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Doesn’t sound fun     

Posted by Katherine Putnam on February 23rd, 2013

“Organizing my agenda. Wait, that doesn’t sound fun…jammin’ on my planner!”

Here comes a random little organizational update with way more pictures and details than anyone could need or want…but I’m trying to get in the habit of taking more pictures of projects in the event we ever buy a house and I decide to blog on house-updating adventures.

Anywho…tally ho!

Our apartment has a closet between the kitchen and living room (under the open staircase) that we use to house coats, plastic grocery bags, laundry detergent, tool bag, broom, vacuum cleaner, and other random items. The space was working okay, considering that it houses such a wide range of items, but there were two ways I knew it could absolutely work better: plastic bag storage and broom/mop/etc storage.

Of course, I failed to get before pictures.

So imagine, if you will, a plastic bag looped around the bar of the closet, dozens of extra bags (we used them as liners for our small trash cans) stuffed inside. Picture a broom, a mop, and a few other random items hanging from the same bar using leftover gift-wrap ribbon from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Strange solution? Yes, I’ll admit it. I had a bunch of extra ribbon from wedding gifts and was tired of the broom, etc falling over whenever we got our coats out, so it worked to keep them more stable (and off the floor, which helped make room for the tool bag and vacuum). However, between the ribboned tools and giant plastic bag storage, there wasn’t much room for our coats, which were shoved over to the far right, constantly getting caught in the bi-fold door when we closed it.

I finally got sick of these “temporary” (by now over a year and a half old) solutions when I was running from store to store trying to find the elusive red straws we needed for White Christmas 2012. I always meander through the home/organizational sections of stores like Target and Walmart, even if I’m there for straws and not organizers. I had specifically made a habit of checking for the wall-mount plastic bag storage piece that Mom and Dad have, but had so far failed to find one. That day I checked Target again: no dice (for straws or bag storage). I typically don’t check Walmart (it’s farther away and I prefer Tar-jay), but that day I did.

Wonder of wonder, miracle or miracles: I found just what I was looking for! (Well, no straws.) I raced home and set to work breaking out my bunny-slope-level handyman skills, hoping to have the project done before Chris came home (to prove that I could “do it myself,” as a red hen was wont to say).

Short story long:

Ta da!
 Much more space efficient.
 And a much nicer (and more stable) alternative to leftover ribbon!
 Ooo, aah!

Although you don’t have a before to compare it to, hopefully you can tell that the after is much, much better! With the left side of the closet now free of dangling brooms and an overstuffed plastic bag, I could slide the coats over (no more getting stuck in the door!) and move the tool bag over as well (it didn’t fit under the broom before). The empty space you see is where I tuck the vacuum. The plastic bags now take up roughly one third the space they used to, and the broom/mop/etc are now stable, off the floor, AND out of the way. It’s still a small closet, but its function has improved greatly.

(The random looking plastic bag hanging next to the broom contains gardening gloves and a small spade. They’re dirty, but not worth the time to clean, so I just keep a bag around them to prevent dirt clods from falling everywhere.)

The next little bit of improvement is, oh, ten plus years in the making? For this long overdue revelation I have to give credit to my mother as well as Jen of IHeart Organizing. (Yes, I find IHeart Organizing just as addictive a read as Young House Love…why do you ask?) Mom is currently working on a few organizational tweaks to her own closet, which naturally got me thinking about my own. And this week Jen blogged about some helpful, inexpensive updates to the wire shelves in her kitchen pantry. How do these two things come together?

Need another guess?

I’ve used these wire pull-out bins for clothing storage for, like I said, over ten years. My parents were kind enough to let me hijack them for our apartment (I swear I will return them eventually) and they work quite well in the closet. In fact I’m really quite pleased with the organization and functionality of my little closet. All my clothes either hang, fit in the wire bins, or (in the case of socks, belts, bras) in the plastic bins on the quick DIY shelves we installed. Shoes hang to the far left, and the only overflow into Chris’s closet is a few dresses. So if everything was organized and functional, what was the problem?

Mmm waffle print.

See the problem? Oh, you like a lovely waffle print on your clothes? Well, I didn’t. In fact, it kind of led to me keeping a few items of clothing that I no longer liked/wore/fit/etc so that I would have a buffer between the wire drawer bottom and the articles of clothing I actually use. Silly, right? Can’t believe I let this go on so long.

So what’s the big solution? Well, thanks to IHeart Organizing and the aforementioned kitchen pantry solution, I was introduced to the wonderful world of poster board and shelf liner.

The supplies.

A quick stop at Target (adhesive shelf liner) and Michaels (poster board) and I was in business. I emptied one drawer and used it to trace a rough guideline onto my first piece of poster board.

Glamorous action shot.

The resulting line was all wobbly from the wires, so I used a piece of scrap wood we had from a different project to get a straight line.

Very professional, I am.

I laid out a protective covering of coupon fliers and magazines from our recycling bin as a buffer between the carpet and poster board, just in case I wasn’t as steady with the box cutter as I hoped. (You can see the edges of the junk pile sticking out in the picture above.) I used the wood again to provide a straight, solid guide as I ran over the pencil line with the ol’ box cutter.

HGTV, here I come.

I didn’t cut all the way through and instead bent the poster board to break it most of the way, then lightly ran the box cutter over the opposite side to finish the job. I then used the first piece to measure for the rest of my cuts.

Once they were all cut I cut the shelf liner, leaving room for overlap on all sides.

Such technical finesse.

After peeling off the backing I laid the poster board down on the shelf liner, and pressed to get as smooth a coverage as I could. Then I cut a small right triangle on each side of the shorter ends, and folded each of the short ends up.

Look at me, talking fancy math with my right triangles.
 Two down, two to go.

I cut another quick diagonal, just to get off the excess from each of the long ends, and folded those up as well.

Is my explanation detailed enough?
 Almost there.

Flip the board over and check for any major air bubbles (smoothing them out if need be) and we’re good to go!

Pretty and practical.

Once all four were finished I took them up and added them to the bottom of each bin.

Like so.

And voila!

So pretty.

No more waffle-print clothes! Plus it’s nice to look at. I didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to color and pattern; this one won because it goes well (enough) with our current room, and should work well with the room I took it from at Mom and Dad’s. You know, for when I return it.

So there’s that long winded explanation. Hopefully in the future I’ll get better at remembering my before shots. It might save a few words.


Katherine Elyse

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