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Redefining Home Management

Monthly Archives: October 2013

De-Cluttering Bathroom Cabinets & Drawers

After a few posts of fun and festivities, I thought you might all be ready for some more organization!  Since my bathroom vanity needed a little refreshing, I decided that would be a great way to kill two birds with one stone.  Nothing like showing pics to the world to motivate you to do a little straightening and cleaning!!

 

Here is the underside of my bathroom cabinet, AFTER a little twenty minute tidy today.  I am going to refrain from revealing my hubby’s side of the cabinet.  Although it isn’t terrible, I wouldn’t think it would inspire anyone!

 

 

 

 

I also have two drawers for make-up, dental hygiene and hair things.  Here is the before on those drawers…

 

Drawers - Before

 

 

As I always do with organization projects, I removed everything from the space, (one drawer at a time) tossed items that were old, or I just hadn’t used in two years, and wiped everything down to get things clean.

 

This is the tray I use for storing make-up, obviously it needed a good cleaning!

 

 

I then sorted everything and returned it to the drawer.  Here is the drawer…

 

 

…and a breakdown of how I store things.

 

1.)  The little brown box on the left holds random beauty tools I use on a semi-reguler basis and want easy access to:  hair clippers, nail file, small scissors, tweezers…

 

2.) I use an old silverware tray (from mine & Jason’s first house together – ahhh!) to sort my make-up by category.  Blush and eye shadows are in the far left compartment, brushes in the next, and lip sticks, lip liner, lip gloss, etc. in the far right compartment.  The front section has items for my eyes – a tube of concealer, eye liner, liquid eye shadow and mascara.

I love using a silverware tray for make-up because it has great dividers, is easy to wash, and provides a good boundary for how much every day/regular use make-up I have at a time.  Another perk of this tray is that it is super easy to take all of my make-up to another location and return it back to the drawer.  If you like to use a different bathroom, go in your closet, sit at a dresser in your room… this is a great way to keep it organized, easy to access and transportable within your home.

I originally started using this tray when my kids were babies because they would want to come in and play with everything in the drawer when it was open.  I could simply lift the tray out of the drawer, and place in out of their reach on my counter top while I was using it and then tuck it away when I was done.

 

3. I have miscellaneous and non-regular use make-up in a small caddy hidden in the back of the drawer.  There are a couple of things I bought during “Clinique Bonus Time” for when I run out, a couple of items I switch out for summer and winter depending on how not-tan I am (I vary in my shades of white, really white, and glow in the dark white) and then all of those bonus items I think I might use, but haven’t busted out yet!

 

Extra-Make-Up

 

With things neatly tucked away, this is what I see from my side of the drawer when I get ready in the morning.

 

Make-Up

 

My other drawer is for hair supplies and dental care items.  This drawer was the most cluttered, and the main reason I felt the need to tidy my side of the cabinet.

 

Hair-Drawer-Before

 

I know, it isn’t terrible and some of you are laughing at me right now.  However, there were a lot of things in this drawer that I haven’t used in a long time and really needed to go.

 

I have been using a Sonicare toothbrush for months, and decided a toothbrush that has been sitting for that long probably needs to go in the trash.  I’ll spare you the details, but the “medicine” and pill sorter were from my last pregnancy and c-section recovery – yes, my youngest is 3 years old – apparently it has been more like 3 years since I’ve cleaned these drawers!  I’m not sure where the pink comb came from – I don’t think I’ve ever used it, and the hair ties, bobby pins, clips… are mostly things I bought, hated and will never use.  As you might guess, this drawer was less about sorting and more about purging.  I also wiped the drawer and dividers down just to get things clean for the next 2-3 years.  🙂

 

Here is now…

 

Hair-&-Teeth-Drawer

 

My last drawer is for my hairdryer, flatiron…..  A few old tools I’m not ready to part with are stored in the back of the drawer in a box to keep them separated from my more updated things.  I wrote about the t.p. roll cord covers in this post, and with those I don’t have to do much to keep this drawer nice and tidy.  And notice – I am using one t.p. roll with no pretty paper covering it – aren’t you proud of me?!

 

Styling Tools

 

If you don’t have a drawer to store your hairdryer and flatiron, I love these ideas

 

 

In the photo on the left they attached a magazine file with 3M velcro strips to the inside of the cabinet door.  On the right side they used 3M Velcro strips to attach pvc pipe in varying sizes to hold both the tool & its cord – same idea as the t.p. roll.  Genius!

 

The last area of my bathroom I needed to sort was under the cabinet.  You saw the after picture above, here is the before.

 

Cabinet-Before

 

Shortly after moving into our house I picked up the silver shelving unit on the right side of the cabinet and then added some of my fave!fave!fave! clear storage boxes from The Container Store several years ago.  It was really pretty organized from my last tidy, which tells me that the system I have in place is working well.  Even though the system is working, I still needed to sort things, purge old items and reorder a bit.

 

I started with the boxes on the left. In the back of the cabinet I have a box on the bottom with bar soap that I want to keep but don’t really use very often.  I can then stack another box on top of the soap, and leave the lid off for easy access.  I have extra lotion, body wash, body spray… that I have mostly gotten as gifts.  I don’t use it daily, but will grab a new bottle for the shower, my purse… occasionally.  This is the more expensive, girlie stuff I wouldn’t want my kids or hubby to grab!

 

Lotions-&-Soaps

 

I use one more box without a lid to corral all of my daily toiletry items.  (these are the standard shoe box size)  I like that toiletries don’t fall over in the cabinet, the clear box allows me to easily identify what I need, and it provides me with a good boundary.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever talked about boundaries with you all before 😉 but this boundary helps me use all of my hairspray, deodorant, lotion… before grabbing a new one.  If I start to accumulate duplicates of items, I can’t fit everything I need in the box.  Do you have any empty bottles taking up space in your bathroom?

 

In sorting through these things I also purged and incorporated the random bottles that had been hiding behind the wooden slat in the middle of the cabinet.

 

Here is that side of the cabinet finished…

 

Left-Side-Cabinet

 

 

Last, I went through everything that had accumulated in the metal basket and boxes on the right.  The metal basket has mostly make-up bags that I have gotten as “free” gifts from Clinique.  I can’t throw them away because they are so small and cute! and I actually do put them to use a lot.  Addison has also discovered them and is equally obsessed with small cute bags!  (don’t confuse this with purses – I don’t share her obsession with those!)

 

On top of the shelf is two more clear boxes from The Container Store – one standard shoe box and one men’s shoe box.  The bottom box has random stuff in it I need to save, but almost never actually use.

 

Misc.-Box

 

This box has… an old pair of glasses …  I need glasses only when I’m pregnant – which I guess means I could get rid of them since I won’t be getting pregnant again! …tanning goggles, teeth whitening trays, some special but not really in style jewelry, the box my husband gave me my wedding ring in (ahhhh! love him!) and other completely random things.

 

The smaller box is my portable mani / pedi kit.

 

Nail-Box

 

I like having all of these items in one portable box so I can take it down to the living room and watch t.v. while I do my nails.  I also find it is an easy way to contain everything, and make sure I don’t accumulate too much nail polish.  The pink bag (yes, cute free Clinique bag) has clippers, and other nail tools that I have no idea what their name is.

 

And that’s all!  Here is the “after” of the cabinet after a good sort & clean.

 

 

 

My cabinet base has managed to stay pretty clean all of these years, but if yours is starting to look worn or has water damage you might want to add laminate tiles like I did in my laundry room cabinet.

 

I also have extra toiletries, towels, first aid supplies, medicine… stored in our master linen closet which is also in our bathroom.  I’ll show you how I order that space in my next organization post!  For now, here is a little more inspiration from around the web.

 

I love this bathroom vanity from the Hi Sugarplum blog.  It it similar to mine in layout, however she uses storage on the door and drawers instead of clear boxes.  Her post also shows her drawers and how she organized them with dollar store and other thrifty finds.

 

 

Hi Sugarplum | Organized Bathroom<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Cabinets

 

 

This cabinet is great too, my favorite thing is the idea of a lazy susan to easily reach everything!

 

 

organize bathroom

 

I also love the idea of using a magnetic board on your cabinet door like I made for my office.  You can see in this photo that they used magnetic containers, like these spice containers, and magnetic hooks to store small items in a really convenient way!  You could add the sheet metal to the back of a cabinet or the inside of a door, and even cover it pretty fabric like my message board.

 

I hope you are inspired to keep tackling those daunting projects, or just tidy up a few unruly spaces!  Here is a little scary tidbit, in honor of Halloween – we all have about one more month to order our belongings before the holidays hit!!!

 

 

 

 

“Boo” Baskets & Pumpkins

Although I don’t get into costumes, spooky movies or cat, witch and goblin decorations – I do find lots of fun things to enjoy in October with the coming of fall and Halloween!  One of our fun family traditions is to “BOO” our neighbors, and we love to carve pumpkins!  I had never heard of being “Boo’ed” before moving to the Midwest, but my kids love it!  Last year Jason and I drove the kids around the neighborhood after dark to ring doorbells and drop treats.  Carter would ring the bell and sprint to the car about 2 seconds before I would drive off.

 

Last year I was reminded of some not-so-safe scavenger hunts in high school when I would drive crazily through town with friends jumping in and out of the car in a race to complete all of the required tasks before the other team – if you don’t know, I’m a tad competitive!  One year I actually ran over a friends foot – not a proud moment – but he was fine!  I promise I was much more careful with my son, and there were no casualties.  Nonetheless, it was a thrill for all of us – in a quiet, Midwest, suburban family kind-of-way!

 

We plan to deliver our “Boo baskets” tomorrow and hopefully get a little fun started in our neighborhood this week!  If we ring your bell – please pretend you don’t know who it is!  If you want to start some “Boo” fun in your neighborhood, here is a printable sign and poem that explains how it works.  I looked around online for the poem I like with a cute sign, and could not! find one.  So, I made one up that I think is Halloween fun – instead of Halloween spooky!

 

If you don’t live in the Midwest or just have no idea what I’m talking about, the poem tells you everything you need to know.  The family that starts the “Boo’ing” simply gives two families treats, along with a copy of the “We’ve Been Booed” sign and the instructional poem.  Click either image below to download a pdf with the sign and the poem to use in your neighborhood!

 

The “Booed Card” for recipients to display by their door…

 

Boo-Card-Border

 

 

And a “You’ve Been Booed” poem for recipients to know how to keep the fun going!

 

 

Boo-Poem-Border

 

 

Although I don’t love all things Halloween, I do love pumpkins!  My son asked me this year if I was going to get “a bunch of those little ones that go all over the table”.  There is something about all the colors and shapes of the cute little gourds at the grocery store that makes me want to buy at least 2 dozen of them!  The problem, accessorizing of any kind is not my strong suit and I never make them look nearly as cute as I thought they were going to in my head.   So, I haven’t bought my little gourds yet, but we have carved pumpkins and are enjoying the “seeds” of our labor.

 

Here are the super fun pumpkins my family carved last weekend – and no, I did not carve them all!  It is really easy and really fun to carve detailed images on your pumpkin – promise!

 

Done-Night

 

First things, first!  Here are my kids getting ready to carve their pumpkins.  Yes, two of them are still in their p.j.’s (so am I actually, but I was smart enough not to put myself in the photo!) and no I don’t have some magical way of making the process of carving pumpkins neat or pretty!

 

 

Addison is holding up her Minnie Mouse template that she picked out to carve this year.  My favorite source for templates is the Disney site “Spoonful”.  I frequently find really cute craft and holiday specific ideas for kids on this site.  Here is a link to their printable (free) Pumpkin Carving Patterns.  They have some great Disney characters for boys and girls, and general Halloween stuff, like the ghost  my 8 year old picked – gone are the days of Lighting McQueen and Buzz Lightyear.  🙁

 

Spoonful patterns come with instructions, but I’ll give you a few tips that I think are helpful.  First, what I gather before getting started…

 

1)  A set of the super cheap carving sets that are 97 cents at Walmart for a “scooper” spoon and cutting tool.  The cutting tool works amazingly well, and I don’t worry about my kids hurting anybody with them.

 

2)  One template per child and some scotch tape.

 

3) Two large bowls for the pumpkin innards – I’m guessing that’s the technical term.

 

4) A grocery sack for trash.

 

We start by cleaning out the pumpkins really well – now I’m not sure that’s even necessary but it’s one of my OCD things – I can’t stand a stringy pumpkin!  We separate the seeds, clean them off pretty good and set them in a bowl of water to soak – more on those in  a bit.

 

 

 

 

Here is Carter’s pumpkin ready to carve.  As you can see I cut the pattern down to get rid of the excess paper.  I also make slits toward the middle of the image to help the flat paper lay against the round pumpkin.  I then attach the paper to the pumpkin with scotch tape.  hint: the scotch tape is hard for kids to cut through, so try to keep the tape on the white portions of the pattern – the area you are not cutting.

 

 

I usually help my kids get started with the first hole, to get the tool through the pumpkin.

 

 

Carter-Carving
Here is Carter working on his ghost.  At 8 years old he is was able to basically carve his entire pumpkin himself.  Jason helped him do a little at the very end to finish it up, but that was all.

 

 

Addi-Carving

 

Addison and Jase did a great job on their Minnie & Mickey Mouse patterns, but had a harder time than Carter.  I learned a few things this year, that I actually learned last year and then forgot about – so I made the same mistakes twice!  The Mickey and Minnie templates are hard because there are so many thin lines.  They could do the ears, but I had to help with most of the rest.  I know it is partially because they are younger, but Addison did Hello Kitty last year and was able to do a lot more all by herself, even though she was only 4 years old.

 

I would say it takes about 30 – 45 minutes to carve the pumpkins, depending on how detailed the pattern is.  Here is my very proud Addison with her Minnie…

 

Addi---Done

 

 

And all three of them side-by-side…

 

 

 

 

And here they are all lit up again!

 

 

Done-Night

 

 

The only bummer is that I like to carve pumpkins (color Easter Eggs, decorate a gingerbread house…)  early – because otherwise I have super disappointed kids when we don’t end up doing it.  So we just do our pumpkins early, and then they can sit on the porch and we can enjoy them all month long – or so I thought until last year.  The problem with pumpkins is they get moldy and icky and dry with faces that shrivel or cave in.  Last year my kids worked so hard on their pumpkins only to come down the next morning to find them misshapen and a mess.

 

This year I set out to preserve those bad boys, I was thinking mummify them – kinda appropriate for Halloween, right!  I did a little research online and decided to wax our pumpkins with furniture paste wax – since I had some on hand from all my Annie Sloan projects!

 

The next morning we came downstairs to perfectly preserved pumpkins – yeah!!!!  However, after just a week they look really sad – shriveled, moldy and ready for the trash.  I can’t bring myself to throw them away though, so please don’t judge if you see my front porch!  I would say the wax was a mild victory – far from what I was hoping for.  Next time I’m thinking a good coat of clear lacquer –  any of you have a great way of preserving your pumpkins?

 

Well, the pumpkins may have been a mild failure, but the seeds were not!  I LOVE pumpkin seeds.  The first year I told my husband we were saving them to roast and eat like sunflower seeds he thought I was crazy.  I was pretty sure I would get all of them to myself, because he wasn’t going to try them.  Unfortunately he did try them, and he loves them!  Seriously, if you’ve never roasted the seeds when you carve your pumpkins you MUST try them – they are yummy!  And, store bought pumpkin seeds are pricey! and I would argue not nearly as yummy!

 

This is all you have to do…

 

After you clean your seeds, leave them in a bowl of salted water for at least 24 hours.  I usually soak mine for 2-3 days – some say soaking them longer makes them better.  Honestly, it just usually takes me that long to get to roasting them!

 

 

 

 

After they have soaked, lay them flat on a jelly roll pan and spread them out as much as you can.  Salt them, and then you can let them sit again, or bake them immediately.   I love that they are not time sensitive and they are hard to mess up.

 

 

 

 

I let mine sit in the pan overnight – so that was day 3 after carving our pumpkins.  Look at all of that salt – yummm!!!!

 

 

 

 

To bake the seeds (this is when they get crunchy and the salt flavor really bakes in!) preheat your oven to about 300 degrees.  You can bake them at 350 degrees, but I think they are better if you have time to roast them nice and slow.  I have even dropped the oven to 250 degrees before.  Slower roasting is better, but it depends on how long you have to tend to them and how many are in your pan.

 

 

Seeds-Baking

 

 

As they bake, remove them from the oven to stir and salt them about every 20 minutes.  You don’t have to salt every time, but I love salt! and it helps to cover them evenly as you stir.  I baked my seeds for 60 minutes at 300 degrees this year, but again your bake time will depend on how many seeds you have and the temperature you are baking them at.  You will know the seeds are done when you stir them and all of the moisture has been baked out.  They will be crunchy and have some light brown areas.  You don’t want to overcook them and turn the outer shell brown, as this will cause the inner seed to overcook and not taste good.

 

Here is the finished pan, which is almost completely consumed.  Hey, if any of you have seeds you don’t want from your pumpkins, I’ll roast them!!!!

 

 

Seeds-Done

 

I hope you are enjoying your fall, and making some fun family memories of your own!

 

 

 

 

Making New Friends

We have been having so much fall fun that I’m going to have to insert an off-schedule blog post or two… I love fall!  I love the cooler weather and the routine that we have settled into with school and fall sports.  This last week has been a busy one for us, partly because we are making progress on finishing our basement – which is EXCITING!  but boy is it tiring too!  However, mixed in with all of that work we’ve found some time for some good old fall fun!

 

With the new school year, I have two kids in new classes, with lots of students and families that we don’t know at all!  I always contemplate the idea of a “mom’s coffee” or “back to school”  gathering at the beginning of the year to get to know the parents and kids.  However those gatherings seem like a lot of work, a lot of pressure, and lets’ be honest – sometimes they’re kinda uncomfortable for everyone!  As Addison’s room parent this year I felt some added pressure to build a sense of community with her classmates and their families.  In talking with a friend at a different school she mentioned the positive turnout she had received in hosting a gathering at a local park – very informal, she just supplied the treats.  I thought, great idea!!!!

 

So, last night I hosted a little informal gathering at our neighborhood park for my daughter’s class, and it was so much fun!  I thought I should share a little of the fun with you all – as I’m sure there will be some fall party planning going on in the next few weeks!

 

I started off with a very simple invitation…

 

 

 

 

I decided to forgo RSVP requests, and just go with the flow – which some of you know is a little against my character.  I didn’t want families to feel pressure to commit to coming in advance, and I wanted it to be informal – just a fun playdate at the park.   If you like the design of this invitation I have created a copy of this invite in Word that you can easily modify with your event details, and print yourself!

 

This template link will take you to the downloadable version – feel free to use it any way you like!  The document contains two per page, that you can simply cut it in half if you would like a small white border on the invite, or you can cut the margin and have a border-less invite. You can also have it printed at a copy center like Office Max for about $.50 a copy – which is $.25 an invite – not bad!

 

If you go to use the document and don’t have the cute font (Jenna Sue) you can go here to download it for free.  Once the font is installed on your computer you will be able to use it in all of your programs.  I love all the cool free fonts you can find!!!  If you don’t want to download the new font, you can always change it to one of your favorites!

 

Once the invitation was out I had to decide what my “sweet treat” would be that I had promised.  I was inspired by these super cute Rice Krispie treats a friend was making – and yes hers were this cute!
 

submitted by: Bright Ideas

source

 

 

However, once I was at the store I kinda chickened out on the idea of carefully placing that many M&M’s – there are 22 kids in my daughter’s class!  I also wasn’t sure how many extra I would have to make for siblings, since I hadn’t asked for RSVP’s.

 

So, I wandered the aisles of Walmart until I had a little inspiration!  Here is what I came up with…

 

I bought these cute little cupcake kits…

 

 

Cupcake-Cups---0299

 

 

…and some yummy “trail mix” type snacks.  I got pretzels, raisins, candy corn M&M’s (who knew those existed! but they are yummy!!!) and candy corn candies.

 

 

Snack-Supplies---0307

 

 

I filled up treat bags with 1-2 tablespoons of each item, tied them with a ribbon and the little pick (cupcake topper), and plopped the bag in the cute little pumpkin cup.

 

 

Individual-Snack---0314

 

 

Pretty cute, really simple, and super yummy!  This could easily be a kid involved activity for a school party too.  Kids could scoop their own snacks into the bag – kids think that is super fun for some odd reason!  Of course I made more than one….

 

 

Several-Snacks---0312

 

 

and here they are all lined up on my tray to take to the park…  I also loved how easy they were to transport, and that kids could carry their snack while they played without making a mess and needing napkins.

 

 

 

 

Lucky for us, the weather yesterday was amazingly gorgeous!  The kids had a fabulous time just playing on the playground and seeing their friends, but the party planner in me had to do a little more!  So, I wandered around Walmart  and got some strange looks when trying to find sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the middle of October.  I found them though!!!   I know bubbles and chalk aren’t genius – we’ve all used them as party favors and time fillers – but they are always popular, and don’t break the bank!   So here are the little favor bags…

 

 

 

 

Each bag had two pieces of sidewalk chalk, one bottle of bubbles and one glow stick.  I added a little tag to reduce the awkward confusion of who they were for, how many each family should take, if they were supposed to be opened at the party….

 

 

All-Favors---0370
For under $1 a kid these little bags added some “cute” to the plain park picnic table – I always like an atmosphere of festivity!  The bubbles and chalk were well played with, and a few kids were even at the park late enough to enjoy their glow sticks!

 

I also brought a drink tub with the promised juice boxes – nothing fancy, and some extra party mix in a big bowl with small cups for adults and siblings.  Overall it was easy to plan and totally inexpensive. Better yet – we got to meet a lot of new families that will be a part of our child’s daily life, and I’m pretty sure a bunch of little munchkins felt special. To me, that’s the joy of planning a party no matter how big or small!

Building or Remodeling? How to Design your Closets

In my last post I confessed that I’ve been hanging out in a lot of closets!  I know that sounds miserable to some of you, but I’ve still been working on more closets – having more fun!

 

I finally put the finishing touches on Jase’s closet this weekend, when my awesome hubby took the kids to the mall so I could have the house to myself for a couple of hours!  Isn’t it amazing what we can accomplish when we have the house to ourselves for even an hour or two!

 

My biggest challenge in this closet is that Jase gets clothes passed down from his brother several years before he’ll be wearing them.  Right now Jase is wearing 3T clothes, yet I have 4T – size 6 and even some size 7 clothes that Carter is done with.  I have paired the clothes down to the things I think Jase will actually use, but it still ends up being a TON of clothes … summer tops, shorts, winter tops, pants, pajamas, shoes, winter wear…!  I want all of these clothes to stay upstairs so that I don’t have to constantly haul bins up and down from the basement.  I also just don’t want all that stuff in the basement storage room, so I’m utilizing his canvas bins in his closet to store clothes by type and size.

 

Here is his closet now…

 

Full-View

 

These lower shelves have things I need regular access to, and items that he will need in the next season.  I have two shelves, with 4T clothes and pajamas on top and towels, pull-ups and sports gear on the bottom.

 

 

JAse---Side-Shelves

 
 

More white bins hold clothes that Jase won’t need for a year or two on his top shelf.

 
 

Jase---Top-Shelf

 
 

These are the super cheap canvas storage bins I’ve mentioned before from Michael’s.  They are part of the craft storage line and come in white and black.  They are just like the Closetmaid bins you get at Target, but they are less than half the cost!  At least once a month Michael’s puts their craft storage on sale and you can get these bins for $2.50-$3.00 depending on the sale.  The Closetmaid bins are at least $6.99 – if you find them on sale!

 
 


 

 

I do occasionally find the Closetmaid bins to be worth the extra money in places that the color is important to me.  For instance in Addison’s closet  – which is also a little playroom for her – I decided to spend the extra money on cute purple ones.  Let’s be honest – purple seems worth the extra money – how cute with a little pink label!  Navy blue on the other hand – not so much!  I’m pretty sure my boys could care less what color their bins are anyway.

 

By the way – the blue bins you see in the photos are a few I found as a set at Walgreens for crazy cheap about 6 years ago – and I’ve never seen them since. 🙁

 

Tucked in the back of the closet is one bin of sentimental items and one for size 6 clothes that didn’t fit on the top shelf.  I debated placing these clothes in his under-the-bed bag that he has.  However, I decided I would like to stay consistent with Addison’s layout and use the under-bed storage bag for items that I buy him in advance on sale or he gets as gifts.

 

So, that’s basically Jase’s closet  – he’s the unlucky 3rd child that doesn’t get a walk-in like the rest of us.  The fun part of his closet though is this Hot Wheels wall track – which I really just couldn’t bring myself to attach to the wall anywhere else in the house – even though it uses 3M strips.  I know, that is my slightly too OCD self that can’t lighten up and let him have his fun on the living room wall.  My hope is that letting him have it in his room will be a compromise and he won’t end up in therapy someday because his mom loved her living room too much to let him fully enjoy it. 🙂  But really, a toy free living room can be my saving sanity at the end of the day – that is if I have a bowl of ice cream and my hubby to enjoy it with!

 
 

Hot-Wheels

 

 

I’d like to walk you through one more recent project, where I helped another gal plan out her son’s closet at their new house – start to finish.  This is a task that many of us don’t ever have to do, but it can also be overwhelming.  You may think, “an empty room to get rid of all my closet issues – awesome!”.  But in reality an empty room still has challenges, and can be really overwhelming with all of our options in closets these days.  Here is the process of planning and implementing the new closet system….

 

1.)    We started out by talking through what items would be stored in the closet – this is SUPER important!  To begin, you have to think through everything you want room for whether you are starting with a blank slate or a closet that is jammed packed already.  For a typical child’s closet you will have clothes, a few shoes, toys, books, sports gear, and off-season or handed-down clothing items.

 

The extra challenge in a child’s room is that you want to stay flexible with the space, because the ginormous Batman cave will one day be gone and replaced with a  million might beans, baseball cards, Bakugans or other tiny and ever-multiplying objects!  Also, those cute little size 10 toddler shoes will one day be replaced by giant tennis shoes and space swallowing high tops.

 

2.    After we had an idea of what would be stored in his closet I began looking for various storage pieces to contain clutter, that would be durable over time, while still looking nice in the space, without breaking the bank. Tall order, right!!!

 

I began looking for a few container options that would be mostly functional, knowing they could be tucked away out of direct sight when looking into the closet from the bedroom.  Here are my favorites for that purpose…

 

    The Container Store – Clear Storage Bins

 

 

Michael’s – Storage Cube

 

 

The Container Store – Grey Storage Cube

 

 

KASSETT Box with lid IKEA Perfect for newspapers, photos or other memorabilia.

 

Ikea – Kassett Box

 

 

The Container Store – Graphite Storage Box

 

 

We also looked for a few containers that were cute, and maybe a little more expensive that we could use sparingly in the highly visible areas of the closet.

KVARNVIK Box with lid IKEA Perfect for newspapers, photos or other memorabilia.

 Ikea – Kvarnvik Box

 

 

Grey Oskar Boxes

 

The Container Store – Grey Oscar Boxes

 

 

3.  After selecting products that would meet their storage needs, we sat down and laid out the closet – you know the shelves vs. hanging vs. shoes storage vs. drawers…. kind of planning.

 

You may ask why we started looking for products before planning shelves, it might seem a little backwards.  However, regardless of whether  you are laying out a custom closet or assembling one from various pieces at your local home improvement store there are many configuration options for a closet that do not significantly effect the price.  Good, quality storage pieces in various sizes and colors are harder to come by.

 

For example, most closets in our homes have 12 inch shelves, which is great if you just plan to use them for books or to stack folded clothes.  However, most of our bedroom closets need storage to contain toys with small parts, extra clothes (off-season, wrong size), memorabilia, art supplies, bags…  However, outside of the 12×12 inch canvas bins out there, you can find very few 12 inch deep storage solutions that have any height or meaningful capacity.  You end up with 6inch tall bins and a ton of space on top of them, or 16 inch bins that hang over the edge of your shelf – neither option is ideal.

 

With this knowledge of 12 inch shelves I recommended that we broaden our storage options and go with mostly 16 inch shelves.  In some closets this might not be an option, but if you have room for 16 inch deep shelves they will multiply the amount of storage space you have, while only eating up 4 extra inches of space in your closet!

 

We also talked through shoe cubbies, vs. a shelf that shoes could be placed on.  I like to keep things flexible in a child’s closet, so we opted for basic shelves that were spaced very close together.  Right now her son has small feet and only needs 2 shelves for his shoes, however as he grows he may need more space.  Instead of committing to a number of shoe cubes now, they can simply add or remove shelves over time to accommodate changing shoe sizes.

 

I also suggested that we use storage bins instead of drawers.  I find that drawers can become bottomless pits of mismatched junk pretty easily.  They also have a very definite height, width and shape that can’t be altered.  By sticking with shelves and adding storage pieces they can use the shelf for the Batman cave now, and use a collection of smaller bins to store the baseball cards, mighty beans and small stuff in years to come.  I am all about flexibility in a child’s closet – and BONUS! shelves are cheaper than drawers!  You can even use bins to store socks, underwear and pajamas if you don’t have a dresser (which this little man does have).

 

Last, but not least we REALLY! contemplated how much long hanging a boy needs.  Every closet has long hang – right! – so you have to include it – right!  Girl’s need room for dresses and long skirts, but boys can just fold pants over a hanger and often don’t have anything long.  Our husband might have a suit they like to hang in the “long hang area” but how many boys living at home wear a suit every day – ok, let’s not go there!  🙂  So,  we decided to go against the grain and stick with strictly short hang – knowing that a shelf could be removed down the road if it ever became a problem.

 

Side note:  when you go to all the design centers and stores we often find ourselves working with awesome handyman types, that can build our shelves and install our shelves with ease.  By default they know closets better than the average person, so we just go with what everyone else has and what is “standard”.  I say – “think outside the box, do what works for you”.  What woman wants a man to design her closet anyway?!  Well, I’d let Nate Berkus or Peter Walsh design my closet, but I’m talking average men here!

 

 

4.   Next we got to sit back and wait for the closet to be installed and the containers to be delivered.  Here’s what we had decided on…

 

For storage boxes and bins we decided on…

 

 

These awesome clear bins from The Container Store…  (the same ones I have all over my house!)

 

 

These slightly cuter, but large capacity boxes from Ikea.

KASSETT Box with lid IKEA Perfect for newspapers, photos or other memorabilia.

 

And, BONUS! when selling their previous home we had used these boxes in her son’s old closet for “staging” and were able to utilize them as the “cute bins”.  No purchase necessary!

 

 

 

Our final closet plan contained two towers of 16 inch shelves, one tower of 12 inch shelves for folded clothes, two towers of short hang – providing 4 sections of short hang space.  With adjustable shelves we decided on extra shelves for flexibility, with no designated shoe racks or drawers.

 

 

5.  For layout… we placed one of the 16 inch towers of shelves directly inside the door, where you will see it from the bedroom when the door is open.  This set of shelves is the “cute” part of the closet with the nicer storage bins and a few cute books and toys – giving the closet some visual appeal.

 

 

Full-Sightline

 

 

The cute wooden boxes hold small toys.  The labels add a little style, and a lot of function – WIN! WIN!  A few good bedtime books are necessary to store, but look super cute with these decorative bookends (which his mom had bought as a souvenir for him on a trip a while back).  The shoes look great nicely lined up, and since his everyday shoes are in the mudroom they will likely stay that way.  However, they are strategically low to the floor – not in direct line of sight in case they get a little jumbled over time!

 

 

Cute-Stuff

 

 

We then placed one tower with 16 inch deep shelves in a “hidden location” to hide toys and provide “functional storage”. These are the clear bins that I love! Because they come in a variety of sizes you can contain a variety of things in one space, while keeping a cohesive look.  I also like the semi-transparent plastic because kids often times need to be able to see what is in their bins, but it hides the clutter just enough to make all those toys look less cluttered.  I also love that these bins are super durable and can take some serious wear and tear – I know because I’ve used them for years and never had one break!

 

 

16inch-Tower-Full

 
 

He has toys on the lower shelves, and room for future clothes or memorabilia storage on the higher shelves.

 

Between these toy bins and his “cute tower” is extra hanging space that he doesn’t currently need, but works great for storing some of those more bulky items that young kids have – like stuffed animals.  It works out well that while their clothes are small their toys are big, and as their clothes get big, their toys get small!  O.k. that sentence made me a little dizzy – sorry about that, but you get the point!!!

 

 

Stuffed-Animals

 

 

The other side of the closet, with the easiest access, was designed to be the “dressing area”.  There is a 12 inch deep tower of shelves for folded clothes and the largest section of hanging space.

 

 

Dressing

 

 

We also added an easy access space on the bottom for his art and “school” supplies.  These are not his main school items, but things he would want to use for art and learning play at his desk located just around the corner in his room. Again, the labels make the boxes a little cuter while making this storage system much easier to maintain.

 

 

Art

 

 

I love these plastic magazine files too!  You can add decorative paper to the inside to hid their contents, or just pop on a cute label to dress them up while keeping contents easily visible.  You can find them in the office aisle at Target for just $2.39 – you can’t beat that!!
The back of the closet door or a side wall is a great place for a few 3M hooks.  We used one to store small bags that might be grabbed in a hurry, but they are also good for hats, ribbons, sports medals….

 

 

3M

 
 

And the very top shelf that runs around the top of all of these shelves is a great place to store off-season clothes, memorabilia, and other items that you don’t need frequent access to.

 

 

Top-Shelf

 

 

This layout allows the closet to have “zones”.  Zones are good for several reasons.  It is easier for a child (and most adults!) to keep a space tidy if like items go with like items.  If toys are divided randomly into four different locations it can be hard to remember where they go back when it is time to pick up.  It is also easier to use a closet that has everything you might need at the same time in the same space.  One area of the closet holds clothes and shoes, meaning you can ignore toys in the morning and focus on getting dressed.

 

You can’t beat a closet that functions well, can grow with your kids and if I may say so… looks super cute!!!

 

 

Cute-Tower

 

And here is what you see from the door again…