Thursday, April 28, 2016

11 What Would Jen Do: The Land of Mud & Laundry

I am so excited to be back with another post in my new series, What Would Jen Do?  The first two are essentially trial runs, with me actually visiting the specific space in person to do my assessing and idea crunching.  I am guessing this is a bit easier than trying to do everything virtually, and I really appreciate that my pals are letting me test the waters with their spaces.  I absolutely love problem solving solutions that will help folks live an easier, breezier life!

I created this series for a few reasons; primarily to help people tackle spaces in their own homes, while sharing those ideas and recommendations here to also assist others facing similar problem areas.  Generally, I will select areas/zones/spaces that many people have in common (submitted to me from friends, family and readers), and share my personal thought process while problem solving organizational and storage solutions for their projects.  You can find my first space of this series here, in which I helped my girlfriend with her daughter's closet.  It really generated a lot of discussion and ideas from all of you, which is another goal I have with these types of posts.  I certainly cannot think of everything, and y'all always bring new perspectives to the table.  If you ask me, that is one of the best components of this blogging gig.

You may recall that earlier this year I took a last minute trip to visit one of my favorite gal pals, Cassie, and helped her with her craft room closet project.  During my visit we made sure to get in a mix of fun and work, and ate an endless variety of delicious Tex-Mex.  I picked her brain about closets and clothing and makeup while she picked mine about storage and organization around her home.  I think we both would agree that these normal, daily tasks are far more fun when discussed and worked out with a dear friend.

Cassie wasn't initially planning a laundry room makeover, but she did express a desire to make it more functional.  That's where I came in!  I walked her through my typical thought process and asked her a variety of questions regarding her space and how it should ultimately function for her family.

Then, her washer and dryer decided they'd had enough, and she upgraded to a beautiful set of black stainless steel machines. Ooooh la la!

This sweet upgrade not only expedited the storage and organizational plans, but also was the push she needed to glam up the space a bit.  You can find all of her design plan details here.

Hello!?  Stop drooling at that marvelous tile!  Focus!  Cassie has the design elements nailed down, but what about that storage plan?

To get started, I grabbed some scratch paper and took down a few notes and measurements to come up with a basic space layout.

Above you can see that she has a wall containing the sink, washer and dryer as well as a row of cabinets above.  On the opposite side of the space, a nook is carved out and currently holds extra pool towels, backpacks and clothes hanging to dry.

Cassie and I definitely agreed that the best use of this nook would be to have her contractor build custom cubbies to maximize the entire space.

The goal of the cubbies is to manage a variety of storage and organizational tasks:

  • Store their dog's food
  • Conceal their trash can
  • Store footwear
  • Offer a place for the kids to hang their backpacks, sporting gear and instruments
  • Organize and store additional pool gear and beach towels
  • Bonus: offer a place to charge electronics

With these needs in mind, I recommended drawers at the bottom to conceal the everyday clutter of dog food, trash and shoes.  The cubbies could remain open and door-less, since the nook is recessed and can't be seen from any other area of the home.  Summer and pool staples are utilized frequently, so I recommended easy access bins or baskets in the upper cubbies.  Cassie's ceilings are nine feet tall, so she has a lot of available height, and can add two rows of upper cavities.  She also has plenty of room to add a sliver of space for organizing and charging her family's technology.

The drawers will be around 18-22" tall for the food and trashcan on each end, and the cubbies would be divided into three even sections at approximately 18-20" wide and almost 5' tall.  Instead of a single hook in the center, I would add a hook to each wall, a single or double would really maximize the available hanging space.
Cassie and I both lovity love stripes, and these rugby bins are a fun and smart solution for the open cavities above.  They not only conceal their belongings, but are also light enough for all of the family members to easily grab down.

Just to the right of the new cubbies, Cassie can re-install pieces of her Martha Stewart Wall Manager system to create a darling and effective family command center.

Behind the laundry room door, they have just enough room to install a few components of this Elfa wall laundry system.  We love Elfa almost as much as we love tacos (#almost), and the pegboard-esque features allow her to mix and match small bins, shelves and hooks to create the perfect combination of ironing and cleaning supply storage.  

And more detail for you:

The opposite side is already in great shape as there are a plethora of tall cabinets for her to utilize and fill with all of her home maintenance supplies.  Things such as lightbulbs, paper products, cleaning and wash items can all live inside of bins, and also remain nicely concealed behind closed doors.

Because Cassie will be losing her hanging/drying area on the opposite side of the room, I looked for alternative solutions.  My first thought was to remove a set of cabinets and install a clothing bar, however, the taller cabinets are a single unit.  We could remove the shorter set, although the clothes would be challenging to reach if hung all the way over the top of the sink and new faucet.

And then I found this idea!


Say what?!  Completely a genius move; pull out drying racks.  So cool that they can discreetly tuck away in-between uses.  Cassie is going to consult her contractor to determine if her cabinets can be relocated all the way up to the ceiling, which would accommodate this type of smart setup.

If it doesn't work out, we will throw a temper tantrum fit and then go to option B, which is this flip up/down drying rack from IKEA.  It is perfectly sized to fit just below her window.

With the height of the cabinets and cubbies, I was a little nervous for my fellow petite pal.  I had to find her space for a collapsible step-stool, and lucky for me, there is just enough room remaining next to her lovely new dryer.  Whew!

wall manager (no longer available) | folding step stool | rugby bins | label holder hooks | flip down drying rack | pull out trash | elfa laundry organizer 


  • Install existing Martha Stewart Wall Manager near new cubbies to act as a place to leave notes, sign off on important school papers and organize family schedules.
  • Add a folding step stool for reaching those upper cabinet shelves and cubbies.  Ikea also offers an unfinished version, which can be painted in a fresh and playful color.
  • Utilize lightweight, concealed bins to hold all of the day-to-day clutter that will be stored in the open shelving (avoid wire baskets as they generally add to visual clutter vs. reduce it).
  • Add single or double hooks to each wall of the cubby.  The addition of a label will keep everyone in check, and will also look quite charming.  I love when function and form combine!
  • DIY a pull out drying rack below the row of cabinets, or install this one from IKEA which is slim enough to fit below the window.
  • Add small bins to the lower cubby drawers for pull out trash and dog food storage.  Utilize the center drawer for family shoes that are currently in rotation.
  • Add components of the Elfa laundry organizer to maximize the slender space behind the door, and to provide a place for an iron/ironing board as well as cleaning tools and supplies.

Now that I have come up with a plan, I told Cassie she had no choice but to get her booty in gear and share all of the goodness on her blog, and mine.  #iheartbloggers  I only wish I could be there to help her in person.  Although, if that were the case we would probably get sucked into endless chats and you guessed it... tacos, taco soup, taco bar, margaritas, fajitas, breakfast tacos.... Goodness, is anyone else hungry?  And if you are wanting to know more about the washer, dryer and space design, Cassie is chatting about all of those details over on her blog today as well! #soulsisters

I am sort of sad that this was the last project we looked at together; I feel the need to find another collaboration in the future before I start twitching.  Cassie, what do you say?

Once again, my renderings were all done in Excel, and a few of you seemed interested in that fact last time, so I am working on a tutorial post in the near future.  I don't know that it is the fastest way to space plan, but I find it super user friendly and it doesn't require me to learn fancy space planning and Adobe programs just yet.

And now that I have worked on a few spaces for my very kind friends, I am ready and excited to help a few of you as well!  Please submit your problem area photos and questions for a future edition of What Would Jen Do, to  I will aim to select spaces that may be a common dilemma for a handful of my readers and that can be accomplished on moderate budget (think nooks, pantries, entryways/closets, playrooms, bathrooms, etc... I don't intend to virtually take on full rooms just yet).  Of course I wish I could help every last one of you, however, I will only be able to select one space every month or two.  I really encourage you to try to submit as you may have the perfect space to be addressed.  Also, please note that you must be willing to share your photos and story right here to be considered.

Feel free to share your thoughts on today's plans and ideas in the comments below.  Do you have a cubby system in your laundry/mudroom, and if so, is there anything you would have designed differently?  What is your favorite method of drying delicate apparel?  Are you wishing you could see Cassie's beautiful laundry room tile in person?  #sogood

Monday, April 25, 2016

5 UHeart Organizing: 10 Creative Ways to Store Linens (When You Don't Have a Linen Closet)

Our closet situation has always been a little awkward around here, and when I recently organized our hallway "linen" closet, a few people noticed that I only store a few extra towels there (where are your linens!?).  The remainder of the closet consisted of storing medications, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries and ironing supplies.  So where are the rest of our linens?  Well, my first tip is of course to be selective about how many linens are really necessary.  From there, I tend to store our linens in their dedicated space/room; bedding in the bedrooms, cloth napkins in the kitchen, towels in the bathrooms. This setup has been working like a charm for years.

So, whether you have no linen closet, or you utilize your dedicated linen closet to store alternative items, Ursula from Home Made by Carmona is stopping in today to share 10 creative ways to store your linens, and you don't need a specific linen closet for any of them.

Hi there iHeart Organizing readers! I'm SO pleased to be back here today sharing some smart solutions to a problem that has plagued me for so long.

My house doesn't have any linen closets, or any space I could really convert into a linen closet. When you have a family of five, that means 5 times the bedding, 5 times the bath towels, and 5 times the dinner linens. That isn't even accounting for the extra for guests, for differences of weather (winter versus summer bedding for example), and the fact that there are probably 2 sets for each person for laundering purposes (so that should really read 10 times). Needless to say, not having a linen closet can become quite the storage nightmare. Over many years, I have discovered all kinds of creative storage solutions, so today I'm sharing with you 10 Creative Ways To Store Linens (when you have no linen closet).

Before we dive in, there are 3 main principles to keep in mind when thinking outside the linen closet.
  1. Fill unused spaces - Put hallway nooks and open corners to good use as storage.
  2. Work it into the decor - Storage can be very attractive, especially if you have lovely linens. Store the pretty ones in plain sight, and tuck the less-than-attractive sets behind closed doors and drawers.
  3. Streamline - You don't need three sheets per bed, especially if many of the beds are the same size. Keep no more than two towels per family member, and a few extra for guests (amount depends on whether most of your friends have kids, and how many).

Ready for some creative solutions? Here we go!


Baskets are beautiful and decorative, and your guests won't realize that the cute rolls of blankets inside them are actually there because you had no where else to store them. Instead it will seem like a sweet, guest-friendly gesture that you made available should someone feel a chill.


What if you can't find a place to put your dinner linens behind closed doors? Never mind, put them behind closed drawers! Take a seldom used kitchen drawer, or dining room hutch drawer, and keep the dinner items close at hand.


Bookshelves aren't just for books anymore! Add one to an open wall or hallway space to store your sheets, towels, and other miscellaneous items! Smaller than the average freestanding wardrobe, you can still add doors to a bookshelf and keep your linens hidden with more walking room. Or maintain them as an attractive open storage unit and use baskets to organize.


Add towel holders behind doors, behind cabinet doors, and even to walls. Then think beyond the traditional use of just bath towels... Use them to store dish towels, cloth napkins, blankets, and even add hooks to place baskets with miscellaneous stored items. You name it!


Why not keep your sheets and blankets in the same room you use them in? Make a little space in the top of your closet shelf, or add a hanging closet organizer, to store that specific bedroom's linens. Another options, which is what I personally prefer, is to place comforters and blankets in some pretty canvas bins way up high (too high to use for other purposes), then place that bedroom's frequently used sheets and pillow cases at a lower level within reach.


I love making use of underused spaces. Under the bed is where socks and miscellaneous items go to die, so why not prevent that by keeping bins under there? Then those get-away items have no where to roll.


I don't think of baskets as my only go-to solution for storing linens; I use bowls, jars, bins, and more. It is a nice way to store smaller linens in the appropriate room, such as face rags in a jar in the bathroom, cloth napkins in a bowl in the kitchen, and pillow cases in a bin in the bedroom.


From medium canvas bins, to large plastic bins and beyond, these are a great go-to storage solution. If you have a basement or attic storage space, this is where you can put seasonal bedding, such as large winter comforters.


Double duty furniture is a DREAM! Ah! Definitely purchase a few large storage ottomans or storage chairs to stash away over-sized blankets and other linens. They are lovely at the end of a bed, in a hallway space, or even as extra seating in a living area!


Remember these bad boys I whipped up? I showed them off here on iHeart Organizing last year, and they have been incredible space saving storage. I made a bunch of cabinet door organizers the easy way (learn how here), and they extend the storage of any cabinet or door space. Not to mention, they are stunning as cloth storage and cleaning tool storage.


I hope some of these tips will help keep your linens neatly tucked away, even if you don't have a linen closet. Until next time, keep on organizing!

Hi, I'm Ursula and I blog at Home Made by Carmona where there is always a fun DIY project in play. I've got expensive taste and no money, I'm a neat freak who's house didn't get that memo, and I firmly believe organization has the power to improve our homes, habits, and the members that abide there! I'm so thrilled to be here at IHeart Organizing, the blog that first inspired me to start my own blogging journey.

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