Most people who know me know that I love organizing. I even tried to start an organizing business a few years ago. It didn’t end up taking off, but I still “freelance” organize for friends and family from time to time. (Not letting the dream die!)
Yes, what I’m saying is that I organize for fun. And, like the sicko that I am, I really, really do enjoy it.
Which leads a lot of people to think that my home must be super organized all the time. And it is with great shame that I must admit…it’s not. ALWAYS. I do my best, I really do. Joey will tell you that I’m quick to toss any errant object and my favorite question is, “Do you still need this?”
But I live with two other people (and a Bogey), which means I can only do so much when it comes to paring down our belongings.
Recently, I’ve gotten on a tear about our closets. Some of you may remember from my moving-in post, but our apartment is a weird labyrinth of winding hallways and strangely shaped rooms. It also has nine closets.
This is unheard of in New York City living. And while it’s great for storing stuff out of sight (yay!), it also means it’s wayyyy too easy to hoard things we don’t really need.
“Hmm, what to do with all these extra bits and bobs from IKEA? Let’s just put them in this drawer in case we need them later.”
“Dang, these kitchen items don’t fit in the drawers…let’s tuck them in here for now.”
“I mean, I might need eleven tote bags at some point, so I’ll just put them in this closet until that day arrives.”
You see how this can become a problem.
For a long time, I’ve intended to clean out one of our back closets that I lovingly refer to as The Junk Closet (TJC). TJC has become the home of everything from old paintbrushes to baby-proofing items to Joey’s hockey equipment, and it’s safe to say I got stressed out just thinking about looking for anything in there. I also had a sneaking suspicion that the seven or so things I have “lost” in the last year were probably buried somewhere in its depths.
Finally (fortunately), Joey had a few days off this week, so he was able to watch Vivi while I attacked the closet. And, I’m pleased to tell you, it has been brought into order and is actually super functional now. It actually thrills me to open the door and look inside.
I ended up throwing out two full trash bags of junk and did find those missing items. I also learned a few lessons along the way:
1. Waste not…unless it means creating more useful space.
Listen, I get it. You don’t want to just throw out something that, at some point, you paid good money for or that technically someone else could probably use. (Just not you.) I think the hardest part about cleaning out a closet for most people is that feeling on, “But it’s not broken…” So you tell yourself that you could use it someday. Or sell it. Or find someone who could use it. And you put it back in the closet and it sits for another couple of years until you pull it out and have the same internal struggle yet again.
You need to change the way you are thinking about this. That useless thing is actually bringing down your life. It’s taking up space that could be used by something useful to your actual life. Throw. It. Away.
2. But if you really can’t just toss it…
Okay, okay. Let’s pretend you have a really good reason for not just ridding your life of this space-sucking object. Put it in the sell or donate pile and set a deadline for yourself. That means you have exactly one week to sell or donate said item. If that deadline passes, it goes in the garbage. Ain’t nobody got room to store an item they are actively trying to get rid of for more than a week. I currently have three items for sale in my Poshmark closet that are on rapidly dwindling deadlines — and then they will immediately join their pals in the “donate” pile.
3. And if you MUST save it…
Set a space limit for yourself. I’m not a total sadist — I understand that sometimes you really will use something in the future, even if you can’t use it now. You just shouldn’t dedicate an entire closet (or, *shudder*, room) to these items. I let myself have one bin of items that could potentially serve a purpose in a different apartment or house. But you have to really mean it. In my bin, I have a pair of white curtains, a few wall hooks for keys and coats, and a ceramic deer head. Like I said, limits.
4. When you’re done, label everything.
Now that you are purged of junk and neatly organized, you want to keep everything that way. I am the biggest fan of chalkboard labels because they allow for the possibility that one day you will no longer need a bin of baby-proofing items but will instead need a bin of lightbulbs (or something). And since chalkboard labels can get a little pricey when you need a million (because you will want to label everything once you get started), I love this chalkboard tape. It works just like masking tape and can be cut to fit any size bin or drawer.
What are your tips for conquering TJCs in your life?
I know Memorial Day is not actually the start of summer, but it certainly feels like it. It might just be the humidity, but especially in the city, things just start to feel a bit more festive.
Of course, there is a downside to summer sneaking up on you: You may have officially missed the boat on spring cleaning. (I know. I’ll give you a minute to stop weeping and pull yourself together.)
But just in case you didn’t get around to deep cleaning the curtains and finally organizing that back closet you’re afraid to open (what, just me?), I have a solution. Recently, I discovered three areas of one’s home that can be cleaned and/or organized in about 15 minutes (TOTAL), meaning you can invest a little and feel smugly superior in less time than ever before.
Let’s. Get. Clean.
#1 Your magazine stash: 2 minutes
Maybe it’s a rack, a basket, or just a big pile that doubles as a side table, but odds are that you’ve got a pile of old magazines lying around somewhere. You’ve probably been telling yourself for a year or so that you just can’t toss those old issues because one of them has that recipe you’ve been meaning to try/haircut you want to show your stylist/workout you’re going to do in your living room/etc. But, let’s be real. It’s 2016. We have Pinterest. It’s time to cut ties and set those pages free. In about two minutes, you can whittle down that pile to a handful of favorite issues or even dump the whole thing. Just remember: Magazines can usually be recycled, so do the earth a favor and do that.
#2 Your makeup bag or under your bathroom sink: 3 minutes
Did you know it can actually be dangerous to use cosmetic products after they’ve hit a certain age? Unless you like slathering bacteria all over your face, it’s a good idea to toss makeup after a certain point. (Here’s a guide for how long to keep each item.) Today, spend three minutes checking every item in your makeup bag and throwing out anything past it’s expiration date. Don’t have a makeup bag? Settle for clearing out the area under your bathroom sink (you know you’ve got a million-year-old bottle of shampoo or something under there).
#3 The fridge: 10 minutes
Is there anything worse than getting a whiff of something foul every time you open your fridge? Today, spend ten minutes tossing all the old food and organizing what you want to keep. (Hint: Store all leftovers at eye level or on the top shelf so you’re more likely to notice them and actually eat them before they go bad.) In ten minutes, you’ll probably even have time to wash any newly emptied Tupperware, too.
Look at you! Fifteen minutes later, and you’re surrounded with evidence that you’re a responsible, neat adult. Well done.
What are your favorite quick cleaning chores?
Yikes. Am I right? Just looking at a picture of our desk drawer stresses me out. So you can imagine how I felt actually living with that mess.
But despite being a fairly organized person in general (okay, I’m a little bit of a freak), there was something about our desk drawer that had me stumped for, well, let’s call it a calendar year.
While this drawer is actually significantly better than the one on our old desk (which was tiny), the bigness of it tended to backfire on my organization habits because it was essentially one big space, meaning everything in it shared that space all willy-nilly like. As a result, it became the bane of all type-A types: the junk drawer.
Finally, I decided enough was enough. On my recent trip to IKEA, I kept my eyes peeled for desk organization items. But I also knew I didn’t really want to spend a million dollars on a fancy organizational system. I just wanted something simple, pretty, and budget friendly.
That’s when I spotted these. These cute little bowls would have worked well enough on their own, but I decided to try to think of a way to personalize them/make them look more expensive if possible.
I also started to peruse IKEA’s vast selection of silverware drawer organizers (a great option for office supplies and jewelry, as well as cutlery), when I suddenly remembered that I actually had a silverware organizer tucked away in a closet at home. We had used it at our old apartment, but it was too wide for the drawers in our new place. So I bought two of the bowls and decided to simply upcycle everything else I needed.
And that, my friends, is the definition of budget friendly.
A few days later, I dug up the old silverware drawer. It was totally fine — no broken parts, the right size — but the bronze color clashed with the mint bowls.
And THAT was when I decided this was a job for gold spray paint.
I am no stranger to spray painting things gold. (Cough.) In fact, my husband has said, on occasion, that everything in our apartment is gold. (This is a gross exaggeration. But I get it.) So at this point, I consider myself a bit of a pro in what to do. I purchased some primer and some metallic gold spray paint and got ready to get in to it.
Cue my instant disappointment when I realized that the primer I had purchased was defective. Any attempt to spray the paint resulted in the can just spurting paint everywhere. Not cute.
I was about to give up on my project for the day (and had started racking my brain for a new project to fill this week’s post) when I decided to, you know, actually read the instructions on the gold paint’s can.
And, wouldn’t you know it, Krylon gold spray paint boasts the ability to stick to virtually every surface, INCLUDING PLASTIC AND METAL.We were back in business.
Three thin coats later, and I was left with these beauties:
Note: I taped off the bottom of the bowls to keep them white, and I am very pleased with the effect.
The one thing that was kind of annoying was that the gold spray paint dripped a bit, which was only really noticeable in the bowls:
This could probably be avoided by a) using a can with a more even spray nozzle or b) being more careful, but ultimately I decided the bowls would be full anyway, so no one would ever know.
Then I set to work organizing the aforementioned
junk drawer desk drawer.
Not bad, right? Let’s get a close-up:
Now, not only do I not dread opening the drawer, but it actually feels a little bit luxe. And I got that feeling of luxurious organization for less than $15! Not bad at all.