Organized Kids’ Closets–Switching out Seasons

So with the season recently changing to fall and the weather definitely starting to cool down around here, I found it to be a good time to switch out my kiddos’ summer wardrobe for fall/winter. (Hubby and I are fortunate to each have our own closets and have enough room to keep all four seasons in each space. I’ll get to those closets in another post. ūüôā
Here is a portion of my youngest daughter’s (summer) clothes. As you can see, she has LOTs of clothes. Between a Mimi who loves to shop for her little girls and getting her sister’s hand-me-downs

as well as kind neighbors’ (these bags were sitting on our front porch the other day- FULL of size 2-3T clothes) we needed to get more of a handle on organizing it all.

Let me just say that before I started this rather daunting project, I needed a couple of my favorite friends…and a few others.

1.¬†Diet Coke–for a little pep.
2.¬†Pandora Radio–for a little more pep.
3.¬†Large trash bag(s)¬†{not pictured}–for a little ruthless-ness.
4.¬†More kid-sized hangers–for a little sanity (I have this thing for matching hangers).
5.¬†Tissues–for my drippy nose as I decide which of my little one’s clothes I will part ¬†with once and for all.
DOES ANYONE ELSE HAVE THIS PROBLEM???

*Another optional tool that may come in very handy would be a timer. It often helps to break up a large project into smaller, more manageable chunks of time.*

As I dove in, I created three piles:

1.¬†Donate Pile:¬†These were clothes that I knew wouldnt’ fit by the time spring rolled¬†back around, had stains or holes, or I knew my daughter wouldn’t¬†wear or like.
2. Tuck Away Pile: These were clothes that could possible still fit in the spring (and
were in good condition).
3. Special Memory Pile (also known as the kleenex pile): These are clothes that
I couldn’t¬†possibly bring myself to give away. This is the trickiest part because¬†¬† ¬†pretty much¬†all of her clothes brought up memories. I had to be very selective¬†because I didn’t want to have to store way too much. Most of the truly¬†memorable outfits I have pictures of the girls in them so I felt a little better¬†about letting go. Bring on the tissues–or a friend!
*Anything else stayed in her closet. I always make sure to keep some short sleeved shirts in there as well because you never know with our crazy Colorado weather. It may be 40 degrees one day and 70 the next. No joke.*
Check out the donate pile. This wasn’t even half of it. Nuts.
So, after I cleared out some room and got rid of a lot, I was able to get the fall/winter clothes out of storage (the guest room closet–I’ll mention in a bit). I always like to wash everything coming out of storage bins to get rid of any possible musty smell.
As the clothes were getting cleaned, I was able to better assess her closet situation. When we moved in, these wire closet organizers were already in. While they are much better than the builder shelf and rod that we often see, it wasn’t quite set up to fit our needs–at least not right now.

Because my youngest only has 1 dresser (with only three drawers) I end up hanging quite a bit. I also do this because she likes to try and pick out her own clothes. This is fine but I would often find her room to be in complete disarray as she would empty her drawers onto the floor looking for something to wear. Although I encourage the independence, I also cherish my sanity. She isn’t able to pull things off of hangers (at least not with much speed) so I figured hanging a lot of it was probably the best answer.

So, I was able to pop out one of the middle shelves. (I left the brackets incase we decided we would need the shelf again one day.) This allowed me to use the middle shelf like a rod as well for more hanging space.

READY TO SEE HER NEW AND IMPROVED CLOSET?

Having a few shelves still intact also allowed room for some different sized bins (these are from Target)– which I’ll talk more about tomorrow. ūüôā
Below is my¬†oldest daughter’s closet. Hers wasn’t quite as tricky just because she doesn’t have all the hand-me-downs and most of her stuff is just tucked away–either for her or her little sis in the spring. No tissues needed quite yet. Whew!
I didn’t need quite as much hanging space for her either because she has two dressers (with a lot more drawers) in her room. And she is not nearly as bad about tearing things out of her drawers (anymore anyway).
So I kept her wire shelving in place and added a few bins for odds and ends. I also added a row of hooks (Ikea) for jackets, belts, etc.
Here is the¬†guest room closet¬†with all the off-season clothes. The top rod is my youngest’s and the bottom is my oldest’s. If I hang them in their closet during the season, than I hang them in the guest room closet during off season. The rest goes into one bin (per girl). This makes the transfer so much easier–since you don’t have to rehang everything.
All-in-all, this only took a few hours. This biggest challenge (and one that I enjoy) was coming up with a plan. Once I figured out where I wanted everything to go, it was just a matter of putting it there. I was able to get rid of a ton and have a better plan in place for future.
Stay tuned tomorrow as I tackle their drawers.
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Organized Games and Puzzles

 Yesterday I posted about a friends unfinished basement that we turned into a fun, organized play space for her little girl. Today I wanted to focus a bit on how I organized her games.
The goal for this particular playroom was to pare things down as much as possible and simplify things so that her four year old would have a place to play and find things (and put them back) with ease.
¬†So that’s what we did. I cut up the beat up board game boxes and used the box top (with instructions on the back) as a label inside a large 2 gallon-sized ziplock bag. ¬†This made for a quick and easy way to access the games. It is also easier to put the pieces back into a bag vs a box and takes up a lot less space.
¬†I organize my kids’ puzzles in a similar fashion.
 They each get placed into a ziplock bag. I like to use the kinds with zippers on top to make it easy for kids to open and close.
 I create and write a title of each puzzle on the front of the back and list the number of pieces included.  Then I choose s letter (or two) from the title and write it on the back of each piece.
 That way if when pieces get misplaced, it is easy to tell where they belong.
 Smaller puzzles get put into smaller bags.
 I often either cut the top of the box or take a picture of the puzzle and use it to show what puzzle is inside. It also helps the kids put the puzzle together if they have a picture to reference.
 Found a couple foam puzzles with large pieces and placed them inside an inexpensive pencil box. Any kind of container that is easy to store and easy to get into works just great.

Client Space–Unfinished Basement Turned Organized, Colorful Playroom

A friend of mine came to me a while back and asked if I could help create a “playroom” in her basement. The real challenge though was that the basement was an unfinished basement and we were on a very tight budget so finishing it was not an option.
As you can see by unfinished, we are talking cement floors and walls and exposed wood beams on the ceiling.
She already had a lot of toys down there but it wasn’t exactly conducive for a little girl’s play space.

There was also an area under the stairs being used as storage that she didn’t want her daughter to get into and play with.

Well, as I mentioned we were on a very tight budget so I was stumped for a bit about what to do for the cement walls. Until I found 8 x 4′ sheets of pegboard being sold on Craigslist for $10 a sheet. I bought 4 and painted each a different fun bright color, and with help from my husband, hung them from the ceiling beams with hooks and wire.
We hung them in various spots around the room to sort of divide the room into centers or types of play.
The pink board near the window became the dress up and house area. The curtains were from Ikea and were also hung on a rod from one of the ceiling beams as well.
So we hung the pegboard horizontally on this wall and hung dress up clothes and accessories using pegboard hooks and inexpensive buckets.
Sorting like with like and adding labels to what she already had helped give everything a home.
The green board became the art area, again using pegboard hooks to hang buckets–this time to hold art supplies and inexpensive clips to display artwork.
A little table and alphabet mat that she already had, a ClosetMaid organizer we found for $15 on Craigslist, and a easel from Ikea help to define the space.
The orange pegboard became the games and puzzle area. The large canvas bins (from the $ spot at Target) were used to hold games and puzzles. The plastic organizer thing to the right, she already owned, so we used it for a variety of little toys such as Dora miniatures and play cars. It also helped to separate the next space.

The final area of the playroom was reading area. We used the blue pegboard to hang inexpensive gutters which make excellent bookshelves. The pink hanging thing  (from Ikea) holds stuffed animals.
And the little Dora couch she already owned became the perfect cozy spot to read a good book.
Remember this area that was full of a lot of things a little girl shouldn’t play with?
We used two of these plastic curtains from Ikea (again hung from the ceiling) to separate the space. That way it was still accessible but not in plain view.
So there you have it, a fun, colorful, organized playroom created on a very small budget in a completely unfinished space. With a little creativity and help from my great friends, such as Ikea and Craigslist, we were able to add a lot of life and meaning to this space. My friend hit it on the head when she told me that after we completed this room, her daughter’s play was so much more organized. She no longer just got everything out and dumped it on the floor. She actually “played” with it. Defining kids play areas gives their toys/things more of a purpose and can really help promote imaginative play. It also becomes much easier to keep it neat and organized because everything has its place and makes sense.

Displaying Kids Art and Promoting Independence

¬†A few weeks ago I showed you this hallway in our¬†home tour¬†and when I showed how we¬†painted the stripes. But I didn’t really talk about the “Fine Art Gallery”.
¬†I wanted a place to display all my little ones’ masterpieces that they create and bring home from school as well as a spot to hang jackets and backpacks. So I thought this would be a perfect spot to do all of that. It is right off of or garage and close to our entry but sort of tucked away so it isn’t the first thing you see as you walk in the door. The coat hooks are from Hobby Lobby. They come unfinished so I gave them a quick coat of white spray paint. The frames were all different frames that I found at Goodwill. I don’t think any of them were white originally–until my best friend spray paint got a hold of them as well. I just took out the glass and cut some cork (you can find at Walmart, Hobby Lobby, etc.) to fit the frame and covered it with a natural colored burlap. The back of the frames isn’t ¬†very pretty because it is all just sort of shoved in there—but who sees the back anyway, right? I’m not even going to show¬†you. ūüôā I will say burlap is messy so beware.
The vinyl I ordered (I can’t remember where but there are plenty of sites out there) and wa la—The Waterman Fine Art Gallery was born.
Well, seeing that this week is back to school week and I am trying to promote a little more independence with my kiddos, I came up with a new project to add to  that little space.

¬†It all kind of started when I spotted these 11 x 17″¬†bulletin boards¬†at Hobby Lobby.

¬†…and a few other materials.

First step, was to give the frames a coat or two of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint. (I knew I was covering the boards so I didn’t bother taping them.)
¬†I found these cool¬†Self-Sealing Laminating Pouches¬†at Walmart and snagged a couple of each size (the larger size is 4 x 6″ and the smaller is about 3 x 4″).

¬†While my paint was drying I made some school-related graphics on my computer and printed them out on card stock. Then, following the directions, I laminated them with my self-sealing pouches. (Word to the wise: don’t trim them too much or they won’t have anything to stick to.)

 Here is the front of one of my cards.

 And here is the back.
 I punched holes at the top of each

 and made a few goodies out of vinyl with my Silhouette.

 By then, my paint was dry so it was time to cover the boards. I took my scrapbook paper and ran some scissors along the frame to create a crease to show me where to cut my paper.
 Once they were all cut, I just stuck them down with spray adhesive.

 Then I started placing and arranging things the way I liked them.

¬†My hooks were easy to put in because, remember, they’re bulletin boards! Somebody was thinkin’ eh?
¬†So here’s my final project. The top shows what the kids have scheduled each day of the week while the bottom reminds them of what they need to bring to school when they go. (They’re in preschool so they don’t go every day quite yet…next year, sniff.)
 And the perfect spot? Right above their backpacks of course.
¬†Now, every morning when I ask, “Do you have everything you need?” , they have a visual to keep them in check.
They can then turn around each card to see if they forgot anything before walking out the door. If every card has a smiley face, we are ready to go. I’m hoping this helps them to accept some more responsibility so that mom isn’t constantly running back in for things we forgot. I know my four year old will love this. She loves feeling like she’s in charge. ūüôā

¬†Okay, finally feeling like we’re ready for the school year to begin.

Little Girls’ Bathroom Organization

The last couple of days I’ve been showing you the¬†girls’ bathroom¬†decor and new¬†frame project. Today I wanted to show you how their bathroom is organized.
The top drawer is where their toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss are. I just used a very inexpensive plastic (aka: cleanable) silverware tray. Works perfectly for dividing up their brushes, etc. You can get these anywhere. I think this one may have come from Walmart. Behind the tray are extra cups and brushes.
The middle drawer is for a lot of their small hair supplies, brushes, and spray conditioners, etc. Here I used clear acrylic organizing trays (Target). I like using clear organizers in drawers when I can so that I can paper the drawer and it will show through.
The bottom drawer is much deeper than the other two and it is utilized to the max. Wash cloths, sponges, soap, shampoo and other travel samples, and extra lotions, conditioners, etc. all have a spot. Using buckets, baskets, or other containers are a great way to keep small loose items contained.
¬†Here is the girls shower/bath. I recently put a hook on the back side of the shower to hold the shower caddy. Their shower head also has a long hose attached and it was always getting in the way. Easy solution. Notice there isn’t much on the caddy. This bathroom also serves as a guest bath so this is mainly for them to use.
¬†The kids shampoo and soap is under the cabinet (sorry for the blurry pic). They typically take baths and this is very easy access for me when I’m sudsing them up. ūüôā
 The top drawer is for small bath toys that have a way of disappearing
¬†and the basket (Target’s $ spot) is for larger toys.
 Here is the other cabinet.
 The Caboodle currently holds headbands and ribbons. Although I have some other ideas in mind, this will do for now.
The guest basket is full of toiletries that a guest may need or have forgotten. When someone comes to stay with us, I simply put the basket on the counter for them to access as needed.

Above the toilet are little cubby/shelves. As you can see the cubbies are used for extra toilet paper and hand towels.

Here is a lamp/barrette holder that I made for all my little girlies’ barrettes. I love that it is not only functional but pretty too.
I just took a regular lamp and shade and tied about four ribbons around the shade-making sure the knot is in the back. Then just clip the barrettes onto the ribbon.
Why do we have a lamp in the bathroom? We leave this on at night to serve as a nightlight. The bathroom is right across the hall from the kids. That way if anyone needs to go potty throughout the night, there is just enough light.
Today’s Daily Tip:¬†Use functional room-specific items as part of your decor. For example: in this room toilet paper and hand towels fill the cubby wall shelves; the kids bathtub letters fill a clear plastic jar (on top of the cubbies); and hair bows decorate a lamp—all while being functional. Other ideas that come to mind may be (for a kitchen) using lemons or other fruit in a clear vase or¬†spices in clear jars. A¬†craft room¬†could be decorated with colorful fabric swatches and fun craft supplies. Don’t clutter up your space with unnecessary items. You can have a very pretty room using simple and functional items as your art.

Kitchen Command Center

I had this very tall, blank wall on the side of my refrigerator that was needing some love. Being that we spend the majority of our days at home in the kitchen/family room, and the counters can easily become a dumping ground for mail (bills, magazines, cards) and other paperwork, I decided it was the perfect spot for a command center.
The bottom portion of the wall contains three sets of¬†wall pockets¬†from the Container Store. They are clear so I dressed them up a bit with some pretty paper and vinyl lettering. In each of our pockets we have an “info” file and an “action” file.¬†Info¬†is for things that give information but need no response or action. This works well for the kids especially because once they are in school they are constantly getting paperwork sent home that is sometimes just for informational purposes that you may need to hold onto for a bit. This folder gives those types of things a home. The¬†action¬†file is obviously for things that need action such as something that needs to be signed or sent out, etc. The¬†Bills to Pay and File¬†pocket is pretty self explanatory. I again keep two different file folders in it to separate things that need to be paid or taken care of from things that need to be filed away. The¬†Pending¬†file is for things that are…pending. This is a partial¬†tickler file system. It contains 1 file folder for each month of the year. This has been so handy for all of those things that I need to take care of or reference at a later date. For example: I knew we were getting our roof redone but not until later in July. So all the roof info goes into the July folder. ¬†When I run across ideas for my daughter’s birthday party I put them in the October file. Then at the beginning of the month I take the folder out and deal with its contents.
This system has worked well for us and I’ve tried a bunch. It gives everything a place–rather than the kitchen counter. The one leftover that I usually have from the mail is magazines. These either go in a basket on the end table by the couch or on my bedside table because those are the places I will sit down and read them. (If/when I get the time. ūüôā
The one must with this (as with just about any system) is that it has to be maintained or these pockets will become stuffed and therefore unusable. That leads me to the next areas of the command center.
¬†This area contains a small bucket of pens and other supplies that are needed often, a magnetic message board where I often keep a to do list and sometimes a shopping list, and a giant magnetic family calendar from Target. (It looks like they may have discontinued it but¬†here¬†is something I found that seems similar only instead of monthly it is weekly.) Each square has 5 blank lines (1 for each family members–including the dogs) and a line for the meal that day/night. Helps to keep everyone’s crazy schedules in one central spot.
Once the mail comes in, I look through everything and write down pertinent information on my lists or calendar and then decide whether I need to keep the paper or get rid of it.

¬†Above my calendar is a large bulletin board I covered in fabric and ribbon (just to make it pretty). There I keep my cleaning calendar and any other schedules or calendars I need to reference often¬†(it’s summer so we don’t have too many schedules right now).¬†I will sometimes place an invitation up there if I need to keep it for some reason. Often times, I just write it down on our calendar and get rid of it. The less paper the better.
The very top of our command center is our time zone clocks. Both our families live in different states and time zones. I thought this would be the perfect way to keep track of that. I decided to make a little sign on top and give this area a name. Since this sort of our central hub, “Waterman Central” seemed fitting.
Tip of the day: Color Coding. As you can see each of our wall pockets is a different color. I am a very visual person. I use this with our calendar as well. Each family member is written in a different color (the same color as their wall pocket). Everyone knows which color is theirs which makes it very easy to spot quickly on the calendar.

Organized Pantry

For some reason I didn’t take any before pictures of the pantry. Probably because I was too excited to start taking it apart. Let me set the scene for you. We moved in a year ago in June and inherited a very nice sized pantry–one of the selling points for me actually. And although it was a great size and there was nothing terribly wrong with it, it was a dingy white that needed a refresher coat of paint and just kind of became a catch all for all of our food and kitchen products. There was no real organization to it and it just wasn’t pretty. ¬†So let the purge begin.
¬†First step of organizing any space is to take everything out and get rid of anything you don’t use. There was quite a bit hiding in the pantry that I wasn’t even aware of. So out they went.
¬†The pantry got swept and scrubbed and a fresh coat of “You are my Sunshine” paint by Benjamin Moore. (The name is probably what sold me. Who doesn’t want to open a door of sunshine every morning?)
 I almost hated going any further.

¬†I ran across some wrapping paper on clearance at Michaels and knew that would be my inspiration and color scheme. My kitchen is already red and white so the colors went well and the cupcakes…just too cute.

 I was originally going to alternate the two papers but realized it was a little too busy for my liking. So I decided to use the red and white paper on the shelves and alternate with the yellow shelves.

 I went round and round about how to adhere the paper to the wall and finally just decided to mod podge it on. I wanted it to stay put and the mod podge kind of put a sealer on it that let me wipe it down if needed.

¬†Here is the final pantry once it was all put back and containerized. See my juice extractor (these are the ones that don’t use blades but instead use gears to slowly crush and extract juice from fruits)and other electric kitchen items over to the right.

 I found this scrapbook paper that looked like little chalkboards. I snatched up a bunch and used them to label different areas of the pantry. I also had a few old plates and plate hangers and decided to add a few at the top. Why not?
 I bought a bunch of containers from Ikea to hold all of my staples.

¬†This idea I found from Pinterest. I have a bin for Monday through Thursday. So when I plan out my meals for the week, I place the dry ingredients for that night’s dinner. It makes it so easy to grab a bin and take it to the counter when I prepare my meals. I only included Monday through Thursday because those seem to be the main days I cook. Friday is usually pizza and the weekend we are either out or eat leftovers.

 This pic is a little dark but it is my cleaning section. It holds my brooms and mops as well as plastic bags and a bin for recycling.
 I have baskets on the bottom shelf for my kiddos. I try and package individual snacks when I get home from the grocery store so that they can get what they need when they are hungry for a snack.

 The corners of my pantry may just be my favorite part. I found these Lazy Susans at, again, Ikea. The base was quite a bit smaller than the actual carousel which made them fit perfectly on my shelves. Perfect for canned goods and such a space saver.

 I divided each into fruits, veggies, dressings and sauces, and beans and soups.
 On one door is my grocery list and a menu for me to reference.

 The other door is for coupons that need to be cut and restaurant menus.

¬†One big complaint that I had was the my pantry had no light. Because we didn’t want to take on wiring a light inside, we found a battery powered one at Home Depot and hung it by screws to the left of the door. It actually does put out a fair amount of light.

¬†Here’s a few more shots.

I found this sign at World Market and couldn’t resist. It was the perfect sign for the outside of the pantry. Kind of love the message too. ūüôā