It’s possible that I’m a little too collage-happy as of late. Anyway, let’s get organized! I’m in quite the organizing mood after cleaning my garage and straightening up the basement today. My husband and I snagged a Diego DVD from Redbox this afternoon, buying us 120 minutes of time to get the garage ready for winter. We now have a neat, swept garage with two vehicles actually parked in it. Ten hours ago we had a storage area with a mess of beach equipment, trash, boxes, gardening supplies, and three double strollers.
Sometimes cleaning and organizing takes this form…a day where it takes two people to go through a mountain of misplaced stuff, sorting and putting away and throwing away and giving away. Hopefully, most of our organizing can fit a little better into our everyday routines. Although I have read many books on the subject and most recommend some sort of system involving a purchase of storage containers or closet organizers,etc., I have found that we become more and more organized over the course of time. A basket here, a bin there, a cool vintage metal milk crate to hold some books.
Perhaps because I’m more creative and artistic than I am organized and methodical, I am not as good at systems as I am at finding beautiful and functional ways to store things. Don’t get me wrong, I do crave order and I absolutely love all those organization magazines in the checkout line with the closet makeovers and the children’s playrooms with shelves and baskets neatly labeled. Yet in my own home I seem to be more focused on the pretty than the practical.
Because of this, most of my storage solutions involve baskets. Baskets to hold linens, diapers and wipes, books, toys, bathroom toiletries, laundry, food, art supplies, stationery…if I can hide it in a pretty basket and it can double as a decoration, you’ll find it somewhere in my house! Most of these baskets are wicker, some are “longaberger style” (most are knockoffs, though!), and some are seagrass. In my sons’ room, I use “boyish” galvanized metal tubs to store books, trains, and legos. Many of the trash baskets throughout the house are baskets that are actually quite pretty. I have a small antique picnic basket that is the perfect size to hold a box of tissues (I take them out of the box first). Not only does using baskets help to create storage throughout the house rather than overloading closets and cabinets, but since I absolutely love the look of baskets, I am decorating my house at the same time! Most of my baskets are tag sale finds or were part of a gift.
Many of my baskets are stored on shelves throughout the house, either in or on a bookshelf, a wall-mounted shelf, or the bottom of my kitchen hutch. We have six bookshelves in our house and are in need of more. I also use the upper sections of shelves to display pretty things that are out of the reach of my children. One such “top shelf” holds a lovely collection of tea things, and the top shelf of my kitchen hutch shows off some of my pretty serving baskets, bowls, and a vintage cake tin. Many of the items out on shelves or counters in my kitchen are things that I actually use, once again working in with my philosophy of beauty and practicality.
I do, of course, have cardboard boxes and rubbermaid bins. They are simply behind closed doors, in the attic, and in the basement. Some of my favorite yet less ornamental storage items include a three drawer rubbermaid cart on rollers that I use in my sons’ closet as my younger son’s dresser. We love our over-the-door plastic hanging shoe organizer…we go through about one a year, but it’s well worth the $7 to keep all the little ones’ shoes in one central location. I use a large rubbermaid bin in the basement by the walk-out door to store outside toys. We have quite an assortment of metal and plastic shelving in our basement, all hand-me-downs from family, but we put them to good use as extra pantry storage and a place for all of our tools, as well as all of our board games.
As far as organizing mail and calendars and the like, we make sure we open mail immediately and either throw it away or put it on the desk to be dealt with promptly, or it goes on our fantastic marker/cork board “control center.” A few years ago I found a combination marker board/cork board at an outlet store for just a few dollars. I bought four of them, and mounted them in a square in our hallway, putting all four marker boards in toward each other. This gave us a large surface area for tacking up coupons, pictures, and important papers and for writing down phone numbers, messages, grocery lists and to-do lists, yet it’s broken up into neat, small sections. Grocery store flyers and catalouges go into a rustic box that hangs on the opposite wall.
We use a lot of hooks for hanging coats, and I plan to put up more very soon, both in the hall (a second set under what we already have so the little ones can hang up their own coats) and along the wall of the hall closet. This way, even though we have a very small closet for a moderately large family, we can have room for all of our coats. For now, I am stuffing hats and mittens inside the arms of the kids’ coats so that they don’t get lost and for lack of a better solution.
Obviously, you will find much better advice on organizing your home in a book or magazine, but what I can tell you is that 1) I spend very little on it. 2) What’s out in plain sight is both useful and pleasing to the eye. 3) What’s behind a closet door or in the basement may not be attractive but it’s inexpensive and efficient.
Happy organizing! I may follow up in the next few days with a couple random hints and tips, but I am anxious to move on to the cooking aspect of entertaining!!