Tag Archives: project

The “Done Done Done” Dining Room Closet

It’s been a LONG process, but I think that I can finally call my Dining Room closet done! Ahhh, that sounds so good.. “Done Done Done!” It was a long process that requires a long post. I’ll say sorry in advance. Go grab a cup of coffee and settle in for the read….if you dare.

RECAP: Remember back when I was talking about my “Drop Zone” Problem at the kitchen table? Things were piling up – papers, coupons, work stuff, bills, Isaac’s things. Anything that came in the door with me landed on the table and I found myself cleaning and clearing the table multiple times a week. The real reason that items would get stuck on this table is because my closet in the dining room was OUT. OF. CONTROL.  So I did a little exercise to see what actually was piling up, so that I could create a specific place for those items. Remember this picture?


To solve the Drop Zone Problem, I first had to create some landing spots for these items. Most would end up in the closet – whether final or “in process”.

I use this closet as an office, basically. Projects, files, office supplies and a few other daily use items live in here for easy access. But, with a toddler walking and climbing around the house, it became my hiding spot. I’d been hiding so many things that the door would barely close.

It took me awhile to even decide to do this project. I knew it was going to take some time. Pre-baby, I could have tackled this in a day or two, but with Isaac running around it was impossible to conquer quickly. So, I slowly bit off chunks until it was done. Let’s take a journey starting back in January and ending in April. Woah.

closet1I spent time purging papers, clearing files, sorting memories items, and pulling items to donate to goodwill and trash. Isaac had a ball playing with my trash pile. It kept him occupied, exploring while I worked and chatted with him.
closet collage 1bI went through all then 3 fabric bins that were filed to the brim. On the shelves were still several piles sorted with like items ready for the next time I could get back to this project. I also found some cash in a card – 30 buckeroos! Ya-YAH! At the end of day one I was able to close the closet door with ease. It was good

By the way, this was the day that Isaac lost his tooth, just a few minutes after these shots were taken when we went to play in the bedroom. The trash pile on the floor stayed there as we ran to the pediatrician.


Now that I had some sorted piles, and could see the closet a little better and I put together a plan… on paper. I knew that I needed to chunk it out to continue to move along with the project. I taped this lists to the closet door.
closet19I spent some time shuffling my files. Took some to the basement to file the archives (shown below), and I aso created new files like these for 2013. I do finally have a process to our paperwork, that is a whole other blog post, but only using four yearly categories and other general long-term categories makes sorting at the end of each month a breeze.
At the end of Day 2 the closet didn’t look much different, except for a large pile disappearing into these folders. I was not moved to capture a pic.


I love the container store. Looove it.  Let’s just take a moment and appreciate the glory of this place……Ahhh!

coset11I went this day with a few items I needed for the closet. I was in search of two large boxes with lids, but had easy access. They were for (1) Tax items collected and (2) Memory items – both that are through the calendar year. I had measured the closet, so I knew that instead of two, three would be a better fit. I wasn’t sure what would end up in the third box, but it ended up being perfect to stash my different sized envelopes. I have lotsa those too. I picked up the orange desk file on impulse because it was on sale. And, back at the ranch… here is how it turned out. Perf.

boxes collage

Next, I spent some time going through the four office supply (grey & white) drawers; stuff had been accumulating. I had far more supplies than I needed, so I kept the basics, donated some to my office and trashed the rest. How many pens does a girl need? Apparently, 400. Isaac was ecstatic to get the benefit of the pink calculator shown… he thought it was a phone.
closet9I was able to pare down quite a bit. I used sticky address labels to temporarily label the storage containers and binders. I knew that I wanted to live with the arrangement for a bit until I committed to the labels. I am wise like that. I used the new orange desk file to hold blank printer paper, envelopes, and large lined notecards (one of my favorite things). I wanted a “quick grab” option.

To the right of the grey and white drawers is a labeled “work” pile for all the items I’d gathered to donate to my office. This gave me the brilliant idea to save a space in this closet for my work stuff. I constantly have items going back and forth and this spot would save my counters from being cluttered (–> Goal of this entire project!) I put my work bag and misc. items here in the closet! Yes. I was totally excited about this epiphany and started that system immediately. It is great to keep work stuff hidden while at home.
closet end of day3


I emptied the orange door-hanging organizer. Most of the items in here were tax related: monthly receipts by envelope, goodwill donation records, and a big envelope that I was putting tax documents in as they arrived in the mail. I added those to the new grey “taxes” box. I started a new container for my digital camera items and external hard drive items that had also lived in this hanging organizer’s pockets.

closet18Yep, I did it. I created a layout for this the space. A mood board for closets, if you will. I used the old sharpie and paper for this visionary work. The lovely drawings are the first ideas of the different containers. I decided to add some project boxes (clear bins on the shelf under the 3 grey bins). I was working on the Valentine Banner during this time which gave me another epiphany “I am always working on some random project… why not create a home for those smaller sized projects”. I know, I know… genius.
closet15Then I shuffled some things around to get closer to this…
closet16I also started an “In Process” box (shown in orange). This will be where I put incoming bills, items I need to read, magazines waiting for the weekend. Basically anything that needs further attention. I do go through and open out mail each day, read, sort, trash, etc. So if an item makes it to the “In Process” box it is a keeper. Once a week I sit down with this box and empty it, usually on Wednesday nights when I pay bills. This system has really been working for me. The box is small and upright, so it cannot last more than a week… and shouldn’t.

At this point the closet was about 85% done. The glassware was awaiting it’s home. I had a plan for that: building doors for the dining room credenza. Except, I don’t know how to build doors. So this is now a husband project and unfortunately he has two others already crowding his workbench.  So I waited. Through the waiting, I realized that the closet was functioning really well for me. I loved have drop spots for my work stuff and mail/bills. I also loved that my random projects weren’t hanging in the garage or on the kitchen table. The door was closing and the closet was overall less cluttered.

Waiting. Waiting.

Then, all the sudden it is April and the spring weather is starting to flirt with me. I want to shop! I received some money and gifts cards for my birthday to shop for clothing with. Yay! Isaac’s shopping sale 1 and sale 2 were motivating me to really look at my wardrobe and shop smart. I knew the first step would be going through my clothes closet. WAIT A MINUTE… I cannot start another closet when I haven’t finished this one! So I told myself “No! Self, you have to finish the dining room closet before you rip into another one.” I was really motivated now! That meant changing my plans. The glass had to go somewhere. No more waiting for credenza doors.

I packed up all the glass on the shelves and carried them to the basement. Temporarily (I hope).
closet20With the glass gone I had a whole open shelf. I finally moved all the items to their homes and started labeling! The fun part.

closet21A few additions:
(1) Cleaning caddy. I brought this up from the basement so that I can do a few quick cleaning on Tuesdays and Fridays. Having quick access to the cleaning supplies = more likely that I will clean. I love organizing. I do not love cleaning.
(2) Coupons. They used to live in the kitchen in a basket. They were pretty hidden, but I am trying to reduce items in the kitchen, and this seemed to be a good place to drop coupons as I sort bils and etc.
(3) Isaac’s Activity boxes. I have created a few boxes that have what I call “table time” activities. They sit next to the long grey boxes.
closet 27I will likely replace or update the clear plastic bins, so all the items inside aren’t as visible. But we are functioning well, so I will let that slide for a bit.
closet29At the bottom of the closet, I have empty space on top of the file cart for my work bag. I also have floor space to hide my mini-vacuum. I am often using this in the dining room to clean up after toddler meals, so it is nice to have a spot to tuck it away.

Lets take a closer look at the pretty labels:
closet collage labelsSo the closet it done! I am not saying I won’t tweak it as I go. Remember this is like my office. It  will flex with life. I’ll be back with more details on my washi labels. They need more attention, for sure.

I feel like I accomplished my goal for this space… 
(1) Simple – check
(2) Functional – check
(3) Affordable – check 

(4) Systematic – check, check
(5) Pretty – check

final closet org

Have you had a project take you months to complete? What got you through project paralysis? I think I need to study that symptom some more! More importantly… Did you actually make it to the end of the post?!

Weekly Grocery Shopping Made Easy!

Look what I made… a Master Grocery List! So I guess that makes me a master grocer? Hardly!  I am not a fan of grocery shopping, but…. it must be done. So why not make it as easy and efficient as possible. I have been wanting to make myself a list for awhile and finally got around to it tonight.

I quickly did a Pinterest search for some inspiration. Anyone else do that? Here are some ideas I found. Some were beautiful, but I only really needed mine to be functional, low maintenance and quick was good. Here is what I came up with in a half hour + excel + home printer…

banner_grocery-listI made it pretty simple – with only the things that I mostly by for our family. I also left a lot of blank spaces. I added a Misc. category at the end, you know… for those things that you add to your grocery run and don’t want to forget! This is just my first draft, I plan to add and update over the next few weeks as I shop. This is to use on a weekly basis, but I also have plans to make a monthly version, that way I can do a major stock-up on as much as I can in that trip, and pick up produce, dairy, meat and etc. each week.

Want to make your own? Here are a few steps to become a Master Grocer yourself.

Project: Master Grocery List
1. Make list of items you buy monthly
2. List these in order as they appear in your regular grocery store, so they are in order as you shop.
3. Start an excel or google spreadsheet of the list, use columns.
4. Leave blank spaces/lines for add ons (items you do not by as often).
5. Highlight the items you need for that shopping trip on the list before you shop.
6. Put a “C” by the items you have coupons for, add notes as needed.
7. “X” out the items you have put into your cart.
8. Update the list as needed.