A long time ago, I decided the only way I could save my sanity was to completely ignore the state or our garage (in this house or any other). I’ve been known to open the door and just throw whatever is offending me at the moment into the great, dark abyss. Add five kids’ worth of riding toys, my husband’s stuff and my project/paint supplies. . . It was nothing to behold—and time for some professional help.
As I mentioned in a previous post, this house has no drop-zone, so everything was landing in a pile in our kitchen floor. When I first talked to Jennifer of Pure & Simple Organizing about helping us, I told her I was hoping to make better use of this wall by the garage door. In a day, she helped me transform this area into a makeshift mudroom:
No more coats, backpacks or shoes in the kitchen. Hallelujah!
Before she came over, I sent her pictures and we did a phone consultation. She emailed me a shopping list for supplies, most of which I was able to knock out in one IKEA trip. The main things I bought for the update were bins for shoes, a bench seat/shelf and hooks for coats. (I bought the board to hang them on from the home improvement store and painted it white.) I was also able to use a vintage grocery store sign that I’ve had in my stash for a while. You know, just for decoration. . .
By the way, I love these Hemnes hooks from IKEA. So much sturdier than what I’ve previously used for coats:
I used chalkboard paint on the area under the hooks. I just didn’t tell the kids yet. . . I thought it might be a fun place for them to play school in the summer.
Jennifer also helped me organize our big IKEA bookcase better, so that we could actually find what we needed. To say that we weren’t using our space wisely is an understatement. I was embarrassed when she found a glass jar full of old TV remotes (really?!). She was great at helping me get rid of the excess quickly. Once she was done with the shelves, I had leftover space for extra household supplies and can now easily find any one of our 174 screwdrivers that we didn’t know we had.
(The galvanized bins are from here.)
So, the big question: Is the newly organized space actually working for us? Amazingly, yes! Now, I won’t promise that it’s always the kids who are actually hanging up their backpacks and coats, but there is a space for everything (even if I’m the one who has to put it there). It has also 95% improved our (never-ending) search for lost shoes.
As for all of the riding toys, they’re still there, but we were able to group them in the center of the garage once all of the other stuff was put away. The kids have been using the big circle as a skating rink. #cheapentertainment
During our day together, I picked Jennifer’s brain for her best organizing advice:
Make a decision, and never touch an item more than twice. This might be where she helped me most. She wouldn’t let me move something over to another spot to “deal with it later.” I had to make a decision right then and there, and do something about it. This was great because there were no small jobs still hanging over my head once the main project was finished.
Buy your organizing bins/baskets/supplies after you start organizing. She said a lot of people (ahem, “me”) start their organizing projects by going to the store and buying a lot of storage they may not even need. Instead, they often lose motivation after the buying trip and end up just stacking the bins and baskets away for another day. . . (Been there, done that.)
Buy your organizing bins at stores that carry the same inventory most of the time. She suggests sticking with The Home Depot or Lowe’s instead of stores like Target that change up their products more seasonally or with changing trends. This makes it easier to go back months down the road, if you need more.
Label everything—so there’s no excuse for not knowing where something goes.
Organization means organized—not (necessarily) pretty. Jennifer had to remind me of this several times throughout the day. I would be worrying about how everything looked instead of how it would function. She would tell me, “It’s the garage, and it’s suppose to look like one.” :)
Poor girl also tackled my spray paint cabinet. Bless her.
Charlotte friends, if you need any kind of organizing help, I highly recommend Jennifer. We initially met through our blogs, and I was a little apprehensive about showing her our mess. But, she is honestly so down-to-earth and unintimidating. Messes don’t phase her; in fact, I think they kind of excite her. . . Also, in case you’re wondering about pricing, she charges by the hour, and you choose how long you want the session to last (minimum of two, maximum of six). Additionally, she also offers trash removal, donation drop-off and organizing supply shopping services. (Oh, and she also runs an estate sale company. Busy girl!)
Here’s to staying organized in 2016! Any projects on your list for the new year?
PS—I’ll be posting links to some of my favorite 2015 posts over on Facebook today and tomorrow.