Thursday, March 21, 2013

48 You Asked: WE Heart Answering!

Today is contributor Thursday, but I thought it would be really fun to mix things up around here.  I put on my crazy pants, and decided to start a once per quarter "You Asked: WE Heart Answering" post.  Since this was the first shot, it's a little bit of a trial and error, so forgive me as I work out the kinks....

This year, we have been focusing on organizing different spaces from month to month, so I thought I would do a post to address any unanswered dilemmas still floating around in your brains.  So, I asked y'all on Facebook, what your top questions are when it comes to organizing the Home Office, the Kitchen and the Loo {a.k.a. bathroom}.  And WOW did you respond!  It made me even more excited about this new series!

I compiled all the questions and looked for trends and items that would be specific to a majority of people.  And since eleven brains are stronger than one, I asked my fabulous contributors to share their smartness, creativeness, ideas, and suggestions and we have got ourselves one heck of grab-a-cup-of-coffee-and-stay-awhile post!


Here is the lovely crew now!  We have:

Are you ready for this?  Here we go!


Once you have organized a space, do you have any tips for keeping it organized?  Do you have a system for maintaining your organizational systems?


"This is one thing I feel really strongly about. First of all, I hope everyone knows that even beautifully organized spaces end up looking messy over time. But here is the deal, if a space that you recently organized seems to get messy quickly, it's probably not the right system. For instance, I kept getting upset that my daughter's room was always a mess even after organizing it. Then it occurred to me that I hadn't really given her a proper system. Once we rearranged and organized her toys into an Expedit, everything changed. And while the room still became messy, it only took her five minutes to pick it all up and put it where it goes. I also find that things evolve over time. We have the world's smallest mudroom {a coat closet} that continues to change and improve as our needs change. I just placed more hooks in there as the kiddos are getting older and have more jackets and bags. For us, it's really a constant process. All spaces can get messy and it's just taking five or ten minutes to unload it and get it back to working order. I find that our organized pantry needs a little love once a week.  More so because we all get lazy and throw things in there. So once a week, after grocery shopping, I make sure it is neat and organized again. But because it's the right system for us, maintaining it is quick and easy. If you find that the maintenance of an area is taking way too long, you may want to consider browsing blogs or Pinterest for a different solution."  -Courtney {A Thoughtful Place}



"I try to make it a habit to take just 3 short minutes a day {or every other day} to make sure everything is in place and where it should be. Those 180 seconds will prevent from having to reorganize again in a few months."  -Ashley {7th House on the Left}




"My biggest tip is the ‘5 minute rule’ – which is to devote 5 minutes to organizing a room before leaving it. For example, if you’ve whipped your home office into shape, every time you finish working in there, spend five minutes before you leave the room making sure everything’s been filed and organized as you planned. Do this with every room that you spend a good amount of time in and make it a habit – just like brushing your teeth. That way un-organization and clutter can’t get on top of you."  -Serena {Pretty Fluffy}



"My tip for keeping a space organized is to really evaluate your style, tendencies and challenges before you even begin. Don't put something into place that looks nice but is going to set you up for failure. For example, despite being pretty organized, I am never going to be a person who organizes something the minute I bring it in the house. So I need solutions that 1) give me a holding pen for something until I have time to get to it and 2) still motivate me to do the job."  -Sarah



"I personally find that the hardest spaces to keep organized are the ones that directly involve our kids: their bedrooms and the playroom. Keeping things simple helps overall, but it's crucial for kids to be consistent in the routines. I have also found it less daunting to just do a quick "inventory" of the "things" that are coming into our house every few months or so versus every year. Toys, clothes, "special treasures", even new eating habits can start to create chaos and disorganization quickly if they aren't evaluated frequently."  -Anneke {This, That & Life}



"I have always been a problem solver at heart, so if something isn't working, I get excited to figure out a solution.  It is always OK to revisit your projects and continue to tweak them until they are just right.  And never be too hard on yourself if things don't go exactly as planned the first time.  Life is always evolving and that means your systems will be too.  Once you figure out what works well in one area, those concepts can be used over and over again!  But what I can't stress enough is that it is important to remember that there is a difference between having some messes that form throughout the week, and not being "organized".  We personally have messes and piles all the time, but I know our systems are working because our clutter is simple to handle and pick up."  - Jen


How do you handle your daily paper piles?  Anything and everything from incoming mail to receipts to kid's schoolwork.


"This is one of the top five questions I receive on my blog. Despite technology, we still live in a world of paper and there is a lot of it! And if you have school aged children the piles seem to multiply in a blink of an eye. I have tamed the piles for now and our system has been working for over a year. I know that it will need to evolve, but I am happy to share what we are currently doing. Each day, as papers and mail come in, they are set on my kitchen counter. On the counter is a file system that has a folder for each person in the family. If there are papers I need to fill out and return, they go into my folder. When the kids comes home, they set their papers on the counter as well. I go through them when I find a moment and immediately separate into keep, trash, or return. If there are papers that I don't want to go through at the time, they get filed in our mudroom in a hanging system I have for my son and daughter. School work and artwork go here until we have a chance to go through it {about once a month}. When we decide to keep artwork, it gets entered in their art portfolio.  The receipts are stuffed {literally} into one of the pockets in the shoe organizer in our mudroom. When I feel up to it or when it is overflowing, I file them in the coupon holder. which is so handy for keeping receipts alphabetized. When you have a return, it's so easy to find the receipt."   -Courtney {A Thoughtful Place}




"When it comes to receipts, I have a letter box in my office where I stash the ones we need to file. Once the box it full, it's time to spend a few minutes filing."  -Ashley {7th House on the Left}




"When it comes to paper, I find it best to devote around a minute or two on a daily basis to sorting mail, receipts etc into 3 piles – file, action and throw away. If it’s throw away I put it into our recycling bin immediately. File and action get skimmed over and go into two paper trays which I spend half an hour each week sorting through. I literally schedule this time into my diary where bills are paid, invitations responded to, records filed etc – that way nothing gets missed. By the end of that half hour the trays are empty and we’re ready to start again."  -Serena {Pretty Fluffy}




"My Kitchen counter was a total clutter zone of piles, until I created a Command Center for our family. Now, the first thing I do when arriving home from work is sort the mail....junk mail goes to the recycle bin, bills in their respective folder, and cards/invites written on the calendar and pinned to the board. My kids clean out their backpacks, and bring me their artwork and important papers. We talk about the art, then pin some up for display, and file the rest in their respective folders. Important papers are dealt with, then placed back in their backpacks and hung in the Mudroom for the next morning. Then about twice a month when I pay bills, I sort the folders and recycle all but one or two pieces of their art {when they aren't looking of course!}."  -Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!}




"I don't file mail or other paperwork when I bring it home. Instead, I put it in a designated bin that I keep in my craft room/office. That way it's tidy and out of the way, but still ready to go when I am. When the bin starts getting full, I pull everything out, sort it and file. And to be honest, one of the benefits of this approach is that often stuff can go to the shredder without ever being filed, because it's become obsolete already." -Sarah



"One of the worst enemies of a productive and otherwise clutter-free household.  It drives me crazy how quickly the mail piles up in our house!  I have started making a point to address the mail each day, instead of waiting until it's out of control.  Now, as soon as the mail comes in, I toss the trash, set aside the bills, and sort the magazines until I have a chance to read them.  I like to keep magazines by my bed so I can read them before going to sleep.   I got a mini accordion file at The Container Store for receipts, coupons, and gift certificates.  I keep the coupons I need for the week in the very back so I can find them easily.  And I edit the folder every few weeks and trash the expired coupons or the receipts I no longer need.  Long-term receipts I need to hold on to {like furniture or electronics} are moved to our household file drawer."  -Megan {Honey We're Home}




"Oh.my.word. The paper pile can be such a chore! At the beginning of this school year, I was SO overwhelmed with the papers coming home from our girls {I'm a newbie with a Kindergartner and 1st Grader}, and I HAD to do something. I reused a simple, clear Sterilite 3-drawer storage piece we bought for kids crafts/paper supplies. We keep this in our mudroom right off of the garage. I got mine from Amazon, but you can find them or something similar in many places online or in stores. We individualized each drawer with glittery foam stickers for each kiddo's name, but they really are so versatile you can label them for anything....papers to file, bills, a certain person, etc. It's nice to have a dedicated space for the "interim" time of "I can't look at this now and deal with it, but I'll look at it and take care of it by the end of the day or within the next day."  -Anneke {This, That & Life}



"Paper piles are insane around these parts.  Once mail comes in, it is instantly opened and the junk is recycled.  I keep my budget binder handy and all invoices and bills go right into the binder.  Invites and dates get popped into my planner.  When the kids bring home papers, the dates are instantly written into my planner.  The completed schoolwork that I wish to keep is placed into individual mail bins in our kitchen, along with other important school related papers and documents.  Once a month I take a minute to sort their cubbies down into their school file boxes."  -Jen


What are your favorite tips for organizing under the bathroom sink?  How do you maximize the awkward space?

"I have struggled with this for years. In fact, while the rest of my house is fairly organized, our master bathroom remained a crazy mess under our sinks for way too long. It finally occurred to me that I could hang a shoe organizer on the door. When cut in half they are the perfect size and allow for so much storage. My everyday essentials are so handy to grab and it freed up a huge amount of space under the sink. I also really purge and keep only what is needed. Under the sink is not the best place to hold on to the, "Hmmm. Maybe one day I will use it." In my opinion, if you don't use it on a daily {or monthly} basis out it goes!"   -Courtney {A Thoughtful Place}



"Since the back of the sink cabinet is hard to get to on a regular basis, that's where I'd store things like extra hand soap, face wash, tooth paste, etc. Then keep the everyday items in the front divided in a few storage baskets that are easy to pull in and out daily." -Ashley {7th House on the Left}


"Funny you should ask this, since those are the spaces I tackled first this year {see them here and here}! Bathroom cabinets are awkward spaces with the sink and pipes, not to mention, a total waste of vertical space. I love using modular drawer systems to work around the plumbing, and take advantage of all the available space. Don't forget the cabinet doors too! Command hooks are great for holding supplies, or rack systems." -Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!}



"Stackable bins are the best way to take advantage of the vertical space under the sink.  Anything that can be hung on the back of the cabinet door to create extra storage, is a huge bonus!"  -Jen



How do you make time to take on organizing projects?  And once a project is complete, how many times will you go back and update it or redo it?  Or am I the only one who does this?


"If it's a space I use a lot, like my office, I'll probably re-organize it a few times before I get it just right for my everyday needs. You're definitely not the only one that does that!"  -Ashley {7th House on the Left}



"Starting an organizational project is like taking off a band-aid...just rip it off. Or in this case, just start! Sure you'll make a mess, and it gets worse before it gets better, but it is so rewarding! Once it's complete, I'm always tweaking it to suit our needs. Because if it's not functional for you, then it will just end up another clutter zone you have to deal with."   -Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!}




"Most of the time I just get busy.  I get a whim and I go with it.  If the project is working for me I don't update it.  If it's not working for me I tweak it as needed.  I'd be broke if I kept going back to projects and constantly updating or redoing them.  Do what works for you.  If something isn't working for you at all, change it."  -Chelsea {two twenty one}




"For most of my projects I think about them for weeks on end {sometimes months} before starting them. I think of how I want things to look, what tools/resources I’ll need, the budget etc all before I lift one finger on a project. Reason being, over the course of a few weeks, I usually come up with refinements to make my initial idea better, cheaper or more functional. That way when I actually start a project, most of my troubleshooting has already taken place which means my projects take much less time. If something’s not working I give myself time to really pinpoint what I need to change before tackling a project for the second time. Do I want it to look more updated? Work better? Once I have that sorted in my mind, I go back for round 2."  -Serena {Pretty Fluffy}




"My timer is my BFF. When I have a project I want to work on, I'll set it for 15-30 min. and tinker as much as I can. Maybe one day I'll spend the time decluttering, and then the next day I'll work on rearranging things, etc. If it's a big project, I try to make the time for it by scheduling "project days" in my calendar. The key is definitely in the prep work -- take the time to measure the space, think about how you use it, what would make it convenient, and spend ridiculous amounts of time on Pinterest research new ideas like crazy!  I have DEFINITELY redone a space more than once. You have to live with something for a while before you can really decide whether it will work long-term. Testing stuff out is a good thing -- it's all part of the process. Just make sure you label things while you're experimenting, or else the frequent changes might really confuse other members of the household {whoops!}. I usually make temporary labels for things using sticky notes or index cards attached with binder clips or clothespins until I'm sure that my new system really works."  -Casey {Pretty Organized}



"Just like many things in life, unless you schedule a dedicated chunk of time for something or chip away at a specific goal for a short period of time each day, it just doesn't get done. And an organized life eventually leads to you having more time ~ the most important time you spend is planning your time. We all have different lifestyles and priorities.  If you're time is limited for these kinds of projects, you really need prioritize: 1) What is something you could organize FAST {say 15-30minutes} that will make you feel the best. This can get momentum going for you. Then 2) What larger project will make a huge difference in how your life functions?"  -Anneke {This, That & Life}



"I really try to find a way to make it enjoyable for me, so I want to do it in my spare moments.  I bust out the paint, play with pretty papers and make it a craft project.  It doesn't feel like such a chore then.  It is also important to think about how you can multi-task, and do it while your kids are right there crafting with you.  My kids love to play with my paper punches, papers, glues, paints, etc... so they can find ways to join in while I project.  My mom always taught me that 'many hands make light work', so I try to teach my kids and family that.  We try and tackle things together when we can, to make it easier on everyone down the line."  -Jen




My kitchen space is limited and I don't have a pantry.  I would love quick tips for storing food and kitchen gadgets when space is tight.


"Take advantage of the vertical space in your kitchen.  Invest in a tall shelving unit or storage cabinet.  If you get a tall cabinet you can utilize the inside of the doors by attaching hooks to hold your kitchen gadgets.  You could also paint part of the inside or outside of the doors with chalkboard paint, which will come in handy when writing a shopping list."   -Chelsea {two twenty one}




"I feel your pain!! This is generally the sequence that I follow: Toss it. Decluttering is always my first step when I need to find more storage space. Unless you are a hardcore baker, you don't need 5 mixing bowls -- I actually just mix things by hand using a pot! Swap it. Try to choose smaller/multipurpose appliances. Do you really need a juicer AND a huge blender?  Can a bulky colander get replaced with a collapsible one? They even make collapsible measuring cups now! Space-saving tools & appliances can make a huge difference.  Move it.  When your kitchen space is limited, you should only keep the important, regularly used essentials in there.  If you only bust out your waffle iron or breadmaker once a year, then it doesn't need to take up precious cabinet space in your kitchen!  Sort it. There are tons & tons of products that help to create extra space and/or increase the accessibility of various storage spaces. Cabinet shelves, drawer dividers, magnetic bins, lazy susans, magnetic hooks, folding step stools, space-saving food storage containers -- they all work together to help you maximize every square inch of cabinet space. On lower cabinets, I would HIGHLY recommend investing in some pull-out drawers. They're great for maximizing deep storage areas while keeping everything accessible, and have made an enormous difference in the amount of storage space we have available in our lower cabinets & under our kitchen sink!"  -Casey {Pretty Organized}



"The rule has always been that clutter happens when there are too many things in too small of a space.  You have to know your storage limits, and that may mean that you can't purchase foods in bulk, or have three measuring cups.  Look for gadgets that are multi-functional, question if you really need all those special appliances that are only used for specific foods, find items that store in a compact manor {collapsible}, and use the backs of your cabinets to add extra storage shelves for smaller items.  There is often times a lot of unused space below cabinets, so think about adding extra shelves, and utilizing bare walls.  Bathroom cabinets and armoires are great stand-in pantries if your home wasn't originally built with one."  -Jen


Where do you keep lids for your pots and pans?


"I keep the lids on top of their pots but flip the lid upside down. That way, the handle isn't in the way and you can easily stack another shorter pot on top." -Ashley {7th House on the Left}




"I love my lid solution! In fact, last week I said to my husband, "I love this!" We purchased a cheap, $6.99 lid sorter {made for the purpose} from the Container Store. It basically looks like 12 short wooden dowels plugged into 2 longer wood dowels. And it.works.perfectly. I no longer have lids stacked on top of one another sliding around in my cabinet. I can easily put away and  locate the right lid in seconds. Did I mention love?!" -Sarah



"We turn our lids upside down onto the matching pots and stack them on top of each other by size in our kitchen cabinet." -Anneke {This, That & Life}




"We keep ours stored in a drawer under our stove." -Jen





 My home office is tucked in a corner of my living area, so it is very out in the open.  How can I keep it attractive and tidy yet functional at the same time?


"Shop around for some decorative boxes to store things like paper clips, tape, etc. A cute little box for files, a decorative pen cup and a lamp and you're in business."  -Ashley {7th House on the Left}




"I'd start by getting an attractive desk and chair.  You don't have to break the bank, hit up Craigslist, yard sales, or local thrift shops.  Paint the desk a nice coordinating color to the rest of your living area decor.  Invest in eye-appealing desk organization items {fun colors and/or patterns} and a pretty lamp.  Finish off the area by hanging some art above the desk.  Or if you need more office space, cover a cork board with fabric and hang it above the desk."  -Chelsea {two twenty one}




"Limit clutter! For a small space office in your living area, you want to keep only the basics. So instead of having a bunch of pens, stick to one or two. Consider scanning in your files digitally to reduce folders and filing space. Conceal cords with cable systems from IKEA or Home Depot. Limit knickknacks or decorative items, and try to match your office to your living surrounds. For example hang a print above your work station that blends with the rest of the living space. Add a cushion to your work chair that matches the rug or couch in the living area. Ensure that you leave your desk top clutter free when you finish work, so when you’re relaxing you don’t get stressed."  -Serena {Pretty Fluffy}



"Shop your home for pretty pieces that can double as office storage, like a silver cup for pens, and woven baskets for binders. Also, decorate the space like the rest of the room by adding a pretty lamp, a mirror or piece of art, and a stylish chair. Even standard office supplies can be made chic with a little washi tape!"  -Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!}




"Hide as much as you can! If your files can get tucked away in a pretty filing box, do that. Try keeping your surfaces as clear as possible, or invest in a desk with a lid. Consider installing a curtain or rolling blind to cover the front of your book shelf & hide any papers piling up in your inbox. You can also find a cute way to hide your power cords using a pretty container.  If you want to leave your office supplies out in the open, choose a color scheme that works with the rest of your decor, and try to tie it in with as many items as you can. If everything matches/coordinates, it makes it look a lot neater just because it's uniform. Personally, I like using all white binders and accessories & then adding pretty labels in my favorite colors. You can find a lot of really cute office supplies at Poppin & See Jane Work!"  -Casey {Pretty Organized}


How do you store your sheets/bedding?

"For me, the key to a nice and orderly linen closet is properly folded linens. I follow the "Martha Method" when it comes to folding sheets. It takes some practice, but after a while, it becomes second nature. Also, always make sure the folded edge on the front because it makes the closet look really neat and tidy."  -Ashley {7th House on the Left}



"I store pillows and big comforters, which aren't used often, in space saving vacuum bags on the top shelf of our linen closet.  I pair our fitted and flat sheets by stacking one on top of the other on a shelf in our linen closet."  -Chelsea {two twenty one}




"I think piles of linens in a closet are the root of all evil. Well, perhaps just the root of all closet disorganization.  For my sheets, I actually keep them stored in shallow ITSO bins I purchased for less than $10 each at Target. In my master bedroom, I have three sets of sheets that I rotate. So when sets two and three are not in use, they each live in their own bin. When it's time to make the bed, I just grab the bin and carry it to the bedroom. And when it's time to put away clean sheets, I bring the bin to where I'm folding laundry and get the sheets tucked neatly away. No more trying to dig out one set of sheets while preventing the others from toppling over my head. And no more challenges trying to maintain nice folds while putting my sheets away."  -Sarah




"We have a linen closet centrally located between all of the bedrooms and bathrooms. Most of our sheets, towels and kid's comforters fit in this closet. We then use underbed storage or the shelving space above our closet for grown-up fluffy comforters."  -Anneke {This, That & Life}



"Sheets are stored in the room they belong, vs. in a linen closet.  In our boy's shared bedroom, they are stashed in a bin in their closet.  In my oldest son's room, they are in a drawer in his nightstand.  Our guest bedroom and master bedroom both have dressers which work great for storing excess linens.  Large, bulky quilts and comforters are stored in a cabinet in our laundry room.  By keeping the sheets in the room where they are used, I never have to go searching when it is time to swap them out.  And by keeping them in bins and drawers, I don't have to worry about folding them perfectly {since I find it to be an impossible task}"  -Jen


What is your favorite place to purchase organizing products and supplies?


"My go-to places are Staples {for binders and labels}, World Market {for storage baskets}, The Container Store {for boxes, wire ties, file storage}, Target {for office storage and cabinet  storage baskets} and Organize.com {for fridge storage and random goodies}."  -Ashley {7th House on the Left}



"I have to throw in my favourite Australian brand for organization supplies – Kikki K. They have a minimalist style with ranges to suit everyone. Plus their organizing folders and workbooks take most of the work out of your hands.  But I do have to say, some of my best organizing materials have come from out-of-the-box suppliers including hardware stores, charity bins, vintage furniture and op shop sales. Always keep and eye out – inspiration is everywhere!"  -Serena {Pretty Fluffy}




"I love Amazon.com, Organize.com, Quirky.com, The Container Store, Ikea, Target, Staples, Wal-Mart, & Dollar Tree. Poppin.com & See Jane Work have ridiculously cute office supplies. You can also find great ideas in teaching supply catalogs like Really Good Stuff."   -Casey {Pretty Organized}




"TJMaxx, Fred Meyer, Target, World Market, Goodwill, and Amazon.com."  -Anneke {This, That & Life}





"What I love most is that organizing supplies can be found anywhere.  I am always trying to find new uses for every day items, which means any shopping trip could turn into a storage find, it just may take some creative thinking.  Of course my 'go to' spots are Target, IKEA, Dollar Stores, Thrift Stores, World Market, Amazon.com, The Container Store, StaplesSee Jane Work and Bed Bath & Beyond."  -Jen


I have a lot of hair products and tools.  What is the best way to store these so they are easy to access, especially when space is limited?


"I'm a hair product junkie, so I feel your pain! I have two small baskets underneath the sink in our bathroom where I stash all of my hair products. I use one for "everyday hair" {blow dryer, brush, hairspray, hair ties} and another for "special hair" {sea salt spray, hair wax, etc}. Just having these two categories separated makes things a lot less complicated and easier to access quickly."  -Ashley {7th House on the Left}




"Personally I find hooks and wall mounts are perfect for hairdryers and straighteners. They can safely cool down and you can loosely hang the cords without taking up space. Keeping them in drawers with the cord wrapped around them can be a hazard and also shortens the cord’s life.  For dry shampoos, hairsprays and accessories, I tend to go for a basket where they can all stand up right. I then collect my hair ties, bobby pins etc in sewing storage kits, so they’re all separated but in one spot. The basket can then be stored under the sink, on a floating shelf etc. You then just grab the basket when you need it, and slide it away out of sight when you don’t."  -Serena {Pretty Fluffy}


"To keep all the tools from being a mess of cords, keep them sorted and stored in drawers. I also keep just my daily product essentials in a single basket that can be pulled out when I'm getting ready, and stored below when I'm done. All the extras and back-up products are stored separately, and accessed only when I run out of something."  -Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!}




"I keep my hair tools in two drawers in my bathroom and use the "Linus" clear organizing tray from The Container Store to corral all the brushes."  -Megan {Honey We're Home}



How would you organize linens, if you didn't have a linen closet?

"I'd store mine under a bed or I'd invest in a pretty storage cabinet to put in a bathroom if space allowed for it."  -Chelsea {two twenty one}





"I highly recommend underbed storage.  There are some great underbed storage containers out there to fit the small clearance and it's a great alternative when space is limited."  -Anneke {This, That & Life}




"I suggest keeping bedding in bins and drawers within each bedroom, and rolling towels and tossing them in a pretty basket in the bathroom.  If you have the space within a bathroom or laundry room, an armoire, dresser, bookcase or cabinet all make great makeshift linen closets."  -Jen




Any tips for dealing with unsightly three ring binders?  I have no place to hide them and use them frequently.



"I've found that the milk crates at Target will fit a standard three ring binder perfectly. You can stash about 4 notebooks in there and they're also great for file storage. I have three of them in my office and they've come in really handy."  -Ashley {7th House on the Left}




"Cover them with fun fabric or paper!  Use hot glue to attach the fabric to the binders.  If you go the paper route, use a decoupage paste like Mod Podge to adhere the paper so the paper won't tear."   -Chelsea {two twenty one}




"You already know from my posts that I'm a lover of binders. Mine sit out on my craft desk at all times, so it's important to me that they are lovely and inspiring. I recommend purchasing inexpensive binders with sleeves on the front and spine and giving them a little love with decorative paper that matches your decor. It's a way to add a little style to your space and added bonus: it's much cheaper to switch out a bit of craft paper if your décor or tastes change than to buy all new binders."  -Sarah




I can't thank the contributors enough for being here weekly to offer up their time, ideas and suggestions.  They always seem to think of things that I never would have thought of, and put are so great at putting their own unique spin on every project they take on.  They are a bunch of super smart cookies and I Heart them each to pieces!

Now it's your turn!  What do you have to add to the common home office, kitchen and bathroom questions I received?   Do you have a favorite place to find organizing items?  A magical solution to paper piles?  How about ways you make the most of itty bitty spaces?

48 comments:

  1. I love your blog and it also helps me to improve my English, I hope :-)

    I'd like to ask you where/how to store books when your shelve isn't big enough for it? And you bought a new one, and a thirth one, and still haven't enough place to store all your books?

    Greetings from the Netherlands

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    1. Hi Maggie! If you aren't attached to the physical books themselves, maybe you could declutter some & store them electronically in a Kindle/iPad or online? I have also seen people store books on high shelves (if you have space between the top of the door & the ceiling, for example). If you have an open staircase, you could store the books between the steps. You could even stack piles of books to create side tables, etc. so that they are useful & decorative while they are being stored!

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    2. Hi Maggie!

      I agree with Casey. I love stacking books under end tables and around my home arranged with decor. If you are finding you have far too many, there are a lot of great places that would be happy to take book donations {think libraries, hospitals, schools, etc...}

      xo!
      Jen

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  2. Wow, that is a LOT of amazing feedback and tips all in one spot! :-)

    ~Sarah

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  3. Wow, what an awesome post! There's so much great information. I'll be referring to this one often :)

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  4. OMG, I can't tell you how incredibly helpful this is. I just learned, like, 12 new things and I only read a quarter of the post. I'll need to come back and revisit this several times.

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    1. YAY! That is what it was all about! So so happy to hear!

      xo,
      Jen

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  5. I really enjoyed this post! So much information and great ideas. I love how on the question about bed linens each lady had their own method. Something for everyone including those who couldn't fold a neat sheet if their life depended on it. (That would be me!) :)

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  6. Great idea Jen! Encouraging to see how the responses differ from person to person. It just proves that I need to be honest about what will really work for me. I'd love to say that I'll sort through mail when I get home, but I just won't. This way I can see different perspectives.

    As an avid (daily!) reader of yours, my only suggestion would be to break it up a bit. I want to read through every response, but it seems a little daunting! Hope to see this feature in the future :)

    {lamourcheznous.wordpress.com}

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    1. Hi Lauren!

      I agree! As I was putting together I was shocked at how long it became. I guess when I originally tossed out all those questions to my fab team, I didn't do the math ahead of time and had too many great responses that I had to share them all. Next time will definitely be a bit more condensed.

      xo!
      Jen

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  7. What a SMART idea Jen! I really enjoyed this post. A great way to see how others deal with the same situations that I have! I look forward to seeing more installments in the future!

    Sandra from simpleispretty.com

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  8. So much great info all in one post! I love seeing all of the different perspectives and ideas come together--so helpful! Thanks!

    ~Abby =)

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  9. LOVE this. So helpful. I just got great ideas and felt a sudden need to organize and purge! LOL
    Thank you Jen and all your amazing contributors!

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  10. this was great! I will be referring back to this post a lot thank you so much!

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  11. Great idea! Great post! Thanks to everyone for their contributions!

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  12. I love this! So much great info!
    I would like to add a tip:
    I live in a 900 Sq.Ft. Cottage, so my space is very limited to say the least! I am not blessed with a pantry in my kitchen, so here is what do. I have a basement, so I built some shelves and I store my can goods, paper items down there. Also I invited in some wire shelves and they also hold can goods, bulk buys from Sam's Club.
    My best purchase is a small kitchen island on casters!
    It has two shelfs, so I keep my onions and garlic in a basket, and the basket on the shelf. I also keep my claspible colander on the hooks that are on the island. Also I keep my grater on the hook too. Plus I have two more hooks on the island that I haven't even used yet!
    A real bonus is using the island as an extra space to dry my pots and pans after washing them. I move this island by the stove and I can do all my prepep work, and toss those veggies in the soup pot!
    Living in a small space can be a curse or a blessing!
    To make it a blessing, items have to be " double duty"!
    I enjoy your Blog so much Jen and your crew makes it that much sweeter! Keep up the awesome work ladies!
    ~Blessings to all of you!~
    Rhonda

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    1. Ooh Rhonda, I love all of your tips!! My house is tiny, too, and I totally agree with your blessing/curse perspective. It definitely inspires creativity. Your multipurpose island idea is really fantastic! I would love a spot where my dishes can dry without taking up counter space. Where did you find your cart?

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    2. Love the tips Rhonda! Especially the island, so so smart!

      xo,
      Jen

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    3. Thank -you Ladies!
      IKEA!!!! Is where I bought the island. ;)

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  13. That was great! Loved getting all those tips in one spot! I look forward to future posts.

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  14. Absolutely! A good looking room can be totally non-functional. I organise according to how we all use things. A place for everything & everything in it's place. My kids all know where each item 'lives' which is essential in order for it to be returned there!!

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  15. Amazing article. Oh I heart organizing too!

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  16. IHeartOrganizing Team....loved all of this information. Great series Jen. I found some new ideas and some new websites to search. :)

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  17. Great to see all the different solutions for the same problems. I have a bit of a command center set up, but I need to do something a little better when we do the kitchen reno. Love Cassie's!

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    Replies
    1. I agree, her station is so charming and function. I love it too!

      xo,
      Jen

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  18. I really enjoyed this post!

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  19. This was a great idea for a post! It's really interesting to see the varying responses to the same question. I think since finding a organization system that works is pretty personal, seeing all these options together is really helpful! There are definitely a few things I learned today that I'm going to have to try out this weekend :)

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  20. This is a great post! I can't wait to come back and finish reading the whole thing. :) I got the part about storing sheets, and just had to comment on what works four our family. We do not have a linen closet. Each bed has two sets of sheets. One set is on the bed and one set is folded in the bedroom closet (each set in their respective bedroom closets). When I wash the sheets, I don't make the beds again until the sheets come out of the dryer. This way, the only time I have to fold sheets is if something happens and we have to use one of the back-up sets. If the bedrooms need to be presentable for some reason WHILE the sheets are in the wash (rare), then I just pull up the quilt and toss on the throw pillows and it looks fine. :)

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    1. Genius! Love that girl, we have a similar system here! Easier is better!

      xo,
      Jen

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  21. Great information here Jen! I love that you said grab a cup of coffee and get cozy because that is exactly what this post is...nice, long, and wordy. I LOVE that! Your blog has a great mix of posts. I hope you decide to keep doing this every quarter :)

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  22. Thank you for the tips on keeping spaces organized... It's a challenge I face as well. I lived the idea of spending 5 minutes before leaving a room and also finding a system that works for my style and needs

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  23. I love this feature! Are the questions just a selections of the most common that you receive by email? :)

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    1. I actually did a poll on my Facebook page and compiled the questions from there. :)

      xo,
      Jen

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  24. Your blog has become so guest post & advertisement overloaded that it's becoming hard to visit anymore. Maybe I'm the minority, but that's how I feel and I've been following you for a couple of years. The blog just doesn't have a Jen personal touch anymore. I miss your posts and diy projects. I hope you get back to that someday! :)

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    1. Aww shucks Heather. So sorry you feel that way. I have always done one giveaway {usually in conjunction with another post that same day} and Reader Space every week and brought on the contributors last year so that I could have fresh content frequently done by real people instead of too many "filler" type posts. Posts like this are here to provide different perspectives to common organizing dilemmas, as I certainly can't think of everything. We all have different organizing needs based on individual situations and having a team brings more diversity in solutions.

      I love blogging and projecting more than anything, so hopefully you will see that shine through.

      xo,
      Jen

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  25. So many great tips. I need to start implementing straightening out organized spaces once a week or so - ours ends up getting so bad that I have to reorganize it a very short time later.

    http://jennycollier.com

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  26. Wow! Thank you for all the great advice!

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  27. This post is GREAT. I am so excited for these Q&As to be a regular feature! Please keep em coming :) Love hearing these different perspectives for each question.

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    Replies
    1. That makes me so giddy to hear! Glad you enjoyed it!

      xo,
      Jen

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  28. I have an organizing dilemma I'd like to throw out to all you pros. I have 2 little girls and 2 big bins of bows/headbands etc. I need a solution that keeps them organized because getting rid of some isn't an option ;)

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    1. Hi Erin! I have two girls ages 5 and 7 and while we may not have that many hair accessories, my girls LOVE their headbands and clips! This last fall, I found some various size clear containers at my local Fred Meyer {one stop shopping} for their bathroom drawer that seem to be doing the trick. A larger square container {maybe 5" x 5"} fits their headbands perfectly, a smallr 2" x 2" container each for hairbands, clips, etc. This keeps them all separated and easy to find AND out away. The ones I got are also stackable which is nice! Man, us girls and our pretties! ;-)

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    2. Hi Erin!

      I saw this in a friend's little girls room and it was such a good idea... Basically take a standard photo frame (choose a size that fits). Remove the glass cover the backing with material and a number of ribbons stripped horizontally across. Secure the back of the ribbons with glue to the backing - then replace the backing to the frame.

      Then you can slide barrettes, hair clips, bows etc onto each ribbon - it's very pretty in a little girls rooms and keeps them fresh and easy to find! :)

      Serena x

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  29. This was such a great post! I'm looking forward to more of these. Thank you Jenn & the team :)

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  30. Loved the post!! This is my daily fix... Never too long. Lived every minute!

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  31. these look FANTASTIC!
    love the look - and they hold so much.
    lovely.
    xox

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  32. http://happyhousewifeforever.blogspot.com/
    hi! there
    Ilove your article and inspire me a lot
    thanks for sharing your views and ideas with us.
    love
    anu

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  33. I noticed that very carefully hidden cords are one of the things that make rooms in magazines (and in blogs) look better than your standard home. What are other such secrets, apart from the obvious one of keeping clutter out of sight?

    ReplyDelete

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