Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Closet Chaos to Command Center!

Edited to add: Woo hoo! I can't believe I won 1st Place in the Small Category for the 28 Day Organizing Challenge! I am honored beyond belief! You can go check out all the winners here. Thanks Organizing Junkie for putting on a fabulous challenge!

If you are a visitor here, you might want to become a follower as I am now on a roll! I have tons more to organize and I'm planning to share it all along the way! I have had a lot questions/comments on my binder system so I'll be sharing what they are all about soon and you won't want to miss that!

Edited again to add: If you would like to read and have a sneak peek inside my binders,go here for Part 1 of a 5 Part Series of "Binders Can Organize Your Life."

At the beginning of the year, I decided that I this would be the year for me to totally organize and declutter this house.

Ya, right! It hasn't gone so good. It's just seems too overwhelming and not fun! I just kept telling myself that I promise to start tomorrow. Well before I knew it, the month of January was gone!

So. February began and I read on Laura's blog, The Organizing Junkie, that she was holding a 28 Day Organizing Challenge competition sort of thing in the month of February. Well. This sounded like it was up my alley AND THEN...I read the prizes. Wooo hooo! She's got some great stuff for prizes so I decided to get my hiney in gear and get to it!

You could either do a whole room or a small space and since this is the first step to my 2010 goal, I decided to do a small space. Anyway. I love the the first places prizes in that category so I set my eyes on it and never looked back!

Okay...on to my space even though I can't believe I'm showing you the before! It's embarrassing!

This is our hall coat closet. As you can see I tried having some sort of organization to it but then everything went to you know where in a hand basket...and fast! It became a dumping ground for anything and EVERYTHING! We live in a townhouse with not a lot of storage so real estate is very valuable. Silly me was using some very valuable space to store...okay hide stuff!

One of the stresses of my daily life was/is where to put everything in our home...especially things that we need on a daily or weekly basis. I used to stash it in any nook and cranny I could find and it stressed me to not have it organized. I decided that since we didn't use the hall coat closet as it was intended, I would think outside the box and utilize the very valuable space for something we could use and make our lives easier.

So without further ado, I introduce to you our newly converted hall coat closet now known as

The top half:

The original closet had a top shelf and a half shelf on the bottom. I added (okay Curtis added but it was my idea) two more shelves. I also had put this bookshelf in it previously but it become a catch-all and then I put stuff in front of it so what good did that do? None!

The bottom half:

Let me take you on a tour and share with you my thought process.

I added this shoe holder thingy so now we don't have a ton of shoes by the door in a big pile. I got it at Target and it has little pockets on the top where I put the extra shoelaces for Allison's shoes. That canvas bag hanging off of one of the hooks holds Allison's Brownie books. I had bought it months ago but just found it in the mess of the before closet. I am going to fabric paint it with something pretty on it for her.

The bottom half of the shoe organizer. Yes. I have pink Crocs! I wear them around the house outside!

The top shelf holds three bins. These plastic bins used to go in on of those three drawer rolling cart things. I hated that thing! The drawers always stuck and when I would pull to open it the whole dang thing rolled towards me! The left one holds paper and notebooks (which I found so many when I cleaned out the closet...if you don't know what you have you just keep buying), the middle one holds hats and scarves and the one to the right holds cookbooks and recipes. The cookbooks are the little ones I've picked up over the years from churches and other organizations. I also put all of my not-yet-tried recipes that I tear out of magazines or print off from the Internet.

The second shelf down holds all of our family games. Allison is starting to grow out of some of the games so my plan is as she gets new ones, old ones will go bye-bye! I will keep our number of games to how many fit on the shelf.

This is the third shelf down and it holds mostly office supplies. Starting with the left 3 drawer unit...top drawer holds miscellaneous stuff (odds and ends that I don't know what to do with), middle drawer holds banking stuff and the bottom drawer holds markers, highlighters, dry erase markers. The middle 3 drawer unit...top holds envelopes & stamps, middle holds index cards and labels and bottom drawer holds pens, pencils & erasers. The right 3 drawer unit...the top holds adhesives, the middle holds paper clips, staples & such (rubber bands, binder clips, etc.) and the bottom drawer holds batteries.

To the left of the drawer units are two folders...one pink and one blue. They hold the medical records for both of our cats...pink for the girl and blue for the boy. :) To the right of the drawer units are large mailing envelopes and the padded ones are on top of the right drawer unit. I also have our postal scale on top too. I'll explain the letter tray a little later.

The half shelf underneath holds my paper shredder, my purple flowered card organizer box, a plastic shoe box with my blank notes and thank you cards and on top of that is my coupon organizer.

Starting with the top of the wooden bookshelf, the white basket holds my GPS and next to that is our phone book with our address book on top and next to that is my favorite organizing tool...my P-Touch label maker. I couldn't live without her...she's so special to me! The first shelf holds more office supplies (file folders, extra envelopes, ink cartridges, index dividers, etc.), the middle shelf holds all of my binders (I'll talk about that later), and the bottom shelf holds more office supplies in the red basket, computer discs and cds in the wicker basket and behind the wicker basket is my Christmas cards for this year since I got them on clearance last year! The two file boxes to the right are for items that we need to hold on to for either legal or business reasons. These are still a work in progress since you can see the bottom one is empty. On top of them are our lunch bag/coolers. I put them on there because it makes the flat surface of the file box unavailable to stack stuff on top. This is a major problem for me. If there is a flat surface, I'll place something on top!

This view is of the right hand side of the closet. The organizer is for my sweetie's mail and stuff so he knows where to find it and it doesn't bother me that it's laying around. In the bottom slot is a plastic check organizer thingy. Curtis does all the repairs to our vehicles and this is where he keeps all the receipts. It comes in handy when something has a lifetime warranty.

This is the left side. As you can see, I have an organizer thing too. In the top I put notes or items that I need to finish or do something with and in the bottom is our church envelopes and already addressed envelopes for a bill I need to send out monthly. Above the organizer is a tiny bulletin board where I put gift cards/certificates, restaurant coupons and such. Above that, is some picture hooks for our spare keys.

At the bottom of the left side is a large Tupperware container with cat food. I have a plastic cereal pourer in the kitchen for a manageable amount of cat food but this holds the extra since I buy the big bag. As you can see, I now have a place for my purse...and it also eliminates the flat surface of the container. I used to just throw my purse on the stairs or on the back of a chair but I love this so much better!

Now on to my binders! I have to say that I LOVE these! I'm a ripper and printer. If I see something I like in a magazine, I rip it out or if I see something online I like, I print it out. I used to put those items in a filing cabinet that I used to have in the basement. I would put my important papers in it along with craft ideas, recipes and such. The truth is, I NEVER looked at those items again after I filed them...that's if those items didn't end up in a box somewhere before they made it to the filing cabinet. So. I decided to put together these binders for each subject and they have helped me immensely! I have 2 for warranties and manuals because 1 would be too big and heavy. They are filled with sheet protectors so if we need to find a manual, it's easy to look through it. Some of the other ones are: my Christmas Planner, Holiday Ideas, Crafts Gifts & Tips, Girl Scouts, Catechism, Decorating Ideas, My Recipes, Home Management Binder and my Financial Budget Binder where I keep track of all of our expenses and bills.

I made them fun with pretty pictures I found on Google Images.

Follow me, I'll let you peek inside one.
This is my Decorating Ideas binder.

I have index dividers for every room of the house...kitchen, dining room, entrance, living, garden, etc. When I found something I like, I glue it on a piece of copy paper and write a note or two of what stood out about it to me or what I liked about it but would do differently. Having everything in these binder make things so much easier for me. I am more likely to leaf through a binder than go through a bunch of papers in a filing cabinet. I have to be honest here. I do have a stack of stuff that needs to go in some of these binders...it's that flat surface disease I have! So with the newly organized Command Center, I thought I better come up with a plan on how to handle those items...

...and here's my plan! See, I told you previously that I would get to the letter tray! Yes. This is my plan. I plan to put those ripped out items in this letter tray. On Sunday nights while I'm watching Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters, I plan to empty the tray and put the items in the binders. I'm hoping this will keep me organized and in turn keep me from falling asleep and missing my programs...like I always seem to do!

I hope you all enjoyed the little tour...okay long tour of our new Command Center. It feels amazing to have it completed! I keep walking past it and just opening to the door to take a look ... it gives me a little organizing high!

Now to finish up the challenge I have to answer the following five questions.
So here it goes...

1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?

Finally doing it! I have planned on somehow organizing this closet since the end of 2007! I started a couple of times and got overwhelmed so I just shut the door and went about my day. You know...the out of sight out of mind thing. Don't get me wrong, I was still overwhelmed when I started it this time but it was either now or never so I pushed through. Yes, I think I overcame the hardest part even though I was having doubts. It helped to have a deadline and the possibility of some great rewards!

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?

I think I pretty much detailed the answer to this question above but to recap: I think the first important thing that I did was take the time to think this through. I thought about my problems and found solutions to them. For example: I eliminated flat surfaces to help cure my "flat surface disease," I gave my sweetie his own space to keep his mail and notes, I made a place for everything and labeled those places so my family knows where things go. I created the binders to help me keep my papers and items organized without throwing them into a filing cabinet or box...never to be seen again. By having everything in there having an assigned space, it has been easier to keep it from being a dumping ground and everyone in the house can now put things away too because they know where they go!

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

A lot of it needed to go to it's own place in the house since we dumped a lot in there. A lot of it was trash and was thrown out...my sweetie asked where the big bag of trash by the front door came from and when I told him the closet, he was very pleased. Little did he know it was the second bag I got out of the closet! I kept enough office supplies to last us a while and all that could fit into the containers. The rest I'm donating to our church's religious education office when I take Allison to C.C.D. this Sunday. I have some binders leftover that I'm going to share with my BFF so she can get a little more organized too. The big item(s) that needed a home were the coats. I put two brass coat hooks on the back of the front door years ago and we seem to use those for our coats of the season. So basically the coats that we kept in the closet were off season. I moved those to the bottom of our basement stairs where there is a clothes bar.

4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries?

The big thing was adding the two white shelves in the middle of the back closet wall. It made the dead space useable. Another storage solution was the mail sorters on either side of the closet. The space was small but I knew I could use it to it's maximum potential. The last big one was the binders. They may take up more space than a file in a filing cabinet but now I am able to reference or use the items in them with ease.

5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?

I think all of the participants deserve to win a reward for actually organizing something. It's not a fun job! Hmm, I don't know that I should win it as I haven't see the other entries. Maybe someone did something amazing. I don't know. But I will tell you this...I worked the hardest I could on this challenge and in all honesty it was because of the prizes available. So, let me say THANK YOU for the motivation and please, please, please award me first prize! No really, sorry for the graveling. I just felt like Susan Lucci begging for the Emmy! I think I should win this challenge because I worked towards it. I used your guidelines and suggestions to create a place that gives me peace when I open the door...not a panic attack!

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Amber said...

Great job Cindi! I am so inspired by your binder idea, especially for the manuals. Mine all reside in the kitchen junk drawer, which is unfortunately not the space I chose to re-organize. Thanks for the inspiration!

Brandie said...

I adore the idea of the command center! I also love that you hung organizers on the inside of the closet where you can use them! I'm definitely going to have to transform our closet into a command center!

Benita said...

Wow, what a transformation! You're inspiring me to get busy organizing! I hope you win....good luck!

The Saved Quarter said...

I love your decorating ideas binder!

~SandyDinNC said...

That looks AMAZING!! You did a GREAT job!!!! LOVE IT!!!!!
Let us know if you win!

Holly T. said...

Very impressive and inspiring! You have given me some great ideas to tackle a closet disaster in my house. Great job!!!

Jessi said...

Gotta love the label maker! That's a closet to be proud of!

Sandy said...

Hi Cindi,
You score a ten out of ten for re-organizing your small closet! I can't believe all that you have in the closet and so well organized now. Great job! PS - I have several closets here that could use your touch! LOL!

Teacup Lane (Sandy)

Katie said...

This looks absolutely fantastic! Nice job! I love that you used those drawers outside of the wheel cart. I feel the same way you do about those.I have a ton of those drawers in my large space i did and can't wait until I can afford another style storage unit.

More Than A Mom said...

You did a fabulous job. I hear you about if there is a clear surface stuff gets put on top - that is my kids and my husband who do that ... personally I can't stand the clutter! You'd think that after 7+ years together that my husband would realize that if he doesn't put his stuff away in a reasonable amount of time that I will either put it away in a big pile or throw it out.

Fabuleslie said...

OoooO! I love this transformation! It's inspiring. I especially like to see the 3-ring binders, and your use of them to get organized. I am a teacher and have too much stuff. To make matters worse I live in a tiny, 400-square-foot condo which is overflowing with 'stuff.' On my quest to become a minimalist, I will have to come back to your inspirational story! Thanks.

Karen said...

I love your closet! Makes me wish I had one just like it... hmmm... maybe I do! Thanks for the inspiration and congratulations on winning!

Amy said...

I love what you did. It looks amazing and is so functional too. I especially love your binders. What a smart, smart idea. I think I may have to copy you on that one.

Thanks for sharing!

Pine Tree Home said...

Such a great idea to use those binders. They were perfect for school work, why not every day life?!!

Thanks for sharing.

Jen Gillespie said...

I found your post from org junkie! Congrats. But I am dying to see the inside/descriptions of your other binders. This is so inspirational! We are moving and when we get set up in the new house I would love to organize everything like this while I unpack...I just need a little direction. I'm not very creative at coming up with ideas, but I'm great at copying them!

Brandie said...

Congrats on the win! My husband "picked you" to go the distance! LOL And you did! :)

Rana said...

Congrats on winning!

mom1093 said...

Congrats on your win! I am loving your organization, now I know what to do with my closet. I wish my binders were as organized.

"Intentionally Katie" said...

This is AMAZING!!!

Kari's Cupcakes said...

Great job! I never thought of using my hall closet in this way- might not be a bad idea for me.

A Peaceful Place said...

WOW!!!!!!!!! This is an amazing transformation!!! Want to come do my house? LOL!!! Thank you for sharing the before and after pictures!! I couldn't believe the difference!! You really put a lot of hard work and thought into this! I love your binder idea! I too pull out magazine articles, etc and they end up in a file cabinet!! I am going to use your binder idea and I am going to share this blog post with my friends!! AMAZING!!! Keep up the great work! I look forward to more successful organizing pictures and blogs from you!! :)


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