Unexpected Organization

If my house is a chaotic and messy, I feel out-of-control.  Putting things in their place, having things in order, gives me a sense of calm.  I don’t mind a little clutter here and there, but when books and toys and socks and who-knows-what-else are strewn all over the floor and trickling throughout the house, under cabinets, inside cabinets, underneath the beds quite possibly never to be found again, I can feel myself getting impatient and edgy.  Nevermind that I pick up the same things a thousand times a day.  But I digress!

I. love. organizing.  Especially when I get something new.  I’ll walk around the house, putting it here and there, trying to find The Perfect Place for it.  My husband looks at me and grins at Christmas-time, because he knows I won’t rest until all my gifts are safely tucked away in their new locations. 

It amazes me how much time one can spend just moving crap from one place to another, and when the job is a mandatory one (like cleaning out the attic or basement – UGH), I don’t always find pleasure in it.  But for the most part, I get happy fuzzy feelings when things are In Their Place. 

I’ve always found it refreshing to go through and sort things according to what we no longer need, what we can get rid of and/or donate.  After reading about a downsizing challenge, I got more strict with our posessions.  Fewer things to trip over!  Fewer things for the kiddos to fight over!  Less laundry!  I didn’t limit our wardrobe to ten pieces or keep two toys apiece for each child, but I have been a tad more merciless regarding what stays and what goes.  And when Gwendolyn sees me getting rid of toys (both old and new), it becomes an excellent teaching tool – we don’t need so much stuff, other children can’t afford all these nice things, we should be thankful for what we have.  She got so excited when she spotted some of “her” things on a recent trip to the consignment store where I dropped off some things; luckily she didn’t ask to take any of them home. *grin*

Home Made Simple sends out e-mails every now and then with some great tips, recipes, crafts, and so forth.  The last one showed some new uses for ice cube trays, and while I’ve seen similar things in the past, I actually decided to try it this time. 

Gwendolyn’s hair clips looks so cute and… well… organized!

While cleaning out my grandmother’s home, I found some snazzy vintage trim in her box of sewing notions.  We’ve already covered the fact that I can’t sew, but I took it anyway, just in case.  

I love how her orange walls seem to coordinate with everything!

Why buy a barette holder? Just hang some ribbon & you’re golden.

Gwendolyn’s room seems to have some of the most organizing potential; she has all these little-girl things that need a place of their own.  I love hand-me-downs, especially from family members.  The iron bed reflected in the mirror above was her Meme’s childhood bed that we painted white, and the mirror/dresser belonged to my grandmother.  A couple other recycled treasures:

 Dress-up jewelry in one of her great-grandma’s jewelry boxes.

 Great-Grandma’s trunk stores her dress-up clothes. Another trunk serves as our coffee table – great for game storage!

Josiah gets kinda jipped – his room houses his crib and clothing, but it’s more of a common playroom for the kiddos.  Here we see some more traditional, yet ever-so-handy, organizing components: bins and baskets.

Tupperware bins store toys – especially those you don’t want readily accessible to the kiddos (e.g. playdough).

Have I mentioned how much I love baskets? I have some in every room of the house.  They’re just so handy, and come in many shapes and sizes.

Small basket of toys in Josiah’s crib. I keep hoping these will keep him occupied when he wakes up at 6 in the morning. *sigh*

I get this immense satisfaction when I find just the right container for something. These lullaby CDs fit perfectly.

I am forever finding new places for their hygiene accessories, like wipes, lotion, powder, and so forth. Sometimes I keep ’em on the changing table, then I move them to the bathroom, then I need them in the kitchen. I have gotten spares for each room… but sometimes I want that specific brand or scent.

Currently the baby powder & related paraphernalia are stored in a little metal bucket on the back of the toilet.

In the upstairs bathroom, I have a couple baskets being put to work. However, one of my favorite little pieces that I often move from room to room is this twig plant holder that I repurposed:

The container with 3 spots houses deodorant, lotion, makeup brushes, & a decorative bottle.

I wish I could fix up furniture, upcycle odds and ends and make something totally new, but my craftiness extends only so far. However, I do like using pieces for things other than that for which they were originally intended. Think Outside the Box. Or, er, vase:

Purple vase from Homegoods holds toothpaste & toothbrushes.

I love form and function!  These old picnic baskets stacked on top of one another are great for stashing things:

Often used as a catchall since they hide stuff quite nicely; you’d never know it.

There are all different kinds of baskets, and I love the hanging plant baskets that I use for storing fruit in my kitchen:

Josiah is always pointing to these, asking for bananas. He thinks because he can see them, they’re fair game.

I didn’t take pictures of all my baskets, thank goodness, but I love the ones that are bin-shaped.  We have three on the stairs that we use as a sort of baby gate, since we’re not big on baby-proofing.  These hold legos, blocks, and other toys.  And this fabric-covered bin holds all of my knitting stuff – I love the splash of color!

Keeps my knitting stash handy dandy! And upstairs, away from the kiddos.

Another one of my favorite ways to combine decoration and organization is using bottles and jars for collections.  One of my gradmother’s old blue Ball jars serves as a bookend for some of my cookbooks:

Others store pennies, marbles, and a collection of feathers:

This Christmas, I used a big ol’ pickle jar, piled ornaments inside, and roiled some twine around the mouth:

In keeping with the holiday theme, you could try balling up a string of lights inside a jar. 

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve been wanting to make a time capsule jar – put in a favorite photo, and any other mementos or little treasures that tickle your fancy.  Kind of like a scrapbook-in-a-jar.  You could give it as a gift, or keep it yourself and change it with the seasons.

We love cheese and buy a couple blocks of it every two weeks or so.  We do not, however, have much use for a cheese cloche.  Since it looks so pretty, I decided to showcase some of our shells on the bookshelf:

Yes, we do have your average bins for clothes storage, reusable grocery bags that are strewn around the house for wrangling odds and ends, some laundry baskets for the ubiquitous piles of clothing, but these aren’t the things that make me happy.  I do like getting them organized and put away.  Out of sight.  

I’d love to hear some of your organizing ideas, especially the pretty ones.   

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5 thoughts on “Unexpected Organization

  1. I enjoy looking at all your collections when I go to your house. :) I have a shell collection I had kept in a jar with sand and sea glass but I don’t have it out because I have something else in the cubby shelves atm. I also used to use as apothecary jars when I have more shelves in the bathroom. But I always have use for baskets and bins!
    I love the idea of storage trunks and old picnic baskets. I’d love anything like that passed down (but I won’t) and have been drooling over some vintage suitcases to stack on my armoire and store things-I-don’t-want-Elijah-to-get-into. I do have an old crate I got from CL. I use it as a coffee table right now.
    You haven’t mentioned storage ottomans! They are great for toys, blankets or video game accessories. We just have one but want to get some matching ones for our other seats. Also great are gift, storage or hat boxes. I use the boxes for media and just got some large ones for Micah’s computer parts (ideal because they are naturally static-proof).
    Can you even buy a barrette holder?! I’d like to find a prettier solution for my hair stuff, but an over-the-door shoe holder seemed the way to go since it’s so cramped in the bathroom already. I also re-purposed a condiment dish as a catch-all for the dresser, planters as holders for some flower pens and a wall planter as a magazine rack.
    I, too, love organizing, but, yeah, it’s a pain moving stuff around, especially making ANOTHER trip to the basement or consignment store. And there is no place around here that accepts drop-off donations!

    1. Great ideas, Nikki! Mm, I didn’t mention storage ottomans because the one we have isn’t very pretty. :) I suppose it’s practical, though. I’ve wanted a nice one for a while now, but it’s just not in the budget. We got Mom’s old PINK one, and it’s in Gwen’s room. We keep her blankets inside, and she kneels on it to play with her dollhouse or get to the things on her bureau (as does Josiah). When I sit on it, however, the cover sinks inside and I’m waiting for it to come apart entirely. :P

      Yes, barette holders seem to be popular on some of the mama sites I frequent. Looking on Etsy, I’ve even thought that Phil could cut some forms from wood and I could decorate them. More craft ideas!

      You reminded me of another plant stand that I’ve repurposed. It’s a little metal shelf that hangs on the wall (or I guess it could go outside, on a post of wherever); in the past I’ve used it for soaps and sponges by the sink, but now it just has a boring ol’ plant on it. :)

      I have a cool purple hatbox (it’s zippered, rather than having a separate top), but I have no idea where to display it or what to put inside. I’ll have to show it to you. And I think we have 1 or 2 more trunks in our garage, if you’re interested! They were all in my grandmother’s garage.

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