Monday, June 29, 2015

Tiny Tool Closet

This tiny tool closet had an organization system in place, but over time, the white wire shelving became a "dumping" ground for items that didn't have a designated place and the labeled drawers didn't match the contents within.  

And, the two household fuse boxes were virtually inaccessible behind these plastic drawer units!

Heavy items on top may collapse these drawers over time.
Lots of lightbulbs, but hard to get at.

It was quite frustrating for the homeowner to find what they needed, as items often didn't go back to their rightful place after use.  
 First we pulled everything out and sorted it to decide what would be kept in this closet and relocated/discarded the rest.  

I then created a different floor plan for the existing shelving and drawer units.  Instead of an L shape, I moved everything into a narrow U shape.  

This made everything in the closet accessible, including those important fuse boxes!

Behold the U Shape!
Let's take a tour!

Starting with the white wire shelf on the left:  The very top shelf is empty on purpose.  It's important to have a "landing place" to rest items before putting them away.  Also, if a family member doesn't know where to put something, it can go here, rather than buried in the wrong drawer.

Heavy tools (and lightbulbs!) are on the first shelf.  I love how the protected saw blade cover fits neatly inside the wires, when the saw is resting on the shelf.  

On the middle shelf, I consolidated all the lightbulbs by putting all the indoor lights in plastic totes so they are more protected. These totes are labeled for appliances, lamps, rooms etc.

The bottom shelf holds the red tool box and a box of ratchets.  The tool box has small tools like a hammer, screwdriver etc. to do minor repair.  The homeowner can easily fill it with items they need from the drawers or they can quickly grab it and go.

Against the wall are the plastic drawer units.

The contents of the drawers were shuffled depending on the quantity and sizes of the items that we sorted out.  Heavier items are in the bottom drawers.  Then the drawers were relabeled.  

Plastic drawers like this tend to warp and sag over time, and can become hard to shut, so it pays to be mindful of the weight that is kept in them as well as how much they are used.  For heavy use and heavy items, metal drawers are best, but are more expensive of course.  

On top is the little screw/nail cabinet and next to it in the red crate are all the outside floodlamps.

To the right of the plastic drawers on the floor, is a white tote with supplies for repairing screens.

Above the plastic drawers is the pegboard as it was before.  So handy for hanging up items.
No need to change what's working.

One more time...

This tool closet worked as it was, but now it is really functional!

Did anyone wonder what was in this black tote?
Electrical Cords - Brilliant!

What closet in your home contains items that you cannot readily find?  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Creating a Cozy Corner Library

All my life, I've wanted a library in my home.  I am a voracious reader and one favorite way to spend a day is curled up in a comfortable chair, thoroughly engrossed in a book, blissfully unaware of the time.

As a shy, introverted child, I had a hard time making friends, so I often escaped into books to pass the time. A good book is an old friend; one to return to and reread again and again.  

My husband loves books as well, so between us, we have a lot of books!

I've tried putting bookshelves in every room and separating my books by genre, but it was frustrating when I'd search for a particular book...which room was it in again?  

I felt my books really wanted to be together, all in one place; to be perused as a collection.  

This was my latest attempt at a home library...mismatched bookcases, piles of books that didn't fit on the shelves, games and photo albums, a table filled with scrapbooking supplies and a Papasan chair. And, a lot of my favorite books were in another room, on shelves in the basement!
A close up of the clutter
The bigger picture

First, all of the scrapbooking supplies were packed up and relocated and the table removed.  It's best when possible, to use a room for only one purpose or to declare separate zones.  The opposite half of this long narrow room has a desk for a home office space.

Scrapbooking overload

Then the sorting began...first by genre.

I removed the white bookcase, as it didn't match the others, and suffered a small injury when a shelf unexpectedly fell off.  When organizing, ask for help!

I donated 136 books that I no longer wanted - no joy lost there, and took another bag of books to a used bookstore and made a few $!

Then I sorted my books by color.  I've always dreamed of a color-coordinated library!

Ta-Dah!  All books sorted by genre and color.
I brought in the wing back chair from our living room, the antique lamp is from a bedroom and all the shelving matches better!  No piles, no games, no scrapbooking supplies. 

 Instead, a cozy corner library with all my books in one clutter free place. 
Now to find some pretty artwork, a small decorative rug and a vase of fresh flowers to finish off the space.

And look at all the bookmarks that were hiding in my books!   Bonus!

Where do you keep your favorite books?  Do you have them organized a particular way?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cleaning Up Arizona - Part I

My first real organization job happened quite by accident, although there are no accidents!

My mom lives outside a small town, 9 miles out on a dirt road in Arizona.  This quote seems to sum up why she enjoys life there so much.

"I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams."
                                                                                                                   ~Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

Except the something throbbing and gleaming on her beautiful piece of land, was this huge trailer filled with "STUFF".  Check out those wheels!  This baby was going nowhere fast.

Last year on a visit, I listened while she talked about how much she dreaded going through everything in this storage trailer and I saw first hand how overwhelmed and stuck she felt.  So, I hatched a plan to sort it all out with her.    

I may have used phrases like "It will be fun!" over and over and exuded a sense of confidence that belied the pressure that the plan had to be completed, start to finish in exactly 4 days. 

At any rate, I was convincing (and cute!), so we went to work.  

I'm going in!
The entire trailer was filled with decades of various hobbies, items of interests, memorabilia, photos, books (25 boxes!), household items and furniture that belonged not only to my mom but also to 4 other people.  

Now I have a rule that one should not organize anything for someone else unless one has permission...except that of the 4 other people, 3 are dead and the 4th is not to be found.   

Permission granted.

Step one.  Pull everything out, and I do mean everything. Over 100 boxes of everything.

Can you find my mom?
Step 2:  Sorting
My mom took on the task of wiping the gritty, desert dust off of things while I sorted into rows; the items that were saleable.  The smokin' burn barrel contains items that she discarded  (no trash service in the desert!)  and the truck?  

It's a dog's life.
The truck contained items we bagged up to drop off for donation and also specialty items that we sold to various stores such as musical instruments (3!) and deep sea fishing tackle.  
Deep sea fishing tackle in AZ?  I know...right?

We moved some things to a covered porch to sort in veritable comfort.

Itwas hot, it was dry, it was dusty.  We had a lot of laughs!  Whenever my mom asked me if she should keep something, I said "NO, take a picture of it".  We did not drink nearly enough water.   The wind may have have come up and blown some burning items out of the burn barrel...oh my.

After many, many trips to town to drop off donations, dropping off larger items  that needed to go to the dump, selling some items to specialty stores (cha-ching!) and neatly storing all the items for sale back in the trailer, (a garage sale is planned!),

this is all that was left. 

When I left to fly back home, she had just 10 boxes of photos left to sort.

 A few weeks later I received this photo....priceless.
Fun and Done!
Can't you just feel her exuberance?!  

Last week I received an email from her expressing her gratitude from our time together 16 months ago.

She writes, "I can't thank you enough for the inspiration you have brought into my life!  Getting me started on sorting out my stuff and bringing in Marie Kondo.  it really has been life changing for me.  I have always made do with things or Heaven help me if I got rid of anything before it was totally worn out.  It never mattered whether I actually liked it or not and joy never entered the picture.  I think I never felt worthy of surrounding myself with beautiful things and for most of my life unable (or so I thought) to afford those things.  I cannot believe how differently I feel now and how I look at everything in my life from a different point of view."

Thanks Mom.  This experience inspired me to start my business!

What items have you inherited that are taking up space and sapping energy from your life?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Two Ways to Follow Winnow & Spruce Organizing

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"The Broom"

What's Under Your Stairs?

Do you have one of those closets built under a stairway?  Often they are used for storage and can over time become a "black hole" for the homeowner.  

In this case, everything was pulled out and sorted - including to the right and around the corner from that file cabinet.

Good thing the homeowner found me a lantern to illuminate the space!

Usually there are quite a few items that are no longer needed, such as 5 bags of different types of tiling grout from when the home was built.  In the event a tile has to be replaced, the contractor will prefer to use fresh, new grout.

Some items I relocated such as this filing cabinet.  It was nearly inaccessible underneath the shelf, so it was moved to an office room and placed inside a closet, where it is much more likely to be used.

These cans of paint under the stairs were difficult to access (and see!) and a dried up spill was discovered as well. Uh-Oh!

I moved the paint cans completely out of that space and replaced them with boxes of tile, carpet tiles, and an extra piece of granite countertop.  These are items that the homeowner will rarely need to access (Knock on wood!).

I installed a stick-on LED light with a motion-sensor so that the space now lights up whenever someone is in there.  Let there be light!

With the construction materials to the right and stowed neatly under the stairs, I moved all the extra shelves from various closets in the home to be stored here in back of a few empty appliance boxes and a roll of carpet.  This now clear path was formally clogged with items.

These shelves were reorganized with room for garden chemical storage in the winter (top shelf), household cleaners (2nd shelf) and spray paint, glues etc. (3rd shelf).  Notice all the paint cans on the floor where they can easily be accessed?

The gray tote holds painting supplies.  I recommend putting one together to hold everything you need for quick touch ups as well as for painting a room.  Then the entire tote can be easily carried and moved to the painting area!

Next I put together an "Inventory" binder of everything that is located in this closet as well as a separate inventory of all the paint; including brand, color # & name, and room where that paint is located.  This makes matching paint colors later a cinch!

Finally a few hours later, the closet is all put back together with items that the homeowner needs and wants in the space, and everything is labeled, for easy access.  

The binders on the shelf hold all the instruction manuals and home warranties for the various systems in the home - electrical, plumbing, lighting, appliances etc.  When something breaks, having the manual handy makes for a much easier and time-saving fix.

      Before                                                                                             After
Oh!  Where can you find that handy light?
Light Angel

Do tell!  What's the most unusual item you've found under your stairs?