I was reading through my past few blog posts, and I noticed a little bit of a trend in how I’ve been approaching organization in my own life.  Namely, I’ve been putting it off.

I moved to the DC area a little over a year ago (that year went so fast!).  We are currently renting a 1-bedroom apartment and are in the midst of trying to buy a house.  We knew from the start that we were only going to stay in our apartment for about a year, so we kept furniture buying for this new apartment to a minimum.  So without making many large purchases,  I worked to organize and reorganize the space, making the small apartment feel like home and not overcrowded.  At least, this is what I did initially.

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about improvements I could make around the apartment and then dismissing them since we’re going to be moving “soon”.  Well no matter how soon “soon” really ends up being, why not just start today? What do I lose by making improvements today?

The answer: Nothing!

Here’s my short list of things to improve now:

  • Pictures in picture frames – This has never been a strong suit of mine.  I think it’s weird to have pictures of myself in my own place.. But I’m going to get over this.  I’ve ordered prints and now just need to get them in the frames (which I already own even!).
  • Hanging coat hooks – I’ve managed to get hooks inside all of my closets, but failed to hang up pretty much one of my favorite things in the house – our E & P hooks, which were a present from my sister and brother-in-law. Yes, I feel guilty about this.
  • Purging extra books, clothes, and knick knacks – I was waiting until we actually found a house to do this, as I started packing.  However, we’ve filled up our current apartment and I need to reclaim from space. It’ll be nice to have some empty shelves again.
  • A spot for paper – Another weakness of mine – I hate dealing with paper.  I’ve got the junk mail situation down, but not so much on the papers we actually need to keep.  This is a longer term project for me.  Step one will be research.  I’m starting with the Freedom Filer system and Babara Hemphill’s Taming the Paper Tiger.

As I make progress on these projects, I’ll give updates!

Adding shelves to some of your most used storage spaces will transform your life.  This is not an exaggeration.

This is a tip in three parts. First up, your clothes closet.

Clothes Closet

It’s a shame that the default clothes closet comes with a single bar for hanging clothes and a single shelf above that.  That top shelf is too high for me to use without a step stool and I have more clothes that should be folded than hung.  It’s a much better use of space if your clothes closet also contains a vertical column of shelves for all of your folded clothes – jeans, sweaters, more sweaters, etc.

For a quick and cheap solution (good for rentals) try a set of hanging shelves, which attach to that single high bar in your closet.  This has been my solution for the past several years.  Another good option is a tall, skinny set of shelves.  A single Billy bookcase or a skinny Expedit (hurry before they disappear from your Ikea!) might work, depending on the size of your closet. Try these vertical or horizontal – if you’re okay with having your clothes close to the ground.

Another option is to install some shelves.  There are (obviously) expensive solutions, custom designed closets and whatnot, but I’ve also seen some more affordable options at home improvement stores – Closet Maid is one such an example. Here and here are some examples.

Kitchen CabinetsKitchenCabinet

Our kitchen is small. (I mean, our apartment is small, so of course the kitchen is small).  We also have a large number of mugs (they are all necessary, I swear) and a second set of “fancy” plates.  How do I fit all of these into the one and a half cabinets we have for dishes?  Additional wire shelves.  Bam. Doubled the shelf space in no time.  Even if our kitchen wasn’t limited in space, I find kitchen shelves to be much higher than is necessary.  The wire shelves are inexpensive and come in a couple of different colors and sizes.  I bought mine at Target and The Container Store.

KitchenCabinet2

Medicine Cabinet

MedicineCabinetMedicine cabinets are small. Period. First of all, do yourself a favor and store only your most important items in here – tools and products used daily or weekly. Anything used less frequently should not earn a spot in this cabinet. Under the sink (in a bin, of course) or in the linen closet is a better place for those occasional items. Secondly, help your self out by picking up a couple of tiny shelves for the medicine cabinet. I have a number of short items that I wanted to store in the medicine cabinet. These acrylic shelves (from the Container Store) create additional surface area for these types of items. Now everything has its place in the cabinet and things don’t look overly crowded in there, either.

 

A key concept in organizing is assigning a home for all of your belongings. An easy project to tackle is the area by the door you use the most to leave your home. I call this a docking station. The rest of the internet calls this a landing strip.

The docking station should hold all of the things you need to leave the house – keys, wallet, purse. Additionally, there should be spots for things that you like to drop off as soon as you walk in the door. For us, this includes a change jar (to avoid tiny piles of change all over the house) and a basket to recycle junk mail immediately. For you, this might include sunglasses, hats and mittens, cell phone, etc.RedDockingStation

This is our current docking station.  We bought this little table (actually a night stand from Ikea) to fit in a very tiny space in our last apartment. Currently, there’s a bowl for our keys and headphones, another container for change, plus a basket on the shelf to recycle junk mail and other paper that comes in the door.  In the drawer, I store coupons that we will actually use.  After our next move, I’m going to upgrade to a larger table that will also hold my purse and another work bag – which you can see sitting on the floor next to the table.

The space devoted to the docking station need not be large – it just needs to be a dedicated space. Even if you don’t have enough floor space for an additional table, you can create a wall mounted docking station.  Here are a few ideas (from left to right):

  1. Cloud Key Holder – by Suck UK.  There are three super strong magnets on the bottom of the cloud.  A cute solution for those minimalists out there.  Available on Amazon and other online shops.
  2. Fusillo Wall Shelf – by andViseVersa.  This shelf is fully customizable.  Each slat of wood can rotate up to be a divider, down to be a hook, or flat to be part of the shelf.  See here for more pictures.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a price or a way to buy this item online!
  3. Elephant Organizer – by Kikkerland. This letter organizer can sit on a table or be mounted to the wall.  When mounted, the trunk serves as a hook.  Also available in bear shape, but with no hook, unfortunately.  Kikkerland.com has a online shop.

cloudkeyfusillo-wall-shelves-and-vice-versa

 KikkerlandElephant

 

 

 

 

 

Life has been keeping me very busy since the start of 2014.  Not wanting to neglect my blog altogether (it’s on my list of intentions, remember!), I’m going to bring you a series of quick tips you can use to help you get and stay organized.  These are all things I do in my own home.

First up, hooks.  I don’t think I have enough words to express how much I love and use hooks.  By installing hooks (yes more than one) inside each of your closets, you’re making it that much easier to keep all that extra “stuff” off of the floor, such as:

  • Purses (if the straps are leather, make sure the purse itself is not too heavy before hanging)
  • Totes and reusable shopping bags
  • Umbrellas
  • Dog leashes
from theorderobsessed.com

from theorderobsessed.com – a blog i love.

A hook inside your closet door or a set of over the door hooks is especially helpful when it comes to dealing with clothing.  A hook is better than the floor, for sure.  Here’s some ideas:

  • Pull out tomorrow’s outfit and hang it on the back of your closet.
  • After you get in your comfy clothes, hang up today’s outfit, giving it time to breathe before getting returned to the closet.
  • Use a hook for your everyday coat.  (yes, sometimes its too much for me to put my coat back on the right hanger)
  • Hang up hoodies and jeans and yoga pants – or other things you wear all the dang time.

The hook itself does not need to be pretty or expensive.  In my coat closet we’re currently using large nails that were already in there when we moved in.  Our reusuable totes live there and the handles cover up the nail completely.  Also, Ikea is a great source for attractive, functional, and inexpensive (of course) hooks.

FallLeavesNow that’s its mid-October, the weather seams to be seriously thinking about turning to fall here in DC-land, which got me thinking about changing up my wardrobe.  Not buying up the new trends, but revisiting my closet and doing a targeted review of what’s in there.

Along the vein of thinking about less, my main goal for this seasonal closet review was to reduce the amount of clothes in my closet.  To achieve this goal, I kept two ideas in mind while sorting through everything:

  1. I will keep only the clothes I need for fall in my closet.  My clothes for other seasons I’ll place into a storage bin that lives in a different closet.
  2. I will only own clothes that I love, that fit me well, and that I actually wear.  If I don’t feel great about myself in an article of clothing, it gets donated or tossed.

My approach to my closet review was inspired not just by the changing season, but also by Project 333.  In Project 333 you choose 33 articles of clothing and wear only those for 3 months.  The rest of your clothing goes into storage.  After 3 months you switch up your wardrobe for the new season.

What I like about Project 333 is that the creator is not pushing the number 33 or even the number 3.  She’s really just asking you to be more mindful about how many clothes you need in your closet to dress well.  It’s this second point that drew me in.

Many people (myself included!) like shopping and finding new clothes to wear.  Sometimes we buy things for the wrong reasons though.  Maybe they don’t fit exactly right – but oh so close to being right.  Maybe the style isn’t quite me, but it’s a version of me I want to be. Maybe I just feel like I need to buy something.  Buying for these reasons is not being mindful about your wardrobe.
Everything in your closet should be something that you love and that fits you well.  You deserve to feel great about yourself in your  clothing.  All of your clothing.  Any clothes that give you a negative feeling are not worth holding onto.

The Process

As I mentioned before, this was a targeted review of my closet, so I did not take everything out and reorganize my closet and dresser completely.  For more details on doing a full review of your wardrobe, see my tips on getting started here.

Here’s how I approached my closet refresher:

Summer clothes

  1. From your closet, pull out all items that don’t fit the fall weather: summer dresses and skirts, bathing suits, light weight tanks and shirts, summer workout clothes and pajamas.  If you wore these items this past summer, they go into storage.  If you didn’t wear them, put them in a donate pile or the trash if they’re worn out or stained.
  2. From your closet, pull out any articles you’re unsure of – anything you don’t love anymore, are not sure how it fits, or have negative feelings about.  None of us have the time to feel bad about something hanging in our closets.  If you’re unsure how something fits, try it on and decide whether or not it’s worth keeping.  If you are still hesitant about any item in this pile, put aside in a box for 1 month or more.  If after that time you haven’t looked for it or thought of it, let it go for real.
  3. From storage, take out any items you’ll wear in the next couple of months.  I took out some sweaters and heavier workout clothes as well as some light scarves and hats I knitted. Most of my other fall clothes were already in my (pretty full) closet.  I’ll do another closet review in mid-December when (maybe) winter has arrived.  Then I’ll take out any additional sweaters or winter gear I need for the new season.

The End Result

This was a good first effort on my part to clear some space in my closet.  I did a large, full scale review of all of my clothes this past spring where I gave up a lot of items I had been holding onto for years for some unknown reason.  In this closet review, although it was more targeted, I still found a number of items that I was keeping for the wrong reasons.

My Fall Closet - improved, but not yet complete.

My Fall Closet – improved, but not yet complete.

This time around I was able to let those items go and place them in my donate pile.  My closet is still pretty full and although I wasn’t aiming to hit anywhere near the 33 item limit like in Project 333, I still see a lot of room for improvement in the number of items I keep in my wardrobe rotation.  I’m doing very well on the “love everything in your closet” guideline but I’m doing less well in the seasonal items only area.  Hopefully once fall fully settles in I’ll be ready to pack away a few more of those summer and spring tops and share an update of my even emptier closet with you!