (1)I bought a rolling under the bed storage bin and my sheets fit perfectly. It also had a lid that can open halfway from either side so it makes it even easier to access the sheets.

Sheets - Under the Bed (2)Sheets - Under the Bed (3)And the best part for me is how the towel shelf in my bathroom linen closet looks!

Linen Closet - Towels

So I’m loving under the bed storage now. I already store my wrapping paper under the bed and I just moved my holiday decor under the guest bed, which you can read here. I love using storage that is otherwise going to waste. The bonus is that I can’t see whatever is under there!

Sheets - Under the Bed (4)

~Erin

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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

 

Pantry Clean Out

Just because I was traveling for most of December and January, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t organizing! I managed to find a couple of projects at my in-laws house. This is great because it allowed me to do something I love doing (for some reason!) and it also kicks me up a notch in the daughter in law department, I think!

My first project was the pantry. This was something my mother in law asked me to help her with just to make things a little easier to navigate. Like most pantries, everything was already grouped by category and the actual placement of things made sense. However, a few bins and a couple of organizational tweaks made it a lot easier to actually access all of the food. Here is the before photo:

Pantry - Nan and Gary - Before (1)

You can see that it is a large cabinet with 2 doors and the cabinet is fairly deep. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s great because you can fit more in there. It’s difficult because you can’t get to the stuff in the back easily. One great feature is that each door has built in spice holders so that helps to rounds up all those pesky little jars, bottles and boxes.

Steps I took to organize:

1) Take EVERYTHING out.

Stuff was everywhere. I was a little overwhelmed because I knew I couldn’t leave someone else’s house in that kind of disarray for long, so I had to move fast! And of course I had my usual assistants helping me out with this part of the project:

Pantry - Nan and Gary - Before (5)

As everything came out of the pantry, it went into its’ category on the counter or into the trash. We actually threw away a good amount of stuff. It’s a good idea to go through the pantry every few months and get rid of anything that is expired (bean dip from 2007 anyone?) or that you know won’t be used (I scored an unopened box of Crepe mix from this cleanout!).

2) Evaluate the current storage options.

-There were several shelf organizers already in there so I decided to work these into the plan. Shelf OrganizerThere were also those great built in spice racks on the doors so obviously those would come into play. On the bottom shelf of the pantry, there were about 8 clear plastic canisters for storing things such as flour, sugar, etc. There were actually a couple that could be combined from 2 into 1 canister and 1 was empty, which gave me another storage option for something else.

 

canisters

3) Divide the pantry into zones.

Like I said, it was pretty much divided up before I started, but there were a few things that needed adjusting. For example, the top shelf had already been drink mixes and spice packets so that stayed. But I made sure it was JUST drink mixes and spices packets. The other zones included canned goods, pasta and rice, cereal/breakfast items, baking items and desserts. The bottom shelf was for bulky items and misc things.

4) Decide what storage containers to buy.

Because of the shelves, spice racks and existing storage, I didn’t really have to buy much, but there were a few things that needed to be put into bins to make them easier to access. So I went to my favorite store in the world, Target, and bought 7 plastic bins and a plastic Lazy Susan.

Storage box

lazy susanThe picture of the bin above shows the clear version, but I actually bought the green ones and I got 3 different sizes. The bins were between $4-$5 each and the Lazy Susan was $8 so the entire cost was only about $37. This was probably my fastest trip to Target ever….seriously a record breaker because I can spend hours in there.

5) Put everything back in the pantry. Here are just a few ways I organized everything on its way back in:

-I used the Lazy Susan for drink mixes on the top shelf so that you could access what was up there.

-I used a couple bins for loose items, such as bags of rice, popcorn and a few other drink mix packets.

-I also used a couple bins to separate larger items such as cake mixes and pasta boxes.

-We grabbed an empty bin from the basement to hold extra salad dressing, peanut butter, ketchup, salsa and a few other items on the bottom shelf.

-The clear plastic canisters were reorganized to hold all of the baking items (such as flour) and a few misc items such as an open bag of popcorn kernels.

Here is what it looks like now:

Pantry - Nan and Gary - After (1)

Here’s the thing about pantry’s. Even when they are completely organized, they can tend to look cluttered because of the variety of colors, boxes, sizes, and types of containers. There are a ton of pictures on blogs and Pinterest right now with these unbelievably gorgeous pantries. I hope to have one someday. But the thing to remember is that it’s not if your pantry can make a great Pinterest photo. It’s that it’s organization works well for your life, makes it easy to find things and make grocery lists, and that you’re happy with the final product.

Now get started and throw away that 6 year old bottle of salad dressing in your pantry! 🙂

~Erin

Bin there, done that

What a horribly cheesy post title, I know! However, I do want to show you my quick bin labeling I did in the kid’s room. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t hard, and it didn’t take long….my kind of project!

I have pretty much everything that belongs to the kids in either baskets or bins. Even their books are in bins because it is easy to clean them up and then it doesn’t matter if the books are upside down or backwards. And it’s really easy for even a 3 year old to organize and clean up this way. Funny side story, Evan was all ready for bed, head on the pillow, lights out and he says “mommy, I need to get out of bed”. “Why?” I asked. He said “I need to put my dinosaur away”. He had spotted one plastic dinosaur on the floor, so he got up, went into the closet and put the rogue dinosaur in the ‘Animal Bin.’ I’m seeing the organizing gene getting passed on!

Anyways, the bins were all separated and organized, but not labeled. I wanted to label them for 2 reasons:

-If I had it my way, every item in my house would be labeled.

-It makes things a lot easier for when the grandparents come to stay and are looking for something specific.

A lot of my bins have little clear pockets for labels, so that made life easier. I wanted to add just a teensy tiny bit of dimension to the labels so I printed all the wording on translucent paper and then just cut out plain cardstock to go behind the wording.

I just created the labels in Powerpoint after measuring the actual size of the clear pockets. Then you just create a shape in PPT and can double click on the shape outline and size it correctly. Someday, I will get one of those glorious label machines that you can do all sorts of fancy stuff with, but for now I love my Powerpoint.

Then I just cut out the labels and slipped them in the pockets:

They are not cutesy or intricate or even pretty. But they are functional and will do for now.  Now, I have seen some adorable labels in blogland with photos of the items in the bins for kids. I chose not to use photos of the contents though, for right now. My 3 year old has an insatiable love of words, letters and books. He is quickly learning how to spell various words and having his stuff labeled this way will just encourage his love of reading (I am hoping). That being said, I think photo labeling is adorable, colorful, creative and I might go this route as the boys get older and the toys get more intricate with more pieces. I might end up with 400 bins and a cute, colorful picture might serve us better. I found a great source of inspiration for photo labels at The Cottage Home:

How cute are these labels that just Velcro on to the storage bins?!

For now, my bins are blandly labeled, but easy to organize. It’s all about the process until I have more time to make it pretty!

~Erin

Kid’s Bathroom Organizing

So I am back from another couple days of travels with the kids. I took both kids to Phoenix for 4 days to see my family and to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday! We are back, unpacked, laundry going as I write this, and it’s good to be home!

A couple weeks ago, I got frustrated with the state of my kid’s bathroom closet. It looked like this:

Kid’s Bathroom Closet

Now, overall, it’s not horrible. It’s a really big closet and the kids don’t need too much stuff in there. But there was one shelf that was awful!!!! It was…the everything shelf!

Medicines, bath toys, cleaning supplies, lotions, shampoo, diaper bin bags…pretty much everything that wasn’t a towel. So I actually spent a while looking for some medium size bins to organize. I had a couple big bins and also those little plastic baskets, but nothing in a medium size. Then one day, I was walking through the garden section at Walmart and they randomly had a tiny clearance shelf with the perfect size baskets! I scooped up 6 of them (3 for the kids bathroom and 3 for mine).
Here is the after!

First I took everything out of the closet and cleaned the shelves, then put the towels and extra bathmat back in nice and neat.

After that, I did the purge! I think I literally threw away half of the stuff that came out of the closet. Between packages, duplicate items and a couple expired medicines, the trash can was overflowing.

With half the stuff gone, I divided everything into piles. For the 3 medium bins, I decided the categories were:

-Bath Toys – I try to switch out the bath toys so the kids have something new to play with and it also gives me a chance to clean the ‘out-of rotation’ toys and let them dry completely.

-Extras – This is for the extra bottles of lotion and shampoo I’m not using yet, as well as the replacement bags for the diaper bin.

-Misc – This is for powder and a couple of other items that just didn’t fit anywhere else.

Then I took a large shallow bin and placed 4 smaller baskets inside it. Then each basket became it’s own category, such as ‘teeth’, ‘first aid’, etc. I labeled the front of the shallow bin so each baskets contents could be easily read.

-Last but not least, I took one more small basket and labeled it ‘Daily Use’. This is for the stuff I use very often with the kids, such as vitamins, allergy meds, and nail clippers. The toothbrush and toothpaste are in the bathroom drawer, so the stuff in the basket is everything I want to keep out of reach from the kiddos!

I love how clean it looks. It also looks pretty empty, but I rather have extra space than cluttered space!

Lessons Learned:

-Keep your eyes open when you are looking for something specific to help you organize. Sometimes you have to look in unexpected places (like the clearance shelf in the garden section) for the perfect organizing tool.

-Try to be patient when looking for supplies. It took me a couple weeks to find the perfect bins, but they work sooo much better than anything else I could find and they made the actual process of organizing a lot easier.

-A labeling machine can be your best friend! It also helps others navigate your house when you have guests, babysitters etc.

Happy Neatening!

~Erin