Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Getting Organized

For some people organizing can be overwhelming. Being an Aquarius, organizing is one of my traits.  I love to organize things.  Following through to keep them organized is another issue.  One of the issues for most of us is we don't know what to do with all of our stuff, or how to get it organized to be used more efficiently.  It can be expensive to purchase shelving, containers, or cabinets to help one get organized, so where do we begin?

Start small.  If you start with a small area instead of an entire room or house it is easier.  Start with gathering like things.  Maybe you start out simple by placing all of your items for your morning coffee in a small basket in the same cupboard or even on your counter.  

If you are like me, cupboards are sparse, and so is counter space.  My son found some nice coffee mugs on clearance at Kohls awhile ago. I loved the color, but where was I going to put them?   I didn't have the space in my cupboards for them. Instead of tying to find a place in the cupboards, I bought some inexpensive cup hooks and had them hung.  Now they add color to my kitchen. We placed them in an out of the way place just high enough my coffee pot can sit under them.

I don't have enough drawer space to accommodate utensils, so I use a crock.  My mom gave this to me several years ago for this purpose.  I have placed it on top of my refrigerator in the past, but that wasn't very convenient.  Instead it now sits on my counter next to the stove.  Not only is it decorative, it's functional. 

These milk bottles were my grandmothers and I have had them for many years.  I'm sure they are worth something, and have thought about selling them, but can't seem to part with them.  I have displayed them in various places around my house, shoved them into cupboards, and now they have a new use of holding my dish brushes.

I purchased several containers like these over the years and use them all over my house.  It is easy to place a label on them and change it when I find a new use for the basket.

These containers can easily be washed, while baskets cannot.  I use these baskets in my freezer to separate like items and keep things from falling out.  Check out these images for pics of freezer organization. 
These baskets stand up to the extreme cold and won't crack when used in the freezer. I have purchased them at both Walmart and the Dollar Store. 

I use these for many things:
-Nesting boxes for my chickens
-Organizing my gardening seeds
-Canned foods
-Sewing projects
-Canning jars
-In cupboards to hold small containers or lids
-Hold magazines

They make a deeper version which we use to hold car washing supplies and cleaners.

I also have several baskets around my  house. Some of my baskets are Longaberger Baskets, that I purchased many years ago.  These pictured are not.  They just look close enough that people have asked if they are. 

I found these basket about 10 years ago at Walmart for very little money.  I bought several of them in various sized and used them to hold items on my bakers rack.  At the time I lived in a very small apartment and had even less cupboard space.  The baskets held my dish towels, dishrags, and so many other things. 

Although baskets are very pretty, and I love how they look, they tend to collect dust just like anything else.  I also sewed the basket garters and liners to spruce them up.

If it's books, or knick knacks you want to organize, you can purchase inexpensive shelving units that will do the trick. You can also have shelves placed into closets for added storage for very little expense. As a carpenter, my father was doing this many years before it became popular.  He was always ahead of his time.  He placed drawers in kitchen cabinets for pots and pans.   He would place shelves in the corners of our closets to hold my purses, shoes, boxes, games, just about anything you want to place out of the way.  When ever I move to a new place, I have him rearrange my closet so that I have two hanging rods and a shelf above them for shoes.  This gives us more hanging space for clothes and we don't have to pack them away each season.   He also added this opening for me to get to storage above our stairs which was virtually inaccessible. I have yet to finish the doors.

I had more books than I had space for.  I didn't want to purchase an expensive book shelf at the time, but really need to find something to house our ever expanding collection of books.  I had a space at the top of my stairs that was empty or a catch all for things that needed to be put away.  At one time a small desk was there, laundry hampers and as I said, junk.  I would have loved to have placed a corner curio cabinet there, or a custom made book case, but this house has always been temporary, so spending money on something we probably weren't going to get to enjoy wasn't in the cards.  I was getting really frustrated with our piles of books and after finding a book shelf for my son's room to spruce it up, decided to get one for the area as well.

This book shelf was $15 at Walmart.  I didn't care that it won't last as a good quality one would and we can even leave it if we move.  For the price it helped me get a little more organized as well as find a use for the empty area. 

The black shelving unit my son chose when we redecorated his room is much classier looking if you are into black.

These wire shelving units are great.  This happens to be one in my son's room.
We have several of these around the house.  I have two in an L shape in our store room holding tubs of Christmas decorations, Halloween items, fabric, electronics, office supplies, wrapping paper, etc.  You can adjust the shelves to the height you want.  Some of them even have casters and wheels so you can easily move them.  They can usually be found at Sam's club and at times Aldi's has them as a special purchase.  I have several of them in various places in my basement holding my stock pile of canned goods, laundry soap, dry goods in tupperware such as flour, sugar, rice, beans, pasta, and so much more!

A few years ago I wanted something to house our ever expanding collection of movies.  You could say we collect movies versus paying for cable.  We watch from our collection often.  I found this cabinet for a little over $100 and thought the pie safe theme would go nicely with my dining room.  It's made of oak, which is my choice of wood.  I love oak furniture and when purchasing a piece that will last a long time, it is always oak.

Look at the amount of movies this piece houses!  And it is all out of site, not to mention in a closed cabinet not collecting dust.

 I like to purchase functional furniture pieces.  This piece houses our CD collection.

Keep in mind these are  things I have accumulated over the years.  I didn't go out and buy everything at once to help with organization.  Again, start small.  Decide what is bothering the most and start there.  Making things more simple and saving you time is always "a good thing".  Maybe you want to start in your bathroom.  I used to have a hamper for each family member in our bedrooms.  That meant I never really knew how much laundry I had to do until I took it to the basement and started sorting it.  This took more time and energy.  Something I usually have very little of.  By placing the hampers into the bathroom and designating each one for specif clothing it has saved me a lot of time.

These are actually inexpensive trash cans.  One if for light colored clothing and the other for dark.  I know when the hamper is full there are enough clothes to do a load of laundry.

The same goes for my towels.  I used to use a normal laundry basket until I found these at Walmart.  I only wish they would have been available in white.  These work great for towels since they are usually wet.  The holes allow for ventilation.  I have two of these.  One is marked for those towels I can use bleach on and the other for colored towels.  Again, once the basket is full, I know there is enough to make a full load of laundry. 

Shoe boxes are another great idea to help get your bathroom organized.  I use shoe boxes in my bathroom closet to house first aid items, deoderants, soaps, lotions, and basically anything that will fit into them.  It helps keep similar items together and from rolling or falling out of the cabinets.  I also use shoe boxes in our craft cabinet.

Magazine holders are great for organzing paper too!  I have these turned on their side and use them to hold construction paper, folders, printing paper, as well as card stock paper for making cards.

This cart hold my stamping items.  These were purchased at Staples when they were on sale a couple years ago.  The cart has wheels so I can move it to another room when we want to use the items.  I actually have two of these carts.  One was damaged in shipping so it was free.  The other cart used to hold my coupon items, but now has knitting in it.

Finding a use for items you may already have around the house not only saves you money, it is recycling at its best.  It puts an item to use in another area of your home. 

This changing table is a good example.  It was given to me years ago.  It has been in our storage room since we moved here 8 years ago being used as a shelf.  Finally getting rid of some of the things it was holding made we get creative with another way to use it.  I could sell it, but then I would most likely have to buy another shelf to take its place.  Instead, I decided to set up a sewing area in my bedroom.  

This area behind our bedroom door is always out of site, and has been the dumping ground for two filing cabinets, clothes that no longer fit, and about anything else we wanted out of site.  A couple weeks ago I got a bug to move the filing cabinets into the store room and switch them out with the changing table to hold my sewing things.  

I moved my machines up to my bedroom and made more room in my dining room which will be great!  I can now sew in my bedroom and not have to worry about moving from room to room to accomplish a project.  Once I get it all organized it will be in one place.  The oak towel rack sitting next to the changing table will be hung on the wall to hold material I have ironed.  It will help to keep it from wrinkling while working on the project.  I have a holder for my ironing board and iron I am wanting to find a place for as well.  It's a work in progress.  

My rack for holding tread sits on the back of the table perfectly.  

Since this is a work in progress, and I am in the mood I had better get back at it.  I hope this has given you a few ideas to get started organizing and I'm sure I will have more for you in the future.

In the meantime here are a few web sites and blogs that may help to inspire you:

The Container Store web site has many ideas for getting organized.

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