Friday, September 13, 2013

172 Our Storage Spaces: Truth and a Plan

A few years ago, y'all asked me if I had a Monica closet.  For those that don't know, Monica Geller was my clone on the TV series Friends.  She loved to organize and clean and was apartment proud.  But she had a deep dark secret, and it lived behind a closet door.


You see her face.  How guilty she feels about that closet?

Now, imagine me making the same face.  And then hanging my head in shame like a puppy that just chewed up your favorite pair of slippers.  Because I don't have just one Monica closet, I have three.

That's right.  Two years ago, I was proud that I was able to say that I was "Monica Closet" free.  That didn't mean that every closet was perfect and that our home was purely organized bliss.  It never has been and I am OK with the fact that it never will be.  And you all have definitely seen my share of messes over the years.  I just didn't have a stash and dash zone back then.  I was good about purging and heading to Goodwill and even selling things on Craigslist and eBay.

I don't know what in the world changed this past two years.  But something did.

Theory numero uno is what I would like to call blog-security.  You know, the theory that we need to generate messes for me to fix so that I have blog content?  Maybe I was secretly creating the worst possible disaster of a storage space, just so I could fix it and blog about it and be all excited and "HURRAY!" about it?  Yeah, that is totally it.

Oh how I wish my life was that awesome for that to be true.

Theory number two is probably a bit more legit.

Two years ago I took a lot more time doing my share of small projects, and forced myself to do full house purges much more frequently.  I wasn't a full time blogger, I had another job and blogged for fun.  That meant that we took our time with projects.  What we might get done now in a week, would have taken us two months.  We didn't stay up past our bedtime installing trim or putting a final coat of paint on a piece of furniture to ensure we would have blog content for the next day.  Our house was always changing and evolving because it is what we have always loved, but it was happening at a very turtle pace.  Oh, and we didn't have three boys in sports full time either.

When I switched to blogging full time, I went at it full force.  Project after project, we started moving on things around our house much faster than we had in the past.  The blog held us more accountable to achieving our home goals, and now there is very little down time in-between projects, whether big or small.  In fact, most days, I have six going on at any given time, and they are all half finished.  And you know what?  I wouldn't trade it for a thing.  In fact, the hubs and I love our late night DIY sessions and the time we spend together working on our home after the kiddos head to bed.  It is our time together. 

But in the fast paced project life we have been heading down, things have also gotten messier.  We have gotten sloppy.  I often joke with him that I am becoming the most un-organized, organized blogger.  Which goes to show that even if you love love love to organize, that doesn't mean you are always perfectly organized.  So maybe I can personally thank these three Monica spaces for allowing the rest of my home to smile for me.  Yes!  A silver lining!  But in all reality, organizing a drawer, my greeting cards or a lunch cabinet in the kitchen, seems so much more exciting and fun than blogging about the fact that I just purged down my closet again {once I post about it once, should I really post about it every year when the time comes to do it again?} or making trips to Goodwill or the Expedit I am trying to sell on Craigslist.  All things I have to do, but aren't necessarily blog worthy or exciting enough to be posted about each and every time I need to spend time doing it.  I have chatted with other bloggers about this very thing.  We get in habits of focusing our attention and time on things that we can blog about.  Other areas of our life get set aside and wait, because they are not "blog worthy" or exciting, and we have to keep new ideas coming.  Now of course this doesn't mean that my kids don't eat dinner and my bills don't get paid, because I can't blog about that every day.  But it does mean that some of those more mundane household projects and chores that have to be done, but aren't as interesting as painting a dresser, get put on the back burner and don't get as much attention.  We have gotten really good about moving on to the next project, without fully dealing with the end of the previous one.

And last but not least, theory number three is also quite probable.  Storage rooms, closets and garages do not excite me.  They are not pretty, they are not inspiring, they are not creative, they are not living spaces that I spend my time in.  I love to organize areas that I can put a creative and crafty twist on.  In fact, 90% of the time, knowing that I get to paint or play with pretty papers, is what drives me to do a project.  I love creating areas that make my heart race and ultimately, make our home happy and our day to day lives easier.  These problem storage areas are not appealing to me, and I am not as diligent about maintaining them, plain and simple.  They don't get seen or touched each and every day, so they always move down on my list of priorities.

So now that we know the whys, here are the three uber messy spaces in our home:

Messy Space One:  Our Storage Room.  This room lives in our lower level, just off of my studio and family room.  Technically, it is our utility room.  It is the home to our furnace, sump pump, electrical panel and water heater.  It is completely unfinished, full of open studs, wiring and plumbing.  It is about the least inspiring space one could look at, and for that reason, the door typically stays closed.  As we renovated our lower level over the past two years, it was a natural dumping ground for all that comes with a renovation.  Old doors, extra trim pieces, paint and spray paint cans, extra hardware, random tools.... yeah, it is all in there.  Plus, we had hand me down plastic shelving holding years of bins containing holiday decor and cherished memorabilia, thus making it our storage room.  It also became the home of thrift store finds and the "I could totally blog about this project" waiting zone.  Every last item that I made an excuse to keep, because it could become blog worthy or storage for a future project, starting living in this space.  Awesome finds, food containers like jelly jars and frosting tubs, pillow forms, lamp shades, vases that just need a coat of paint.  It is all in there. 

Messy Space Two: Under Our Stairs.  The frustrating thing about this area, is that I have removed everything and cleaned it out twice.  And each time, I think I have gotten it right and figured it out, but then a few months later, I am avoiding the closet again for fear of breaking out into tears and hives upon opening the door.  Storage under a set of stairs is fairly typical, so I am guessing many of you are familiar with the awkward layout that comes with these spaces, and how storing anything in the back is a recipe for never-seeing-it-again.  I use this space for storing more memorabilia, some items that need to be donated, wrapping supplies, office and craft supplies, travel gear and suitcases, sleeping bags and more home decor items. 

Messy Space Three:  Our Garage.  Every fall we do a garage clean up, and every fall we swear it is the last time it will ever get as bad as it does.  Anyone else fall victim of the garage dump and run?  It is so easy to just "store" something in the garage, and deal with it later.  For the most part, for us, it is bikes that don't get put back up on their hooks, sporting equipment that the kids neglect to put in their bins, tools, tools and more tools from our projects that don't make it back to the workbench.  And then it starts to become extra gardening essentials, yard tools and lawn equipment that are being drug out each week.   And then it is spray paint boxes and table saws.  And saw dust.  Lots and lots of saw dust.  And more thrift store finds, only instead of the ugly vases that are in the utility room, the garage becomes the home to the big thrift store finds.  The furniture ones!  A chair for my studio that needs to be refinished.  A bookcase that will ultimately turn into a linen cabinet.  And if you think that is bad enough, it also has become the place where everything goes to die.  Scrap wood.  Furniture we need to sell on Craigslist.  Purged clothing and home decor we need to drop off at Goodwill.  Leftover renovation materials that needs to head to the ReStore.  Yeah.  Our garage has seen better days.

Whew.  I feel like I just lost 10 lbs.

So why now?  Why am I finally addressing these spaces?

Because they are holding us back.  

I seriously lose sleep over these spaces.  I can't stand clutter and knowing that I am holding on to things that are taking up valuable space, when they should be at a donation center.  I also can't stand not being able to find a tool I need for a project because I can't remember if we used it in the garage or basement last.

I have items in the area under the stairs, that I have been saving in order to expand my Etsy shop someday.  But I can't easily access them, and I begin to lose track of what I have.  It is ultimately hindering my business.  Not cool.

We have been wanting to do a kitchen renovation for over five years now.  Saving and waiting for five long years.   But we will need our garage in order to accommodate the renovation process.  And right now, there is no way our garage could serve any help in us tearing apart our kitchen.  Or parking our cars during the winter for that matter.

So I find myself where many of you find yourselves when you email me with the oh-so-common organizing question, "Where do I begin?".

Here are my plans for tackling my three problem areas head on:
  • I am going to blog about these spaces, exciting or not.  I apologize in advance to those of you that will get bored with the lack of pretty and inspiring.  But my hope is that some of you have also have storage areas, and that if I can inspire even one person throughout this process, then I will call it a win.
  • I have started emptying the spaces and taking inventory as I go.  That way I can manage what goes back where.  It also helps me assess my current storage needs and create a plan to make these storage areas work harder for us.  I will be sure to share more details on that process as well.
  • I am finding ways to get myself excited to deal with these not-so-exciting spaces.  That means that although these spaces typically wouldn't be given extra love and attention, I still might put my "Jen twist" on things in some way or another, because that is the part I love about organizing.  That means painting and label making are in my future.
  • I have been searching the web for inspiration and ideas, however, I am coming up a bit short.  It doesn't seem that anyone has organized storage spaces and they definitely are not being massively pinned and blogged about.  I do love this one, but I can assure you my storage room still won't look this awesomepants when I am done.  And that is OK, but I can draw inspiration from the photo.
{via}
 And my organizing loving heart is also crushing on this genius use of space:

{via}
  • All three rooms are all getting cleared out.  I have always been a blank slate organizer, so that is how each space will be addressed.  I will be touching everything in those spaces at least once, and will be ruthless about what stays.  No more "this would make a cool blog project someday" excuses.  If I haven't blogged about it yet, I probably never will.  It will need to have a purpose, or it is outta here. 
  • With a Wisconsin winter right around the corner, we are crunched for time.  These projects need to be addressed, and we need to stay on track.  No deciding organizing under the bathroom sink instantly is more appealing than sorting through Christmas bins.  These areas have my full attention.
  • I have always had a good one in and one out rule, however, lately it has been a one in, one out to the garage rule.  Pair that with the constant purging with each new project we tackle, I have created a nice pile of things to take to Goodwill.  So what is the hold-up?  Seriously Jen, get on that already!  And then I need to come up with a plan to ensure that doesn't happen anymore.
  • Sell, sell, sell.  I am certain if I finally sell some of the items I have been holding on to for the past two years, we could put some of that money towards part of our kitchen renovation {or help cover any new storage that we will need to invest in through the course of tackling these three areas}.  But I also need to be realistic about what is worth my time to list/sell.  Sometimes it is just better to cut losses and head to a donation center rather than spending the time to photograph it, write up a listing and ultimately ship it out or schedule a Craigslist hand-off. 
  • We are re-evaluating how we use each space.  This is HUGE for us.  You may have noticed that we are duplicating how we use some of the storage we have now.  For example, we have realized that a huge amount of our home projects are in fact, completed within our home.  So it really hasn't worked or made sense to have all of our tools stored out in the garage.  All of that back and forth to grab things and put them back has been a recipe for stashing them inside without appropriate order or storage.  Things of that nature.

So check back with me next week.  We have just started on our utility room by clearing things out and creating a plan, and I am determined to make some progress this weekend.  I will be sharing the steps we are taking to conquer these zones along with the mixture of emotions that come with the process along the way.  Oh, and I will also share the my most dramatic "before" picture to date.

Whew.  I feel like I have just finished my first self help meeting.  Feels good!  Want to hop on the getting things off of your chest confession train?  Do you have a space you have been avoiding for far too long?  How about tips that have worked in keeping those less exciting storage spaces, streamlined and functional?

Have a happy weekend and...


172 comments:

  1. I am actually REALLY excited about this. Good luck, and I will most definitely be watching your progress. :)

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  2. Oh my goodness! I cannot wait! I too, have a fairly neat and organized interior. We do lots of projects and I routinely (thank you task minder) clean out my closets and purge. HOWEVER, our garage houses so many tools and project items, it has never been clean. I hate it. No..I detest, loathe, and despise it. I cringe when I open the garage door to come into the house. We are saving to build a second garage, but it will be a few more years. We DO need to be able to park our cars in the garage where they belong, but we can't with all of the tools, wood, sports equipment,etc. in the way. The future second garage will be for a workshop and projects. Until that time comes, I would love to have a garage that is livable and decent. Please inspire me... I can't wait!

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    1. Oh! I will do my best to try! :) And a wood shop would be magical! Love that!

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  3. Thank you!!! I have to say the other day I was looking online for a way to organize some shelves and storage that is in a stairwell of our home leading down to our basement. Not pretty at all - but it is the place where we store stuff we want to use on a regular basis and ends up being a dumping ground. But it is practically in our 100+ year old home's basement where it is smelly dark & damp. I couldn't find anything that talks about just basic, down and dirty parts of the home that are also weird sized spaces. We also have this issue in our garage and attic. Rest of the home? Clutter free. These areas - a disaster. I am so happy you are doing this and can't wait to read about them!

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    1. It's always nice to hear when others can relate! Best of luck to you with your basement Kimberly!

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  4. Thank you so much for your confession! I love to find out that you are not perfect, nor is your home, and I totally relate to not only the places that catch clutter and why, but the stuff you keep and why it's tempting! I am super excited to see these projects most of all, bc I know you put a lot of time and thought and creativity into the process and your before and after shots make me happy. I don't think blogging about the same spaces or chores is boring, I think it's real, and really helpful too! No space ever turns out exactly the same way, and the joy of organizing for me is that breath at the end and saying, 'ahhhhhhh. That's so much better.' I am a firm believer in making ANY space more functional and joyful, and I can't wait to see how you tackle the 'drudgery' places. As for inspiration, I know you always find stuff and believe me it's out there, I have an entire pinterest board full of JUST under-the-stairs ideas! Good luck with the upcoming projects!

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    1. Thanks so much for the sweetness! I appreciate knowing that blogging about the stuff that has to be done every day, is also in some way inspiring. :)

      xo!

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  5. Our whole basement is a "drop" zone as is our shed in the backyard (No garage for us...yet). We are slowly remodeling the basement to add square footage to the house. For us, it seems like there isn't any room to remodel because everything that needs to go into the new rooms is being stored there until completion. I feel for you. I know what it's like to be doing home projects and have no idea where you last put the hammer or screw driver (still can't find mine). I love your blog and can't wait to see what you do with your storage spaces.

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! Best of luck to you with your remodeling project! They can be messy during the process but it is always worth it in the end.

      xo!

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  6. Way to go, Jen! I love the reality you are sharing and truth be told, folks love you even more when you are not 100% perfect. That is the thing about organizing - it always needs to be kept up or even rethought. I find this is really true when you have kids at home - things change with their stages and the size of your family. Looking forward to the posts!

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    1. Thanks Michelle! I have never wanted to portray a "perfect" life here because we definitely don't have it {or want it for that matter}. :) This blog is just my quest at achieving some order {and pretty} in our very fun and chaotic life.

      xo!

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  7. I want to say that I am so very excited to see what you come up with! I recently found your blog and you have already inspired me so much -- I've already made changes that I love! So thank you! And we have an attic that is FULL of stuff we can't see or reach. I really, really, REALLY need to go through it and organize it somehow, but it seems so overwhelming. Good luck to you! (And thanks again for all of the awesome inspiration!)

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  8. Wow, I just went through a very similar project list for my garage, bonus room, and all closets. I think everyone has these not so exciting areas that need to be cleaned out at some point. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with yours. Even though the space might seem boring, the results will not be! Seeing how you work your magic is always inspirational even if it is in a non-inspirational area.

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  9. I can't wait to see an organized storage space that's not pinterest-gorgeous! Our basement/laundry/utility area will never ever be pretty because of how the walls and pipes are done, but I dream of it at least being functional one day. Can't wait to see what you dream up!

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    1. Totally agree, our walls are the same. I asked my hubby if he had interest in finishing the walls for me. I got an eye roll, haha. I get to work around what we have been given. :)

      xo!
      Jen

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    2. Aww Jen, I bet if you batted your eyes and gave him the "look" hubs would change his mind. ;) I'm excited to see what you do with these spaces...finished walls or not. :)

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  10. Good for you for facing up to it! I too have an area I'm ashamed of and the door stays closed tight - our spare bedroom. Anything you can possibly think of gets dumped there in those moments when we're really not sure what to do with something, or my "I'm sure I'll use it in the future" moments, or the "lack of space anywhere else" issue, or like you the "goodwill drop". It's my goal to tackle that darn spare room, it's closet and storage space as well, before winter comes - which means I only have about 2 months, if we're lucky here in Edmonton, AB, Canada!
    Thank you for always being so inspiring with your lovely blog!
    Sarah

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    1. We have a spare room and it is easy to put those types of items in that room. We did that for a short stint, and then moved it all to the garage instead {to be able to host guests}. Now, I don't see it and I don't think about it which hasn't been a good thing. :) Good luck to you Sarah!

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  11. Thanks for sharing! It's good to know even the most organized people still have Monica closets :) I have a few of my own, and you are totally motivating me to start working on them!

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  12. Really excited about these projects! I've got plently like them myself to tackle so I'm hoping to gain inspiration and motivation from you.

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  13. Jen, go on YouTube and another Jen organizedlikejen has a video about organizing under her stairs. That should provide some inspiration and ideas.

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  14. With military moves every 2-3 years (often less) and 3 kids whom people feel compelled to bless with JUNK, I feel like I am constantly purging. I never know what kind of storage space I'm going to get, so I try to keep a handle on it, but I understand your dilemma - it just seems to grow on its own!

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    1. I can only imagine the challenges one would face with moving frequently. Sure, it is a great way to sort and purge things with each move, but coming up with storage solutions that fit each new space wouldn't be the easiest task. Thanks Tara!

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  15. I can totally relate! All week long (behind the scenes) I've been working on our storage room...trying to make it work for the long haul with some(much needed)added organization. Of course at the same time I have been doing a gallery wall, brainstorming painting projects and working on cleaning out the garage all before that wonderful winter hits us. :-)

    ~Sarah

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    1. Wahoo! Sounds like a day in my life also, which I totally love! Have fun and cheering you on from here as you tackle your spaces!

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  16. Thanks, Jen, for posting about your "messy" spaces. I can totally relate! I also struggle with doing those unexciting, un-blog-worthy, projects. This winter our plan is to clean our all our baby stuff and sell/purge/donate. I know we need to get it done, but it is not at all interesting to me. Glad to know I will be in good company as you tackle these projects.

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    1. Absolutely Kristin! And winter is a good time to take on those more boring projects, pop in a good movie and sort away! :)

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  17. You had me at the Friends reference! I'm so happy you'll be blogging about these projects - I think they're areas that everyone struggles with (at least, I know I do!), and I can't wait to see how you put your "Jen" stamp on them!

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  18. While these spaces may seem "boring" I am very excited to see your process. We are storing a lot of stuff in my parents' basement (since we live in a small apartment) and I'd love some ideas on how to help organize their space and my stuff.

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  19. I can't wait for you to blog about these projects because those are the types of projects that many people in Blogland need help/inspiration for! Looking forward to them!

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  20. My areas of shame aren't on the same scale because my entire flat is probably the size of the average closet (170 square feet, approximately), but I do have two hotspots which I desperately need to deal with this weekend before university starts on Monday. I'm taking inspiration from your blog and using clever storage solutions to get everything in order! Good luck with the Monica closets.

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    1. Thanks May! I am SO impressed with the size of your space! I imagine it takes a lot of creative thinking and multifunctional storage to swing that.

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  21. Sometimes I hate to tell people that I love organizing because my home does not always show that. I LOVE this post. It made me feel more... normal! Although I would have like some messy pictures as well (wink!).

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    1. Yes. THIS! Imagine writing about your organizing love daily, and still knowing areas of your home don't reflect that. It's like a big ol' elephant following me around. Cheers to being normal Christine. :)

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    2. Oh! And the messy pictures are coming, I promise! xo!

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  22. I am excited to see this and how it plays out! Our utility room is ugly, with exposed studs, concrete floors, etc. I also have an under the stairs storage that is in dire need of attention. I am hoping to get inspiration from you on these!

    I will say that I did take time last spring to organize our crawl space, which is where we store our Christmas items, wrapping paper, and some other misc. things. I totally purged, even the Christmas decorations, cleaned, and rearranged. I don't have a blog, but I wanted to shout from the rooftops about how great it feels to open that little 36" high door to see the dark awesomeness of an organized space.

    I am looking forward to your journey.

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    1. Thanks Nicole! Sounds just like our utility room which is the primary reason I haven't been excited to dig in.


      And I am doing a little happy dance for you and your crawl space! I know that feeling of shouting from the rooftops once you have finally conquered a space like that. It is so invigorating! Kudos!

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  23. Jen, you need a 'love' button! I seriously just want to hug you right now. You are hands down my favorite blogger, and one that I constantly find myself talking to my blogging partner about. "A, we need to be more like Jen, have you seen...." or, "Check out xyz on IheartOrganizing...I love the feel of that layout", etc., so it's nice to know you have a dirty secret...does that make me terrible? For what it's worth, I have the three exact same problem areas (well, the under stairs area is clear thanks to some mice that freaked me out...the space has been mouse free for years, but I'm still scared to put stuff under there!) in my house, and I am anxiously awaiting your solutions.

    That said...my purpose in life (and in blogging!) is to eradicate mom guilt, one overworked mom at a time. And you, my friend, need to just. STOP. You are amazing. You bring the blogging world beautiful, organized content every single day, while raising 3 handsome little men, and customizing your beautiful home, among I'm sure, an untold number of other tasks. Until such time that you have your 'Monica closets' all organized as you'd like, just take a deep breath, look around at all the organized beauty YOU have created, and realize that while thousands of people look to you as an example of perfect, all YOU need is 'perfect for me'.

    :-)
    Rach

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    1. Thanks SO much Rachel! I really love your purpose. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy right? It is no good to belittle all that we have done only to focus on what we haven't. I appreciate your kind reminder!

      Oodles of xo's!

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  24. Any coat closet ideas. The hall closet is in small space with coats boots etc. needed for a northern climate.

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    1. Boot trays below, hanging above {maybe even install a double rod if the closet is tall enough}. Shoe pocket organizers are super for hats, mittens and scarves.

      Best of luck to you!

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  25. Awesome, awesome post, Jen!! I have been working on getting back into a regular habit of purging, and I definitely need to take a few trips to Goodwill soon! We always have a million projects going on simultaneously, too, and the chaos is definitely an issue. Seriously excited about this series -- I will totally be cheering you on!!

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  26. Everyone has areas of their life that aren't as organized as they would like :) That's just life. Throw some kids in there or a busy job and you can certainly expect it!
    I'm starting on my office at work today actually. For some reason I overlook it, and just clear stuff from my desktop but miss the peripherals of my vision. Thanks for the motivation!

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    1. Agree my friend! And have fun organizing your desk. That really does sounds like my idea of a good time! :)

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  27. I don't think these spaces are boring at all. They get my organizational juices going and I am excited to see what you come up with. My garage is unfinished stud walls and I have been struggling to find a way to organize without spending tons of money. Plus with a dirt road and driveway, super pretty is out! Good luck with these projects.

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    1. I can completely understand. I DREAM of the day when our garage is finished, painted, floors done and lovely. However, I have come to terms that as long as it stores some extra items and protects our autos, it is serving it's job. For now anyway :) Good luck Jessilee!

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  28. To me, neatly organised = pretty in it's own way. I can't wait to see how it turns out since I have stacks of storage needed myself!

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  29. I am in the same boat! We have four places that are a disaster area: the utility/storage room ,the garage, the basement bedroom and the future toy room. We bought a foreclosure that needed a lot of work and with that comes lots of moving things around, saw dust, etc. We for sure need to clean out the garage before Minnesota winter rears it's ugly head! Because I am not scrapping my windows in the morning!

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    1. Oh yes! It is almost window scraping season! I say boo to that! :)

      And congrats on the new home. Wishing you luck as you work on it and tackle all of those areas! Imagine me saying in my best Rob Schneider voice, "You Can Do It!"

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  30. Jen,

    LOL! I saw that "Friends" episode last night! I am with you, I need to clean closets and need to get organized and de-clutter as well! I am anticipating a move back to Chicago in a couple of years so I need t get going as time flies too darn fast! Good luck and will be keeping up with your progress!

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  31. Ugh - the "Monica closet"! Yes, I have one. It's happened within the last year and a half since we moved to this house. It really causes me great stress! I HATE it and yet I allow it to continue. I like how you identified your reasons, and I think it's much the same for me.

    Mine is my basement. It had sort of been finished in the 70's (dark panelling, dark flooring, ugly sort of way). The previous owners had attempted to help it by wallpapering over part of the paneling. Then we had a water line break the day before we moved in and so half the wallpaper is ripped off exposing the glue and half of it is still on. Basically, even if it were 100% organized and neat, it would still be ridiculously ugly. We hope to finish it someday but it will be at least a year or two before we have the money, if even then. I just HATE being down there. Therefore I just set stuff down there (usually the stuff that has no other home) and try to get out as quickly as possible. It's the bane of my existence!

    I'm super excited to see you tackle real organizational projects that don't necessarily have the wow factor of some. I find seeing that more inspiring than some of the dramatic transformations that are often out of my skill set or budget. Life is often mundane, and most of us do need to organize areas that will never have that wow factor.

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    1. Thanks so much! And great point, I think we avoid these spaces, however, they ultimately cause us unnecessary stresses. I have read that wallpaper removal can be pretty simple and inexpensive {most of the time}. Maybe just doing that and giving the paneling a quick coat of light paint would make you feel a bit more inspired to go down there? However, this is coming from a girl who is always seen with a paint brush in her hand. :)

      xoxo Laura!

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  32. Yes! Thank you! I am so excited to see what you do! This is exactly what I have had on my list FOREVER and just cannot get motivated to begin. I knew I would have to start sooner or later, considering I can barely open the door to the basement storage at this point!!

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  33. Thank you for honesty! You have been my inspiration to do a whole house purge! So I am very excited to see what you do as our 2 car garage is lucky to fit one in and our guest room..... Well it's currently my dumping room and I'm sure there's a bed in there!! ;) living in Australia I'm wanting this done with summer approaching so I can spend time watching my kids I'm the paddling pool and not thinking I should be somewhere else..... Look forward to your upcoming blogs...... Good luck!

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    1. Best of luck to you! And I agree that spending time with kids and enjoying warm weather always moves to the top of the list. Have a great time paddling! We are just getting ready to break out the snow shoves!

      xo!

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  34. This made me giggle - no worries, we don't judge you and I'm sure you'll turn these areas into beautiful and functional spaces.. :)

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  35. Can you please post a picture of each space? We like to see messes just as much as we like to see organized glory.

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    1. Before pictures are absolutely coming! They are a crucial piece in the process. :) Stay tuned! xo!

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  36. Yes! i am in the process of putting price sticker on anything that is not "useful or beautiful" and donating it to the church yard sale next week! Can't wait to hear more about this. i am trying to be ruthless in my purging. :-)
    Freedom!
    thanks jen...best blog ever :-)

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    1. High fives to ruthless purging! Cheering you on Amy!

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  37. Don't give up, You of all people can do this! We are just going through a Huge garage cleaning operation, so I do feel you :) Would it help if you chose a color or theme like you could with a 'real' room? Pink princess garage would be Awesome :D

    Sokru
    sokerimursu.blogspot.fi

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    1. Bahahaha! I wonder what my hubby would say if I told him I wanted a Pink Princess garage! Love it!

      Not sure we will add color to the garage {this year, although, it is something I have been wanting to do for a long while now}. However, the other two storage spaces won't know what hit them, the paint has already been in my hands! :)

      xo!

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  38. Can't wait to see what you tackle. But I find simple organization beautiful in itself.

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  39. sounds like you need pretty paint in the utility room and putting your tools in there. You're "some day" stuff could go in the garage with limited space so when you find something for that space, something else goes out.

    Just don't ask me about under my stairs or look in my garage ;-)

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    1. You know me well! I was hinting to that within the post. Both of those things are happening this weekend. SO excited!

      And looking away my friend... ;)

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  40. It does my heart SO much good to know I'm not alone, although I have to admit I have a Monica ROOM if not 2 at times not just a closet...am excited to follow your progress and hopefully get some ideas for how I too can conquer the clutter! Nice job and thanks for being so real!!

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  41. Is it weird this makes me kind of happy? I seriously thought every single thing in your house must look perfect and everything had a perfectly labelled home. So thanks for helping me realize you are just like the rest of us...well, still way more organized than the rest of us, but you know!

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    1. Totally just a normal gal here. At least I try and believe that. Ha!

      I have never wanted to portray a "perfect" life here because we definitely don't have it {or want it for that matter}. :) This blog is just my quest at achieving some order {and pretty} in our very fun and chaotic life.

      xo!

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  42. I reference the Monica Closet all.the.time! So glad to know I'm not alone!!

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    1. So not alone. In fact, I think that reference makes us great "friends". ";)

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  43. Jen, you are such a "for real" blogger! That is why we love you so much. I will definitely be excited to follow you on this endeavor!!! And to be inspired!!

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  44. My parents use their under stairs closet to store tools. They do not have a garage because the house is from the late 1800's, but the "tool cupboard" seems to work well for them.

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  45. As a brand new blogger, this is the first time I’m learning about putting off a task that isn’t “blog worthy”- so thanks for the advance warning that I might fall victim to this hazard! I agree with the others commenters- bring it on! I love to see how others have tackled organization and making something boring seem wonderful. If you can spray paint a bleach bottle cap gold- I know you can bring some spark to a closet or a garage!

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  46. I had an entire extra bedroom that would a dumping ground for anything that I couldn't find a spot for at any given moment. It was like that for 2 and a half years until I cleaned it out a couple of months ago. The sad part was it only took about 4 hours for me to clear it out and the closet. It was driving me crazy for 2.5 years and only took 4 hours to fix! What was I waiting on?!?

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    1. Wow! That is awesome to hear, way to make it happen in four hours! And I often think the same thing and am so surprised with how quickly things can get done if you just set your mind to it! :)

      xo!

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  47. My mom had the same situation in her garage as you are describing (I probably would too if we had one!) and she installed a super simple bracket system similar to this one http://www.sfallstars.com/diy-garage-ceiling-storage-craziest-gadgets-vq6os3mu.html that stores all of her seasonal/occasional items in bins along the ceiling that you can label and just slide in and out, its been working great for her! Can't wait to see the progress and keep fightin' the good fight!

    Melissa
    gottalovediy.blogspot.com

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    1. I have seen similar storage and it is SO genius! Hoping to keep most of our main storage in the house and just garage stuff in the garage {hoping is key word}, but if we need to move some bins out, we will absolutely consider a similar solution. Thanks so much for sharing!

      xo!

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  48. An inspiration tip: aa lot of NY apts have exposed not-so-pretties, with no option or affordability to finish them traditionally, yet some creative uses have been my most inspiring ideas! Maybe search those kinds of spaces for ideas on how to pretty up things like exposed studs, exposed pipe, wire, electric boxes etc?

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  49. Do you know, I think this makes you so much more 'real', and the rest of us feel better about our rooms, closets, garages that we haven't quite sorted out yet! :)

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  50. I have a very ugly, unfinished basement I need to tackle ASAP but I find no inspiration going down there because it is dark, ugly and cluttered! I am SO excited that you will take on the less inspiring parts of your house because I just know it will give me the kick I need to do this!!! I love your ideas and your office space and other rooms that you blog about.

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  51. I love to see truth in bloggers. Honestly is the best policy!

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  52. I read your blog all the time but almost never comment. So first of all: I love your blog! You are super talented, and I've borrowed toooonns of ideas from you for my house.

    Second, I really loved this post, even though it is obviously really different from your normal posts. It is easy to feel intimidated by the awesome pace of creative accomplishment that is on display here all the time, so I am simply relieved to hear that everything is not perfect in your house at all times. :) Haha, I hope that doesn't make me sound too bad!

    More importantly, though, I think this is a really GREAT direction for some of your posts to go. The truth is, we all have these functional areas in our home that may not be the prettiest, or the most fun to deal with, but they just HAVE to receive attention. And it will be great to see your ideas for tackling those. Like, how DO you keep track of all those random holiday decorations? I would love to know because mine are in my scary utility room in my basement too.

    Honestly, I also would even love to see mundane posts about cleaning your closet once a year or round up stuff to take to Goodwill. Personally, I get a lot of satisfaction from doing those things myself (I am super aggressive about getting rid of clutter) even if I've done them before, and every time is different, so it would be neat to see what you do year to year. You have these amazing over-the-top projects but don't put pressure on yourself that EVERY post has to be like that! Sometimes the things that make the biggest difference in our homes aren't a big "reveal," but they would still be fun to share!

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    1. Thanks so much! I appreciate the way you think and look at the blog. I agree not all of our projects need to be over-the-top {and a lot of the behind the scenes ones are not}. It is just part of what inspires me to tackle most areas, and I think we always need to find a motivator {as if clutter isn't enough right?} I will keep in mind that simple clutter busting and organizing needs to be kept in the game plan in the future. :)

      xo!

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  53. Can't wait to see these projects! I have a closet, basement and garage that needs to be addressed! Yesterday, I went to Goodwill and Target and found some baskets and bins for organizing -- my husband asked what I was going to use them for -- I said, "I don't know....... yet --- but, I will use them somewhere"! I really need to start using my collection of baskets and bins in a project!! Ha! Love your blog, Jen!! You're my inspiration!!!

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    1. Gotta love Target and Goodwill for baskets! :) Hopefully you can find a way to use them in those problematic areas.

      Thanks for the sweetness Kelly!

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  54. Thank you so much for this blog post! Now I know that you are human! I love your style and all of your wonderful ideas! I am anxious to follow along as my storage room and garage are next on my list. Thank you for your honesty, just another reason why I love your blog!

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  55. Perfect timing! I would LOVE to see what you come up with in your utility room and garage. These two areas are dumping grounds for us too. We are in the middle of putting our first level back together now, but when we are done, we have to tackle our garage. (For the 100th time...) It just never ends!

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  56. I also have a basement and garage that we have been trying to decide how to organize and clean out. This is perfect. I can't wait to hear your suggestions, tips, and to follow along with you. Thank you for being so honest. This is one of the reasons I love your blog. You are like the girl next door. So real. Good luck with your projects.

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  57. I LOL'd at 'blog security'. That would totally be my reason.

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    1. Hahaha! Right? I know we will never be done organizing, but I am scared for the day we conquer all of our problem areas... then I will have to find something else to heart ;)

      xo!

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  58. So excited to see what you come up with! We have a few storage spaces that keep getting unorganized, so I hope some of your ideas will work for us too!

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  59. I can't wait to see this. You come up with some brilliant ideas!

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  60. I love this because it shows that your are real!! I I have these same issues and I am so excited to see how you tackle them. Thanks!

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  61. This is one of the best posts I have read! I love how honest you were! I am so excited to see you organize these three spaces! Can't wait!

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  62. Great post! I always think that having the boring spaces organized is real organizing. And of course keeping it that way. Can't wait to see how you go. Yes i have a Monica closet. It's my broom cupboard. It has a dolls cot, a broom, and all my spare containers and boxes for organizing. And the whole thing is a mess. But today is the day. I'm going to sort it. And of course do a blog post about the boring stuff too. You are definitely not alone.

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    1. Wahoo Renee! Hope your sorting went great!

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    2. Thanks. Finally done! I went and got the shelf I needed that day, then life got in the way and it sat for a while. But all done. It's not pretty like I would like it but it works great and will be a huge help when I do other areas. You can have a look if you like organizedby.blogspot.com.au
      Hope you are going well with all your sorting. I don't envy you at all.

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  63. This is me relating to your situation. I love organizing and with life happening things have gotten a bit out-of-control in a couple spaces. It's an unsettling feeling. So nice to not be alone in that regard. ;) Excited to see what you do. If anyone can do it, you can! Happy organizing!!

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  64. Love the confessions! I have at least two or three "Monica closets." And just like Monica, no matter how bad they get, I still worry my husband is going to mess them up when he starts digging around to find things, because even in all the disorganization I still have some system to the madness. Do you feel that way too, or is that just over the top crazy?

    Anyway, I am so excited you are tackling these not so pretty projects because I am in the middle of one myself! We have a tiny utility closet but I was determined to make some space in there for storage. I'll be blogging about it sometime soon, but picture my husband laying on the cement floor wedged between the water heater and some pipes trying to install brackets for shelves that had to be custom fit to the limited space behind the pipes. Definitely not a glamorous project, but I am over the mon happy to have storage where there was none before!

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    1. That sounds amazing! We are trying to make the most of the space between all of those awkward items as well. Best of luck to you Angela!

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  65. I'm excited for these posts, because I also have these spaces. It seems like the stuff I purge from the places I'm organizing gets tossed into our guess room/office and garage to deal with later. I just cleaned out under our stairs for the second time, and I'm hoping it stays nice this time. I don't really care if some of those places look pretty, as long as they look neat. I look forward to seeing some of your processes, like how you decide what to get rid of, and how you make everything accessible so it gets put away the next time it's used. Sometimes it seems easier to just toss something in the general area than take the time to walk around the car or bed and access the right bin it belongs in. I think we all need these posts just as much or more as laundry room inspiration.

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    1. I agree! It is all about making things simple to access and really thinking about how and where we put everything away. Those bins in the way back of under our stairs haven't seen the light of day in years. Excited to see what treasures I find, lol!

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  66. I think this may be my favourite one of your posts! I'm always in awe of all you can accomplish, while still living a normal life. I love that you have not one, not two, but three Monica closets. How very real of you! (I'm not saying you are not real, but just trying to convey how much I've been in awe of your organizational awesomeness!)

    I'm glad you'll be sharing the make-overs of these 'boring' spaces. I have problems with the same areas in my house, so these will definitely inspire me. I struggle with tackling the big daunting projects when something small, quick, or more fun can be done instead!

    Thanks for sharing, I'm looking forward to seeing your 'dramatic' before photo!

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  67. I love this post and the fact that you are keeping it real ;) I've purging purging purging BUT my big mess remains in my closet. I have to get rid of so much stuff, and I know closets can be fun to organize but I have zero $ to even beging to asses how to organize it! And the project I dread with passion is the garage. Although it seems organized, I would love to convert it into a utility room and also sound proof it so we can move the HUGE Drumset we have in our master bedroom . YUP that's right I have a Drumset in my bedroom...anyway, thank you for being honest and real. And when you are done organizing your entire home up to the very last corner, I have an idea for you! Maybe you could be the organizer fairy and help another household organize their messy corner and blog about it? Just a thought ;) I enjoy reading your blog!

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    1. Thanks Ursula! And I love your suggestion! It is definitely a possibility! I just have to call Tinkerbell to see if she can't help make that happen! ;)

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  68. Have you thought about writing a list of everything you want to store in these spaces? For me, it's always easier to maintain order if eveything has it's own space. And I mean EVERYTHING.
    I don't know if the list-writing works for you, but simply realizing what kind of things needs to be in the closet can help you realizing how to organize the area. :)
    Good luck!

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    1. Oh yes! There has absolutely been list making during this process already! :) Lots and lots of list making!

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  69. I LOVE this! I'm so happy you're going to address the 'un-fun' places. All spaces need the organizational love and these should be talked about because they are so hard! I don't know how many times we've organized our basement only for it to deteriorate into a pile of mess before we know it. It's taken a lot of figuring but I think I'm on the right path finally. I'm really looking forward to your storage space tips!

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  70. I like the picture you posted of under stair storage, but I think you need something that closes off the space. I see built in drawers under the smaller stairs and cupboards under the taller ones. Maybe even some spice-rack style dividers that are tall and narrow that roll out with a pull off the handle. Whatever you decide will definitely be both pretty and awesome. Good luck! Can't wait to see it!

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    1. I like how you think! I have a couple of plans that include a cabinet and drawers, so fingers crossed it all works out!

      xo!

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  71. I m a regular reader of ur blog. And absolutely in love with it. I dont normally comment, but right now, just couldnt stop myself from commenting to log 100th commwnt!!! :)

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  72. Our garage has been a sore point for so many years. When we moved in, the floor was cracked and turning into rubble and the walls were mint green and full of holes. We replaced the floor last year and I'm excited to say we just recently completed new electrical and therefore drywall. My new floor settled and cracked, as concrete does, so i repaired it myself and will be sealing it next week. We have to wait for it all to dry but i can't wait to reorganize everything once it does. I have pictures of the progress on my blog. A blank slate! We also got a shed this year to house lawn equipment etc. ours Is a small two car garage and Toronto has fierce winters too so parking would be nice. I'm not as good as prettying everything up like you are though I am pretty organized. We'd make a good team ;)

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    1. I am ooohing and aahhhing at that blank slate of a garage! I could party with that!

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  73. We're in an apartment, but househunting, so I've been reading your blog in anticipation of finding... and organizing... the perfect house. Usually, I don't comment since I feel like I'm not "there" yet (the apartment is organized out of necessity -- small space -- but not prettily!), but I read your question: "once I post about it once, should I really post about it every year when the time comes to do it again?" and I answered, out loud, a resounding "Yes". I always claim that I'm going to go through every cupboard and closet every Spring and Fall, but summer rounds the bend, or winter winds blow, and I still haven't done it. Having a blog I read go through it? More likely I will play along too!
    Can't wait to see what you're going to do with the "boring utilitarian spaces".

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    1. I love that you answered out loud! I know I have done that from time to time. I also smile while I type. Isn't it awesome how we feel like bff's through blogland?

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  74. I have been really considering tackling my storage space for the last two weeks now and even this morning. This post has pushed me over the edge and I will be starting this week. Thanks for the encouragement. I can't wait to see all your tips and ideas.

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    1. LOVE that! Best of luck to you Kayde! Great to know I have a partner, even if only virtually! :)

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  75. Good luck to you - those certainly are ambitious projects, but I'm pretty sure you will get them done beautifully - and I will be coveting your storage spaces in addition to the rest of your home...

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  76. I think your blog and all the things you write about are great! Keep doing what you love to do and the rest will follow. No space is ever perfect all the time - but it is what works for you - thanks again for sharing - it's a joy to read and get ideas from you.

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  77. I love your honesty and hearing how other people get stuck even when they are moving. I always appreciate transperancy - it's reassuring that we / our houses are all work in progress. We moved to this house in July and these spaces are last on my list too. They are dumping spots but I would love to have ideas to use these spaces better. Looking forward to hearing more. Now to unpack more boxes!

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  78. Looking forward to seeing ideas you come up with. We have issues with these same areas as well, especially the garage. We are needing to get these monsters under control to put our house up for sale in a few months. Thanks for all your inspiration in the past and the blogs to come!

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  79. Yes, Yes, Yes!!! I'm so excited to hear this!
    My garage is totally my "monica closet"! I've been trying, for years, to get it organized. I've even created different zones for groups of items....but the garage doesn't seem to remain organized, hubby doesn't usually put things back where they belong, items are left in the "garage graveyard", etc.

    A few months ago we had our home appraised for a re-fi. The appraiser seemed to be impressed with the interior of the house...with all the improvement/remodels, etc. we've done, nicely organized closets and panty, etc. Then he went to the garage...I was like "yeah, that's our next project to work on". He tried to remain professional...but I could totally see that he had just entered the twilight zone or something, lol!

    Project "garage organization" needs help! Thank you!!!

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    1. Oh my goodness, I had to read this comment out loud to my hubby. Sounds like we are living parallel lives! :)

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  80. I must be the only woman excited about eventually having a garage! I want a garage work-space so badly for my own projects, which involve a lot of carpentry. But I get that garages aren't inherently appealing - they might smell a little musty, it might be the one place in the house that has bugs (at least it is here in Florida), and the lighting tends to be poor.

    But no one says you can't re-finish the floor in a nice, clean color and paint stripes on the walls! If it's a room where you do end up working on projects in it might as well be fun to be in. I've seen some really beautiful, cheerful garages, so they exist!

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    1. LOVE your attitude! I need to see a garage with stripes, that would rock my world!

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  81. This is awesome! I have such a hard time organizing these spaces! I always wonder when I read blogs where the magical place is that they pull out their extra frames and such from. I think any project that takes a space from cluttered to organized is exciting!

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    1. YES! My frames live in all three of those spaces! So funny! I bet I could make a majorly mega gallery wall at the end of this project. :D

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  82. Thank you for this post. I am a crafter and have a craft room full of supplies, books, magazines and projects that have spilled over into our garage. I will be reading your a blog with great interest as you organize your "Monica closets." (Actually purging what I own is the hardest thing for me to do.)

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  83. Jen, I want to inspire you like you have inspired so many. Unfortunately, I don't blog, and second, my inspiration room is temporarily unavailable for photos!! We are building a new bedroom for my son next to the storage room, and all random items that we needed to be kept dust free and construction zone free are just shoved in there very Monica's-closet like :-/

    I can describe it for you in hopes you have a great imagination! I could also send you pix, but, you would have to look past the "shoved in there" items! My storage space is narrow. When we moved in, we only had one wall of shelves. I have all my items in color categorized totes, and I had more totes than shelves. Since I HATE having my totes stacked on each other-I am short, they get stacked tall & heaviest always ends up on top- see the problem? So, my hubs added a second row opposite the other & walled up the outside so I didn't have to see the storage from the other area that we knew we would eventually finish. He made it wide enough for us to maneuver the Sterilite 18-gal totes, and it has 3 shelves, with room for a tote on the floor.

    That is not what is going to inspire you, this is. For three years, when I would go to Target, they had those colorful totes, and for three years, when they would go on sale for $5 each, I would buy about ten of them in the colors I needed. Now, my Christmas is in green totes with red handles, halloween in orange with black handles, girls clothing in pink, boys in blue. I have gone through the contents of the totes, labeled them for room and made a 3.5x5 card inventory and laminated it, then used velcro to stick it to the tote so you can see what specifically is in each tote.

    After that, I put them in order of holiday (New Years, Valentines, St. Patrick's, Easter, 4th, etc.) in the room so they are all in order. I have misc at the end like party supplies that has no specific month, and camping & extra crockpots/serve ware used for large family gatherings only. (Tip on crockpot lid storage if you lost the box: wrap it in a pillowcase to keep dust off). We do have another storage area in our sump pump room, but I use that for my prepping stuff :-)

    As for my Monica's closet area: My office/scrapbook room of all places!! My hubs has been building a custom cabinet/desk/reading nook in that room for me for over a year & it keeps getting moved down on the list of priorities, so it looks like a bomb went off up there!! Eventually it will look lovely again, but for now...EEP! Thanks for all your inspiration, and I have inspired someone as well :-)

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    1. Oh my goodness your colored bins sounds heavenly. Sigh. LOVE how you made that happen! Knowing where everything is right at a glance, so so smart! Way to go and thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story!

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  84. I am very excited to see what you do with these spaces! We're currently working on a storage room and I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with. My practical mind doesn't always see the pretty beyond the functional, and I'd love some ideas to bring into that space.

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  85. This is a great idea for blogging, love it! I usually do a big garage clean out in the Spring but didn't do it last Spring. I have lots of boxes for spray painting stuff out there so thought it was funny when you mentioned it. Looking forward to seeing all the steps. :0)

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  86. Love this! I seriously have to park my car in the garage and scurry inside as fast as I can because of the piles of toys/clothes/fabric/unorganized junk that has accumulated that I keep on putting off organizing and purging. It seems silly that a crazy messy garage can be a weight on my shoulders lol Looking forward to tackling the space too!

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  87. I'm honestly excited about this, I just redid my storage room last weekend that I lovingly call the "army crap" room where empty boxes and army uniforms/gear go to die, but it is all clean and organize I definitely feel I honed my inner Jen on this one! In the mean time it also helped me clean out my other problem space which is going to be becoming my studio. The garage well, I hope that one will come soon, and I hope my excuse that when we start renovating the basement I'll get it organized doesn't mean years of waiting...Goodluck and I look forward to reading along with you & gathering some ideas :)

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  88. Best of luck Jen!! We all know you can do it and look forward to hearing about your progress!

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  89. I am also excited to see what you'll do, especially with your storage room. These two spaces, our storage room and garage, are also EXACTLY what I have been wanting to work on forever. We have a town yardsale in two weeks and my kids always love to sell stuff during it since there is a lot of foot traffic, so that's my goal for cleaning stuff out. But I agree, it's so easy to just hide things in those spaces and shut the door. Good luck to you and we'll all enjoy seeing what you come up with. You are so talented and inspiring. Thanks for your blog!

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    1. Ooooh! Yard sales are great motivators to get things cleaned up and shipped out! Good luck!

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  90. one of the best ways to keep yourself on track is to keep things open and visible...my laundry room is one room that I love to close the door, but when I force myself to leave the door open I keep it neater and cleaner...just a thought! Maybe open shelves instead of cupboards?

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    1. Yes, we have some open shelves going in! Although, the doors for the utility room, under the stairs and garage will most likely need to remain closed since they are all attached to very heavily used living areas. :)

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  91. Jen, I have only recently discovered your blog; can't remember from where. Signed up last week or so and discovered this blog piece which was written just for me!! I'm a lively (most of the time) 68 year old who has struggled with organizing storage most of my adult life. Some things just don't need to be thrown out, but what do you do with them. Except for paper handling (which is another story), storage organizing became a real issue when my grandmother died and left behind her storage. HA!! I will EAGERLY be awaiting your blogs.

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  92. I am fantastically excited about this because these are spaces (and messes) that everyone and every home has. These are also spaces that I'm currently at a stand still over in my own home and I look forward to your posts as motivation to get off my duff and get them done!

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  93. Our basement is unfinished and ugly, but we use it every day. So over the years I have rearranged and purged and finally came up with something that worked. It stayed nice for about 6 months, then we started dumping again. I need to get back to it, especially as winter comes and we are inside more and would love to use the space more in the winter. however without heat it can get chilly, so that in the next project down there. Here is a link to when it was all clean and sparkly, or as sparkly as an unfinished basement can get. hhttp://littleredhen4.blogspot.com/2010/09/organized-basement.html

    A lot has changed since then, as I added curtains to hide the storage, and am always trying to make it look nicer, but you are right in stating that there are so few inspiration photos for real people out there. I am looking forward to seeing your spaces so I can get some inspiration for mine!

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    1. I actually remember that post! Those wooden shelves make my heart pitter patter with glee!

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  94. I am extremely excited to see what you come up with for your under stair storage. I, too, have a pesky, odd-shaped closet under my stairs, and I have no idea what to do with it. I've looked on Pinterest for ideas, but no one seems to have this type of space under their stairs. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

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  95. As we live on a farm we have a few sheds that dilute this problem in the house. It still needs to be sorted though. I found the Pottery Barn Storage book to have some good ideas as well as one of Martha Stewart's books. Cannot remember but it may be a 'Good Thing's' book. I am really looking forward to this. It is personal to us all.

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    1. I could drool over any Pottery Barn and Martha book any day! Love!

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  96. Oh boy can i relate. While the rest of my apartment was perfect........my monica closet was my car. Yep, piles and piles of trash just thrown about. My guily closet.

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  97. Those are the areas I am having trouble with (garage, furnace room, under the stairs). I can't wait to see how yours works out!

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  98. I have a pinterest board (pinterest.com/emmlehr) that is all about Organizing tricky spaces. I think elfa from The Container Store could help you with the space under the stairs and the utility space. Some efla freestanding could really help that utility space.

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  99. Please please PLEASE blog about it all. The non-exiting, the planning, the inventory-taking, all of it. I also have these spaces, and these are the spaces I need help getting started on. Where to begin? And yes, feel free to blog each and every year about the closet purges and things you've done before. Because maybe it's just me, but my closets need to be purged each year, too. You are an inspiration (to me, at least) to keep my house a home for my family, one that we can all enjoy. It might not always be adorable and chevron-covered, but if it's organized and functional, we're all going to be happier. From a fellow Wisconsin-ite, know you're helping many people create happier homes. So thank you!

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  100. Ahahaha the Monica closet. Oh yes. I have them in the form of drawers. Three also. Good luck with all of your plans XD
    Love from Jasmine @ rabbit-wood.blogspot.com
    xo

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  101. I can so understand. You get busy and normal "stuff" starts to sluff off. I love a scheduled that have "clean this room today" on it. I can't wait to see what you do with the space though!

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  102. Jen Jones to the rescue with honesty, followed I'm sure, with inspiration for those of us with the same type of storage clutter challenges! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  103. Thank you, thank you! I think you will inspire a lot of readers with spaces like these in desperate need of some attention. I have an entire Monica basement. While I plug away at small projects upstairs like shelf liner in my drawers and under the bathroom sink, downstairs lurks boxes of "stuff", dozens of old paint cans and tons of dirty projects that haunt me every time I go down there. I am in serious need of a kick in the pants to get the space under control.

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  104. I'm excited about this topic and wish I could be there to help you! I LOVE digging into a completely messy space, sorting everything into categories as well as purging, and then setting it up fresh, clean, and looking so functional. I frequently work on organizing projects that are not glamorous such as the one's you've confessed to and still love them all the same.

    I'm excited for you and will be looking forward to seeing the process and before/afters!

    I too have an un-maintained tools cabinets (thanks to my husband) as well as a packed hall closet that is functional but not pretty. I've been wanting to spruce it up and make things easier to get in and out even though we don't use what's in it that often. This post may be the catalyst to get me moving on them!

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  105. I don't comment on here but felt led to do so after reading your blog entry. I think it is great for you to be honest about the areas of your house that are messy. And blogging about these not-so-exciting areas is very helpful to others. We ALL have these places in our homes. To hear from someone who is very organized share that their home isn't perfectly together - makes others less intimidated & able to stop putting themselves down for not having it all together. We make wrong assumptions as we look at blog pictures thinking other people have picture perfect lives. Please keep it real with your readers and don't think we will question your organizing abilities. You are an inspiration and motivator to us!

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  106. Jen, I can't wait to see what you do under the stairs! We live in California. No basement. No attic. Basically, no place to store excess. Several years ago we put a door in the back wall of our hall closet to access all that unused space under the steps. Great idea right? Yes and no. My husband won't even open the door because it causes him such frustration. You have to remove all the coats in the closet, plus anything on the floor just to open the door. Once open, it's only half the height of a normal door so that means hands and knees. Need I say more? But it's where we've stored the hand-made rocking horse and Brio train table and doll carriage and the original rims for the 1993 BMW ... in case we ever want them ... and the Christmas decorations. Oh there's probably more in that tiny space but that's all I can remember. So I am so excited to see what you do with that space and look forward to making it a happier place in our home as well!

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  107. Jen - You're my favorite org. blogger ever! I love seeing all the projects you guys do. Especially because I feel validated that I am constantly changing my mind and my poor husband has to keep up with where everything is being stored "this week" :). I just have one question - why on earth would you want to sell an Expedit shelf?? lol I am a bit obsessed with them because of how versatile and sturdy they are!

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  108. Thank you so much for sharing! This post couln't have come at a better time. We are expecting baby #2 in December and baby's room has been our Monica Closet for the last 4 years! It is full of boxes (mostly my husbands) and items we intend to donate or sell at a garage sale. I've been begging my hubby to get the room cleared out for weeks and he is doing the best he can, but it is slow going.

    I've been going crazy thinking about it and coming up with plan after plan on how to tackle the room. But, after reading your post I decided to stop thinking and start doing. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

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  109. I am super excited to see your progress!!! I actually have a "Monica Closet" myself too and have been pushing off organizing! I will definitely be checking back for inspiration from you!! Thank you for all the great tips already!

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  110. I am so glad you're doing this. I love your blog, but sometimes I think you can't possibly find one more inch of space to wrap in pretty paper! LOL

    You're lucky to have three storage areas. We really only have the garage and a few storage nooks under our eaves that are full of dust and insulation so rarely used. Our garage also has the problem of being full of saw dust, and unfortunately, spiders. I just don't know what to do about those darn spiders and therefore don't want to keep much out there besides garage stuff. But I need some areas to store the gazillion mason jars/spray paint/picture frames I'm hoarding for the gallery walls I'm slowly working on/etc.

    Thanks for keeping it real and inspiring us to tackle these storage areas!

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  111. I smiled and could relate to your post very well. My hub has actually told me that he honestly thinks that I make messes just so I can organize it afterwards...lol I laugh about it and tell him no way, but secretly in a way, his right. Of course there are many other factors why an organized person can be disorganized at times.
    You're being honest, showing reality and that's how life is. Thank you!

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  112. LOVING this blog concept! I love organizing and making things cute but always go through days...weeks..months where things get a little out of hand and I get more than a little embarrassed about my disorganization. BEST OF LUCK! Looking forward to seeing your "Jen-style" put into these projects!

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