Neatsmart Closet Makeover – Week 3 ORC

One Room Challenge

This is the half way point of the One Room Challenge and my closet makeover yet I’m not sure I’m half way to completion—yikes! Here are my posts for week 1 and week 2 if you need to catch up. I’ve got a lot of things to do in short succession and this is where careful project management is key to make sure I follow the critical path.

Here is what I’ve done thus far:

  1. Designed the overall look I wanted
  2. Purged what I no longer need—probably the hardest part of this whole project.
  3. Assessed needs for medium/long hang, short hang, shoes, bags, luggage, accessories, etc. This included measuring stacks of jeans and shorts as well as the linear length of hanging clothes.
  4. Detailed design work with with the Container Store for ELFA solution. This is a personal choice, not a sponsor-influenced selection.
  5. Ordered & received rug and chair for closet.
One room challenge, organized closet
Rug for the closet has come in. This makes me really happy. Your closet should make you happy, too.
One room challenge, organized closet
Chair for the closet came in, too. I’m lucky because I’ll now have a place to sit down when I put on my shoes, which is important for any closet or dressing area.

And this is what remains:

  1. Take EVERYTHING out of the closet, including the furniture,  so I can…
  2. Take down current shelves
  3. Patch holes
  4. Paint
  5. Select & install new light fixture
  6. New closet installation (this is supposed to happen on Tuesday)
  7. Put clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. back where they are supposed to go. This is also a good time to look at cloths a 2nd time to see if I REALLY want to keep them.
  8. Put door back on
  9. Final touches!

So 9 items to do over the course of 3 weeks doesn’t seem so bad but in any home project you have to account for delay and things beyond your control. I haven’t picked paint colors yet and that is something I usually labor over a long time.

My drawings with measurements and calculations of what I’ll need. Bottom right is the plan for the right wall.

However, it HAS to be done by Tuesday because the new system will be installed then. Deadlines are good for me but they also give me anxiety thinking things like, “will this really work?” “Am I going to like this?” “Did I measure correctly (gulp)?” “Should I have gone with platinum finish instead of white?”

organized closet, folding clothes
I had to measure just how much space my shorts would take up so I could figure out how many drawers I would need.
It’s pretty easy, you just fold, stack, and measure.
organized closet, one room challenge
Same process for jeans & anything else that will be folded. Now you can really see what’s in your closet.
One Room Challenge, organized closet
How much space do I need for shirts (short hang)? Line them up and measure across. I did the same for skirts & pants and added the numbers together.

One thing I’ve been stressing over is not only the color of the closet but also the walls themselves. I’ve always thought that a wallpaper would look great and be a fun addition but I just didn’t get my act together in time to select one. I was anxious thinking about where to go, what it should look like, who would install it on short notice, etc. You can practically cut the anxiety with a knife.

But I have to remind myself that it is a closet and it doesn’t have to be perfect—life isn’t perfect. You make the best decisions you can with the information you have at the time and go with it. If you delay waiting for it to be perfect, you’ll never get it done. You just keep spinning in circles getting nowhere.

Let me go find find my fan deck so I can select a paint color! I definitely want a light color since there’s not a ton of light in the closet and the clothes will absorb a lot. Right now I’m thinking of…

SW Glimmer
SW Glimmer
SW Snow Drop--is there any difference?
SW Snow Drop–is there any difference?
Too purple?
SW White Iris–Too purple?

This is why choosing a paint color is stressful! What do you suggest? I’d love to hear in the Comments below. 🙂

Have you been reading about the other transformations going on?  There are some amazing projects taking place. I’d rather binge-read all of the updates is than watch TV!  Click here to look at the others participating.

Happy organizing!

True confession: my least favorite place to organize


This may be professional suicide but I have a confession to make about my least favorite place to organize:   the unfinished basement. I don’t know if it just stems from my childhood fear that there was some sort of monster lurking in the shadows underneath the stairs or the abundance of spiderwebs but the basement is just not my favorite place to organize.

That being said and off my chest now, I can tell you that it is a place that I can organize very quickly because I know what lurks down there and I don’t want to be there very long.

This is good basement organization: ordered, off the floor, clean, & easily retrieved.
This is good basement organization: ordered, off the floor, clean, & easily retrieved.

If you have boxes that you put in the basement during your last move to “go through someday” now is the time to do that. Just do it. Before you have a flood or other water damage that seeps through the dirty cardboard and ruins your priceless photographs or other memorabilia. Chances are, if you haven’t looked at it in more than 5 years and you don’t know what’s in there off the top of your head, you don’t need it.

Cardboard is my nemesis. That and wire hangers make me crazy because of the bad things they do under the guise of being helpful. Cardboard is perfect for sending packages and helping you move but it is not for long term storage. It gathers dust, doesn’t protect from moisture, attracts vermin, you can’t see through it, and is ugly. Go through your boxes to make sure you know what is in there and if you need to keep anything, put it in a clear box with a lid and label it. Plastic is not impervious but it is a step in the right direction.

Do not let your basement be your old project dumping ground.
Do not let your basement be your old project dumping ground.

The basement is also a gathering place for project leftovers that you may or may not need to keep. I can tell you that wall putty, cement, joint compound, and 1/4 filled cans of latex paint will not last forever down there. Anything that is water based that has been opened will have a shorter lifespan than you think so buy small unless you are doing some major renovations. Also, consider storing those types of repair materials in a less humid and cleaner environment. Latex paint can be put into glass jars if you have a half gallon or less. Make sure you label the jars with the maker and color of paint as well as where it was used in your house. You could even attach the paint chip to the jar to be super organized. Seal these jars tightly as any air is going to cause them to dry out. Also, clean the cans and seal them back well if you’ve got enough to keep the paint in the original can.

While we are on the subject of paint, if you’ve repainted any rooms in your house, you don’t need to keep the old paint, do you? No sir-ee. That means you can clear that paint out and make room for the new paint. Less stuff=less clutter.

Not sure what to do with random leftover screws or nails? Use a glass jar to corral all of them (or use 2–1 for screws and 1 for nails) so that you then know where to look if you need a screw or nail. It’s all about creating a home for everything, even if it’s temporary.

While I don't love cardboard, it's perfect that it is not on the floor.
While I don’t love cardboard, it’s perfect that it is not on the floor, it’s organized, and it’s accessible.

Last but not least, don’t neglect your basement. If you never go down there then make sure whatever is down there is secure and safe. Add shelving units or pallets for what you do need to store down there so it’s not on the floor. Sweep the floor and get rid of cobwebs. Add some lighting so that the monsters have no place to hide. 🙂 Your home is a reflection of you and your basement is your foundation. Let it be a clean and ordered foundation.

Happy organizing!

Chinese New Year Inspiration

Peking Bazaar in San Francisco, CA

Happy Chinese New Year 2014! It is the year of the horse and that is where my knowledge on the subject stops. I know that traditional observers will have already spent time cleaning out their homes in anticipation of the new year. What this does mean for you is here is another opportunity to start fresh if you’re feeling like you are in a rut or stuck somehow. January 1 has come and we are well into 2014 but this is a perfect opportunity to stop, reassess what you want to do and where you want to be this year. I love all of the “do-over” opportunities throughout the year like the starts of summer and school. Just know that you can create your own do-over and start fresh any day when you are ready to take on new habits.

If you are surrounded by clutter you can’t attract new experiences and opportunities. As any psychologist will tell you, what is going on inside is going to be reflected outside. A cluttered house is going to reflect a cluttered mind and vice versa. If you’re hanging on to old clothes that don’t fit or flatter then you’re never going to have the opportunity to get something new that does fit, flatter, and make you feel your best. If you are hanging on to old, insignificant papers and magazines, you’re not going to have room for something new and current. You’ll be living in the past, stagnant to new opportunities. 

Chinatown street light

Kind of like, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” it’s Chinese New Year so use this as your opportunity to reset, restart, and move forward with positive change in your life. You can’t attract new if you’re being held down by old so let’s get started with clearing clutter in our homes and heads.

Happy organizing!

The best time to get organized is…

Trying to find the perfect time to get organized...
Trying to find the perfect time to get organized…

…tomorrow! At least, that is what any procrastinator will tell you. Tell me if any of these reasons (masquerading as excuses) sound familiar to you:

  1. I will have so much more time tomorrow. I believe Scarlett O’Hara said, “Oh, I can’t think about this now! I’ll go crazy if I do! I’ll think about that tomorrow.” 
  2. I’ll have more energy to put into getting organized later. Right now is just too busy.
  3. After the holidays, this meeting, company leaves, etc. I’ll be able to go through that closet.

You see, procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing at the outset. wWe have to prioritize our lives and do tasks when it makes sense and in order. You don’t cook dinner without getting the necessary groceries first. But attempting to schedule something that requires the mental energy and commitment of going through an organization process is tedious, tiring, time consuming and not really high on most people’s list of fun things to do. Yes, they want to have an organized closet or are tired of living in suboptimal conditions due to clutter but making that first step is the hardest. There are 2 key truths though about getting organized that you need to know:

  1. You have to start somewhere
  2.  It gets worse before it gets better

Now if that doesn’t make you want to hide under the covers I don’t know what will. You’ve got to start somewhere with this task and it really doesn’t matter where. However, making the decision to get started is the first and most important step. Once you’ve made that decision in your head, write it down as a goal somewhere you can see it. “I want to have a neat, easily functioning office space” or “I want a closet that is organized so I can find my clothes quickly in the morning when I am getting dressed” are perfect examples. Write the goal down so you can go back to it when the process of getting there seems to difficult to bear. Trust me, as you are going through that closet or office and you’ve got piles everywhere and it seems like there is no end to the madness, you will need a reminder of why you are doing this!

Which takes me to rule #2. Getting organized is messy work because you’ve got to clear it out before you can put it up. I think this is the number one reason why people fail at this endeavor. They can’t remember why they started this in the first place and they give up before finishing. This is also why many people hire an organizer: they need the accountability, support, and above all, an extra set of hands.

So my advice is to get started today. Maybe you don’t want to rip out the contents of your closets and drawers an hour before company is supposed to show up but you should start by writing the goal down. Then you can write down the tasks that will help you achieve that goal. This also helps build anticipation so that you are actually looking forward to getting organized or maybe that’s just me ;-). Once you get it clear in your head what your goal is, you will be unstoppable in getting it accomplished. So really, the best time to START to get organized is TODAY.

Happy Organizing!