Tuesday, February 9, 2016

7 Do it Yourself: Paper Sorting Organizer

Hello everyone!  How was your weekend?  I just returned home from a whirlwind trip to Texas to hang with my pal, Cassie.  She had a fun organizational project in the works and I couldn't miss out on the fun.  So we sorted, labeled and ate delicious Tex-Mex multiple times per day.  I can't wait to share more about her project this week; so start preparing to experience new organizational highs unlike any you have felt before...

While Cassie's closet included a lot of planning and thinking, today's project was THE BEST happy accident.  It was not at all planned; it was about as last minute as they come.  It turned out to be pure organizational gold in my eyes, so I thought I would quickly share more about the DIY paper sorting system shared in our recent charging station cabinet post.  And by "more" I mean how we made it!


This post wasn't quite planned so a few photos from the beginning of the process are missing, so I will do my best to explain things in detail.  And the reason for the unplanned post is because this project was also unplanned.  It was the result of my husband getting creative out of my desperation.

We tend to work on our projects late into the night, after our boys are tucked soundly into their beds.  Organizing the charging cabinet was no exception.  I was in the process of trying to get a plethora of things done before heading away for a few days, and as I was putting together our charging cabinet, I hit a few walls.  First, I didn't initially plan for the small shelving pocket to be created to hold the power strip and excess bulk of cords.  That added shelf impacted my initial plans to use magazine files for the boy's homework slots, they were now too tall to fit.  My next plan was to scour my personal office supplies; surely I had paper sorting trays coming out of my ears.  I was able to hunt down two of this kind... one of that kind... and even a few that were too deep for the cabinet.  None that actually stacked nicely together or truly fit the cabinet specs.  You know how it goes.

The last thing I wanted to do was spend any more money because the charging organizer was already a bit pricier than I initially thought it would be.  It was time to get creative.

Bryan always knows when something is bugging me.  He is good at reading me and knowing just the right time to swoop in with a solution.  Traveling for a few days is always extra stressful for me, and he knew I really needed to get this cabinet finished up so I would have time to photograph everything before heading to the airport the following day.  Out to the garage he went.

And wouldn't you know it, we had just enough melamine scrap pieces from previous closet shelving projects.  At the moment, our garage is a disaster from the past year of renovating and house projects, and it was time to put our jumbo scrap pile to good use. Up until this very moment I was frustrated and embarrassed of our cluttered garage and the fact we are parking outside... Suddenly I was grateful!

melamine boards | iron-on edge tape | flat head screws | flat head screw covers | escutcheon pins | label holders


Together we came up with specific cut measurements, based on the amount of space we had available in the cabinet, the thickness of the boards and the number of open slots we needed.  We also ensured the opening to the organizer was wide enough for paper to slide in at landscape orientation.


Each opening would be 12" wide, so Bryan cut four boards at 12" wide by 10" deep.  We had right around 11" of space between our cabinet shelves, so he cut two more boards for the sides of the organizer at 10 1/2" high by 10" deep.  He then measured and marked the two end boards where each interior board would evenly be located.


Up to this point, he didn't take any photos because it was about 11:30 p.m. in a dark garage and I was inside already working on another project. #typical  One tip he did have is to remember to use painter's tape when cutting the melamine to avoid splintering/chipping of the finish (white caulk can also help to fill any imperfections at the end as well).  At this point, he was mindful of the measurements in relation to the finished edges of the boards as he ran them through his table saw (doing his best to keep all nice edges in the front of the organizer).

For the following steps, we actually took it back apart a bit to show what we didn't photograph while initially making it (that is why you already see shelves lined with paper above).

Once the boards were cut and the lines were drawn and his holes were marked, Bryan pre-drilled through the side boards and interior boards to prep for the screws.  It is OK if the holes chip a bit; we have a solution for that in a minute.


After the holes were pre-drilled through the side and into the shelving, we used flat head screws to put the piece together (I believe they were just some regular drywall or wood screws).


The pencil lines easily wiped away with the help of a damp magic eraser.


If you have ever worked with white Closetmaid pieces before, you may know they always come with a baggie of little white screw caps.  We had a drawer of these on hand in our storage room, saved up from a few previous organizational projects.  If you don't have any on hand, they are easy to find at most home improvement stores.


We pressed the plugs into the flat head screw with the help of the round end of a screwdriver (a hammer would also do the trick).  These caps will clean up any drilling marks and hide those dark screw heads.

Lastly, we wanted to put the finishing touches on all of the unfinished edges of the white melamine boards.  The boards and the iron-on edge tape are both 3/4" thick/wide.


We cut the tape close to the length we needed to finish the top edges, snipping it just a bit long on both ends.

A heated iron (with no steam) only took a minute to set the adhesive portion of the tape.


While a utility knife easily sliced the excess tape for a nice and clean finish.


I like to collect label holders from local thrift and antique stores when I see them, because I know I will always have projects that require labeling.  I dug through my bin of labels and came up with some that were just the right size.  They were initially an older silver finish, so they received a little gold gilding.  A little more pre-drilling and we affixed the labels with some very small escutcheon pins.


All finished!


Just the addition of the tape and those screw plugs took the piece to a nice and polished finish.  We just love how we were able to create something at the last minute that worked better than anything else we could have purchased.  Although I usually advise against it, there are times when it is worth it to hold on to extra hardware and wood scraps.  Especially if you love to get creative and save a buck or two.


The slotted shelves were lined with decorative scrap-booking paper from a colored paper pack, and affixed with double stick tape.  I love the color it added to the cabinet and that the paper helps to visually distinguish each slot for the boys.


I can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy about these projects.  Maybe I need to sit and pout in front of cabinets and closets more often as I loved seeing Bryan get so creative in a pinch.  And although not all of these projects-on-a-whim end up with happily ever after, this one was just too good not to share.


Have you recently been creative in order to finish up a project or to save some hard earned moola?  Tell me about organizers that you have created when you are knee deep into a project and unwilling (or unable) to stop just to head to the store.

Friday, February 5, 2016

32 Family Charging Station Cabinet

Lately I have felt like our kids and our home have a bit of a technology problem. This year, our two older boys each acquired a small netbook as part of their school's technology program.  Our oldest also has his phone and our younger two an iPad.  It is a bit ridiculous, and up until recently, all of the different items would pile up on our kitchen counter with a plethora of cords dangling and being tripped on.  I know this is an eye roll of a problem, but at the same time, all of that counter clutter does become obnoxious on a daily basis.


But lucky for us, when we updated our kitchen, I had a small plan in my mind for this problem.  I was hoping to eventually create a cabinet to conceal all of our charging electronics on a daily basis, in a location that was still easily accessible by everyone.  While installing some cabinets in our dining area, we had an outlet added by our electrician to accommodate this little dream I had.  But of course, it took us until now to finally finish this up.

The IKEA cabinets that we installed in our dining area are about 11 1/2" deep, so when it came time to finally decide how to set things up, I started running into a few obstacles.  I ultimately found a tiered office organizer, which is generally designed for paper sorting, that had just enough slots and the right dimensions for the cabinet.


Once we finally started placing everything in the cabinet, the power strip and the organizer didn't fit the way I had hoped, so we ended up creating a small shelving pocket to hold the strip and all of the bulky plug-in portions of the cords.  We then fed the cords up behind the shelf, there was just enough space between the shelf and the backing that we didn't have to modify the actually shelving at all.



As you can see in the photo above, I painted more foam core board the same lovely navy color I did in our recent coffee cabinet project (Ralph Lauren's Iron Blue)

Prior to adding the electronics to the actual organizer, I whipped out my trusted label maker (paired with the clear tape and gold font of course), and created some labels for each slot.


From there, we just fed the cords into each slot through the back of the organizer, leaving enough slack that the electronic item could be pulled out and plugged in/unplugged without any trouble (the excess cord just rests on top of the item while charging).



It is not the most beautiful organizer in the world, but it works so incredibly well for us and is so simple for all three of the boys to use.

This cabinet is right below our handy dandy school supply drawer...


So this is now our new central command station area.  It works so well being right next to our table where the younger boys work on their homework each evening.  After we lost our wall pockets from our previous kitchen setup, we needed a new homework paper sorting system.  I also wanted to add a few more bulkier school project supplies and a little stationery kit for myself.  But first, I wanted to disguise that power strip section, so I hunted down two drawer organizers I had on hand and used them to hold a few extra cords for when we want to charge our phones near the sofa and some extra headphones.  I also added a second pencil location because the school supply drawer has became over run with extra household pens and no one can ever seem to hunt down pencils at homework time.


To label the organizers, I used some blank Martha Stewart Avery labels paired with more label maker tape.  It turned out to be a lovely combo!  


I had already exhausted my budget for the cabinet on the charging slots, so I couldn't stand to double it on paper sorters.  Why are nice, wide, stackable paper trays so expensive?  Lucky for me I have a handy hubby that dug through our garage of scrap wood and found just enough melamine boards to piece something together for me, free of charge.  


I just added some scrapbook paper to the bottom of each slot, paired with a label holder and now each boy has a location to store their daily school reminders and papers.  Thank you Mr. Jones!




To keep track of assignment due dates and sporting schedules, I printed off one of my free calendar pages (shared here) and clipped it to the inside of the door with a binder clip hanging on a Command Hook.


Add in a bin of extra coloring and painting supplies for art projects...


And a tray for my love of letter writing....


And this cute little school/charging station is where it is at for the whole family!


If you have been reading for awhile, you know I have tried just about every method for organizing incoming school work, and nothing works better than a single slot that is really easy to get at.  The study boxes worked great for school supplies at homework time, but papers never stayed in that box and ended up in piles on our counter over time.  I am thrilled to finally have a good solution in our new kitchen setup, that is allowing the kids to stay easily organized.

My husband is a tech guy for a living and I asked if he had any concerns about this setup and he said as long as the boys are shutting down their netbooks before putting them away, they will be fine charging here over night.  And it is good for us to have a single place to check that each slot is full, and no sneaky little hands snuck an electronic device to bed with them.  #thatwouldneverhappen #yeahright


Because I usually receive quite a few product source questions, below are a few of the items we used to make the most of this cabinet (similar items selected in case I couldn't find our exact piece).

Of all of the cabinets I have organized in the kitchen, this one has benefited us more than any other.  No more gadget counter clutter and easy systems for our boys to maintain is a double win here.

And if you enjoy looking at organized kitchen drawers and cabinets, you can catch up on all of our completed kitchen organization below:


I am off to do even more labeling, this time with one of my favorite people, Mrs. Sugarplum!  Have you seen her new Elfa closet yet?  I am totally geeking out about this project!  #organizersdreamcloset

Have a great weekend everyone!
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