My office and guest room is by far the girliest part of my apartment. Superfeminine just isn't my style, most of the time. But when it's a space for just me, I love girly accents. Probably because both my apartment and my wardrobe are pretty gender neutral. The pink and glitter has to come out somewhere. I designed my office over a year ago, but it needed a refresh. It had become visually cluttered, and I needed a bit more storage. The main goal was to clean up my organizing systems, make a candle making cart (so it didn't take 10 minutes just to move everything to the kitchen) and make a planner cart.
So not only are we going to tour around my office and check out my organization systems, but I'm also going to talk through the steps I took to reorganize.
Alright so first of the problems I was having. You should write down exactly what problems you have with the space so you can come up with specific fixes for them. My office area was too busy/messy, it took forever to get ready for candlemaking because everything was everywhere, my desk was too cluttered, I had no more room for planners, and paperwork tended to pile up.
My solutions for these problems were to clear everything out and keep only the very important things on the wall while making the other information easily accessible (by putting reference sheets into my planners), make a candle making cart to corral all those materials, clear off the desk and put some of the items in closed storage, reorganize my shelving unit, and make an easy place to put papers until they're filed once a week.
Once I had an idea of what I wanted to do with the space I took the following steps.
- Clear everything out and clean – Ask anyone who does organizing, and this will always be the first step. It's important for not only keeping things clean, but also for seeing everything you need to store and the space you're working with. Since I was doing my office and the closet, I cleared both out and put all my things in my living room.
- Make any major changes – Consider what large changes you want to make. I wanted to repaint the closet (because I felt the need to leave no wall unpainted in this apartment) and I needed to hang some picture ledges for spray paint storage (but that's not until a later step). I painted my closet in Seaglass by Behr. It's a gorgeous bight/light aqua-minty color which was exactly the fresh look I needed. I also spray painted my wire shelf because it was looking pretty worn.
- Take Inventory + Do Some First Round Organizing – Look at what you have. Where does it need to go? Does it go in a box or basket? Does it need a specific kind of container? If you have a lot of stuff you're organizing, start putting things in their proper boxes so you can see what doesn't have a home yet. I knew I needed to put my fragrance and essential oils as well as carrier oils & butters in plastic containers, and it was clear I needed to buy another container for it. While you're taking inventory toss anything you don't need & love – by toss I mean hopefully give away, reuse somewhere else, or recycle.
- What Do You Need? - I needed a plastic box, another picture ledge, a drawer unit and a light for my project. Look around your home and see if you already own anything you can use, or if you can DIY it. Get creative about storage (like using picture rails for spray paint), and check out pinterest if you need a boost of creative ideas. Don't forget things like 3M hooks, lighting, and labels. Do some research and find what you want to buy (first check measurements!). I wanted the Helmer unit over the Alex for my planner goods because of size and wheels (and money). I found out Ikea changed their picture rails, but since it was in a closet I was OK with mismatching ones.
- Buy - Pretty straight forward. I went to Ikea and target, picking up all the goodies I needed.
- Start putting away your stuff – Really think of how you use things, how often you use them, if they're light sensitive, if anyone else has to access it, etc. Put away the things where you know where they'll go (like filling up the Kallax unit, the candle cart, the top shelf), then fill in the spaces as you go. Remember that if you place boxes on top of each other you'll be less likely to put things away in the bottom box – so stack accordingly. If that's going to be a problem consider installing more shelves or adding those dish shelves for quick & easy extra shelving.
- Label Everything – Yes, everything. You'll thank me. It's definitely worth it. You can label however you want – with label inserts like the Martha Stuart bookplates, with a label maker or simply Avery labels you write on. You may want to color code, depending on what you're organizing. I like to make really pretty labels that look the same for all types of label holders so everything is coordinated even though I have different types of containers.
- Admire your work - Maybe have a beer or glass of wine and just look and pat yourself on the back. Especially if you do an entire room. Maybe 2 beers.
So that's my process for organizing. If you end up with the same situation, go through the problem and solution steps again. Why isn't it working? Is it too complex? Too Simple? Do things pile up because you don't put them away right away? It's OK if you need to change things up. Part of organizing is learning about yourself and your habits and working with them, it's definitely not something you can do in one hour.
I also wanted to include some tips I've learned over years of organizing.
- Use what you have - buying more will just give you that, more stuff. Use the boxes and baskets you have.
- Pretty labels are cheap and go a long way to make things pretty and coordinated.
- Don't forget lighting in your setup. If the closet doesn't have a light, look into battery powered ones, either motion sensor or push.
- Display things in an orderly way to store your favorite collections (like placing your spray paint on picture rails).
- Pinterest is best used after you have your budget & measurements – there's no point in pinning beautiful images then crushing your dreams. Be realistic about what you can do yourself and how far your budget will go.
So that's my process for organizing. Do you have any systems in place? Any projects you want to tackle in 2016?