DIY Storage Closet Organization for Under $150

American financial journalist and author Jean Chatzky said,

Every minute you spend looking through clutter, wondering where you put this or that, being unable to focus because you’re not organized costs you: time you could have spent with family or friends, time you could have been productive around the house, time you could have been making money.

She's absolutely right. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind is a cluttered life.

We've been extremely busy here at the office lately. (Noted especially by the fact that this is my first blog post since December 28th.) When work (or life) gets busy, it's vital to have an organized environment to keep things running smoothly. In an effort to continue to organize the office more efficiently, last week, I tackled the storage closet.

The storage closet in its pre-organization state.

The storage closet in its pre-organization state.

Now, the storage closet wasn't in awful condition. Everything was mostly grouped by item type, and nothing was overflowing out of the closet. But it was in a state where we didn't know what we had and didn't have because office supplies weren't easy to find. For example, a couple months ago, I ordered envelope openers because we thought we didn't have any. Not including the extras that I ordered (because apparently they came in a two-pack and I can't read so I ordered two two-packs), we had two envelope openers already. But I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gone through the entire left-hand side of the shelf they were on.

The main culprit: the daily-use office supplies.

The main culprit: the daily-use office supplies.

STEP 1: EMPTY THE SPACE

In order to really see what we had in that closet (a 96" tall, 67" wide space), I first pulled out everything from the closet.

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I tried to pile everything in one area, but our poor little conference room got overwhelmed, and multiple piles in multiple spaces started to spawn. Here's a bit of a look at what was in the closet:

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STEP 2: VISIT THE STORAGE GODS

I spent some time on the Container Store website, browsing all the goodies they had to offer. After taking some measurements of the closet space and coming up with a fairly solid plan of how I wanted to go about organizing the closet, I hopped in the car and drove the only Oregon Container Store at Bridgeport Village (where I was helped by the mom of one of my good friends from high school - small world, much?).

(Okay, so this actually happened before anything else, but since we're going in order of taking things out of and putting things back into the closet, so we'll keep it as step two.)

(Okay, so this actually happened before anything else, but since we're going in order of taking things out of and putting things back into the closet, so we'll keep it as step two.)

Yes, I bought a shoe shelf - it was the only long shelf and I wanted something that would cover at least half the shelf space. I know I could have just bought two of the smaller ones that are marketing specifically for the office, but it was the same price for one of these as it was for two of those, and it was one less thing I had to try and wrestle out to my car and back into the office.

Yes, I bought a shoe shelf - it was the only long shelf and I wanted something that would cover at least half the shelf space. I know I could have just bought two of the smaller ones that are marketing specifically for the office, but it was the same price for one of these as it was for two of those, and it was one less thing I had to try and wrestle out to my car and back into the office.

. . . six Mini Stackable Storage Bins, two Silver Mesh CD Bins, and two Small Silver Mesh Stackable Storage Bins. Plus, I already six filing shelves, a three-drawer storage container, and a small assortment of various medium and large plastic storage bins that had been sitting in the closet just begging to be used.

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STEP 3: START GROUPING

After taking off all of the packing and tags from my Container Store goodies and setting them up, I began going through my large piles of stuff that had come out of the closet, sorting it into general categories: electronics & tech, paper goods, office supplies, and marketing.

I then started putting all of the electronics and tech away. Because we don't often get into this closet for the tech stuff, it all got stored in places that were not front-and-center real estate: the bottom corner of the closet, the corner of the shelf right above, and the very top right-hand shelf (which you can't see in any of these pictures because it sits above the exterior trim opening of the closet doors and I have to maneuver my body in complicated ways while standing on a ladder to even reach it to put stuff on it).

The paper goods are what we go into the closet for most - things like folders, labels, actual paper, notebooks, and the like - so they scored the most prime real estate. Before organizing the closet, they had all been thrown together in a few different locations, but they weren't sorted by type or use, so I made sure to put all of the envelopes together, all of the folders together, all of the files together, the colored paper, the labels, etc.

The office supplies are generally small items, so in order to keep them from going everywhere, about half of the storage containers I purchased were for them, plus some of the storage containers I already had. This area was more a matter of keeping things sorted with like-items and putting them away in such a way that they wouldn't explode all over the closet again.

And finally, the marketing items (things like plastic stands for business cards and informational brochures) got put on the highest left-hand shelf, also not visible in these pictures, because we use it so rarely

Et voilà, the finished product:

Sooo much better. Looking at this makes my heart happy.

Sooo much better. Looking at this makes my heart happy.

All in all, including my trip to the Container Store, I spent just under $150 and about 4.5 hours on this project, and it made a significant impact on the space and the office in general. My boss loves it, and we now know exactly where everything is and don't have to waste time searching through the closet to find what we are looking for

What about you - What spaces have you organized recently? How did you go about the process? What were the results?

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Design Ideas to Steal from Tiny Homes

In a world where stuff is the hot commodity, space matters. And how space is used really matters. This is why I love the tiny home trend. Not only are these pint-sized houses absolutely adorable, but they are so smart. Here’s why:

WELL-THOUGHT OUT DESIGN & MULTI-FUNCTIONAL SPACES

Because tiny homes are so small, everything about them has to be carefully thought through and purposefully planned. No space can go wasted. The Tiny House has this great list of 30 questions to ask yourself when planning your tiny home. Walk-throughs of the space before it's a reality are common. Every home should be this well-thought out.

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Stairs become both storage and art pieces:

Nooks and crannies become precious real estate and every bit of coveted real estate is used to its fullest (and space-maximizing) potential. I don't know about you, but I'm all for the minimization of wasted space.

LESS IS MORE

According to Living Big in a Tiny House, the average house size in America has almost doubled since the 1970s, while the average household has gone down in size. We have more space and less people to share it with so detaching from those we live with and love has become easier. But do we really need all that space? Not really, or at least, not all of it.

One of the biggest draws of tiny homes are how they force you to have less stuff because you don't have room for it - and tiny house owners say they don't miss having that stuff. How much of what you own sits in storage boxes waiting to be dusted off and appreciated? Can you even park in your garage? 19th century textile designer William Morris is quoted as saying, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." If only we really lived like this. Elle Decor recently released an article entitled 'Where You Hide Your Clutter Says A Lot About Your Personality.' Most of us aspire to not have clutter to hide. Wouldn't it be great if that were the case?

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
— William Morris

Because tiny homes are just that, tiny, there's only room for what you really need. They also cost less and require less maintenance, making them a great budget saving option. Or, because they are so small, you can go all out and get those higher-end finishes you have been drooling over because you don't need to fill up as much space, saving you money. Another great thing about tiny homes is how you can easily make smaller spaces look and feel bigger than they actually are, which goes back to the idea of well-thought out design. Just look at this kitchen:

Tiny homes also require less power to heat up or cool down because they have less space, cutting your power bills down. Living Big in a Tiny House lists many other ways less is more with a tiny house here.

COHESIVITY

Another perk of less space is how much easier it makes it to have a cohesive look and color scheme running throughout the house. For example, this Minnesotan tiny home that's outside matches the style of it's inside:

Tiny homes ooze cohesivity, something that many larger homes lack. Experts recommend having one color scheme that runs throughout your entire home. Not only does this make your home look significantly more put together, but it also makes it easier to shop for and rearrange furniture and decor throughout the home. Just ask Amy of Modern Chemistry at Home. Here are 105 more tiny homes to look at and admire their use of theme.

HOW YOU LIVE, NOT WHAT YOU HAVE

Perhaps the best part about tiny homes is the emphasis on how you live, rather that where you live and what you have. Because tiny homes are so well planned and offer a significant "less is more" strategy, it means you can finally take your mind off of your home and focus on those who live in it. There's an element of living in such close proximity with (an) other(s) that forces you to learn how to work well together. The fact that there's not a lot of space will push you to go outside more, something that is better for your health and overall well-being. 

 

Whether you plan to downsize to 400 square feet or not, these are principles that can be transferred to any home, no matter the size. For more information, check out these resources: Architecture & Design's 31 Tiny House Hacks to Maximize Your Space; Mother Nature Network's Big Perks of Living Small infographic; and, of course, the ever-loved Pinterest.


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Thriving in Place: A How-To

Aging is become more and more of a concern for the population as baby boomers continue to retire in masses. A topic quickly gaining in popularity for home renovations is making a home safe for "aging in place." Beyond just aging in place, we want you to be able to thrive in place. Your home is just that, your home, and you probably want it to stay that way. Here are our remodeling tips to help you thrive in place. We call them the 7 R's:

1. Re-view the Laundry

If you're washer and dryer are front load, (as most are these days), you'll definitely want to put in a stand (approximately 6" tall) to raise them up and limit back pain from constantly bending over while doing laundry. Another thing to consider is the location of your laundry - the less stairs the better, and so much better if you can move it straight into the master closet.

2. Remove the Bathtub

The bathtub definitely presents an issue when it comes to stepping over the side. Remove the bathtub in favor of a low-profile shower. (We work with a great company called Onyx to install low-profile and ADA compliant shower stalls. Onyx makes a great in-shower seat, too.) Or, if you can't bear to part with your tub, get a walk-in bathtub.

3. Raise the Bar

The grab bar, that is. Install at least one grab bar in your shower and consider adding one next to your toilet as well. We recommend this one from Moen; it comes in three sizes.

4. Ramp It Up

Remove front entry and backyard stairs in lieu of wheelchair-accessible ramps. Add rails for extra safety.

5. Re-think the little things

Door handles and faucets should all be changed to lever-styles to make them easier for your hands to grab and maneuver. Change cabinet knobs to bars that won't get clothing caught on them, like these Delta ones.

6. Radiate light

Bring in all the exterior light you can get by making windows taller where possible, adding new exterior doors with glass panes inside, and adding recessed canned lights to the ceiling anywhere that needs more light for safety (like over the staircase or in the kitchen).

7. Rid the trips

Smooth, potentially slippery surfaces are just trips waiting to happen. Save yourself the trouble and install grip tape in places that could become a hazard such as the steps of a staircase or the tiled entryway. 

 

Whether you plan to stay in your home as long as you can, or you are looking to downsize, we hope that our 7 R's help you thrive in place.


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The 35 Best Home Hacks of All Time

1. Don’t throw away dryer sheets once you’re done with them – use them to clean your baseboards instead.

2. Clean your sponge by throwing it in the microwave for 30 seconds to kill any lurking bacteria.

3. Use WD-40 to clean stainless steel appliances. It can also remove shoe streaks from tile and wood flooring.

4. Keep your sneakers looking new by scrubbing them with toothpaste from time to time.

5. Bread isn’t just for eating – you can use it to pick up miniscule pieces of broken glass or set it on top of a cake fresh from the oven to keep the cake perfectly moist.

6. Don’t have the time (or space) to pull out the iron? Use a hair straightener to smooth over any wrinkles before you run out the door.

7. Magic Erasers really are magic – use them to clean basically everything!

8. Need your clothes to dry faster than the eta on the dryer? Toss a dry terrycloth towel in the mix.

9. Make store bought cookie dough mix taste more like homemade by adding in a bit of cinnamon.

10. Use Scotch tape to make a grid over the top of your vase before inserting flowers to keep stems exactly where you want them.

11. Those over-the-door shoe hangers make great snack pockets to amplify your pantry space.

12. Add a second shower curtain rod to your shower for storage space. Use “S” hooks with clips to hang up stuff that normally clutters up the edges of the shower.

13. Soften up the gunk in your microwave before you clean it out by heating up a glass of water in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

14. Cut a lemon in half and use the insides to clean hard water stains off faucets in sinks, tubs, and showers. You can also squeeze the juice out, add a little bit of baking soda to it, and use it to remove rust. Toss the lemons in the microwave first for about 20 seconds to optimize the amount of juice you’ll get out of them.

15. Put a magnetic strip on the inside of a bathroom drawer to keep bobby pins from taking over the space.

16. Remove fake drawers from under the sink in your kitchen and put in a dowel to hold paper towel rolls.

17. Put a Lazy Susan under the sink to keep things accessible.

18. Keep your fridge full – it will cut down on your energy bills.

19. Put a rubber band in between a stripped screw and your screw driver to have better control over the screw.

20. Don’t throw away all that trash – check out this Country Living article on trash you could be selling on eBay.

21. Stop spending money on fabric softener and use distilled white vinegar instead.

22. Use an egg slicer for more than just eggs – you can slice kiwi, strawberries, avocado, mushrooms, and pears with it! Just make sure you clean it in between uses.

23. Put cooked chicken into a mixer for some hands-free shredding.

24. Fix scratches in your wood floors and furniture by rubbing a shelled walnut over it.

25. Throw some marshmallows in with your brown sugar to keep it soft and clump-free.

26. Use a pizza cutter to slice herbs like a pro.

27. The sticky side of a Post-It note makes a great dust collector for keyboards.

28. Stuff newspaper into your shoes to dry them out and remove any odors.

29. Wipe your windows and mirrors with newspaper to avoid any lint leftovers.

30. Use empty toilet paper rolls to wrap and store extension cords.

31. Put rubber gloves (or old shoes) on the ends of a ladder to keep from scuffing the wall.

32. Heat up those annoyingly sticky price stickers with a hairdryer to make them easier to remove.

33. Aerate your wine much faster by putting it in the blender for 60 seconds.

34. Get rid of grease stains with chalk.

35. Leave a wooden spoon across the top of a pot water to keep it from boiling over.

 

For more useful home hacks, check out www.homehacks.com.


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