So this weekend, even though I’m meant to be still on bed rest, I just couldn’t help myself. The nesting instinct has kicked in rather hard lately, and I am finding myself SO overwhelmed at the state of our place. It’s not just that Mark and I are messy people in general. I could deal with a little mess. But with Mark doing everything himself the last couple of weeks, and having a crazy toddler running around, and all of us being sick, and the fact our apartment is quite small…. well, things have taken a decidedly DIRTY turn lately.
For instance, our laundry room, which also houses our garbage bin, was covered in stray garbage, bits of dryer lint, and had turned into a catch-all for whatever stuff we wanted out of sight but didn’t have the energy to take to the dumpster down the road.
Our kitchen pantry had become Dexter’s play cupboard, with him constantly grabbing at everything he could reach and rearranging it all to suit his whims. Not to mention the fact that there was no order to anything in there! Plus, Dex could see all the snacks and sugary treats, and he spent most days SCREAMING and pointing at them until we’d give in and let him have a snack. Nightmare!
And don’t even get me started on his bedroom closet. Like the laundry room, it has become a catch-all for everything that needs storing. But that’s not bad if there is some form of organisation in there, which there just WASN’T. I dreaded him learning to open the door because I was convinced that if he managed it, he’d be buried under an avalanche of junk! So with Mark’s help and a bit of ingenious Dollar Tree spending, I managed to tackle all of these projects over the weekend!
When we first moved in here, this was just an entry closet, with a single hanging shelf. Soon enough, though, I had convinced Mark that we needed to get proper shelves and create a pantry. I am so glad I did, as our kitchen cupboards offer hardly ANY storage at all! This reorganisation got pretty messy eventually, though. You can see from the left hand photo that there was little rhyme or reason to anything. And trying to find the right canned good was harder than anything! So here’s the new system.
The Baking Shelf
This is the shelf with all of the sweets, treats, cake mixes, chocolates, candies and snacks. Basically anything that your sweet tooth could crave. I used two plastic buckets and three wire baskets that I bought from the Dollar Tree to separate things into groupings. The first bucket contains pie crusts, powdered sugar, and various baking bits like vanilla.
The second basket holds ALL of our “snack foods” like pre-packaged cookies, pop tarts, graham crackers, etc. It’s hidden at the back so that Dexter can’t see it and won’t spend his time demanding them. So far, it is working a treat!
In the first wire basket is all of our Jello and Pudding mixes. The second basket is for baking ingredients (like chocolate chips, nuts, etc) that are already open. That way we know to use those first. The third basket is for the baking ingredients that are still sealed. Any other mixes or boxes are neatly lined up in the back of the shelf.
The Canned Goods!
The two bottom shelves are devoted to canned goods. I bought some stackable bins at the Dollar Tree, and they are the perfect size for holding cans! I used ten bins in all, and I separated the cans into categories. Veggies, Soups, Fruits, Sauces, Beans, etc. I haven’t yet labelled them, but I intend to at some point. While it is very self-explanatory to ME, I know men are easily confused, and Mark already had to ask me where a can of fried apples belonged. So I think labels will be done shortly.
The Random Shelf
The top shelf is where the extras go. Things that I don’t yet have storage solutions for, but which aren’t regularly used anyway. Things like corn syrup, corn meal, corn starch… goodness – maybe I should call this the Corn Shelf! I also used one of the wire baskets to store a few bags of chips that I didn’t have room for in the snack bin.
Pasta and Potatoes
The final shelf is where all of the “sides” go. The bucket in back is for all of our pasta. Macaroni, spaghetti, etc are all in one handy place. We also have tons of box mixes of pasta dishes, rice dishes and various ready meals that just take a microwave to cook. Having them organised by type means it is much easier to grab one when dinner time rolls around.
The Laundry Room
As you can see from this photo, you pretty much were taking your life in your hands when you opened the laundry room door. It was chock full of boxes, bags, random junk and cleaning supplies. Some of the stuff would have to stay in there, as we just don’t have the storage solutions to move them. But again – it is all about finding a place and ORGANISING the mess.
Piled high with junk, the washer and dryer were difficult to use. To do a load of laundry, we would have to just MOVE junk from one side of the room to the other. Getting something out of the dryer was difficult as there were inevitably boxes and garbage bags in front of it. So the first trick was to throw away the garbage. Luckily, it was Dexter’s nap time, so I was able to get Mark to take everything down to the garbage compactor. I also convinced him that there was no need to keep the random selection of boxes we seem incapable of throwing away “just in case we need them.” Once everything was removed, I also realised how filthy the machines were. Some spray cleaner and a bit of elbow grease had them clean and shining like new again.
The Garbage Bin
An overflowing bin and lots of random trash scattered around do not make for a nice family environment. I don’t care if it is the laundry room or the back porch – it is just not acceptable. So a thorough cleaning of the floors, and a disinfecting of the bin itself were totally necessary.
The Laundry Shelf
Soooo mucchhhh junnnnk! Yes, the shelf was just full of rubbish. So we went through and got rid of the stuff that was unnecessary and reorganised what was left into manageable storage solutions. Two more of my Dollar Tree buckets were filled up to keep things organised.
The bucket on the left contains cleaning supplies and vacuum attachments. The one on the right contains garbage bags and laundry soap.
We also lined up our various travel bags in there, including our beach cooler, a hiking backpack, Dexter’s diaper bag and a small holdall for overnight stays. Mark’s various cases of Mountain Dew were moved to a kitchen cupboard, and while I was ready to throw away our never-used Breadmaker, Mark rescued it from the trash heap and actually managed to use it to bake a loaf of bread! What a guy!
Okay, this was actually an afterthought, but I am ever so pleased with it. Basically, once I’d cleaned out the pantry, I realised how much I miss having easily accessible canisters. Our staples – like flour and sugar – are always hidden away, and I genuinely never know if I have enough of an item to make something I might be craving.
So I took a little trip to WalMart and bought some really cute glass canisters. The big ones can fit up to a gallon, and I used them for flour, sugar and brown sugar. They were $5.50 each. The smaller ones were $4 each, and I used them for things like Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Cocoa and Salt.
I created labels by buying some oval address labels and using a sharpie to create borders and write the ingredient on it. The result is below. I plan on buying a few more of these for various other blends soon. Pancake mixes, bread mixes and other combinations will keep a lot longer when sealed in glass than left open in the pantry!
You can see why I was worried about an avalanche, right?! This closet was completely full of luggage, pool toys, beach toys, excess toys, and a TON of bags full of baby clothes. We managed to pull everything out and go through it, deciding to throw away some of the broken toys and packing away the rest.
We made better use of the space by filling the four large suitcases with the stuff we needed to keep packed away. For instance, all of my pre-pregnancy clothes, spare pillows, and some of Dexter’s toys that he doesn’t play with were stuffed into one. We also went through the five large bin bags full of new baby clothes and separated out all the newborn stuff so that we could get them ready for the arrival of our little guy in a few weeks. The rest, we stuffed into another suitcase.
We decided to get rid of things like the stair gates. They were fairly cheap anyway, and Dexter pushes them over or pulls them out when we try and use them, so we figured they’re not really of any use to us anymore. Even when we might want them for the new baby, I suspect Dex would just rescue him anyway. So why take up space with things that we don’t need?
It’s amazing the difference that a bit of de-cluttering can make. Who even remembered that we had CARPET in there!? I haven’t seen it in months!!
Anyway, I am so very happy to have tackled some big projects this weekend. Sure, we still have loads to sort out, including OUR closet, which is about three times the size of Dexter’s. But hopefully we can do a little bit each week until it’s done. And with the awesome Dollar Tree providing such cheap and helpful solutions, I can’t wait to get started on the next project!
Do you have any favorite storage solutions? I would love to hear new ideas and great ways to organise the home. Leave a comment with your favorites!