Do you have one place in your home that you would be completely embarassed for anyone to see? No? Well I do. And I'm about to show it to the world. Our basement is mostly finished, but there is one large room that is unfinished that has turned into our "catch all" room. It seems about every six months or so, I try to get it back into a somewhat organized manner, but a few months later it looks like this again. Now, I am very dilligent about only keeping the things we need and use, and I am quick to pass on things we no longer have a need for. So - why does it always end up looking like this?
Embarassing isn't it? The reason is gets all discombobulated (is that a word?) is because it's just not functional, obviously. This room is home to things we really actually use quite a bit, and also things we only use once a year, and even a few things that we don't use, like special baby clothes or items that we want to keep. The trick was to figure out how to make this room functional for all those things.
After quite a bit of thinking of how to get this room in order and KEEP it in order, I first had to figure out WHY it kept getting this way. The reason was mainly because of the storage bins that we kept everything in. We would stack them up on top of each other 4-6 high - and of course we would need something out of the one on the bottom and have to pull them all down and, of course, not take the time to stack them back up again. Here's a scenario - we have three girls, all five years apart - so we have A LOT of girls clothing and shoes that we hold on to and pass down. It's time to leave for church and littlest girl suddenly realizes her church shoes are too tight - run down to the storage room in my high heels and quickly locate the "shoe bin" which is at the bottom (of course!) of six storage bins, throw them all down in a fit of "we're gonna be late for Sunday school" rage and run out, slam the door, and thus begins the storage room melt down.
Obviously - the solution would be some shelving units to place the storage bins on so that each bin can easily be accessed. Now that I am in that wonderful time of year when photography business slows down and I can focus on addressing some big home projects - I decided January would be the month of the storage room. So - I made a trip to Lowe's to scope out what types of shelving systems would best work in our space and I decided on two different kind. For our really large bins I chose this steel shelving system. Each shelf holds 350 lbs and the shelves can be arranged at any height - perfect for different size and shapes storage bins which we already own. I also found some great heavy duty garage quality plastic shelving that works well for our smaller bins.
They were very easy to put together and required no tools. I was able to do all of them by myself. The door there to the right is the big storage room off of the finished basement, the door to the left is our laundry room (another post on that some time soon). One of the most painful parts of this project was having to pull EVERYTHING out of that room to be able to organize it. The twin mattrees here is waiting for littlest girl to use in her room after she outgrows her Ikea bed. We decided to store each piece under our bed and under Punkins bed for now - such a better use of space I think. Also because it often gets pulled out for sleepovers on the floor.
Hubby got to work going through TWENTY years of paper work. (Yes - we celebrate 20 years in March!) We had soooo many containers just full of paper work that we never took the time to shred because of personal information. This has become a full weekend project. We (me and the girls) are trying to convince hubby to have a big bonfire in the backyard tonight for all that paper work instead of sitting and having a shredding party. Also - this has made us consider a definite system for combatting the paper work organization issues which currently abide in our home.
And now - the new and improved storage room system!!!
The smaller shelving system here on the left is easily accessed and is mostly girls clothing. It is all organized by size and season. Summer - size 7, winter, size 10 - you get the picture. So now when momma gets a crazy idea like "Where is that sweet little Christmas dress that I loved so much that Hannah wore five years ago that would certainly fit Emily this year???" I can quickly locate it and the storage room doesn't end of looking like that first picture up there at the top. Also - on the bottom shelf there is a storage bin with each girls name on it. This is for paper work memorabilia. If they get a little award at school, or draw a picture they want to keep, or get an A+ on a spelling test - it now has a home. In a very easily accessed location. We had bins and bins FULL of those kinds of things that we sat down and went through paper by paper and sorted into the appropriate girls storage bin. This project was quite a trip down memory lane, we got all the girls involved in this step and they enjoyed it too.
I even took the time to go through my huge container of gift bags and toss any that I knew I wouldn't use, and sorted them by size and occasion, with all tissue paper in its own place. Now the girls or myself can quickly access them when needed - and I won't stop in the gift bag aisle at Target and purchase more JUST because I don't want to go digging through the storage room looking for them. You're welcome hubby.
The larger storage system on the far wall holds the heavier larger bins such as our huge container of girls shoes, the massive bin of school uniforms, all my home decor items, my collection of throw rugs, and all those baby items that I just can't part with.
Christmas time seems to be the worst wear and tear on the storage room, so we consolidated as much as possible and managed to get all of our Christmas decor into six storage bins and I stacked all of them separately in their own pile since I will be using them all at once and will never have a need to "get to the one on the bottom". I tucked them in the corner and they are only blocking the bins that I won't need access to, such as baby memorabilia.
Snow boots are on the shelf within easy reach - touch up paints are easily found now as well - and I ONLY keep the paint cans that are the colors currently on the walls for quick touch ups. All the luggage is stacked there in the corner.
Having a place for those things that I tell myself I will "get to" one day - like transferring all of our old home vidoes off of those little VHS type tape things? I don't even know what they are called.. one day...... and also I plan to bronze some of the girls baby shoes..... one day. And maybe even convince the hubs to sell some of those old baseball cards ....sothatwecanputthegirlsthroughcollege........ maybe one day.
All of our Christmas trees now have a permanent home (and don't get thrown across the room while looking for Sunday school shoes), and they are all stacked up on top of each other. How lovely. Ignore that computer monitor stack of stuff to the right there - it's all finding a new home.
And last but not least - a picture of our little costume corner. Of course, not everyone needs a costume corner, but our classical christian school is a little costume-crazed. We have costumes for every time period throughout history. Egyptian, medieval, renaissance, Greeks and Romans, Victorian, Indians, early American pioneer, and of course, even costumes from wonderful works of literature. So we have a great need for costumes here - and I LOVE that my girls can just pass these down, and of course they are often loaned out to friends in other grades. There are plenty of old dance recital costumes that get lots of play time as well. So - having access to those is important for us. And for some reason my girls LOVE those huge horses from Target that are the equivalent to the American Girl horses. I really, really dislike those horsies but the girls like to play with them, so they have their own home (where I don't have to see them too often).
Thinking through the needs of your family is critical for organizational success. Things like costumes and huge plastic horses - who knew?