Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Latest Home Organization Project- Walk In Storage Closet

Recently, through an online website for organizers called, I was contacted by a couple to help them get organized. They were accustomed to living alone in their home until unforeseen circumstances caused them to have a few more people living with them for a period of time.

We all know what the addition of children can bring to a home when it comes to organization!! If systems are not set in place, there is no more organization. Even when systems are in place, sometimes we just become so busy with caring for the family that organization is the last thing on our minds and is always a thing we will eventually tackle from the bottom of our TO DO list.

What is important to realize is that being organized first can make taking care of the family a little easier, can save us time and can cause less anxiety for ourselves and the rest of the family.

Project Goal: Organize a large walk in storage closet so the husband of the home could claim the space again as rightfully his

The Space: Located in the back hallway, this closet included two parts. Clothing bars and built-in drawers and shelving in the front and a small laundry room with a built-in cabinet and counter top in the back. The back space is not being used as a laundry room so the space was re-purposed as extra storage.

The Process: Clear the clutter (including kids' toys) so the homeowner could use the space for a closet; put items in a better space if not stored in the closet; organize all of the homeowner's seasonal items and gift giving supplies in the back space of the closet

As you can see from the BEFORE photo above, the closet was a space for whatever didn't have a space in another area of the home. My goal was to make the space usable again. The best thing about this project were the built-ins. It isn't often that people have systems like this at their disposal. This made my job a little easier! Who wouldn't want a space like this in their home?



Step 1: Clear the closet one space at a time

I tackled this project with time in mind. I wanted to finish in 3-4 hours since that was the time the homeowners had available.  I began in the back room and worked my way forward. My main tools included trash bags, a step stool, and two Tupperware bins. 

My goal in the beginning was not to find a place for items but to get rid of the items that would not be in the space when I was finished. But, as I worked, I kept thinking of placement for the items when the clutter was cleared- the end result was already in my mind. 

Step 2: Put items back in place

Before the project was started, a discussion with the homeowner was had to determine the use for the space. The lady of the house wanted her gift giving supplies such as tissue paper and gift bags along with her goody bag supplies (for charity work) stored here. She also needed to store additional presents bought throughout the year for Christmas stockings and grandchildren stored here. By the end of the process, we decided that seasonal table decor could also be stored here. 

The man of the house was not concerned with this back space as long as he had his closet back for his clothes and would no longer need to share a closet with his wife. 

Step 3: The Final Product 

This space is a work in progress. When I return to the home to organize the laundry room and kitchen, this space will have more in it like the seasonal items. But, for now, the space is ready to be filled. 

The Built Ins ready to be filled 
This cabinet was used for seasonal presents such as Valentine's Gifts, Gifts for Wedding Showers, etc. 

Gifts for Christmas and Grandkids

Gift Bags for Christmas (TOP) and Birthday (BOTTOM)

Gifts for Valentine's Day (TOP) and General Use (BOTTOM) 

Tissue Paper for Christmas (LEFT) and Tissue Paper for other presents (RIGHT) 
As I worked, the Homeowners assisted by going through very small piles of paperwork or items that I would find. They were looking at items to see if they could be tossed, moved to a better location or given away. This was a huge help to me because it made the job go faster.

In the end, I labeled sticky notes with what was in each space and gave the homeowners a "Tour." They were very pleased with the end results and the man of the house was very excited that he would not have anyone else's things in his closet.

The homeowner's also commented that they didn't know how it got to be this way. "Easy," I said, "Life got busy and this was the easiest spot to put things that didn't have a home."

Lesson from this organization project- If an item doesn't have a home, it becomes unwanted clutter.

When organizing a large space or even a small space such as this, you need to begin with the end in mind and assign categories to piles of items as you go through them.

Put in a better place

The first three are self explanatory, but the fourth is one people do not think about very often. Begin organized is a great way to save time, but items need to be organized where they are needed. For example, this homeowner loves to decorate for each season with table clothes and other items. These items are perfect to be stored in this back closet. So, the next time I visit the client's home to help organize her kitchen, I will take the seasonal items from her kitchen and place them in this storage closet. That will help free up much needed space in her kitchen!!

Laying bags flat in a cabinet is not the ideal storage solution for gift bags, but we wanted to use what the homeowners already had in place. The largest gift bag was used to hold all of the smaller ones and was laid down so the homeowner could pull the bags out when she needed them.

Stay tuned for my next post on solutions for storing gift wrap and gift bags.