We live in a “small” house. It is under 1,300 square feet ( 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and 2 stories) and there are five of us plus a dog. Oh–and there is no yard because it is actually a townhouse. I know families half our size that live in twice as much house and still complain about “space” or lack thereof. I sometimes dream of buying a bigger house where each child gets his or her own room, we have a designated family room and formal living room, an office, and even a walk-in closet. Then I think about the cleaning and the mortgage that would come with that big house. And let’s not even get started on the summertime electric bills. I also think of the amount time and effort I have put into my house to make it a home. This is the only place Lily has ever lived. This is the longest Riley and I have been planted anywhere. (Riley and I have lived in seven different places since she was born.) There is something quite magical about the thought of raising our kids in the same house that our grandkids will come to visit us in. So for now we are here, we are home, and we are making the most of it. In order to keep my sanity in a small space, I have found that the key is ORGANIZATION. Everything has to have a designated place and purpose or we will get consumed by it. That isn’t just the case for small spaces because it’s easy to continuously add to large spaces as well… the show “Hoarders” is a perfect example of that ;-). So for this post I want to share with you how I keep my public and living spaces as organized as possible. I won’t be touching on what I do with all my kids’ crap in this post, but Kelli gives awesome tips HERE.
For starters, there are a few systems I have put into place that really help us to cut down on the amount of clutter we have laying around. We take care of any mail as soon as it comes through the door, Luckily almost all of our bills are paid via Internet, so we don’t get much other than ads. If there is something we need to keep, it gets put in a “to file” area, or in a place where we won’t overlook it. If it is junk mail, it goes into the recycle right away. I also have three bins that I purchased at Target for $6 each to help tkeep stuff situated for transporting between floors. There is one bucket upstairs for the stuff that needs to go downstairs and vice versa. Once one of those buckets is full, it gets moved and emptied. There is a third bucket that is for “donate” stuff. I keep it downstairs also and throw things in it that the kids may have outgrown or, for whatever other reason, is now going to find a new home at the Goodwill Once that bucket is full, we place the contents in a trash bag and drop it off at our closest donation center.
I will break up the rest of the post into specific areas we have to wrangle all the “stuff”:
Command Center: This is a small area in my hallway upstairs. It is right off of both of the bedrooms where the kids sleep. It is also right near the kitchen. This is the perfect spot because it is tucked away but still right in the living space to utilize it often.
Expedit Bookcase: This piece of furniture is also in the hallway. My hallway is a little wider than a traditional hallway, which is great because I am able to fit extra furniture in this space. I am a HUGE fan of Ikea’s Expedit bookcase. It is narrow enough for small areas, but provides a bunch of storage space while still looking trendy. It is very multi-purpose and can be found all over the blogosphere. Our Expedit houses our “wine” area. Logan cut out one of the top shelves so my wine chiller will fit. We have four cabinet doors n the bottom center cubes that house our extra stemware and the coolest part is that it locks with metal, child-proof locks. This helps keep little, curious hands away from breakables. I love this piece because it is so functional, but it has also given me a great space to store decorative pieces. I have picked up fun baskets to put into the cube that help me keep stuff wrangled away and HIDDEN.
Kitchen: I could probably do an entire post on my tiny kitchen and how I organized it to be functional (yes, it is that tiny and yes, I keep it that organized), but for this particular post I will just talk about my favorite tip: Chalkboard paint. I have chalkboard paint in many different places in my house for many difference purposes. The kitchen area that was painted with it is the most purposeful. We painted the panels on my pantry door with chalkboard paint to jot down stuff to add to our shopping list. It is there so when we know we ran out (or are running out) of something or if we think of something we may want/need we can write it down. I grocery shop once a week and do meal planning based off the ads for our local grocery stores. This helps us make sure we don’t forget the things that may be overlooked in the meal-planning process.
China Cabinet: Once upon a time, prior to TMD, I ran a candy buffet business. This caused me to own lots of pretty glass jars of all shapes and sizes and quantities along with other fun party decorations. I need a place to store them and I wanted it to double as decoration. I scoured Craigslist and found a perfect china cabinet with glass enclosed shelves along with two lower cabinets and drawers. The glass cabinets hold all the prettier, most-used jars (although some do live in the garage also) and the drawers house candles in one drawer, decorative odds and ends in the second, and table clothes in the third. The two cabinets have cake stands, frames, and bigger party decorations. I go back and forth about just packing them all up and using the cabinet for other stuff but, until I have another purpose for it, it works great and it is pretty.
Media Storage: We have a lot of books, a lot of CDs, a lot of DVDs, and a lot of devices. Those things all needed to wrangled into one area. The living room holds our only television, so it made the most sense for all that crap to stay together. (The girls do have a TV in their room, but rarely get to watch it). This is actually a buffet that my awesome father-in-law got for me at his local Goodwill. We painted it and repurposed it to use as our media center. We hung shelves all the way across the wall, approximately seven feet in length, with a track system from Home Depot above it. This is a great, low-cost way to add a shelving area without taking up floor space, plus the options are endless for how you want it to look visually. I organized all my books by color and changed up the way they sit on the shelves just to add some visual interest (colorizing books may not be the best way in terms of organization, but it looks pretty cool) then I popped in some keepsakes here and there.
So this is just some of the ways our house stays organized and clutter free. What are some ways you keep your house in order?