I got the following question sent to me from a reader J. last night:
Several weeks ago you did a little post on organization and storage furniture you bought at Fred Meyer and spiffing up your kids’ playroom. I need help with organization! We have 4 kids and I feel like the “stuff truck” has run me over!! I am a Queen Consignment Mama to boot, which seems to only add to the “stuff” quotient in this home! I have a goal to simplify (it would radically bless my husband), but was hoping you could soon (before Christmas) post on BEST DEALS for canvas bins, shelving, storage containers, cabinets, dressers… anything to put things away with! We have a romantic, old home with great big rooms and NO STORAGE! HELP!
J, I feel it necessary to first disclose that if you were at my house at this very moment, I doubt you would’ve asked me this question! Presently, my office desk is littered with toys, a phone, dirty dishes, and coupons (of course). That being said, I’ve been learning and growing in this area and think there are a few things I can share. I also know many of my readers are incredibly skilled with homemaking abilities, and I’m hoping they can lend to this conversation too.
But before I talk about my ideas for deals on bins and containers, I feel we need to do a little housecleaning first. Ready to bear with me?
Stop the Bleeding!
First things first. I need to be honest with you, I think until you get your current house under control, you need to STOP BRINGING MORE STUFF IN.
OK, now that we’ve gotten that little item of business out of the way…
Get Rid of Stuff First
One of the biggest ways you can save money on storage containers and bins? Don’t buy them. Now I’m being a little sarcastic here because yes, storage is important.
But if you have less stuff to store in the first place? You’ll reduce the number of containers, shelves, and bins you’ll need to buy.
Let me share with you a real life example. Or should I say, struggle. My kids’ toys.
They completely take over my downstairs if I let them! And there’s nothing worse than stepping on a toy rocketship in socked feet first thing in the morning. I want my kids to feel this is their house, but I also needed to feel like my living room was “grown up.” So here’s what I did…
1. I got rid of a TON of the toys. The broken ones, mismatched ones, the ones they’d outgrown.
2. I moved many of them up to their rooms. I also passed some on to their little cousins.
3. I opted for a stylish storage solution. A leather ottoman.
Here’s how it looks in my living room:
You’d never be any the wiser it contains all my muchkins’ toys, eh?
(Incidentally this ottoman sells for about $79.99 at Target. I got mine free with Target credit I had, but that’s another story for another day! There are additional ottomans at Amazon to give you an idea.)
Less is More
I want to give a final illustration of how less stuff can bring more meaning (and less headache, too!).
At Christmastime, I usually clutter up the top of my piano with Christmas items. Well guess what? This year my husband couldn’t find one of our boxes. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
It caused me to keep the space clean, minimal.
I opted to display the simple wooden Nativity Set that my husband had brought back from his medical mission trip to Sierra Leone a couple years back. (Reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas anyways!) The picture was in another room of the house, so I just moved it above the piano. Viola!
I hinted that I’m no expert on this topic. I’m really not! But did you know that there are some excellent, excellent resources out there that devote themselves entirely to this topic?
The Nester. I LOVE this blog. Her philosophy is all about making the most with what you have. She has a strong “decluttering” ephasis.
Unclutterer. This blog, as the name suggests, is all about uncluttering! There are many, many practical tips (as well as some whimsical ones, too).
FlyLady. I’ve also mentioned this blog before, but this is a great place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Every day you’ll receive a task list for keeping a clean and uncluttered home.
Unclutter Your Life in One Week. This is the book written by the author of Unclutterer.
Organizing from the Inside Out. Written by Julie Morgenstern, this New York Times bestseller provides very practical step-by-step instruction on how to organize every room in your house. Her approach also includes organizing your space to help you meet your goals. I own this book and love it!
Next, the Bargains!
Tomorrow I’ll share with you some thoughts on how to find bargains on those organizational items. But until then, I hope I’ve inspired you to start purging items and stop bringing new ones in until you’ve gotten everything under control.
Readers: if you keep a ship-shape house, would you mind sharing some of your secrets? How do you keep clutter at bay? How often do you go through items to get rid of? What tips do you have for J (and hey – me too!)