Monday, July 11, 2011

My big organization project

I was going to insert an some sort of happy, uplifting, inspirational quote here, but instead I will cut right to the chase: My live in a small apartment. I work out of my living room. I get busy. Things get cluttered.

Not in the Help-I-can't-find-anything-I'm-missing-deadlines-my-life-is-falling-apart sense of clutter. More in the sense that my "studio space" has invaded my "living space". I tend to just make a pile at the end of the night when I am done working. On the couch, the coffee table, or where ever else I have been working. I know where everything is (thanks to my awesome visual memory) and can tell my husband exactly where to find the packing tape. It's when I "clean" it all up that I lose things. Or I go all the way to the craft store, only to find that one color of felt buried under a stack of something else.

Like I said, my apartment is sort of small. I have been slowly trying to make things match and become- well, simplified. In the spring we had a huge yardsale and got rid of a ton of junk. My husband and I some how accumulated a lot of stuff that should have probably been pitched years ago. Between us both going to college, my art supplies and projects, our hobbies, our parents moving, hand-me-downs and getting married, we had a lot to sort/sell/donate/throw away. So we did all of that.

But after all of that I still didn't have a place for my felt and crafting area. I have slowly taken over the living room...and the one corner of the dining room.  Little piles here and there of the projects that I am working on, following me around where ever I end up working that day. This weekend, I finally got fed up with it and jumped on the chance to re-organize once and for all.

In the beginning there was clutter:
On the couch...

...on the desk (Still trying to get rid of it on craigslist!)...

...and in the dining room.

Me vs. Clutter
Me: 0
Clutter: 3

I declare war:
Like usual, I was on a budget. After some shopping around, I ended up right where I thought- Target. It took awhile to pick out what I wanted. I had a lot to consider- how I wanted to categorize things, how big things were, how they would sit on the shelves, the colors to blend in better with my living room, and of course my budget. I went up and down the aisles a million times with my notepad, and I am pretty sure they thought I was crazy. But I am glad I did because I am pretty sure I saved myself about $20 and everything matches. For instance, the large clear totes with flowers- I saved about $2 each simply by picking a different pattern. Same size, brand, etc just a different pattern printed on the box. The flat box and stacking baskets- same thing. The large totes were nearly two times as much for the other brands. 

1 stainless-steel shelving unit
 2 large totes
2 large storage boxes
4 stacking baskets
2 crates
5 shoe box sized totes
1 medium flat locking container

I arrived home and spread all of the totes and baskets out on my floor. I made a pile of my "stuff" out of the way so I would have room to work. It was time to build the shelves. 

I already own a set of these shelves that we use as a "pantry" since we have very little (and very awkward) cupboard space in our kitchen. (Our kitchen feels more like a closet- tiny, cramped, dark, no windows, tiny cupboards etc- a mere after thought in the layout of our apartment.) Anyways, I love the 5-tier stainless steel shelves from Target. They are super easy to put together, easy to keep clean, sturdy and when we move again, we can use them anywhere and they will match the decor. 

Now I have a clean slate! 

I started by designating categories for totes and baskets. I wasn't sure where to start, so I just started by simply picking up a handful of stuff and asking myself "WTF is it?"
I thought it was a good place to start.   :)

I limited myself to one category per basket or tote. Once I got going, I got some sticky labels and a sharpie and started tagging. It was so nice giving things homes! I started making a list of rules in my mind about how I want to keep everything separated from now on. 

Victory is mine! 

Everything has a home!
Colors match!
All of my patterns are in one place that is not my coffee table!
My felt is even separated! (Bulk, large scraps, small scraps)
My living room is now 75% living room and 25% studio!

My "dining room" is also much improved.
I really only use this area when I use the sewing machine, but it is now far more inviting!
Remember that painting of mine hiding behind the couch? 
It now looks GREAT on my wall!

Lesson of the day:
I am bound and determined to keep everything organized. No more piles. I am replacing piles with totes and baskets. No mixing up categories. All lids must be in place and baskets and totes must be put back on the shelf at the end of each day. No overflowing (This will help me from accumulating too much of anything, help me find uses for all of my scraps, avoid buying supplies I already have, and reduce & reuse).I hung a copy of the "rules" to remind me of my new commitments. Over 24 hours later I am glad to report that so far, so good!

Last night, when all was said and done, I rewarded myself with an ice-cold adult beverage and sat back to look at my new organized life. My husband got home about then and was able to enjoy the moment with me. The only thing he asked: "Do you feel better now?" 

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