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Garage Revisited

This weekend I went back to the garage that I previously tried to empty. This time around it was the garage's turn to get organized.

It seemed like a huge project, but it was really only a re-zoning one. The pictures don't show a huge difference but believe me, there was one.

Things I learned this time around:

1. I LOVE peg boards.


Pegboard BEFORE


Pegboard AFTER

2. I (still) HATE paper




AFTER (the paper is all in the boxes underneath the shelving)

3. If you move 7 people 2,000 miles, it will take you a year to get rid of the boxes.


Main part of the garage BEFORE


Main part of the garage AFTER


3rd car part of the garage BEFORE


3rd car part of the garage AFTER

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Welcome to Organizing Orientation

A friend of mine has been patiently waiting for me to come and assist her with organizing. She moved into a condo 3 weeks ago, and was very excited when I was able to come yesterday. We spent 9 hours organizing, moving furniture, unpacking boxes, and decorating. The results are amazing.

I've decided that this post is going to be about the placement of furniture. That seemed to make the biggest differences out of all our efforts.

When we move, we often place furniture in the same or similar spot as what we have done before. Sometimes this works. More often, it causes problems because of a difference in size, shape, and function of the rooms. Having a fresh pair of eyes to give you ideas in the placement of furniture in a new space can aid in the overall organization of your rooms. Allow me to be your eyes, and give you some new ways to think about placing furniture.

1 - When you put all of your furniture up against the walls, it gives the illusion that you have less space

Our eyes take in the empty spaces of a room just as well as the filled. When there is only 1 open area, it seems as if there is no other available space. For this instance, we'll use the home owner's daughter's room.

Like any little girl, she had lots of toys and accessories. With her bed pushed up to the back wall, and her play kitchen taking up the rest of the space, the only open area was the middle of the floor. When you walk into her door, your eye gets drawn to her bed and the back wall. It seems as if the open area is the actual size of the room. The furniture has become an extension of the walls.

We decided to move her bed perpendicular to its present position. This now created 2 play areas on either side. The homeowner told me she was considering removing the closet doors and asked my opinion. Since I have taken down all the sliding doors in my house, I agreed. This gave her daughter yet another space to play. So now, just by moving the biggest piece of furniture in the room, she went from 1 space to 3.





2 - Factor in the size, shape, and assets of a room.

I'm just odd enough to notice odd things. I once noticed that if a room was longer than it is wider, and you vacuumed perpendicular to the length, it seems to shorten the room. But if you vacuum with the length, it draws attention to the extra size of the room. The same is true with mowing lawns. I use this seemingly useless knowledge to help me in the placing of furniture so as to emphasize the assets of a room and not hide them.
The home owner's dining room had not yet been set up. She had a table, but had not yet moved it away from the wall. Typically in this sort of room, you put the table parallel with the back wall. I pointed out to her, that if we made it perpendicular to the back wall, it gave the room more depth. What I hadn't really noticed at the time, is that it almost mirrors the effect of a wall. Because her dining area is open to her living room and office, this little trick makes the dining room seem like a completely separate area. That gave her the semblance of having an additional room of the house.





3 - Think outside of the box.

This has lots of different meanings, but I'll explain mine.

In the home owner's bedroom, she had a TV/VCR combo. The VHS cases tended to become strewn about the room. I suggested that she use the drawers of a bench to house the tapes. I'm not implying that this will inspire her daughter to put the cases and movies away....but, when she comes into her room after her daughter, she will be able to put the cases back in their drawer and eliminate the mess. She didn't need to buy another piece of organizing equipment for her problem because we were able to rethink an item she already owned.

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4 - Sometimes the biggest problems can have the best solutions.

We worked so well together, that we got TONS accomplished, and rarely disagreed. It was so fun to work with someone who had the same kind of vision and was not afraid to experiment. BUT, during the course of the day we did have one headache.
The homeowner had recently lived in a bigger space. While we were making great headway placing items around her new place, it still seemed as if she owned too much furniture. Like most of us, all of the misplaced furniture had found its home in her room, crowding her out. We found a little red coffee table in her master closet that worked beautifully in her already decorated living room. We had found places for an end table, bookshelf, and a quilt rack.
Towards the end of our day, we had accomplished so much. Just at that peak moment, when you can maybe see the light at the end of the tunnel....we hit a WALL. The wall was called: sewing table. It was a beautiful sewing table, but there was just no room for it in the bedroom. Her room was turning out gorgeous, but it still felt crowded with the sewing table in it. We had already organized and decorated the kitchen, but we tried to fit it in there anyway. No go.
So then, I thought maybe we could use it as an extension to her desk....but that would have made her feel trapped, and it would've been the first thing anyone saw as they entered her condo. It seemed helpless. We were stuck. She plugged along, and I sat and thought, and thought, and thought. I brought out a measuring tape hoping to find some wonderful spot for it, but it just wouldn't fit. Then...after much pondering, I had an idea. I asked my friend if we could use her sewing table as a sofa table.
We tried it, and Hallelujah!! it fit. We started to decorate it, and it turned out to be a wonderful spot for all of her treasured pictures of her family. It really is a gorgeous focal piece to the room.
She also hated the fact that there was no mantel, and the clock seemed to be hung too high, but we found a cute "imagine" sculpture that fit perfectly over the fireplace and took up the room between the fireplace and the clock.



I'll leave you with one last tip:
When you make the house look this good, there is one more thing you MUST do.
Go out to eat and reward yourself. :)

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Movin on Up!

You'll have to excuse the photos on this one...there really was no way to photograph all the work that was done....so there's not a startling difference this time, but there was a very BIG difference made.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to help a friend with organizing. She is a new homeowner, has been in her home for a few months, and has been asking for my help. When I arrived, I asked where we should start and she didn't know. She was so overwhelmed (here I should mention she has 5 children under the age of 7 and her husband is deployed) that she didn't know where to start.

As I had her catalog what problems she was having, I could see a difference in her expression when she said that she hadn't even finished moving all of their belongings into their house....so I thought that HERE is where we should start.


This is a section of the garage before....we focused our efforts on the line of boxes that starts just behind the green cooler in the foreground.


Here is an after shot of the garage....there is still a lot more to go, but if you can tell there is a lot fewer boxes in this shot than the one before. I figured later that we had unpacked 10 large boxes and 7 totes.

So this blog post will be about the best way to move-in or unpack boxes.

I always like to have what I call a "staging area"...this is a place that is already cleared out where you can spread your items to the four corners. In this case, we took all of the boxes from the garage to the living room.

Once all of the boxes were inside, we designated zones. Most of the boxes contained the kids' clothing, toys, and some memorabilia....so these were our zones. The boxes that contained all of the SAME item got moved to the appropriate zone, and those miscellaneous boxes (that we all seem to pack once we're sick of packing boxes) got unpacked into one of the zones.

I also like to set aside a pile for organizing items that you may already have like: the totes you empty out, baskets, boxes, and cute decorative items that can double as storage. This makes it easier to find when you're ready to put things away.


Here is a pic of the living room sectioned into zones...the left wall was clothes, the back wall was toys, and in the foreground was memorabilia. (the small pile in the center before the half wall and door is the organizing items pile)


And here is the living room after 8 hours of our most dedicated sorting/putting away efforts.

So how did we do it?

We tackled the zones one at a time. Memorabilia didn't really need to be sorted, just found a place inside of the house. I knew that the funnest zone would be toys, so we forced ourselves to sort clothes first.

The best and easiest way that I've found when sorting giant boxes, totes, or even drawers is just to DUMP IT. Clear a spot, dump the box, and then dive in. The homeowner made decisions on which clothes to keep and give away....and we put them away accordingly. Then we did the same with the toys.

The most important thing is to keep at it. Focus on the progress that you have made, and maybe even reward yourself when you're through. (and when all else fails call a friend like me..*smiles*)


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I'm a stay-at-home mom of 3 who likes to organize, craft, & read (among other things)