Organizing Room by Room: The Kitchen

Let's tackle the Kitchen next  since it is a place you spend a lot of your time I bet, and one where it really has to work, so you can work! 

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The first thing I think about in a new kitchen is what cabinets will be for what. Dishes, cups, pots and pans vs food. (I’ve never had a pantry, but it’d be nice!) Since I am short I like to keep the pots and pans low, so I don’t rick dropping them on my head. That cupboard above the sink? I always put the Tupperware there, that way when it falls, and lets be honest it will at some point, it’s not gonna give me a concussion. Now plates and glasses to me they go either by the dishwasher or near the stove, ease of plating food or ease of putting away clean dishes, you decide. Or if you have a smaller kitchen you can have both! To me the silverware should be near the plates, but I have learned that if I keep reaching to another drawer for something, than clearly that is where it is meant to be. So very often our instinct is right, we have to stop ourselves from complicating things by over thinking, or is that just me? I’ve yet to be blessed with a kitchen that had a lot of drawers, so I keep all the commonly used utensils in a jar on the counter by the stove. This has the added bonus of being in easy reach while cooking. By default this puts the food in the cabinets that are close to the stove and dishes that are still free. In my current kitchen the extra cabinets are being used for tool storage since I don’t have a basement or garage, and the other has cat food and vases and other seldom used items.

 

 This is how it works for me in my kitchen, how do you set up yours? Are their parts of the kitchen that aren’t working for you? Leave a comment and I can give you some ideas to make your kitchen a better place to cook and eat! 

Organizing Room by Room: The Bedroom

It’s funny how different times in our lives make us look at things differently. I have lived in my condo for about 5 1/2 year, the longest I’ve lived anywhere as an adult, and I have really enjoyed living here, but now that I am trying to move I am looking at everything with fresh eyes and re thinking all the things. Where things go, what is really important to take with me, and what is no longer serving me.  Which leads me to this series of posts. I want to share with you a few ideas for organizing your house, room by room. 

Ideally your bedroom will be a place for rest and relaxation, your haven of peace in your hectic life. But the reality is often different, very different. I don’t know about you, but my bedroom is for rest and relaxation, but it is also for getting ready for the day, and it’s also my sewing room, Let’s get real in how we think of the bedroom if we ever hope to get it organized and keep it that way. Since my first rule of organization is the what do you want from the space, lets work with our real lives not some ideal I’ve never experienced. And if you live in a small space I know your space is doing double duty like mine, or perhaps triple duty so lets be real.

If I think about my bedroom and how I use it through out the day it only makes sense to start with how I start my day.  Now I’ve never been one to get ready in the bathroom. This is partly because my older sister spent too much time there when were getting ready for school to make it possible and by the time she went off to college my routine was set. A crucial part of my routine is my vanity table, the old school kind, with a big mirror and a seat. No matter how tiny my room has been, and some were TINY, I’ve never even thought about getting rid of it. By now it would be weird to get ready any other way. 

I keep this crucial space organized with a combination of bins, drawers and a spinning makeup carousel.  The drawers are for items I want to keep handy but out of sight, like my unmentionables but also hair brushes and my less often used jewelry.  For the jewelry I wear often, I have a row of command hooks on the wall. The jewelry is hidden by my curtains but accessible when I have the curtains open. I find being able to see my necklaces greatly improves the odds I will wear them! 

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The bins (like these from Ikea) help keep all the lotions and potions contained, so they don’t fall off their little shelf. The added bonus of the bin is that it keeps me from hanging on to products that aren’t working for me, since there is only so much room.  One thing that I have on my vanity table that is a little odd is my vitamins, I keep a weekly pill case on the vanity table and the bottles on the near by window sill. I have found if I actually want to take my vitamins this is the best place for them to be. I forget if I keep them in the kitchen like most people. Odd perhaps, but it’s what works for me. Currently across the room from my vanity seat is my closet, so I often will look into the closet and ponder what to wear I am drying my hair, so multi tasking for the win! *if you want to know how I keep my closet organized click here*

Now I can’t really talk about bedroom organization with out talking about the bed, can I? I love having a bench at the end of my bed to throw my robe on, and keep an extra blanket on, and my night stand has a pretty simple set up. I have an alarm clock, the same clock radio I got in college, since most alarm clocks sound scary to me and this one doesn’t.  A lamp I made out of a wine bottle many years ago, that I like because it is bright enough to ready by, but not so bright it is painful if I need to turn on the light in the middle of the night.  I often have a book here next to my chapstick and phone charger.  I use a large binger clip to keep the cord handy, and not on the floor. The only other thing I really need on the bedside is night time allergy meds and Advil, because it is my friend more and more as the years go by. This time of year I also have out the remote to the ceiling fan, because who wants to get up when they are hot and trying to sleep? I try to keep all of these essentials in the same spot so I can find what I need in the dark, if I need to. What you keep could be very different, the point is, to have what you need at your bedside and not worry too much about how it looks, but how it works for you. 

 

Did I give you any ideas for how you can organize your bedroom? What other purposes are you using your bedroom for?

Seasons Change and So Too Must the Closet

Closet before
middle closet

I hope April has treated everyone well and that spring has finally arrived where you are. It’s been a slow start to spring here in Boston, but that only makes it sweeter!  For me the change of seasons is a time to rethink things. Start fresh. Since there is no such thing as too much closet space, or really enough, if you live in a small space, or a historic one, like say Boston, it also means it’s time to switch out the winter clothes for the summer ones! For me that means pulling out the suitcases that live under my bed and taking almost everything out of my closet. I generally try to do this on laundry day, so that I know I have everything in one spot!  

As I pull out all the winter clothes I try to look at items and think about how much I wore them, and if the are still my style. If they aren’t but they are still in good shape, off to the donation box they go (pro tip: keep a donation box going, that way when you decide that something can go, you’ve already got a place to put it). Then I pack all of the sweaters up, add in some cedar pieces to the wooly piles and zip them back up, and under the bed they go again. 

Now that I’ve made some much needed room in the closet I can start dealing with the warm weather clothes. When I pull them out I try to sort them into categories that make sense to me. Work clothes, vs weekend clothes, tops vs bottoms. Future me will be thankful on a work day when rushing to get dressed and out the door. Then all the current items go into the closet, and I relish it’s ohhh so organized look. I know it won’t last forever, so I just bask in a job well done for a minute or five. 

 

Closet After

What does a new season mean for you and your home? Does it create any new organizational challenges for you? Let me know in the comments! 

The Benefits of a System that Works for Me!

The last few years of paperwork.

The last few years of paperwork.

With Tax day just behind us I have been thinking a lot about paper work. I’ve already talked about my simple filing system and you can read all about it here. That isn’t what has gotten me thinking, not exactly. What has me thinking is my need recently to find some paperwork for the bank. It was such a relief to know that I knew right where it was. I just had to pull out last years file folder and go to the pocket I needed and just like that I was scanning the page to email it off. I slipped the form back in it’s pocket and put the folder back, it took all of 15 minutes, and at least 5 minutes were getting my scanner to do it’s job! 

There have been times in my life when this would have been an all evening ordeal. Going through piles and boxes and then going through a second time because I couldn't find the thing I was looking for. Add in a lot of cursing myself for not putting it in a better place. I do not miss that time, not one bit!  This is why having an organization system that works for me has been such an important achievement. It isn’t just the day to day stuff, though that can’t be discounted, it becomes so obvious to me when I use it to get what I want with ease. 

 

I certainly didn’t get here in a straight line. I’ve tried lots of different systems over the years. It wasn’t until I started to worry less about what organization “should” be and focus on what I needed to be, for me, did I make some real headway. It isn’t static either. I am the type who is always thinking about something and often if is about how I can improve my systems. Some experiments are total flops, but sometimes they are just the tweak I need to make something work even better for me.  It is such a great feeling to have a space and systems that work for me. I want to help other people who like me weren’t born with the neat nik gene, create the space and systems that will make their lives easier. Save them from at least some of my more painful mistakes. 

What are your paperwork challenges? Does tax time mean stress time? Is there some other area you want me to talk about? Leave me a comment!  Do you know someone who could benefit from this? Please share.

Why Design and Organization matters to me.

Long before I went to school to get my master's degree in interior design it mattered to me. I didn’t know what to call it then, but having my space reflect who I was always seemed important. I liked having art and objects that meant something to me around me and I was never a minimalist. I like my stuff too much! I am sentimental but I am also a lover of modern design. You will find the longer you hang out here that I can seem contradictory in my beliefs--what can I say, I am a Gemini after all! 

If design is the physical expression of your personality then organizational systems are the physical expression of your brain.

I think of design as the arrangement of all your things. It can be as simple as which shoes you choose for a particular outfit. Or as complex as the kind of house you choose to live in. Both are an expression of your personal design sense, your style. And I think the important part is the personal part. Design is never one size fits all. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to find a great pair of jeans!  The same is true for your personal space. You may have to conform to what society wants at work, but you sure as hell don’t have to in your home, and I don’t think you should even try! 

If design is the physical expression of your personality then organizational systems are the physical expression of your brain. No, design and organization is not brain surgery, thank god, but it does need to be tailored to you like a great suit. 

I want to be the tailor in that analogy. I want to know you and know how your brain works, how your life works. How it isn’t working and find a way that is perfect for YOU. Not your mother, not your sister, and not pinterest. I want to make your space beautiful to you, and work beautifully for you. 

I think once you get a system in place that works for you, it lets you be the best you there is. That might seem like a pretty lofty aspiration from getting your entry way or closet in order, but I think it can be true. If your house is not longer fighting with you, just think how much more peaceful life will be. And let's be honest a good morning makes for a better day, and better days lead to happier people. I think the world could use more people who are no longer fighting themselves and their spaces. Cause the world needs more joyful people. It just does.

What brings you joy? What would you love to better organize to facillitate your joy?