Tuesday, June 5, 2018

25 An Organized Teen Boy Closet

Our son's closet came together even better than I could have imagined! I love every last detail, and the best part is that all it took was some simple DIY and a few off-the-shelf organizers to create a whole lot of storage.

Our almost 14-year-old son currently has the smallest room in the house. But we don't want it to feel that way so we have been making a lot of changes to open it up and add smart storage.

I think two different actions accomplished that feeling of openness we were after; painting the walls a solid light blue-gray (almost white color - Sherwin William's Nebulous White) and widening the closet opening to create more storage that will ultimately live behind a closed door (see that post here).

And a quick reminder of the closet the day before we cleared it out for a makeover:

And here it is today!

Although the last make-shift closet system served us well for quite some time, the biggest problem we all had is that our son had outgrown the bins and they were literally bursting at the seams. He needed some actual drawers and to keep his bedroom floor area nice and open, we wanted to add those drawers inside of the closet. I also wanted to be sure he had a place for his shoes off of the floor and that we made the most of the 8 feet of vertical space, so after looking at a variety of options, I decided on the IKEA PAX wardrobe frame (measuring in at 29 1/2" wide x 22 7/8" deep x 79 1/4" tall). This unit offers more than enough space and I appreciate that there is plenty of room for him as he continues to grow.

This kiddo is the beneficiary of a lot of hand-me-down items. Not only does he have an older brother that has always taken pretty good care of his belongings, but we have a few friends with older boys that like to pass on their clothes as well. We try to limit the number of clothing items we keep in general, but it is also nice to have some options. The updated closet not only provides adequate storage for his current wardrobe, but also for the plethora of hand-me-downs waiting for when he goes through another growth spurt.

So let's talk about the hand-me-downs for a minute. We have three boys so we do our best to preserve and reuse clothes as much as possible. They grow at different rates and are always different sizes, so there are times we need to store those extra clothes that they just haven't grown into yet. Twice a year we do a quick closet purge and inventory and rotate out their closets (spring and fall). I prefer to keep their hand-me-downs stored on the top shelf of their closets, and in this room, these medium Elfa drawers were the perfect solution. Did you know that although they are meant to be used with the Elfa drawer system, they can also be used as stackable bins? Mind. Blown. I love that they are frosted and sturdy and come with slim lids that clip in. They are a really great size and by using two, we were able to easily fit them on top of the IKEA tower in our son's closet.

These two bins hold 10+ pairs of jeans in a variety of sizes, as well as dress shirts/pants, shorts, sweats, t-shirts, etc... I found that I had plenty of room to roll and stack the items inside.

To keep track of the contents, I created and printed out a quick inventory tracker that I filled out and tucked under the lid. I am able to see through the lid just enough that this worked out perfectly, but the sheet could also slide into a clear plastic sleeve on top of a solid bin as well.

You can also download the trackers for free if you would like!



Now, back to his current clothing...

Remember how we DIY'd the easiest custom drawer dividers ever? I can't rave about them enough! They worked out so well in these drawers and offered us a lot of flexibility.

I divided the top drawer into three slots; one for pajamas, one for socks, and another for underwear.

Quick Tip: I typically purchase a different type of sock for each boy, one to two packages of white and one package of black. This makes it easy to identify which socks belong to which boy, and also allows them to just toss their socks into their drawer with no matching necessary. In the past, I have also used colored Sharpies to mark the bottoms which helped in identifying and quickly sorting all of their socks after washes (or when they are laying all over the house).

The next drawer down divides his bulky hooded sweatshirts and shorts.

Then his short sleeved t-shirts, sweatpants and sweatshirts, and long sleeve t-shirts are divided into three narrower sections.

The following drawer is all of his athletic wear, swim and extra space for future sports uniforms.

The bottom drawer has plenty of room for sheets and seasonal bedding.

And the smaller pull-out at the bottom holds his shoes.

You may have also noticed that I added some labels to the top of each drawer, which can be seen when the drawer is both closed and open. I used this label maker with clear tape.

Our son prefers to fold his clothes vs. hanging them, and this folding method was so quick and easy for him to learn. He basically files his clothes so that everything is visible and compact.

Four easy steps, the shirts can be folded in just a few seconds each.

1. Shirt face down

2. Fold in both sleeves

3. Fold bottom up to the top (in half)

4. Repeat and fold the bottom up again (in half)

Everything else is just rolled or folded to best fit in each divided section.

For the clothes that he does hang (essentially anything a little dressier with a collar or buttons), we installed a solid oak closet rod which I stained a warm wood tone. And as always, I recommend doubling up on the rods whenever possible.

And used black closet rod sockets to compliment the other black hardware in the closet.

We also added two solid white shelves above each rod to offer a little extra storage if needed. We recessed them back a bit so that we could place the hand-me-down bins up top without any issue.

And these slim, no-slip hangers have been really great for the price.

Both the drawers and the shelves in the tower are quite deep, almost two feet in fact. This is great for the drawers, he has plenty of spare space to continue to grow. The shelves, of course, prove to be a little more difficult to utilize. But, the top shelf holds some heavier throw blankets that we use for sleepovers/guests, the next shelf holds a couple of light-weight woven baskets to conceal his everyday clutter (nerf guns, tech gadgets, etc...), and the lower shelf has a few document boxes for memorabilia and arts & crafts.

I also added a small "valet" type tray to hold his daily items and act as a drop zone.

It's funny that this was one of his favorite details, I guess it made him feel a bit more "adult" to have a place for his wallet, change, watch, sunglasses, and deodorant.

And that completes the closet tour!

With our boy entering high-school this coming fall, this closet project came at the perfect time! The previous closet functioned so well for so long when the boys were much smaller, but this is definitely an upgrade fit for a teenager.

A few more notes:

  • I love that the IKEA tower is versatile and customizable. We added the pull-out shoe tray, five large clothing drawers, and three shelves to put together this configuration.
  • I added this hardware to the drawers, which I sprayed in a flat black finish.
  • All of the drawers are soft close! So nice!
  • This is the paper I used to line the back of the tower (I just adhered it to the back panel with double-sided carpet tape before tacking it to the back of the frame).
  • Although we designed this closet for a teen boy, it is versatile enough to work for anyone of any age! Always a bonus.
  • We plan to add a sliding door next to conceal everything, which almost makes me sad because I love how it turned out so much! But also, teenage boy.
  • I considered adding a small step stool under his pants, but the boy is officially as tall as me and has no problem reaching his everyday items. Sigh....

This install has also sold us on updating our own closet with the PAX system down the road. It was so easy and versatile and the quality is really great. Not to mention, I love that there are so many ways to customize it to make it look unique, even though it is off-the-shelf at IKEA (they are not sponsoring me by the way, just my honest thoughts).

Let's end the post with a fun before and after to see how much was gained by removing the wing wall and installing a fully functional closet system.

For reference, I rounded up all of the closet sources below.

You can also catch up on all of the other room posts here:

Teen Boy Closet Planning

Patching the Walls and Carpet

Bedroom Progress: A Blank Slate

Quick & Easy DIY Drawer Organizers

Teen Workspace with DIY Wall Shelf

Thursday, May 17, 2018

14 Quick Tip! Get a Grip on your Drawer Dividers

Drawer dividers are generally intended to provide some order and calmness. They prevent our belongings from becoming jumbled messes and are also ideal for creating organized categories. I have always been a huge proponent of dividers because they have made our lives easier and better in every room in our home.

However, finding dividers that fit inside of drawers just right is a rarity. No matter how much you search and create grids and measure and plan, there will always be that last sliver of space. Or what about those times when you only want to divide a portion of the drawer? And because those drawer dividers are not always perfectly fit, they end up sliding from side to side and front to back. #thehorror

I have worked with a few folks lately that have had that very problem and asked how to prevent the obnoxious shifting of everything each time a drawer is opened and closed. Dividers are supposed to make things better, but something so small can quickly become a daily annoyance.

There are three really easy (and non-permanent) ways that I like to prevent shifting, wiggling, and sliding inside of drawers.

1 |  C O M M A N D  S T R I P S

Because I usually spring for clear/acrylic drawer dividers, I also prefer the clear Command Strips. You can purchase replacement strips solo (no need to purchase with the hooks), and they are great to use for a variety of discreet projects around the house. Of course, any type of Command Strip could pair well with any drawer divider of your choosing. I place one or two of the strips on the bottom and stick it directly to the drawer/liner.

With this method and the next, I am selective about what divider I adhere the strip to as I don't want to incur the expense of doing this to the bottom of every divider in the drawer. I typically select the divider that is able to support/hold all of the other dividers in place as well.

No one would be the wiser, and there is absolutely zero shifting of the dividers when the drawer is opened and closed.

2 |  C L E A R  B U M P E R S

Another little household hack is to use cabinet/drawer bumpers!

These can be found at just about any home or hardware store, and are very grippy! They are generally used to protect your cabinets and drawers, but have also been known to protect glass surfaces, the walls behind frames, added to the bottom of home decor and accessories and electronics. And now they can also be found in some of the drawers in our home!

In the drawer above you can see I left a large amount of space for longer items to be stored and wanted to prevent the entire row of dividers from sliding forward. Adding a few bumpers to the front of the dividers in the front rows did just that!

This is a really great option when you only want to add a couple of dividers to a large drawer and have a lot of additional space to fill with other items.

3 |  G R I P P Y  S H E L F  L I N E R

For heavier duty projects, my "go to" is a grippy liner. And sometimes grippy dividers too!

A few years ago I gifted my husband two Elfa towers (these frames and these bins) to store all of our project materials and tools, and I am just now beginning to tackle the huge project of organizing them!

I have been on the hunt for both a good liner and also good dividers to use inside of the drawers; nothing cute or fancy but 100% durable. I landed on some black grip liner that can be cut to size, along with these interlocking organizers that also have some inside grip to them.

No matter the weight, tool or piece of hardware, they should stay put as the drawer is opened and closed or even removed completely to be toted around the house and garage. The grippy shelf liner not only holds the dividers in place but also the objects sitting on top. And the interlocking lined dividers will be good for the more heavy duty items, while everyday dividers will work for smaller pieces and still stay in place with the help of the liner.

Again, this option allows for the dividers to be split and only be used in certain areas of the drawer, which also means that I am able to better maximize how each drawer is divided and categorized. Hooray for added flexibility!

BONUS TIP: Grip liner can be found just about everywhere in a variety of colors and price points, and can easily be cut down to size. If you only want to add some smaller pieces of the liner below the drawer dividers to stretch your investment, that works too! Also, get creative with what you use, rug pads and silicone caulk can serve the same purpose!

I always try out my tips before sharing them and recommending them, but you can't 100% tell from the photos just how well these methods work, so I compiled a couple of quick boomerangs I took with my phone to drive the point home.

No-Slip Drawer Dividers from Jen Jones on Vimeo.

And because I am often asked about where to purchase the items found in this post, or my favorite dividers in general, I have rounded up everything for you below.

It's time to put those dividers in their place once and for all!