One more clean-up/organizing post because I'm on a roll...the next space on my list was our formal dining/office/craft room plus the nearby closet that is our catch-all for those activities.
We actually use this room a lot, but not for dining - more for everything else. Our desk and computer are currently in this room plus the kids little table (they like to draw and color there) plus a tall dining table and a sofa type table that holds my scrapbooks.
The way this room looks 95% of the time:
The main problems were figuring out an easy system that the kids could stick with and arranging the closet shelves so I could actually get to the things I need to get to on a day to day basis. It usually looks like a tornado went through this room. We spend a lot of time in this room, and I work at the computer in here so it was important to me that it look nice while also being a space that we could work efficiently in. There is not a lot of storage in the room which brings me to the closet...
I realize this isn't a completely terrible looking closet to begin with (I have made several attempts to organize it in the past but nothing seems to "stick") but what you might not be able to tell from this photo is 1) it's not very functional for our family and 2) it makes me cringe every time I open it.
Items that live in that closet:
- coloring books
- construction paper
- my big cutting board
- banking supplies
- computer supplies
- extra office supplies
- extra photos
- board games
- label maker
- yoga mat
- ...and more
In the closet, I added some matching plastic boxes from Target (I had some boxes in there before but they were all different sizes and pretty much trashed...the matchy-ness isn't necessary but it makes me happy! The rest of the containers in this closet are ones I already owned.) I also sorted through all my stationary and was realistic about what I would actually use and what's been sitting in there for years and years untouched. I probably cut my collection in half (I have a bit of a paper obsession), and I am much more likely to use a card I already have instead of running to the store each time because I can actually find things now.
I also shifted some items around and organized things better - a box for extra photos, one for banking supplies (new checks, old check book registers), one for miscellaneous office supplies, etc. and then I positioned things so I could actually get to them. For example, before I never used my cutting board because I had to move five things and hope nothing fell on my head in order to get it out of the closet.
For the dining room, I found a couple of large, square cardboard boxes in the scrapbook section of Hobby Lobby ($5.99 each, half off). I wanted boxes that would like nice enough to leave out on the shelf so the kids had easy access - one stores extra paper for them to draw on and one holds stickers. I re-used some cute pots I already had to keep their crayons in on their little table - it looks nice and it's easy for them to put them away when they are done.
None of this is rocket science, it's just good to take inventory from time to time and figure out a systems that works. The kids' items are much easier to get to and it's a lot clearer where things need to go when it's time to clean up.
This sounds crazy but I actually feel calm when I open this closet now and walk into this room - it used to drive me nuts and make my heart race (just a little). It's amazing how organizing and simplifying creates more benefits then you realized - the point isn't to create a perfect, rigid system that looks beautiful but is impossible to maintain, but rather to create a space that works for you and your family and makes your life easier, simpler and a little bit saner.
Ahhhhh...I feel better already.