This is a page on my Pinterest page because, as the title suggests, I am OBSESSED with organizing. I am certain there are some underlying psychological reasons for this, but that’s a discussion for another blog.
That said, I am seriously obsessed with organizing. We live in a super small home (900 sq. feet) and have very few (3) closets to work with. Therefore, creative organizing is a must. Furthermore, I recently graduated with my second MA and have to start repaying student loans (panic attacks commence now!) and I am currently unemployed (but vigorously looking for work). As a result, I do not have a whole lot of disposable income. So on top of getting creative with organizing the price tag on the project must be minimal – preferably free.
The project I have recently taken on, so as to keep my body and mind busy (i.e. distracted) during the whole job search process (which is more stressful than earning an MA) is to clear out and organize the back room, which is actually a second bedroom.
The room in question is used as a library, Erik and I both enjoy reading so there are a TON of books in the back. It is also the room where we store non-seasonal clothing, Christmas decorations and Erik’s hiking gear. Have I mentioned that it’s a small room, approximately 10×12 or maybe 12×12, not exactly sure because I am a historian not an architect. But it’s small and there are a lot of bases that need to be covered back there.
Step one: A super great idea!
The entire reason behind the clearing out and reorganizing of our dinky back room stemmed from the need for a larger surface for cutting fabric. That one teeny tiny seemingly easy to fulfill idea has led to a complete overhaul of the second bedroom and our bedroom, which is now sporting some new furniture (that I repurposed from the back room) and a new closet system.
Step two: Downsize all the crap!
The key to an organized home, according to anyone who has ever written a blog about organizing, is to have less stuff. I, for one, love getting rid of stuff. I’m like Robert Irvine from Restaurant Impossible when it comes to getting rid of stuff that is cluttering my home – in that I get things done, minus all the yelling and insulting of others (because the only ones who are always around are the dogs and Isabella . . . and it’s just mean to insult animals). And while my love of getting rid of stuff is mostly a good thing, as you will never see me on Hoarders, it can be a bad thing too. There have been a few times in the past when I have been so excited to organize a room that I got rid of family heirlooms (which in all fairness I did not realize were heirlooms . . . until I got rid of them. Sorry, hunny.), and other things that I wish I’d had later on. Lesson learned. Now when I want to declutter, instead of just packing up everything, I take a moment to think about other uses for the item, or in the case of books (mine, because Erik refuses to give up any of his- not that I blame him) I ask myself, is this a book I would teach in a History, Women’s Studies or English class? If not (and if it’s not a book by say Diana Gabaldon, Patricia Briggs or Terry Pratchett) it goes to the book bin.
The other day I packed up approximately a hundred books (Grad students read A-LOT!) and brought them to the book bin. Most were academic books, which are heavy, which means I got in a couple good workouts carrying them out to the car then transporting them from the car to the book bin.
I also went through all of our clothes in the back room and made three piles; clothes we will wear again, clothes that we no longer wear and can be used for creative sewing projects (mostly mine because Erik does not get rid of clothes until they are full of holes or sheer – and not a sexy kind of sheer – which means they are not so good for sewing projects), and clothes that will go to a second hand shop. There is a second hand shop close by that uses the proceeds to help local families in need, so that’s where I like to take old stuff.
Step three: organize the stuff that’s left, which is easier said than done due to the significant lack of space we have in our little home. For a day or two it looked like a crazy person (i.e. me) went through our back room with a high powered leaf blower.
Step four: Make it happen – whichI did on my own (except for the sewing/stashing stuff table) because I am seriously obsessive and will not stop until the project is finished, or my back goes out, which it did . . . which gave me some time to lay on the floor and peruse Pinterest for more ideas :D.
The idea for a larger cutting area stemmed from this awesome idea for a sewing table found on Pinterest; simply adhere a piece of plywood to two bookshelves. I do not have two bookshelves to spare, but we do have old kitchen cabinets in the basement. My plan was to (have the hubbenator) attach a piece of plywood to two floor style kitchen cabinets with enough space in between the cabinets to store four tupperware bins large enough to store decorations, non-seasonal clothing and his hiking food (which is all non-perishable). What actually happened was this;
Though not quote finished (I plan to paint it eventually), I think it looks pretty great – AND it is multifunctional. The materials (2- 2x4s, 1 8ft piece of plywood, a small box of 3 inch screws, and a 4 pack package of wheels) cost $52, which is more than I wanted to spend, but again, it is exactly what I wanted and it looks great (and it was custom made by a sexy construction worker 😉 ). The top can be used for cutting and sewing and any other projects I choose to do, and there is plenty of space beneath to store totes, Xmas decorations, a suitcase, a collapsable tunnel for the dogs (that Franklin is afraid of going through no matter how much fun Abby is having with it), and some other flotsam from the backroom that I am not willing to give up yet. The curtain, which was purchased from the Christmas Tree shop for $4 covers all the crap underneath, and the front is organized using a small storage organizer turned on its side, which I had on hand.
I have done so much more in the backroom, which I will soon share with you, but first I want to try and hide all of the holes in the walls :D.
And I’m back.
Many moons ago, I wanted to transform our boring white walls into something spectacular. I also wanted to cover up the ugly wallpaper trim that was left from the previous owners. I decided to do a southwestern thing, or what I perceived in my mind as a southwestern thing. I covered the walls in both bedrooms with sand textured paint. I applied it thick like so it would resemble the walls of homes I have seen in old western movies . . . that took place in the southwest. They actually came out pretty good, and ten years later I do not hate those walls, though I look forward to the day when we have enough money to cover those walls with bead-board.
That said, if I knew then what I know now (e.g. that applying color to sand textured walls is a HUGE pain in the backside) I would have gone a different route.
Moreover, the same color of sand textured paint that I bought ten years ago is no longer available. This means, of course, that fixing the holes in the walls in the backroom was going to take a little creative thinking – a similar color paint and sand that you can add to the paint. The paint was not an exact match, but close enough. And by the end of the process the walls, though not perfect, look better than they did.
- For extra storage I put the futon couch on bed risers and, lucky me, I had on hand several good size baskets that look great beneath my grandmothers beautiful quilt/couch cover – don’t worry mom, the animals are not allowed in the back room so it will stay beautiful furever 🙂 .
- Until very recently there was a cheap hanging closet where the futon is. It took up a lot of space and was not efficient, so it was disassembled and used for parts. The black bar hanging to the right of the couch sporting the tripod and camera bag was created using one of the bars from the hanging closet and two robe hooks purchased from Home Depot.
- I also repurposed one of Erik’s old shirts (which he was kind of bummed about because it was a shirt he liked – and this is why I need to ask before I do – so once again, sorry hunny) to make a pillow cover for the square pillow. The black bolster pillow on the back of the couch was made using the leftover fabric from the curtain for the side of my new project table. I call it the lazy persons special – I folded the fabric in half, sewed along the long edge, turned it rightsize out, dropped the pillow inside and secured the ends first with elastic bands then I tied it with some leftover pink polka dot fabric to create a fun gift popper pillow . . . because I’m lazy.
- The remaining bars from the hanging closet were used to hang baskets that I mostly had on hand (that’s the wall that had a T-O-N of holes in it).
- Above the baskets are my version of this super cute “create your own custom wall art”. I used cheap frames from the dollar store, and scrapbook paper that I had on hand.
- The green table-type thing to the right are three storage bins covered with two old curtains. I plan on making that into a better looking table, but for now the curtains work fine. On top of the table is a chalkboard place mat (yeah, they make those) that I found at Christmas tree shop, which is a perfect place for my glue gun.
- As I mentioned before, the back room is multi-functional. It is a craft room (now 🙂 ) library (though I have moved all of my books to different locations throughout the house) and storage room. On top of clothes and christmas decorations, which we do not actually have a lot of because I am a wannabe minimalist, it is also the place where Erik’s hiking gear is stored. We do have a full basement that could, conceivably, be used as a storage place but . . . there are spiders down there! And while I understand and appreciate the eco-importance of spiders, I do not wish to commiserate with them. Sooooo, the backroom is the only other alternative.
- I read something somewhere about creating more closet space by hanging poles between two bookshelves. So I did. Now Erik’s hiking gear, instead of taking up most of the backroom, takes up only a few very neat feet of the backroom. His sleeping bags (filled with down) are supposed to be stored open so as to keep them fluffy – or something like that.
- His backpacks (not sure why he needs three, but then I have at least that many handbags so who am I to judge) are hung on hangers across the bottom bar. I love how it looks now and I love that all of the things we both love to do are stored in one very lovely little room.
Before Pinterest, the backroom was a gloomy storage room that I loathed to enter. NOW, it is a magical oasis of creativity and inspiration.
As you may be able to tell from the photos there is no baseboard in this room – so, nope, it is not a finished room. Yet. But it is so much better than it was.