For most of my friends and family, I’m the most organized person they know. Everything has a place, even hidden spaces are organized and tidy, and I can find anything I’m looking for almost instantly. And yet, nothing in my house looks like this:
This space is absolutely gorgeous, and seeing a space so organized has the same effect on me as doing yoga does on others. I’m just kidding… sort of. The act of organizing and the end results do help me relax, enjoy the spaces around me, and make my life easier which simply leads me to feel more joyful.
So why don’t my spaces look like this? Simple, I don’t think it’s realistic OR helpful. There is a very small percentage of the human population that lives like this, and they probably carry their label maker in their purse every day. Honestly, my purse is heavy enough already!
Honestly these types of images frustrate me. Just like the photo-shopped model in a fashion magazine, I feel like these images set up unrealistic expectations, and rather than inspiring us they leave us feeling defeated and thinking “my pantry will never look like that so why even bother?!” Being honest with all of you about what works in real life is incredibly important to me and this post is no different.
Today I’m going to show you some of my spaces and the solutions that work for me. Stick with me, this is a long post. I'm super passionate about organization and I wanted to share with you my thought process for each space before getting into the ways you too can be organized without driving yourself mad. When we moved into our house it was the 7th time we’d moved in as many years, pretty insane right? Over those years I’d developed a collection of storage bins, tubs, trays, etc. Most of them were purchased at different times for different needs, spaces, and color schemes and don't match. Each time we’d move I’d take measurements and go shopping for the perfect pieces to organize our new home. Moving into a house was completely different. There is always a list of projects to tackle and things to buy, so prioritizing became more important than ever. Using what we already had was the only realistic way I'd get organized. Being organized is a priority to me, but having it look perfect is not. And that’s OKAY. Our new priorities and realistic expectations for what works for me has led us here. I have bought some new storage pieces for our home, which I’ll point out and try my best to source. I have plans and dreams for all the spaces I’ve shared below, plans that would change our storage needs. But making the most of our house NOW in its current state is what allows me to live up to my motto "stop pinning, start living".
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Master Bathroom Linen Closet
This space makes me happy daily. I picked up these lidded wicker baskets from Michael's and they are perfect for this space. They allow me to hide random things like travel toiletry bags, extra curling irons, medicines and first aid supplies. Each of them has a theme as to what’s inside and placed on the shelves according to how frequently they get used. As pretty as they are, I’m a big stickler for function and there are some things that just don’t belong in a basket. The clear bins hold extra makeup and nail polish and related supplies. Plastic is just so easy, spilled nail polish remover, broken blush or whatever else, can be cleaned up quick and easy when kept in plastic containers. And I don’t have to worry about nightmares of those same things seeping through my wicker baskets, onto the shelves, towels and everything else stored in here. The same goes for the plastic drawer units on the floor. I’ve been using these for years and they’re perfect for really small items, or things like bubble bath and extra shampoo that have the potential to spill and create a soapy mess.
In our bathroom we have one very shallow drawer, made only slightly functional but the use of these clear dividers. I bought these at The Container Store for a previous home and they have worked perfectly in countless drawers through the years.
As a child, I remember opening the medicine cabinet slowly because you never knew what might come tumbling out. I’d planned to take a trip to The Container Store to address the medicine cabinet but then came across these soft rubbery trays at Home Depot for next to nothing. They’re perfect for all kinds of little serums, creams and miscellaneous items, and can be easily rinsed or washed out.
I have big dreams for our master closet, including my husband one day deciding to be as organized as me. (Keep dreaming, right?) There is shelving unit built into the wall at the far end that was constantly collecting junk. We already had some black wicker baskets in our closet and I was hoping for a matching look, but also wanted to utilize every inch of space. I searched everywhere, but the dimensions were a challenge, so I settled on these fabric bins from Amazon. They fit perfectly and now we have a place to store, but not see, hats, belts, purses, workout gear etc.
Guest Bath Linen Closet
Moving on to the guest bath linen closet, also known as the place where we store all of our extra stuff. This space houses bath linens that don’t match, hotel toiletries, the free contact lens case that comes with every bottle of solution, and a massive collection of Aromatherapy products from Bath & Body Works that I bought on sale and will take a lifetime to go through, and more. This is another example of how I used mismatched storage pieces that I already had to make the most of a space. I purposefully chose to use bins without lids in here. I wanted our guests to not only feel welcome to use anything and everything, but also didn’t want them having to search for anything. The overall look isn’t as polished but it meets our needs perfectly.
The Laundry Room
I have a real love/hate relationship with this room. I LOVE color but my husband is a bit afraid of it. I searched and bought bins specific to this room BEFORE convincing my husband to let me paint. I picked a darker color that worked with the bins but then he got a little panicky and we compromised on the paint. Of course the new lighter color clashes with the bins. Basically, this room has been a design battle destined to fail from the start. Either way, it’s probably the most organized space in the house. I’m still looking for another basket to fit that top shelf and hold the steamer.
This is another place where wicker or rattan would’ve been much prettier, but I was adamant about using plastic in here. These bins store chemicals, batteries, paint, laundry supplies and more… easy clean up is absolutely necessary. I even found a spill when I went to take these photos so you can see why it was so important to me.
This wall rack has moved with us several times and was one of the first things I hung when we moved in. I’ve seen many similar versions, but none quite like this, and in my opinions it’s the very best. I can’t remember where I got it so here’s hoping it lasts forever.
Last but certainly not least, the pantry
I saved this space for last on purpose. Everywhere you look are images of crazy beautiful pantries, color coded, labeled, decorated, organized, etc. This is also the space where it feels the least realistic to me. The contents of my pantry are constantly changing. We go months without a single bag of chips and all of sudden we’ll have a whole assortment, or we’ll randomly give into a craving for pop tarts like we had when this photo was taken. We need storage solutions that accommodate those changes. These gray bins are the same soft rubbery material as those in our medicine cabinet, and also from Home Depot. They too catch spills, crumbs and loose items, while their soft sides make it easy for them accommodate all shapes, sizes and quantities.
Also, foods have expiration dates and other vital details on their packaging. Pouring everything into matching canisters gives me far more anxiety than having to look at a less than beautiful pantry. This expandable tiered rack works great for canned goods because I can manipulate how much space it takes up based on how much I need to store on it. Does anyone actually buy the exact same brand of spices so that they all fit into a wall mount rack? I know I sure don’t, so turntables are life savers. Most things I want hidden to an extent, but for tiny or hard to reach items I used my trusty clear bins from The Container Store which make it easier to spot what I’m looking for.
In full disclosure we are living in more space than is required for two people, and that makes it easier to spread out and organize. We don’t have to store dozens of juice boxes and goldfish snacks in the pantry, and we have two full bathrooms to spread out. Not to mention a hall closet and two guest rooms. But that wasn’t always the case. Before we bought our house we lived in an approximately 800 sq foot apartment, and several other similar apartments before that. I know what it’s like to have to make the most of every nook and cranny. Below are some of my favorite tips to help you address the organization issues in your home. If you still feel like you need help, contact me! The only thing that I love more than organizing, is helping people enjoy their homes more and for me those two go hand in hand.
Top 5 Tips To Organize Your Home... and keep it that way!
Tip #1: Look UP.
Most closets and pantry’s have tons of wasted space toward the ceiling. Every time we move I take measurements of the closets and head to the hardware store for those inexpensive wire shelves. I've added them EVERYWHERE. Linen closets, laundry rooms, coat closets, above the water heater, you name it. Even small spaces like kitchen cabinets can be made more functional by using risers and stands. Is it realistic to put your regularly used items out of reach, of course not. But if are honest with yourself about what you actually use, you can identify items that can be put in those hard to reach corners. I promise the ease of accessing what you truly need will be worth it.
Tip #2: Look DOWN.
Just as most shelves stop well below the ceiling line, they usually don’t extend to the floor either. In my pantry I have really large things like crockpots stored down low. You can very short risers if you prefer to elevate things up off the floor. Closets are usually designed to leave space for long dresses and garment bags, but that’s usually just a small portion of what we have hanging, leaving a ton of dead space along the floor. This is a great place to utilize modular storage, or laundry baskets with lids.
Tip #3 Prioritize
Think about what matters to you and your family and make priorities. This is key in everything you do at home. Having your medicines and first aid kit in a lidded basket that's difficult to access might not work for you, and that’s okay. Never try to make someone elses system work for you. Just like I was adamant about having plastic storage for certain things, you may want all clear storage so you can see what you’ve got, or you may only want things without lids so there’s one less step to get to what you need, who knows! Just be true to yourself.
Tip #4 Be Realistic
Maybe tossing all of your shoes into a big basket feels like an accomplishment and having matching labeled shoe boxes makes you feel sick to your stomach. Being honest about what you’re willing to adhere to and maintain is vital to the success of keeping up with any type of organization system.
Tip #5 Save Shopping for Last
Hopefully I've given you so many ideas that you're ready to tackle an organizing project right this instant, but wait! It’s important to figure out what you need and where you’re going to put it before you go shopping for any kind of storage helpers. Identify YOUR personal needs and opportunities, make a plan, take measurements, and then go shopping. It will help insure you pick the right pieces that work for you.