Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Happy Organized Homemaking

I just returned from a wonderful weekend leading a women’s retreat on the topic of happiness. It was fun to explore the idea from many perspectives and a delight to meet so many interesting, passionate, caring women. Being away from my little tribe always makes me appreciate them more, but coming home to a mess cuts those warm fuzzy feelings short every time. Except this time! This time I came home to a relatively clean home. What a nice change. The children are growing up. Either that or my hubby’s getting better about cracking the whip!

This morning as I sorted out the piles left on the counters and laundry dumped in the laundry room, I thought about one of the topics that came up over the weekend. We agreed that an organized home makes you happier. Most of us feel more content and energetic when our surroundings are not overwhelmed by clutter and chaos. I whole-heartedly agree on this one. Lucky for me I married an engineer who works for a tool company. He can build or fix nearly anything. I cannot. But I have lots of ideas! We make a great team.

Let me take you on a pictorial tour of some of the ways we’ve organized our family life. Maybe it will inspire you to organize something in your home which just might make you happier! (please note that I didn’t clean up for the tour. I figure we’re all friends here and you won’t hold the cleanliness of my counters/walls/floors against me!)

When we moved in to our current house, we converted the living room into a kitchen. This allowed me to design my kitchen just for me. This picture is the “baking center.” I was inspired by the book Confessions of an Organized Homemaker (highly recommend this book especially if you are an organizational junkie like me). The author stresses how important it is to put the things you use together in the same space in your kitchen. Here you can see the spice rack that my handy hubby built so the spices I used most are at hand. You’ll also not the availability of the flour-sugar canisters. The large pull our drawer holds measuring cups and tools for baking and the little square drawers at eye level hold all the small items like extracts, tea, icing paraphernalia, birthday candles, biscuit cutters, etc - basically all the little things that rattle around in your cabinets and get lost. The last drawer on the right is closest to the door my kids exit each day and holds chapstick, sunscreen, bandaids, and aquaphor – all items they might remember they need just as they are leaving. I realize you may not be able to build your own baking center, but you can re-organize your kitchen so the tools/ingredients you use together are housed together.

This is a simple key rack just inside our door. Easy to build, but saves us hours of frustration. We always
know where the keys to the cars are. As we are about to launch a third driver into the mix, this will undoubtedly save much stress (but certainly not counter the stress of worrying about that driver!)

I am a vinegar junkie. There I said it. Not only do I use vinegar to clean just about anything, I love the wealth of possibilities when it comes to flavored vinegars. I use them in sauces, dressings, marinades, even drinks, and I find more uses for them all the time. This is a relatively new addiction, but the bottles were beginning to clutter our counter so handy hubby built a small shelf just above the counter. This keeps the bottles available without cluttering our work space. Simple and decorative solution. Sometimes it’s easier to accommodate a junkie rather than fight her.

This little gem we’ve had since our first house which had a huge country kitchen but nearly no counter space. It’s an under the cabinet knife holder. I believe we purchased it from Kitchens etc. The block swings out so you can remove the knives easily, but swings back under the cabinet out of the way when not in use. Brilliant solution for keeping knives within reach of the chef!

This is our chicken bucket. It’s actually a compost bucket with an air filter built into the lid to keep smells in check. Because we empty it every day into the chicken pen, we don’t have any issues with it. You could have a similar item for your own daily compost. I’m shocked to discover how many people don’t compost. It’s good for your garden, your conscience, and the environment. Plus is super simple. You can read about getting started composting here.

Our regular compost is set up as part of the trash system (remember the comment I made about designing my own kitchen just for me?). Compost can also be in a bin that hangs inside the door below your sink. There are a million brilliant ideas for collecting your kitchen compost. All you need to is open up pinterest.

This picture is a nod to the person from the retreat who lamented the difficulty of organizing Tupperware storage. This is our drawer for storage containers. We mostly use glass, which I recommend for leftovers, but we also have plastic containers for packing lunches. I keep the bottoms nested together and trap the lids upright against the front of the drawer. Sandwich containers are against the right side of the drawer and round containers are nested at the back with their lids. If possible, stick to square and rectangle containers. Not only do they nest better together, they take up less room in your fridge. Round containers are silly. We should do away with them altogether.

This is our chore chart. I purchased a small black board and handy hubby framed it and stained it to match our kitchen cabinets. Now everyone knows what they are supposed to do each week. (I know you’re going to ask, so the numbers are the running tally of each child’s “mom bucks.” If you missed that post, click here.)

This is the latest masterpiece of the collaboration between the handy hubby and the dreaming nagger. It’s in the entryway of our house. There are various size cubbies for shoes and behind the cubbies (under the cushions and lid) is storage for snow pants/boots/hats/scarves/mittens. I LOVE how this turned out. Even ten years late! (Thanks Nicholas!!)

This was handy hubby’s invention. He was tired of the cords that littered the counter and occasionally went missing at inopportune moments (after the sugarplums are nestled in their beds). It’s a charging station and hopefully the pictures are self explanatory.

This is our “corral” system. It’s something that has evolved over the years. It is a basic shelf we purchased at IKEA pre-kids. I’m not sure what its original purpose was. When our children began accumulating childhood flotsam, we dragged it into service in its intended upright position and each child had a shelf to load with their sports gear, instrument, backpack, etc. The oldest had the top, middle the middle, and youngest  the bottom. The problems began with items like baseball bats were carelessly tossed on a shelf only to roll off moments later. Same for soccer balls and stacks of notebooks. Plus some things, like a fencing bag, just didn’t fit. One day while cleaning out the mess that accumulated on and around the shelf unit, we were struck by momentary brilliance and turned it on its side. That was years ago and the corrals have worked great every since. I love the ease of tossing items into corrals as I sweep through on clean-up patrol.

We have racks like this all over our house. I’ll do anything to get things off the floor (which is eternally covered in cat/dog hair and barn/garden dust. We have racks above our hamper for clothes that can be worn again but we’re too lazy to put back in the closet. Racks inside the entry doors to be used as actual coat racks (we have a coat closet, but it never seems to get used except when there is company). Racks along the stairs down to the basement (mostly used to hang things I'm too lazy to carry down there). We have racks in the bathrooms because it’s much easier to toss a towel on a hook than fold it over a bar. Coat hook racks are cheap and if installed well (they need to be able to support the weight of what you hang), they will save time and give the illusion of neatness.

Which is the bottom line for me – saving time and the illusion of neatness. What could make a girl happier?

1 comment:

  1. Having heard some of your organization projects over the past weekend, it was nice to see your pictures. Your coral system gave me an idea for the lacrosse and foot ball equipment in my entry way.