Category - Corners of My Home

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Fed Up With the House Again
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Staircase Bookshelf
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Small Changes
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TV Armoire
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Office Corner Revisted
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Looking in the Linen Closet
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Behind the Living Room Couch
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Kitchen Madonna Corner
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Corner of the Bedroom – Part 2
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Corner of the Bedroom – Part 1

Fed Up With the House Again

I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to make some serious progress on my house.  It is so small that there is no where to move.  If you start any kind of project, from paying bills to making crafts, it completely takes over the house.  Trying to get to anything requires bending, stretching and bruising your knee.  I’m just tired of everything being everywhere.

I dream of having a real office.  With a work space.  And a little basket for the incoming mail.  Then bills can be paid, sensitive documents shredded, important papers filed – all without having to drag something out of the way.  I dream of doing laundry without having to drag boxes into the hallway so I can reach the washing machine.  I don’t know, I’m funny like that.

So this week I’ve tackled the mail.  The little basket will have to be in the dining room, even though the shredder has to be under the computer desk in the living room.

I repurposed a storage box for some of the extra yarn that seems to have found it’s way into my house.

I found a basket for Bip’s coloring books and crayon box so that they look pretty on the shelf in the dining room instead of like a whole heap of junk.

I cleaned out my school box, reducing it to only the stuff I use every day.  All the extra stuff can be moved outside to the storage shed.

I cleaned out my kitchen.  We took our little pumpkins from the pumpkin patch and set them outside for the squirrels to eat.  I hate squirrels, but they are God’s creatures and it’s cold out, so hey, “Merry Christmas, foul rodents!”  I threw out my husband’s smelly sponges (blech!) and put away the Halloween water bottle.  I hung my Mickey Mouse cookie cutter on my wall with a piece of ribbon.  I’ll think I’ll hang some other cute ones up, I just have to find more ribbon.

I have a huge stack of papers and stuff that need to be put away and I’m procrastinating.  That’s the worst part of this – putting away all the stuff that should have been put away a long time ago.  But look at it – doesn’t it scare you?

Staircase Bookshelf

This bookshelf sits in our staircase and it’s been a real eyesore.

No excuses for this.  It’s just become a place to shove anything that should be put away. It’s needed attention for awhile now.   This time I did not pull everything off the shelves like I should.  First I cleared away everything sitting on the floor in front of the bookshelf.  Then starting with the bottom shelf, I made the point of at least touching each item and removing anything that didn’t belong.  You’d be amazed at what was crammed in these shelves!  Gift bags, angel wings and a sheep costume, just to name a few.

All the obvious stuff removed, I figured out which shelves would hold what.  Craft books for the top shelf, cook books and reference type stuff on the 3rd shelf, piano music on the bottom.  Everything else fit in on the other shelves.

The very top was cleared off and I poked around the house looking for decorative items that weren’t being used anywhere else.  I commited HGTV’s number one decorating mistake by using fake ivy in the basket, but too bad.  I kill ivy.  Philip says ivy fears me.  If I’d stuck real ivy up there, it would have been a dry, crunchy, spider mite infested mess within a month.   On the far right (click on the picture, then enlarge to see it) is a wine bottle sleeve that I bought at Michaels.  It’s holding all my knitting needles.  Up there they are quickly accessible and now they are decorative, too.

Small Changes

I’ve been kind of busy lately, decorating WebKinz Rooms planning and executing end of the school finales in ballet, Girl Scouts and language arts.  Not to mention the potty training, which is going quite well.

I’ve also been working on a variety of little Corners of My Home, changing them from cluttered to functional and pretty.  Before I share the pictures with you, let me tell you about the most important thing I learned when my friend Jen came to help me declutter.  She taught me to pull everything out of a space – everything off a shelf, out of the drawer, dump out the bin or bucket.  You can’t do the job right if you try to leave everything where it is and pick and choose what stays or goes.  This has made a huge difference for me.  Before I might have looked at a space and say, oh here’s two or three things that need to go.  Now, when I see a space cleared out and I have to justify putting each item back, I can really see how much better I can do.  So with this new technique, here are the spaces I’ve been working on lately.

First, my bakers rack.

Top two shelves before:

and after:

Bottom shelves before:

and after:

Crowded medicine cabinet before:

and after.  Everything expired got tossed, duplicates were stored elsewhere unless the current bottle was close to empty.

And Phase 1 of the computer desk, the shelves.  Shelf 1 and 2 before:

and after:

Shelves 3 and 4 before:

and after:

Here is where the emptying out all the shelves at once really helped.  It was easy to look at those shelves and think everything was neat enough and we could always find what we wanted.  But when it was all emptied out on to the desk, I had this stack of software:

Yikes.  I took no prisoners.  I had Philip buy small CD binders on the way home from work while I emptied the jewel cases and boxes.  I pulled out all the inserts stuck them all in one envelope, labeled and stored it.  I wrote key codes right on the CDs with a Sharpie marker.  Every single CD went into one of 4 binders.  There are now 2 program disc binders, one for pictures and one for the children’s programs.  I pulled the children’s school software out of their binder and put it into a jewel case that holds 4 CDs.    So here’s the software situation now.  Every single thing in the above picture is contained in this:

You can see the binders sitting on the shelf in one of the pictures above.  Much, much better.  All those boxes and hard plastic jewel cases got thrown away.  I saved a couple of the softer plastic cases, the ones that don’t crack easily, in case I need to travel with a disc of any kind.   A bunch of the CDs didn’t even belong with the computer and got moved to the stereo.

So there you have it.  Just a little bit of love and time produces a much, much better situation.

TV Armoire

A long time ago I once read about “one motion storage.” The concept is to strive to store your things in a way that only requires one motion to retrieve them or put them away. I’m sure most of you do this instinctively most of the time. Like your dinner plates are probably located on the lowest shelf in your cupboard, and nothing else is stacked on them. You need a plate, you open the cupboard, you get one out. Easy.

Lesser used items can be stored in a way that requires multiple motions. The guest towels can go behind the every day towels. The turkey platter can have pie plates stacked on it. The point is that the more you use an item, the less work you want to be doing to get it or put it away. If it’s a much used item and it’s hard to put away, chances are, you’ll let it sit out until the next time you need it.

Did you know that this applies to laundry hampers, too? I took the lids off our laundry hampers years ago and it totally increased the odds of the dirty laundry actually getting into the hamper. Who knew that lifting the lid could be such an obstacle? (oh, and notice I said taking the lid off the hamper increases the odds of clothes going in.  I don’t want you getting any false illusions now!)

When we lived in Korea, we had a very small TV that sat on the government-provided end table in the living room. I kept a really nice Longaberger Collector’s Club Membership basket on the TV. It was just the right size to hold our most watched video tapes. You know how children get into watching the same thing every day? Well, those were the videos in the basket. No digging around every single day in the video cabinet – just reach into the pretty basket, get the tape, put it in the VCR.  When it was finished, back into the basket.

Now that we’re back in the States and have our TV armoire and larger TV back, the basket doesn’t fit on the top of the TV. Plus, we’ve since made the move to DVDs. But we still have several DVDs that we watch at least once a week, if not more. School DVDs like Geography Songs, Math U See lessons, Science experiments – all get pulled out constantly. Then Bip’s current movie obsessions – Cars, Curious George, Madagascar, to name a few. All these DVDs never end up getting put away.

Here you see them sitting on top of the TV, ready to be used at a moments notice. I guess it is one-motion storage, but of the “it’s too hard to put away, just to get out again, so I’ll just leave them out” variety.  And be careful not to bump the TV or you’ll end up with everything on your toes.

So I cleaned up a bit – see.

Ha, ha! No, I didn’t just close the door on the mess.

Here it really is.

I bought a small CD wallet and put all the school DVDs, my workout DVDs and Bip’s movies of the month in it. They are easily accessible just by reaching up, and putting them away will be just as easy. And much better than leaving them out to gather dust. I stuck the cases in the way back of that upper shelf. Yes, I know I should throw them out. My one workout video still in VHS form is on that top shelf, too. Netflix movies are just off to the side of the cable box. I’d rather have them up on that top shelf, but the children need to be able to reach them.

Cleaning up this area was such a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

Office Corner Revisted

It has been months and months since I last tackled one of the Corners of My Home. I’m not sure what happened really. I’ve still got a lot of areas that need serious work, and many of the previous cleared out spaces need a little touching up.

We really struggle with our office area. Part of the problem is that every room in our house is being used and we don’t have a real office. It’s really just a portion of the living room. Anything that needs to be stored temporarily ends up here, then somehow never moves out. If we have people over – too bad. We can’t close the door on the mess because there is no door. It doesn’t matter what the project is, if we don’t have a place for it, it ends up in the office.

For years we used a small rolltop desk and a small computer armoire. We combined the two and got a nice, L-shaped computer table. The old computer desk was damaged from many moves and our flood, so it went out in the trash. The rolltop just stayed in the office area, blocking off one of the bookshelves. It became a clutter magnet, a place to stick stuff on, under and around. Last week, I’d had enough.


Sigh.

I started with the rolltop. Two of the boxes sitting in front of it were waiting to be mailed out. That was easy. The boxes under it are full of Girl Scout cookies waiting to be donated to Walter Reed. Even though I try very hard not to use our guest room as storage, I moved the cookies up there. They will be out of the house by the end of the month and I cannot store them outside. Good enough! The terrarium was moved to a more isolated area, which makes the crabs happy. Their food, sitting in a basket on the desk, went with them. Everything else was relocated. I found a new, very happy, owner for the rolltop and it went to its new home last night.

There’s some junk next to the desk that is hard to see. That’s gone, too.

Here’s the area now:

Look! Bookshelves!

I’m not too thrilled with having stuff in that corner by the piano, but it’s wasted space. I’d like to move the piano to the right for better access to that corner, but it’s already taking up the whole wall. So for now, that’s my yarn stash in the clear box, with a couple of projects in bags. At least it’s neat and out of the way. And now Philip knows where I hide my yarn.

Oh, and I changed the picture over the piano. The first one is a Kinkade of the US Capitol. We rediscovered it when one of my Ten Friends Named Jen came and helped me declutter. I’d forgotten we had it! So we hung it up, but I thought it was too small for the wall. Also discovered in the dejunking was this cool Norman Rockwell print that Sonlight Curriculum gave out one year. We stuck it in Philip’s homework pile to get framed. It came back a couple of weeks ago and it fit the space better. The Kinkade was moved to another wall.

So now that I can access the bookshelves again, it’s time to go through those. I think that’s my next decluttering project.

Looking in the Linen Closet

I haven’t delighted you all with a Corners of My Home transformation in a while.  The last few weeks have been busy as Cub Scouts, Brownies, soccer, ballet and Mexican folkdancing (I still haven’t told you about that?) all started up.  Plus my parents are arriving for a visit today and I’ve been consumed with turning the storage room back into a guest room.  But in the process of doing that, I found a large moving box marked “linen closet” which was filled with, shockingly enough…linens.  Including the guest sheets and towels I’ve been missing.  But when I went to shove them into my linen closet, there wasn’t any room to spare.  So I took about an hour to reorganize it and here’s the results.

Our linen closet is pretty large, with attractive metal folding doors.  These are the top two shelves.  Try not to get hit in the head with a sheet when you open the door.
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Here are the same shelves now.
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Not a huge difference, but now every extra set of bed linens that we own is there on the top shelf.  We need to get rid of some.  I think all but 3 sets up there are flannel sheets.  My mom gets cold a lot, so she buys us flannel sheet sets.

Here’s the middle shelf.  Nice drawers.  Too bad they are half empty.  Or are they half full?
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Behold!  Through the magic of the internet, here are the same drawers, now filled! They’ve got towels, swim diapers, seasonal garden flags, washcloths and extra pillow cases.
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Finally the lower shelves.  No comment.
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And now…
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You can actually use the drawers on this shelf without having to move a ton of stuff out of the way.

What you can’t see in any of these pictures is the way that the lovely metal folding doors block off six to ten inches of space on either side of the shelves.  Design technology at it’s finest.  Not to mention that the shelves themselves are metal and that bottom shelf is covered in linoleum.

Here’s a look from the side, into the left space hiding behind the open doors.
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And after:
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It’s hard to tell the difference in the two pictures, except that I used a flash in the “after” one.  But the bottom shelf does show how there’s not just a ton of stuff waiting to fall out.  Those are “refrigerator gears” on the door.  Cute concept, cheap toy.  Don’t bother wasting your money.

The right side of the closet:
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After:
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Not the most dramatic of before and afters, but at least my linen closet is functional.  No more opening the doors and shoving things in just to avoid the mess.  I’ve really got to go through all those sheet sets and get rid of the ones we don’t use.  If I could whittle that pile down, I might be able to keep the sheets in the room in which they belong.  Clearing out that top shelf would really be helpful as I look to store other things around the house.

So there is this week’s corner.

While my parents are here I plan to attack our laundry room next.  I’ll keep you posted.

Behind the Living Room Couch

Is there no end to the places we have found to stash clutter?  At some point I think we stopped trying to hide it, and just tried to contain it to certain areas of the house.  That might help to explain this:

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To fully understand the scope of this particular area behind our living room couch, you need to know that the couch is located right smack in the middle of the room.  Imagine a long room, one end is your standard family room the other end is more of an office area.  The couch provides a physical divider between the two.  When you walk into the house, you look down a short hall, then directly  the living room and you see this mess.

This area has given us particular grief.  Most of the things stashed here are things we don’t know what to do with.  We want or need to keep them, it’s just a matter of where.  It took a long time to go through each box or bin, sorting, tossing and putting away.  Not every solution was the best, but we made it.  Another problem with this area was that its location made it very easy to add to.  It was a quick and easy place to stash whatever came into the house.  But it’s gone…

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And here’s the new view as you walk into my house:

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Ah, peace!

You can enjoy the rest of my attack against clutter here:  Corners Of My Home.

Kitchen Madonna Corner

Waltzing Matilda has asked to see our Kitchen Madonna’s in our homes.  Being happy to oblige, I took this picture:

kitchenmadonna.jpg

She sits on a small Longaberger Baker’s Rack that is the coffee station.  To take this picture, I actually had to move some stuff out of the way and what is that, a ball of twine?  Let’s pull back a little and take a look.

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Well, that doesn’t seem like a very nice spot for Our Lady, now does it?  I can barely see her, let alone be inspired by her, all hidden by who knows what.   So what turned started off as just a simple picture turned into another episode from the Corners of My Home.  This was a quick a simple one.  First, I pulled everything out of that corner and gave the counter a wipe down.  Then I put things back, but only those things that actually pertain to making coffee.  And my Kitchen Madonna, of course.  Everything else got put away.  Here’s my new and improved corner.

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Much nicer, much more user friendly and a much better spot for my Kitchen Madonna.  I moved her to the top shelf, too, so I can see her more easily, especially over the dish drainer.

You can check out my progress in decluttering my house at Corners of My Home.

Corner of the Bedroom – Part 2

For this week’s Corner of My Home, I attacked the dresser in the master bedroom.  In it’s current condition, our bedroom is far from the calming sanctuary that it should be.  It’s more of a utility room – we sleep and get dressed in this room, we don’t spend any real time in there.  For that reason, I think it’s easier to set things down “just for now” and never return to them.  For other rooms in the house, I can clean them up easier as I go about the day.  The kitchen and dining room get straightened while Boo and Pumpkin Girl are doing school.  Cleaning up the living room is one of their chores.  But the bedroom is w-a-y upstairs and I can never find time to get in there alone.  If you have little children, you know what I mean.   But this is what I was looking at every day:cimg2182.JPG

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One thing that I have noticed in reclaiming these Corners of my Home, is that it isn’t really that hard or time consuming.  As long as I focus on just one small area, I can get it done.  If I was to start on a mission to tackle the whole room at once, I would be easily overwhelmed and it would never get done.  But just the dresser area – that’s easy!  The whole thing took only about 30 minutes and I even dusted.

Again, I really worked at putting things away, not just moving them to another area of the house.  Most of the stuff I’ve been finding in our bedroom doesn’t even belong there.  It’s just been there so long that I’ve kind of forgotten about it. It really is just a matter of making the time and getting to it.

Oh, and let me show you my new best friend:
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I bought this Rubbermaid tote a couple of weeks ago and it’s been in use constantly.  I fill it up with all the things that belong somewhere else, usually on a different floor than I’m on.  When it’s full or I’m done straightening up, off we go to empty it around the house.  Before, I would pile items on the floor and of course, those piles were always falling over.  Or the children would come by and get into them.  Or I would need to stop cleaning up and go read Harry Potter make dinner, without having the time to take care of those things.  The bin holds all the stuff in one place until I can get back to it, it’s easy to carry and it’s big enough not to ignore.  That last one’s very important!

So are you ready to see my newly de-cluttered dresser?

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(Sorry for the funny angle.) All cleaned off and dusted!
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Right next to the dresser in the “before” picture is this crate full of junk and a moving box full of books.  The crate was emptied, and the books were loaded in.  They are all toddler books for Bip, who shares the room with us.  He can choose a bedtime book (or 4) from the crate and they don’t clutter up the place.

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I found an unused candle plate and corralled up my perfumes.  I’m kind of partial to the Philosophy brand, especially Pure Grace.

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And look!  Nothing in front of the dresser!

Once again…

Before:
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After:
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If you missed it, be sure to check out all my hard work on the Corners of My Home.

Corner of the Bedroom – Part 1

“When in doubt, pile it in the bedroom.”

Isn’t that everyone’s idea of organization?  It’s not?  What are you saying exactly?  That maybe that’s the reason just one corner of our bedroom looked like this…

Bedroom Corner 1

Lovely.

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An extra end table piled with books and children’s winter clothes.

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And isn’t the window just a vision with it’s white mini blinds?

With a little love, the corner now looks like this:cimg2191.JPG
The extra end table is gone, the books are put away, the winter clothes either went into the giving-away box or were packed away for cooler days.  I left only the books and magazines that I’m currently reading on the bottom shelf.  I moved the diaper pails (one for dipes, one for covers) into the space, which cleared up a different corner of the room.

And behold!

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Curtains!

Wait till you see what’s crammed into the rest of the room!  But as I always say, that’s a post for another time.

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