Monday, April 09, 2012

Inspiration: Organization

So glad to be getting back to my normal routine! Easter was nice, but I'm very glad to be getting back in the swing of things already this Monday morning.

I was listening to the radio the other morning and someone asked a question about what the listeners were "in to" right now...meaning, what are we obsessed with, focused on, choosing to spend our time on, etc. Right away, my answer was organization!

Before I met my husband, I was very in to having everything in it's place. I was never what you'd call a neat freak, but things were definitely more organized in my life. Since having another person to live with, that hasn't been going very well {on either of our sides}. We just haven't been focused on finding an organizational system that works with our house and is easy to use and fits in with our busy schedule. I'm craving something like that for our new house and have grand plans in my head, so I thought I'd share some inspiration with you today.

Practical Storage & Organization

There are a few things in my life that I'm never quite sure what to do with. Curling irons & straighteners are 2 of those things. I currently keep a basket under my bathroom sink for these, but the cords get tangled or curled, and I still have to dig through 4 or 5 appliances to get to the one I want on any given morning. Though not the prettiest storage solution, who really looks at the inside of the doors in a vanity? No one but the homeowners, I would hope. This PVC storage solution seems to work really well, and as an added bonus, it keeps the cords tidy so they don't curl up on you.

Measuring cups and spoons fall into the same category for me. Sure, I could restack all the measuring cups when I wash one and put it away. Unfortunately, I'm not normally the one putting them away {thanks, husband, for doing dishes so often!} Measuring spoons have those rings, but that's really annoying when you only want to use one spoon, so I normally take the ring off as soon as I get the spoons home. Shortly after, I'm complaining about not being able to find the particular spoon I want. This practical solution accomplishes a couple of things: 1. every cup or spoon has it's place and we know exactly where to find it or put it away when finished and 2. like items are kept together {which I'll talk about a little more below}.

Here's another kitchen issue. I don't know about you, but I have a drawer and a pull-out shelf dedicated to plastic wrap, foil, parchment paper, press & seal, sandwich bags, freezer bags...well, the list could go on and on. Seems like a waste of a drawer to me {especially if drawer space is limited in your kitchen}. Using a magazine rack to keep these necessities in the pantry without the fear of them toppling all over the shelves or floor seems like a perfect solution. They aren't used terribly frequently in my house {we use Ziplocs daily, but nothing else), so by putting away the items that we only use every so often, it allows more storage space in the kitchen for items we use daily. 

By identifying the problems you currently have with storage and organization, you may just be able to see a theme or realize you need a solution to make your life run more efficiently. Taking inventory of your routine and how things are working makes you really see the big picture.

Store Items Where They Are Used
I'll admit it, I don't even do this in my own house most of the time, but that's what I want to correct next time around. For example, look at this wrapping station on the back of a closet door:

In my house, wrapping paper is kept in the basement storage. Ribbon & tissue paper are kept in my craft room {also in the basement}. Scissors and tape are kept in the kitchen supply drawer. And I typically wrap presents on my dining room table. Doesn't make a lot of sense when I put it that way, does it? By creating a wrapping station {whether it's on the back of a door like this one, in a home office or guest room, or even made out of a laundry hamper like this one} all of the supplies are in one place and you can either access them easily and take them where you'll wrap gifts, or just wrap the gifts near the station.
Here's another fun idea. Corral all those counter-cluttering necessities into a pretty basket. Grouped like this, everything has it's place and the counter looks much tidier. Storing this basket near the stove makes everything readily accessible, and if you need the items elsewhere, you can just grab the whole basket and move it to where you will use it.

Here's a similar idea that could probably be used in a number of ways in your pantry or fridge. When we buy things that are for lunches or snacks at work, I try to pre-package them into serving sizes as soon as I bring them home. Then we just have to grab the packages and put them in lunch containers. I can see this working out really well for school lunches, after school snacks, lunch making supplies in the fridge, or even a breakfast station with cereal options, brown sugar for oatmeal, and so on.

When I'm organizing anything, I like to think about how I use the item. Yes, it may fit in a drawer, but does it really need to be there? Or, most people might keep this in the pantry, but for our family, it makes more sense to be out in the open {like the beverage station I plan on building, that I talked about in my fun details post a couple weeks ago}.

Think Outside the Box
I think the most important thing I remind myself when figuring out an organizational solution is that is has to work for us. Sure, there are storage & organization solutions out there that are designed for a particular use, but they may not work for your situation. Here's an example:

Source: bhg.com via Jen on Pinterest

I know they make tiny trash bags that are supposed to hang over the cigarette lighter in your car. The reality is, that won't work for us. My husband & I spend around 15 hours a week in our car just driving to and from work, so we generate a lot more trash than would fit in one of those even during the day. We normally eat breakfast in the car, sometimes have a snack or dinner in the car on the way home, and I sometimes takes projects to work on while we're driving {like clipping coupons or craft projects}. One of those trash bags would never work. Using a cereal container with a trash bag in it definitely pushes the boundaries of what the container is meant for, but it is a pratical solution for trash in a car, without taking up a lot of floor space to put a trash can in the car.

Here's another great idea. Card games come in their own {usually flimsy cardboard} boxes. We don't even have kids, and it doesn't take long for those boxes to get destroyed. Which means we're either losing cards, or they get damaged, and we're always looking for somewhere to keep them. Using clear boxes is a great idea, and you can even recycle the cardboard boxes to show the name of the card game inside the box. This storage solution is much more friendly for little hands too...it seems like they can never shove all the cards back in the original packaging {no matter how long they try or how many cards they destroy in the process}.

Disposable food storage containers are an ugly reality in most peoples' kitchens. I can never find a lid that fits when I need it without crawling around on the kitchen floor and dragging all the lids out. This dish rack provides a really great storage solution to keep everything together and uses the space really efficiently. I don't think there's any way I could keep this many lids in my cupboards just because I would get frustrated with the mess they created. By using a dish rack {or tray, or larger Tupperware container, etc.}, everything has a place and you can easily select the lid you need without a fight.

Thinking outside the box may just help you come up with a storage or organization solution that fits your needs when you can't find a product that was made for your particular challenge. Thinking outside the box can also save you some money in the long run!
As always, you can find all of these pins and more on my Pinterest board {these pins are all from my Organization board}. Let me know if you have any great tips for keeping an organized house by leaving me a comment.

Have a great day, all!

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