Thursday, October 23, 2014

20 UHeart Organizing: Playing the Organizing Game

You know what gets me all revved up and excited to tackle my next project?  Seeing what someone else has organized.  Simple inspiration at its finest.  It could be anything from a junk drawer to a linen closet and even a storage ottoman.  In fact, when I first read Ashley's post for today, the first thing I did was go organize my Wii remotes.  Don't you love how that works?

Ashley is the talent behind the blog 7th House on the Left, and she is visiting here today to share how she recently organized a storage ottoman in her living room, which is game central station!

For the last few months, I’ve been on a personal mission to simplify our home. Honestly, I feel like I say that all the time - and I probably do - but this time around feels a bit different. Everything from decorative accessories to kitchen gadgets are being reevaluated and either organized, Craigslisted or donated. I don’t know if it’s the changing of the seasons or the fact that I had a birthday a few weeks ago (“another year older, another year wiser”, right?), but I’m on a mission to move towards a more simplified way of living.

Sometimes, it’s really easy for me to get carried away even when it comes to organizing. I often tend to overthink things and end up making it way more complicated than it should be. Often times, after organizing a space, I’m often asked, “Well, does it actually stay that organized?”. Sometimes, the answer is “no”, sometimes “yes”. But I’ve found the common denominator in the spaces that stay organized is simplicity.

As I mentioned, I had a birthday earlier this month and my aunt gave me this awesome and oh-so-functional storage ottoman. I love the classic color and it will incorporate really well with our new living room layout that’s currently in progress. Knowing the ottoman would be kept in our living room, I was excited to put it to work and organize something purposeful. After a few minutes of simple organizing, here’s what made sense for our little family of 2.5 (the .5 being our 8 pound dog, Bentley):

The storage ottoman is now home to our favorite blankets, Wii games / accessories, card games, assorted small games and “my tray” - which I will explain in a minute.

Over on the left, we have a few cozy blankets stashed away for movie nights. (The striped quilt is from Joss & Main and the plaid throw is from Target) Not only do I love having these on hand because Fall nights, a cup of hot tea and a good black & white movie are the best, but it’s also nice to have the cheerful colors saying “hello” each time we open the ottoman. (Yes, it’s the little things!)

Right next to the blankets (and under the tray), I stashed two good-sized storage boxes with lids. First of all, I must say, I love these boxes. You know how it is when you come across that perfect storage container that you just can’t get enough of? Well, these were my obsession late this summer. Every time I was in Target, I went to the storage section to hunt them down and purchased one or two more just in case they decided not to carry them in the store year-around. I ended up purchasing 12 of them - yes… twelve. Just as I feared, they have since stopped carrying them, so I’m glad I stocked up. However, I have seen a few in the clearance section from time to time, so if you end up coming across them, I highly recommend picking up a few (or twelve).

Sorry, back to the project at hand… I designated one box to small “coffee table games” and one to Wii games and accessories.

We used to keep our small games and Wii accessories in storage boxes in the foyer. However, now that we have this new piece of storage furniture in the living room, this is a much more suitable and practical place to keep them. Along with the controls and accessories, I also included a small bowl of extra batteries and condensed all of our games into one small disc case. Even though this storage solution for the games is so much more efficient, for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of all of the cases. So, I ended up putting them in a plastic storage container and stashed it in the attic. Does anyone else do that or am I just being crazy?

The other storage box now houses our small games - or what we call “coffee table games” like cards, Bananagrams, Zip-It (so. much. fun!) and 20 Questions. We store all of our larger games and board games in the foyer closet nearby.

Both my and Greg’s family have a lot of fun playing cards when the we get together. About a year ago, I started started keeping track of our scores in a little spiral notebook. Along with the scores, I always write down the date, who’s playing, where we are, who’s birthday it is or what big thing happened that day. Without realizing it, it’s kind of turned into a fun little diary of family fun and is now one of our favorite sentimental possessions.

Now for “my tray”, as I call it. This is something I’ve just recently started doing and enjoy it so much I’ve been telling all of my gal friends to make one too. haha! I’m the type of person who is always making lists, doodling, or brainstorming; so this has been a perfect addition to my life. Ninety percent of the time when Greg and I are watching Netflix, the news or just generally having some down time, I have a notebook and a pen with me. Rather than having random things of mine float around the living room, I decided to make a designated space for all of my “down time stuff”. So, I pulled out a tray and turned it into “my tray”.

One thing I love about this concept is you can change out the contents with whatever is going on in your life at the time. For instance, I’ve recently decided to make a conscious effort to write/send more cards. (Snail mail is the best!) So, I have a small stack of blank thank you cards to remind myself to write a card or two when I have some down time. Aside from the notecards, my tray is currently housing the latest issue of HGTV magazine, a notebook with blank pages (perfect for drafting out ideas for new art/products), a fine-tip Sharpie, the book I’m currently reading and blank note cards. I have found this lacquer tray from West Elm to be perfect for this because it’s large, but so very light - making it very easy to take in and out of the ottoman.

So, that’s the tour of our new storage ottoman organization. We’ve been living with it like this for a few days now and I just love the simplicity and convenience of it. Now if we can just convince Bentley it’s not his new domain.

"I'm Ashley from 7th House on the Left - a blog where my husband, Greg, and I talk about renovating, decorating and living in our first house here in Hanover, Virginia. I’ve been an interior design enthusiast and a long-time fan of all things organizing. Yep, I was the kid with the perfectly arranged Disney stuffed animals, alphabetized coloring books and the categorized and color-coded sticker book. When I'm not busy writing or doing projects around the house, I love classic TV shows (particularly I Love Lucy) and curling up with Greg, Bentley (our 9-pound Pomeranian), a blanket and a good black and white classic movie – I’m a complete sucker for Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant films. I'm thrilled and honored to be a part of the IHeart Organizing team and excited to get to work!"


  1. I have an ottoman that really needs some TLC in organising. That's now on my to do list for tomorrow. Love all your posts
    Reinventing Neesha ♥

  2. Love this idea. Most of the time my family leaves the game controllers and open game cases all over the living room. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Great ideas! I love the storage ottoman and "my tray". :)

  4. I have 4 storage ottomans in my home and I love that they are dual-purposed. Bentley is also a pretty cool accessory! So cute!

  5. I have always liked these storage ottomans, but I rarely see them utilized so well. Great job!

    Sweet Spontaneity

  6. 2.5? Shouldn't it be 5.5?

    1. Hi Bethany,
      Today's post was a contributing author, so her family size is 2.5. :) xoxo!

  7. Where did you get that ottoman? I've been trying to look for one exactly like it:)

  8. I love the "my tray" concept! I am usually toting around two discbound notebooks (my IHeart planner and my blog notebook) on top of my laptop - I could use a new system!

  9. Cute photo of Bentley! He looks as pleased as Punch. :)

  10. we call it a hobby tray in our home, but mine is a like a caddy and with flat surface on top. The sides will have compartments for all the stuffs and serve as the tray stand. But Ashley's saves more space though. Love it.

  11. Completely agree with stocking up on storage boxes when you find them. I got some pretty ones at Target too and they have stopped carrying them. I so wish I got twelve.
    Love your tray idea. I keep my "brain dump" notebook and planner by side always too.

  12. I would also love to know what other readers do with their old game cases, I have the same problem!

  13. It makes me giggle that you keep the cases for the games! I did that for years too, then after moving CD cases all over the country, we finally tossed them and put them all in cases. I thought I was the only one! :)

  14. I store the empty cases in my storage unit. Since I like to buy or receive things in their original containers as much as possible I save the containers just in case I want to gift, donate or sell the media later on. But I have seen a video with a cute way to reuse the empty game cases as compact car organizers.

  15. My family loves playing games as well! Love the idea of keeping a spiral notepad to journal scores/games throughout the years. I'll have to start doing that!

  16. Oh how i wish i wasnt sat babysitting two sleeping grandsons , ok maybe an exageration but I am going to go home and make my own tray I have Wii bir=ts and pieces sortedbut love the idea of thank you cards . I will be blogging later

  17. I got halfway through the post before I realized it was Ashley from 7th House (I was thinking, when did she get a dog??) I obviously skipped the first paragraph!

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the tray idea, I need to start using it! Thanks Ashley!


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