Thursday, October 22, 2009

School Work Organized

What to do with all the school papers? I handled this mess by giving each child a a set of drawers. Each child has a big drawer for finished "work and art" and a smaller drawer for "to do" items. Things from school/playtime are briefly admired and then put in the large drawers. Since we have home schooling after a regular school day, I can keep track of what we are working on in the smaller drawers. When the drawers fill up we sort out together what is important to file away and what can be tossed.

I selected this system because I liked the tough, plastic drawers which easily hold an 8 1/2" x 11" paper. Also this is a nice looking, cost effective option.

Important to know, I have altered this piece! I bought this TROFAST piece from IKEA. The original was too high and I didn't want extra drawers to sort, so I cut the sides so that the third drawer guide in each section could not be used. I had to put the piece together first, so I could see if it was possible to change the height, then I took it apart and used a table saw. Then I put it back together. I think this worked ok, since this TROFAST piece was wood, I'm not so sure the particle board versions in white will be as easy to change. (Use caution.) When we have visitors at the kitchen table, this slides out and doubles as extra seating. Sometimes a catch a child reading here next to the window.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ottoman and Filing storage

In small spaces you need things that are multi-purpose. I didn't want the look of filing cabinets, so I opted for adapting two ottomans for the job. When I purchased the ottomans I made sure that they would accommodate the metal filing guides you can buy at an office supply store. (Check the measurements.) A Dremel (tool) was used to cut the ends of the guides to fit the ottomans. I added the hinges for easier use. I also stained, sealed, and attached legs to make the ottomans look more like furniture. The picture shows just one of the two. We pull them around for extra seating at our craft table and computer desks. Note - if you fill them with heavy items they can be hard to move around. If we didn't have carpet, I could have added wheels to make it easier to move.

Monday, October 19, 2009


My son has toys, books, and legos. We had only long wall that would work for these items. We needed furniture that was deeper than traditional 11 1/2" shelving to accommodate the bins we already had. We couldn't go too deep either, as we needed access to the window. This system had to hold lots of bins, have solid shelves for books (not wire shelving), and had to be inexpensive with a budget of $100 or less. We still need to finish updating the labels, but the picture is worth a look!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Product Highlight

Problem: Things falling off the upper cabinet shelves when you grab for one item.
Solution: Clear Handled Storage Baskets from The Container Store are a great way to get those upper cabinets in order and get only what you need out of the cabinet at any given time. I think, although I haven't tried it, for very short people a hand grabbing device would be able to grab onto these basket handles.
Small 11" x 6-1/4" x 5-1/8" Large 13" x 7-3/4" x 5-3/4" also available in white

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Secret Kitchen Storage Space

The mirror and mirrored shelves on our dining room wall was an eye sore! It made the room look like it had two dining tables and twelve chairs and decades old. Decorative items I set on the shelves just reflected the items for a cluttered look. This had to change! I added the curtains to either side, and things became symmetrical and thus, more formal looking. This is appropriate for a formal dining room. This also made the mirrored shelves much more practical. I could put all my extra kitchen gadgets here and no one would see it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Craft Armoire


I don't have a craftroom, so this is a nice place to house craft and sewing items. Well, it wasn't the nicest place to go to until I organized it. I added two shelves and now I can pull out what I need without the rest falling on me. I also added three hanging pockets sewn from cloth placemats and a hook for storage on the doors. Get more space wherever you can! I had about one trash bag and one give away bag. I even brought my craft items from the garage to put in the armoire. It is important to keep like items together so you don't have several places to go when you are looking for something.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Linen Closet


~AFTER Full View~

~AFTER Bottom View~

Not so good at organizing? Start with something small, like your Linen Closet. I have taken pictures of my closet as an example. I edited items we hadn't used for awhile and things I knew we didn't really need. I ended up with 3 1/2 garbage bags to take away. Some of it can be donated, one goes back to mom and one is for the garbage. Hard to believe that much stuff came out of such a small closet! Now can access items easier and keep it cleaner.

You might be wondering why you see more than just linens in this closet. Well, I don't have lots of closet space - so closets have to have more than one use. This closet works double duty. The middle and top are for linens and the bottom is for wrapping paper and items associated with wrapping.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Lowdown on Laundry

Do you have piles of laundry needing attention, clothes thrown everywhere? Can't find that certain shirt or pants? You've got the laundry woes. Turn your woes into WOWs...

There are two schools of thought on this, either you wait until everything is dirty and take an entire day or more to do your laundry OR you do your laundry a little at a time. If you have laundry woes, then just take a minute to MAKE A PLAN on how you are going to tackle your laundry in future and you'll save many minutes and lots of grief in return.

If you don't own a washer and dryer, or don't have a shared one in your appartment/dorm you are pretty much stuck with a special day devoted to laundry. You can cut down on trips and piles buy washing your delicates by hand in the sink. It really doen't take much time and your clothes will last longer. Think about using a Dry Cleaner for certain items to cut your laundry trips as well.

If you do have your own washer and dryer, I recommend doing your laundry a little at a time.

Do one load a day. Put them in when you get up in the morning and they'll be done before you leave for your day. That is what my grandmother and my mother told me. Can you image not worrying about your laundry? When you do it this way, you feel done with it for the whole day. They were right! If you are not a morning person, then associate your laundry time with another activity, like while watching TV or checking your emails at night. Your laundry will be ready for you in the morning to wear. I actually have a two-loads-per-day rule, anymore for me and I feel like I'm overloaded for that day. Check out the Woes to Wow Laundry List for more tips.

Woes to Wows Laundry List

1. Do a load everyday, or do two a day and take one day a week off.

2. When grouping items, don't be afraid to wash rags, towels or sheets with socks and underwear. EVERYTHING IS GOING INTO SOAPY WATER - it will get clean. These items can all go in the dryer together, too. This saves time, your energy and the environment.

3. Wash what is dirty, walk the house and go on a clothing hunt. Wash large loads, smaller ones are less economical. Example - not enough darks, then wait until tomorrow. Need to wash sheets - throw in your towels and socks/underwear too.

4. Check out your washing machine cycle times. You may not need to wait 30-45 mins for a load to wash on regular setting, use the gentle or light cycle to cut down on time, even if it's not an item that needs the gentle cycle.

5. Provide a hamper or hampers for all clothes-wearing people in your house and MAKE THEM USE IT. If you are doing the laundry by yourself it is NOT TO MUCH TO ASK to have those lucky others put their clothes in the hamper. If you have kids and you expect them to put up their toys, they can put up their dirty clothes (even 2-3 yr olds). Ask yourself, is this enough hamper space for all the clothes and towels we use over a 3-4 day span? You may need to have a separate kid's hamper or towel hamper to cut down on piles.

6. Only have washing time, but not enough time to wait for the dryer and grab them before they wrinkle? Wet shirts and pants can be hung up on hangers or directly on a shower curtain rod. Leave the bathroom door open and they can dry all day or overnight. Add a fan to your room and they'll dry faster.

7. MOST IMPORTANT RULE - Clothes belong either in the hamper or put away. Don't fall into the messy piles and lost clothes routine anymore. ALWAYS put things away and make everyone else do the same with their clothes. We want to train the next generation so they don't have the laundry woes.

Hope you got a WOW out of this! - Beth

Monday, October 5, 2009

Easy Cleaning List

Try this if you want an easy way to keep your house clean. Devote only 20-30 mins per weekday, if you miss a day, then clean for an hour the next day - no problem! If your house is very dirty you may need more time per activity the first pass through the list. (If you have hard wood floors you might want to scrub instead of vacuum.)

Easy Cleaning List:

This list is set up for Monday-Friday for four weeks, then start over.
Try to do each item in 20-30mins. Timing yourself makes you go faster. : )

1. Guest Bathroom and Master toilet
2. Master Sinks and Kitchen Sink
3. Master Tub and Shower door
4. Master Shower
5. Kitchen/Entry floor

6 Windows or Appliances (including washer/dryer)
7. Vacuum living 1/2 of house
8. Vacuum bedroom 1/2 of house
9. Declutter/Purge
10. Steam clean bad spots

11. Guest Bathroom and Master toilet
12. Master Sinks and Kitchen Sink
13. Master Tub
14. Kitchen/Entry floor
15. Dust living 1/4 of house

16. Dust living another 1/4 of house
17. Dust bedroom 1/4 of house
18. Dust bedroom another 1/4 of house
19. Deep Clean item or Outside items – Car or Deck
20. Garage or Repairs

This list was generated by Beth Varan. Questions and comments welcome.