Friday, September 17, 2010

Baby Steps to Organization

Step One, Assess the Needs:

by Melissa @ The Inspired Room on August 10, 2010

Dining room – Office from Martha Stewart

Every August here on The Inspired Room, I’ve shared my very basic and simple housekeeping routines. Housekeeping and routines are always some of my most popular topics this time of year! Guess we all struggle with the same issues, huh? These aren’t always the “prettiest” posts or topics, but without the behind the scenes efforts, our homes cannot be really beautiful inside and out.

August is the time I start thinking about getting back into a routine. I start dreaming about reorganizing rooms and closets, knowing that school and fall schedules will be starting right around the corner. I cannot stand the idea of a messy disorganized home during that stressful season of kids going back to school. You know that fall is my absolutely most favorite time of year so I want to be prepared to ENJOY it!

Here are the 4 Simple Housekeeping Routines that I shared last year. Those are the basic daily housekeeping routines I still use to keep my house “Clean Enough.” If you struggle with keeping your home clean, I highly recommend those simple routines.

Daughter’s original room and closet

on its way to turning into a guest room/game, gift and wrapping closet

If you follow me on The Inspired Room’s Facebook page (go ahead an visit my page and hit LIKE so you won’t be out of the loop, lol), you might have read yesterday that my daughter and I have begun an ambitious and complete overhaul of the organization on our second floor, where our bedrooms, laundry room and linen closets are.

This organizational overhaul is hopefully going to end in organizing a new office space for myself as well, once we get the upstairs reorganized. I introduced my new office plan in this post, Rethinking How You Use Your Space.

I thought I might as well share my steps along the way to organization, so we’ll make this an informal series. I’m sure many of you are also gearing up for Fall organization too so we can do this together!

Be sure to visit my Facebook page as well throughout this project to see our behind the scenes meltdowns progress and to cheer me on — because I’m going to need it.


The first step to getting organized is assessing the needs and issues you currently have!

Taking a good look at the way you use your home, what is working and what is NOT working, will give you clarity on what needs to be tackled and why. It is normal to have to organize and re-organize your life as your family changes, grows and responsibilities evolve. Make your home work for you NOW and expect to let it evolve over time.

Remember how we talked about re-purposing rooms to be more effective for your needs? This is exactly what I am doing right now as I am going through the bedrooms and closets upstairs of our home. This is not a simple process of cleaning out a closet, this is a real top to bottom reorganization! Two rooms will be be given completely new purposes that will better suit our needs, and four closets will be totally re-purposed and reorganized. {faints}

Daughter’s current room, soon to be guest room

As we start the clearing out process.  In our house, the reason we need an overhaul on our organization is three fold.

1. Sometimes you only learn what works by living in a space and using it over time. When we moved in, we did our best to determine where things should go. But as the year has passed, we’ve discovered that our first instinct for how we would use our closets and rooms was not necessarily the best solution to space management.

2. Changes in life always bring about different needs for organization.

Since we moved in, we’ve had a lot of changes with how we live in our home.

Our middle daughter moved to a dorm (and back again for the summer, and will be back to school again in the fall!) and her room needs to reflect her current needs as well as our needs while she is away at school. My parents have spent more time up here and my oldest daughter and her husband spend weekends here on occasion, thus we really need a designated guest room. My son spends less time playing with toys and needs less room to play inside. My husband has found he prefers to work at a coffee shop rather than a home office, and I have decided I need my own office for a “command center.” Changes to our needs open up new possibilities for how we use our space!

3. Lastly, this past year has absolutely been the busiest of our life. When you are extremely busy, it means many things get put off because you can only do so much at once. I’ll spare you the long list of things that kept us busy in the past twelve months!

We are READY to get settled here! No more chaos. Or at least a little less chaos.

I’ll show you updates as we go to keep myself motivated and accountable and because I know it is completely fun to go inside someone else’s home and see their chaos beautifully organized rooms. And highly embarrassing for the person who has to show the in process photos.

oh my. somewhere in this mess is the room my daughter is moving to.
heaven help us.

What changes do you need to make to your home to be ready for Fall?

If you need further inspiration for routines and homemaking, my favorite resource is: FLYLADY! Check out her 31 babysteps to get started with routines and have a more organized, well-managed home. You’ll be glad you did! I’ll share some of my favorite “FLYLADY” secrets and lessons as we go through this organizing series!

Step Two: Are you a S.H.E.?

Country Living Guest Room

I want to reorganize my upstairs so I will have a guest room and so the entire second floor will function better. But I’m the master at getting sidetracked. You probably know that about me by now if you have been hanging out here long. I’m good at dreaming up ideas, even rather good at accomplishing many things in life, but not always so good at following through on all of the things I really want to do. I think I have more ambition than time.

I also think I have organizational and decorating ADD. That is probably pretty close to the truth.

Did any of you read “Sidetracked Home Executives” back in the day (Ok, YEARS ago?)? If you haven’t heard of that book or the “Sidetracked Sisters” you can find them now via FlyLady (even before Flylady I was into the S.H.E. sisters!). Anyway, their book was hilarious to me because it reminded me of myself. I can have the greatest intentions EVER to complete a project and along the way I find myself swept away into some other wonderful idea that wasn’t really a part of my plan but sounded fun at the moment. I am the classic S.H.E.

Sometimes I am sidetracked by crazy and unnecessary but fun rabbit trails, but often I am simply pulled away by other urgent obligations that keep me from completing my original project in a timely fashion.

So if you are like me, how can we stay on track when we start an organizing or decorating project?

Country Living Guest Room Bedside Table

Here are two of my basic but tried and true methods for getting the job done if you tend to get sidetracked!

1. Set realistic goals and deadlines.

It helps me if I set a realistic completion date and a few goals for my project. It works best for me to set a goal that coincides with some other event like company coming over or whatever. I am motivated by a REAL deadline, not just a date.

In fact, if necessary I have been known to INVENT an EVENT (like inviting people over on a Friday night) so I’ll finish a project by Thursday! Being a recovering “perfectionist procrastinator,” the near and looming deadline is what keeps me going.

2. Keep your focus on what counts.

Only let yourself get sidetracked by things that MUST get done to maintain your routines and your family’s sanity (like feeding your kids or keeping the dishes washed) and slap your wrist if you start a new project in the middle of your main project, even if it is a good idea.

Getting sidetracked away from your project because you need to feed the kids, your dog just threw up on the floor, your mom came to town and decided to make you slipcovers, or five college students unexpectedly decided to spend the weekend at your house* is understandable and OK. Have mercy on yourself, real life happens! You need to expect those types of interruptions to happen in the middle of most projects so allow time for them and be FLEXIBLE.

But getting sidetracked because you decide randomly to organize 22 years of pictures in shoeboxes when your real goal is to set up a guest roomand re-purpose closets is NOT OK. Do not ask me how I know this.

The idea of organizing family pictures is brilliant. You might REALLY NEED to organize them. But the decision to organize photos NOW, for instance, in the middle of moving furniture around to set up a guest room, is not so good. That rabbit trail will keep you from accomplishing your mail goal.

What is my solution for rabbit trails?

Keep a notebook with a list of things to do “after the completion” date so you can get work on those “rabbit trails” later.

Are you easily sidetracked?

Tell me your sidetracked stories so I know I am not alone!

*in my case, all of the above have happened this week in the middle of my project.

Note: If anyone happens to come over and offers to sew you some slipcovers, drop any and all organizing goals IMMEDIATELY and go with the flow (if you follow The Inspired Room on facebook, you know I am all for dropping everything for slipcovers. More on that project later.

Country Living, thoughtful things for guests

It is time for our Inspired By Friday linky — even though I am totally sidetracked from my goal this week, I am still completely inspired to get my upstairs reorganized. Some progress has been made but not enough to document yet!

In my endeavor to simplify and streamline my life, be more effective with my time and offer you all the most inspiring posts I can muster, I have decided that THIS WEEK is going to be our last Inspired By linky. Don’t shoot me if you really like this Friday event but I will be starting up a new once a month linky party on a specific but inspiring topic each month starting in September.

Because I am so excited about getting organized right now, September’s party will be CREATIVE ORGANIZING IDEAS so get those posts ready (new or old) for September 17th! Thanks for always being here for the parties!

Step Three: Embrace the 5 Minutes or Less Rule

Better Homes and Gardens

We all have a different tolerance level for clutter and different styles of organization. Some of us like to see our stuff out in the open, and some of us like to have everything tucked away behind closed doors. Some of us like to have a meticulous file folders for all the paper in our house, some of us like to just dump things in a box, stick a label on it, and call it done. We are all unique, and that is OK! But if you are not feeling like your home is “under control” I have a simple thought for you today:

Organized = Being able to find most anything you need in five minutes or less.

My friend Brandie taught me what being organized is and what it isn’t. She says being organized means you should be able to find most anything you need in in five minutes or less. I find that concept refreshing.

Being organized doesn’t mean we have to have a perfectly ordered life complete with color coded labels and fancy systems for everything if we are not so inclined — but we do need to be able to find what we need in a relatively short period of time. What organization looks like for every person or family might be different. We have the freedom to be organized in our own way! Just knowing this “five minute rule” makes even my biggest my organizing tasks seem so much less daunting!

When I was a younger mom I actually used a file box full of 3 x 5 cards to keep track of all the contents in all of my twenty Christmas decoration boxes. Every single thing was listed and assigned a box number so I could find it. Eventually, I decided that system was completely overkill because maybe only ONE TIME in my entire life did I need to track down one particular item from my holiday boxes! And knowing me, I would have lost the file box, rendering the system USELESS to help me find the platter neatly stowed away in box 14.

Most often, the simplest organizational plan is best.

You will have the best chance of keeping up with your system if it is simple and straightforward!

Now I just group ‘like’ things together ( like tree decor, outdoor lights, serving items, etc) and I know if I really needed a platter out early, I could find it by simply locating the box marked “Christmas Serving Dishes”. I didn’t need a complicated filing system. I just needed ONE label on ONE box.

Sometimes simple common sense grouping “like with like” organizing is all we need to be able to find what we need in five minutes or less.

I love the five minute or less rule. Guilt, BE GONE! No more complicated organizing charts or systems for me!

 Step Four: Dealing with Paper

Remember the 5 minute rule we looked at in our previous Baby Steps to Organization? That five minute rule is a great way to measure the success of your organizational system. This is especially true with paper!

My paper organization systems are extremely simple, and I by no means have all paper under control or mastered at my house, but I try to at least be somewhat organized in my day to day dealings with the most common incoming papers.

So for the curious, here are the basic systems I use for day to day sorting:

1) Recycle.

Right when paper comes in to our home, I take a look at it and if we don’t need it, it goes into the recycling bin. I keep a recycling basket handy in our kitchen pantry so there is never an excuse to toss it on the counter or floor. I hate seeing piles of paper everywhere.

This is a Martha Stewart photo of oil cloth bulletin board.

My current board is not cute yet, so it is not pictured.

2) Bulletin boards.

We have what I call a “family central” bulletin board. When we have something important like concert tickets, a zoo pass, ice cream coupons or anything else people might be looking for or that is valuable or time sensitive, we keep it on the bulletin board. Every so often I go through and toss anything that is no longer relevant. It makes life a lot easier to know there is only one place those sorts of papers would be!

3) Back of the pantry door.

School age children seem to bring home tons of paper every day. Without a designated place for all those papers, I’d go crazy. I sort through them every day after school and toss what we don’t want.

My son’s current school papers, lunch menus and calendars all get taped up on the back of our pantry door. I wish I had a nice wall space to hang a cute bulletin board, but I just seem to be lacking the perfect spot for that right now. One of these days I might create the perfect space. For now, it isn’t perfect. It is just a door with things taped on it. Not fancy, but functional!

4) The bill basket.

We have a bill basket on a shelf in the pantry where all incoming bills go. I open the bill, toss out all the inserts and envelopes (we pay our bills online) and then just stick the paper bill in the basket. I pay bills twice a month and after the bill is paid, it goes in my “paid” file drawer. At the end of the year, I recycle the old bills. Better yet, many of my utilities and household bills are now offering paperless billing. The less paper coming in, the less to manage.

Pottery Barn

5) Family files.

I really dislike filing (remember I am a visual person and file cabinets HIDE stuff!), but I do have one drawer for family files. Each of my kids, our dog Winston and my husband and I have a file. We each have a medical file and a file for everything else. When I need to figure out when my kids’ last tetanus shot was, I just go to their medical file. I don’t keep fancy pants records or color coded notebooks on each child, but I try to keep the photo copies our doctor’s office gives us of immunization records.

6) Personal bins.

There always seem to be papers for each family member that we do not need but someone wants to keep. School drawings or newspaper articles or sports awards or whatever. Each person in our family has a labeled Rubber Maid tote in a closet and if it is one of those “not sure where it goes” type of things, that is where I stick it. Again, nothing fancy but at least it has a home.

Women’s Day

Cricut - Will You Marry Me?

This is one of those cards where photos do it no justice at all, so how about if you all hop in the car and drive over and take a look. I will get drinks and snacks ready, deal??
But for those of you that can't make it, I will give you the details.

Paper is from the La Creme

Ribbon ins from SU!, and it's hard to tell in the picture but the people are flocked with MS black flocking. I ran them through my xyron wrong side up, and sprinkled them with flock. That way they match the flocked paper in the background. Everything is also sprayed with Tattered Angels iridescent gold glimmer spray. There is also a little diamond in the box, it's hard to see here.

The couple were cut from the Sweethearts cartridge @ 4". The background shapes are from Lacy Labels, and they were cut @ 5" and 5.25". The card is 6"x6"

Here is the inside....

The gorgeous stamp on the inside is a retired set from Stampin' Up called Well Scripted.

4 Easy Steps to Prepare Your Photos for Web Viewing

Have ever finished editing a photo, looked at it and thought “This looks so awesome! I’m in awe of my mad Photoshop skillz!” only to be ridiculously deflated after you upload it to your blog or favorite forum? Yeah. Been there done that… a lot! Ok, well maybe not the whole gloating over my mad Photoshop skillz part! But definitely I’ve disappointed at the lack of zing in my photos.

I think there’s something hidden deep inside the internet insides that loves to zap all the zing out of photos when they’re uploading. Did you know there’s something you can do about it? You did? Well, that’s fantastic! I think I must have been living under a rock all this time, because I just now figured this out. :) So, in case there’s any more of you out there like me, wondering why your photos don’t look as great on the web as they do on your desktop, here is the solution!

It is so super easy to do, and you can do it in Photoshop and Elements!

Step One – First, complete the edits you’d like to your photo. Then resize your photo to the size you’d like for your blog or forum, ect.

Step Two – Next, click on File > Save for Web & Devices (for Photoshop) or File > Save for Web (for Elements).

Step Three (Photoshop) – Now you should have a box that looks like this in Photoshop. By default, it should be set to Optimized. That’s where I leave it. Next, make sure you have JPEG selected, then click on Save.

Step Three (Elements) – This is what the box will look like in Elements. By default, it has GIF selected, so just click on the drop-down menu and select JPEG. Just under that menu, you’ll find the Quality setting. I set that to Maximum and it automatically sets it to 100. Now click on OK.

Step Four – Next, name your file and save it to the location you’d like on your computer.

That’s it! Now you can upload your photos to the web and they’ll look just as they did on your desktop!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Terra Cotta Pots

Place an ordinary terra cotta pot upside down:

Spray with two coats of Blackboard Paint:

After 24 hours prep the surface by rubbing chalk over the whole surface then wiping it off:

Now you can write on it! See this pot I made for windowsill Basil?

Pin the Candle on the Cupcake

Pin the tail on the Donkey...a classic party game.

Here are the details:

• It's made out of felt and some jumbo rick rack trim.
• I made 10 candles and used a 2 inch strip of no sew sticky velcro on the backs.
• The polka dots I drew freehand on freezer paper that were stenciled in with tulip soft fabric paint and the colors came in a pack called retro. You had me at retro. The purple and yellow paint were bought seperately.
• I still have to figure out a way to hang it up because the packaging tape I used here just isn't going to cut it come party time. I thought about making a pocket at the top and using a dowel and ribbon. Or maybe grommets? I'm just not sure how well they work in felt. Any suggestions?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Laundry Room Decoration


Define the space

Perhaps you received the same Ballard Designs catalog I did last week?

When I saw this item, I knew I could work up a “version” of it myself, at a fraction of the $129 price tag.

I really liked the idea of this piece… the simplicity of it. I also thought the idea would work well in a bathroom. Personally, I think the decor of these spaces – laundry rooms & bathrooms – should be a little more utilitarian than anything else.

So, you guessed it, it’s another freebie!

I found my definitions at MSN Encarta & Merriam-Webster, just like they did. Each file is a PDF, with the image itself sized to 8”x10”. (Last time I checked, 8”x10” frames were a lot less than $129, plus my laundry room and guest bath are small, so Ballard’s 24” square print wouldn’t work for me.)

To download the file(s) of your choice, just click on the links below and you’ll be directed to their 4shared locations. Then, just print on your own color printer and trim to size (8”x10”), or upload it to a place like FedEx Office. Find an inexpensive frame, and voila! You’ve got yourself a new piece of “art” for likely 90% less than what Ballard Designs is charging.

I hope this makes a nice, simple addition to your space!