Mission: Organization

Project: Pantry

Technically, our pantry never was unorganized.  If you know me, most things are organized.  That’s not to say things can never be more organized.  Ever since I saw a fantastic pantry redesign on House of Smith’s, I’ve been itching to change things up with our pantry.  Over the weekend, I got a metaphorical bug up my butt and started changing things up. 

Here is the before:

Yeah, not super great.  Most of our grocery shopping is done at Costco, so everything is in bulk and a little tricky to store.  I will admit, we are lower on some of our supplies shown in the after photos. 

Ben and I started by throwing out everything that was past its prime or giving it away.  I grouped like items together and made a shelf for each grouping. 

The bottom shelf has cookbooks and potatoes, leaving room for larger items to be stored after a Costco trip.  All canned, boxed and bagged dry food items are on the same shelf along with baby food and formula.  Then we have a baking shelf, including flour, sugar, and chocolate chips.  Cereals and soda joined the baking party.  Finally, the top shelf has alcohols, large serving platters, straws, paper plates and coffee supplies.

Lucky for me, Ben got in one of his deep clean moods after this!  I love when this happens.  Ben becomes a cleaning machine.  He removed all the screens and windows (our window panels can be removed to leave a huge opening) and cleaned every piece.  Then, he took everything out of our refrigerator and scrubbed down every surface.  It’s like we have a brand new fridge. 

As if cleaning windows and refrigerators wasn’t enough fun, Ben also removed everything from both bathroom drawers, vacuumed and scrubbed the insides.  Yes, I am one lucky girl.  Then I went through all the contents.  I threw some things away, donated others, and organized the rest. 

And our drawers are clean, too!

So, that was our fun-filled weekend of cleaning.  Have you deep-cleaned or organized anything recently?

Oh, Baby! Clutter?

A few weeks ago, I touched on the subject of storing toys, but I’m back to give a few more tips, specifically baby related.  How can someone so small have so much junk stuff?  Clothes, blankets, baby bathtub, car seat, and toys!

Tip number 1:  Stick to the basics and necessities.  Let me start this off by telling you my little secret.  When Vincent was an infant, we received a hand me down swing and bouncer seat from relatives.  I think V used each item once in his first month, so I donated them.  He didn’t seem to mind.  If your baby never uses these items, he or she can’t miss having them.  There are so many baby items being manufactured today that we never had as children, and we’re fine.  I mean seriously, wipe warmers?  By sticking to the essentials, you’ll have minimal baby junk to store.

I think an infant bathtub is an essential, so we keep ours in Everett’s side of the closet.  Of course, he won’t use it forever, but it is so helpful.  It’s relatively convenient to get it when preparing for a bath, seeing as we have to get an outfit, too. 

Hang clothes and not fold.  If you have floorspace, add a dresser to hold toys and smaller items. 

Tip number 2.  If you have the space, go vertically with your storage.  The cubes in the closet were designed to hold shoes, but it turns out they are the perfect solution for storing diapers in storage totes.  If you can’t build cubes, add a hanging shoe organizer, like this one.  Get smaller items up and off the floor to make room for larger, harder to store items. 

Tip number 3.  Utilize under the bed storage.  Don’t let valuable floor space go to waste under a bed.  Buy totes to store clothes, toys or bedding to free up closet space.  Vincent actually has a fleet of Tonka trucks and blocks stored under Everett’s crib.

Tip number 4.  Buy tons of clear storage bins.  Store larger clothes in clear bins with labels so you can see what you have.  This will keep everything at hand, so you can quickly swap items out when the seasons change or baby gets bigger.  We know they grow so quickly.  Once you have a bin of too small clothes, label it and you can put it in the garage or basement to keep it out of the main storage areas. 

Tip number 5.  Don’t be afraid to store some items in more conveniently located closets.  Store the car seat and diaper bag in the entry closet along with your shoes and purse.  You know you’ll need the car seat when you’ll also need your purse, so keep it close. 

The car seat is in clear view, but you can see the very bottom of the diaper bag on the upper shelf. 

Some baby toys are awkward to store, so we keep those in our guest bedroom closet, which is just off the main living room.  It keeps it out-of-the-way, but close by.

If you have a linen closet, keep baby blankets, sheets, burp cloths, towels, etc. along with everyday items.  Storing some items in more logical closets will free up some nursery closet space, leaving room for toys! 

Tip number 6.  Choose items that can easily fold or be disassembled.  Both of our boys love(d) the Graco jumper.  I allow it because it doesn’t take up much space when it is out.

When it isn’t in use, we easily slide it over to the side.

If we have company, we pull the jumper off and slide it under the guest bed. 

So, there you have it.  These storage methods have worked for us, but I want to know what you do.  I do plan to cover some kitchen ideas, too, so keep reading.

How To: Store Toys

We have two boys under the age of three with grandparents, aunts and uncles that spoil them rotten.  That means we have a ton of toys.  Fortunately for us, we have created custom built in cabinets to hide most of their toys, books and diapers.

I’m still searching for the right size, cheap but durable storage bins to house V’s toys in this cabinet, but for now, it’s okay.

This red metal bin holds up to V’s abuse and it contains most of his stuffed animals.  After all, three-foot tall Mickey and Minnie cannot fit in a small bin. 

We don’t keep all the toys in one area, as they are hauled all around the house anyway.  We have some toys stored in the Man Cave entertainment center.  Once the doors are finished, the mess will be hidden away, similar to our living room built-in.

V has some larger Tonka trucks, which are stored under Ev’s crib, hidden by the crib skirt. 

Basically, we don’t have a lot of baby/toy clutter because I refuse to keep large baby items like swings, bouncer seats, and exersaucers in the house.  I also go through the toys somewhat regularly and throw out or donate broken or unused toys.  It also helps to send noisy, annoying toys to grandma. 

One major tip I can offer is to use closets and space under the bed.  Keep items in bins labeled by size to organize items such as children’s out grown or too big clothes.

Closet Case

Our humble abode is definitely an efficient use of space.  We have few wasted spaces due to the floor plan, but we’ve added some details to make the limited closet space more functional.

Ben built shoe/storage cubes for the entryway, guest bedroom and boys bedroom.

The entry closet is small at 3.5 feet wide.  By adding three levels of cubes, we have tripled our shoe storage.  We’ve added hooks to hang purses and leashes on and storage bins for hats, gloves and smaller items.

Here a peek at the guest bedroom closet:

We try to keep that closet pretty empty.  We tend to have a lot of guests and we like to give them some space.

Our toughest storage solution was for the boys closet.

The cubes are the perfect size for cheap covered storage containers from Wal-Mart.  We keep diapers in 4 of the containers (we buy diapers at Costco).  Extra bedding, wipes, socks and pajamas are also stored on this side of the closet.  We use a laundry bag which hangs to save space.

Here’s a shot of the other side of the shared closet:

The cubes hold Ev’s extra blankets, burp cloths and sheets.  I hang the boys’ clothes because it would take waaaay to long to fold everything.  I’m too OCD to throw it in a drawer.  You’ll also notice larger storage bins on the top shelf.  We store large clothes for each boy in those, so we have it handy to switch out.

Our closet was one of the easiest storage solutions we created.  Our bed, built by Ben, has drawers on each side at the foot of the bed and two large compartments with false drawer fronts on each side.  We keep out of season clothes, jackets, and boots in the compartments, while storing every day items like socks, underwear, pajamas and such in the drawers.

Here’s Ben’s side of our closet.

When we remodeled out master bedroom, we changed up the closet shelving.  We removed the old single shelf and moved it up to about 1 foot from the ceiling.  The same closet rod is below.  We added a shelf about half way down the closet.  Because our closets have sliding doors, we made one side shelving.  Most of my shirts are stored here.

My side looks a little bare…

We added another closet rod to under the middle shelf.  Because we don’t have anything on that rod, we keep a laundry basket in my side on the floor.

We’re lucky to have a closet to hold our vacuüm, cleaning supplies, toolbox, and lightbulbs.

The linen closet at the end of our hall holds all of our extra towels, bedding, and even our suitcases.

We also have a gigantic pantry.  LOVE IT!!

We’re still working on the basement closets, but I promise to show those when they’re done.