Guys, remember when I had a professional organizer come to my house last week? Well, turns out I’m becoming a regular customer. Having Teresa in my house is like working through a zen meditation with a mindfulness master; when she leaves you feel calmer, more in control, and somehow like a better person than before.
That said, our project yesterday was a toughie (not the toughest to come – but perhaps toughest so far). We worked on my bedroom shelving unit and living room bookcase. Simple-sounding, perhaps, but you should know this: my (dear, lovely) fiance is a bit of a packrat, and moreover, has a hard time letting go of things (even objectively stupid things, like a cigarette-shaped figurine smoking an even tinier cigarette. Nope, not kidding.).
Add to that the fact that those stupid IKEA Expedit shelving units are a hoarder’s dream, with nooks and crannies aplenty just taunting you, begging you to cram your crap deep in its dark, shadowy shelves, never to be seen or dealt with again. Until yesterday.
We started with a 4×4 (16 “squares”) shelving unit, which seems like a lot of room until you realize it was spilling over onto our fireplace, in front of the unit, and even squished in the little side-panel area between the shelf and patio doors.
There were mismatched cardboard boxes, some plastic tubs (with and without fitting lids), a useless “file box,” and all sorts of muddled attempts at organizing the square behemoth (pencil cups, Tupperware, file folders in piles) that had, ultimately, failed. Teresa took one look at it and said this:
We gotta take it all out.
And she was right. Because the first step in organizing a unit like this, where there are sensitive documents among sentimental collectibles amid actual trash, is to see exactly what you’ve got and create functional piles. So we did. We went cube by cube, throwing away trash as necessary and organizing into distinct piles: office, party & wrapping, documents, cards & stationery, tools/hardware, and gifts.
Once the piles were made (and the trash ousted), we moved anything that didn’t fit in a separate area (for example, large pieces of framed artwork that weren’t yet hanging on a wall, stacks of misplaced books, very old tax and important documents) into the living room as the go-elsewhere pile – knowing full well that we had to put those things into their proper “elsewheres” before the project was over. Don’t be afraid to create a temporary messy pile. These things still had a nice, organized home in the end – it just wasn’t my cube shelf.
Finally, we organized the piles into workable little “stations” using cube-sized sturdy baskets, and placed the stations back into the cube where they could be easily accessed, but not visible. Now I know when I need to wrap a gift, I have wrap, tape, ribbons, and cards all within easy reach – one little basket – yet I don’t have to see those items spilling out over my bookcase.
Finally, we addressed the go-elsewhere pile, reorganized the living room bookcase (a crazy mess in itself – we got rid of 4 boxes of books plus have some room left over for new acquisitions) and made a plan for next time – this way, I can prep my Container Store and Overstock.com runs to maximize the time we need for our next big project (da-da-daaaa): THE CLOSETS. God help me.
For now? A quick peek into the next stage of our organizing project and an overview of my “shopping list” for max household efficiency:
- those amazing little velvet hangers, so everything in your closet looks uniform, and thin straps and silky shirts actually stay put on hangers
- clear sheet protectors for the recipe cards I am already accumulating from our recent foray into Blue Apron (full post coming soon!)
- one of those nifty greeting card storage boxes with the individual categories
- a storage ottoman so when we unmake the bed, we aren’t creating a veritable moat of pillows and throws around the bed
- a new minimalist desk so I don’t have to work from the freaking kitchen table; and
- shelf separators so my piles of workout pants and tops don’t collapse all over each other
What is on your shopping list for your well-organized home? What tips do you use to stay tidy around the house?