During our initial design meetings, I ask clients to make a list of everything that is bothering them about their spaces, and no statement is too small. This is about getting to the root of why their spaces aren't functioning well for their every day life, and that's absolutely worth exploring as we rebuild a space for them.
I definitely have my list to conquer in my own house, and there are a few specific areas that irritate me just by opening the doors to them- the storage area under the stairs, our coat closet, and the garage. I finally got so frustrated that I called in a professional organizer to keep me accountable to tackling these spaces!
This isn't one of those shiny before and after posts - this is definitely a real mom life situation, with real kids who have a whole lotta stuff to store, working with what she has to make spaces more manageable! If you're looking for ideas on how to tackle decluttering your own random spaces, have a look below!
I discussed our storage situation with Ellen, the organizer extraordinaire, as we have tackled different areas of my home, and came up with a priority list of areas I've wanted to conquer. Turns out my one vote to open black trash bags and toss everything is usually outvoted by the other four people I live with, so we had to figure out how to organize and compromise amongst us all.
With Ellen's help and encouragement, we were able to better organize and prepare items my husband and I have inherited when our parents and grandparents died for long term storage. This was honestly the number one reason we both agreed to do this project now. Two of our guys are leaving soon for college, so there will be less to organize overall in the future, but I hit the wall on these areas bothering me, so no cost was too much to just get this done!
Talk about all new space - we can finally put two cars in the garage! That's one thing to help you through the hard moments - if you get rid of things and tidy up what's left, what does that get you? For the garage, we get space for the cars and peace of mind that they aren't out in the driveway, ripe for lookie-loos or long term weather effects on the paint.
While I always knew where everything was in our garage, I needed my people to know where everything was as well, and to keep it organized for the long haul. First things first, everything came out of the old bins and was organized loosely, like with like. For instances, hubby's parents items, mine, gardening equipment, holiday decorations, you get the drift. Anything in non-working order got tossed into the trash pile unless it could be recycled. Things we no longer use were put in a pile for donation. We finally parted ways with bicycles my kids outgrew, and my old triathlon bike, as my tri days are seemingly over (I pay too much money for my hair color to ruin it with chlorine, ha!).
Decluttering for Donation
Take a look through some of your own closets, bins, and cluttered spaces and consider what you can give to a great organization, a neighbor, coworker, or loved one!
Consider donating unused gardening equipment or ornaments or decorations you haven't used in a couple of years. Our own Houston Zoo will take donations of old Christmas tree lights for their yearly holiday light display.
Although no bathrooms were on my hit list, this time, I did take the opportunity to refresh all of our towels and just ordered these for all of our bathrooms and will donate our old ones to a local animal shelter. It's a win win!
I know I'm not alone in having an under-stair storage area that houses every random thing that comes into the house! My goal for this area was to have it be strictly for cleaning tools, and have hooks for guests to hang coats or purses and have that be it! Just because there is space doesn't mean you have to stuff it full of things.
I'm still toying with using a fun wallpaper in here, as a smile-inducing door open moment - I'll keep you updated!
The front coat closet had over the years become less of a coat closet and more of a "if you don't know what to do with it, throw it in there" kind of closet, full of shoes, coats, Boy Scouts accoutrement, and Lego sets galore amongst random things that somehow made it in (raise your hand if this is you too!).
I can't sing the praises of getting the same basket for one space enough for a cohesive look that just screams organized (especially with the added labels). Now the Legos have their collected place on that top shelf, while the shelf with smaller baskets hold all the Boy Scout items needed for frequent camping trips like beanies, hats, gloves, etc. Now there's actually space to hang coats in a COAT CLOSET. Who knew?!
We kept going into the lower shelves of our living room cabinets under a new aquarium one of my older boys just installed. Instead of buying new containers for this space, we used a couple we already had since they were perfect and plastic for organizing all the fish stuff we are now proud owners of. I really encourage you to look around your house and look for containers that work in other spaces. We did just that for these spaces and then promptly donated what we didn't use!
These outside shelves are now for board games - anything else has another home!
After many botched attempts to just get on with it, I know I needed someone to push me to complete the decluttering and make decisions, because that is usually what holds most of us back from truly completing a decluttering project. If you're local to Houston and want to work with an amazing professional organizer, feel free to message me on Instagram or email me! It's worth every penny!