Monday, January 28, 2013

Home Organization 101: Week 4, The Office

Hi everyone! I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend filled relaxation and your favorite things. Unfortunately, I am home a little under the weather today. But, it's pretty chilly outside and super gloomy, so I've decided I picked a good day to have to be home from work in my pjs. 

I decided since I'm sitting in  bed wishing I had the energy to be doing something more productive, it's a good time to do a short little post introducing our next project for the  Home Organization 101 challenge from the Bowl Full of Lemons blog! 

A Bowl Full of Lemons

It probably seems like it's been a while since the week in between The Pantry (week 2) and The Office (week 4)...because I skipped number 3...because I don't have a garage. And it actually worked out well since the hubby and I had a crazy, busy week. 

So without further is the assignment straight from A Bowl Full of Lemons. You can read the full post (here) and see her pictures (here). 

1.  Take a picture of your space before you start.
2.  Make sure you have 6 large bins or boxes, one for each of the following… 1 for papers that need shredded, 1 for things that need donated, 1 for paperwork that needs to be filed, 1 for items that belong in other rooms, 1 for items that stay in the office, and 1 for trash.
3.  Give yourself at least 2 hours to go through your paperwork… all of it!  Each paper will be placed in one of the following bins (shred, file, trash).  You are not organizing at this time. Just separating.
4.  Go through everything else.  If it doesnt belong, place it in the “other room” bin.
5.  After you have gone through everything, it should all be in bins or boxes.
6. At this time, wipe down your desk, shelves, and sweep/vacuum/mop the area. Clean it up really well.
7. Now you can organize all paperwork into a filing system.  I share the categories I use below.  Approximately 50% of the papers you have now should be tossed.
8.  Create a mail station (below).  You will need one to get control of the incoming paper clutter.
9.  Organize your books & everything else to look pleasing to the eye.
Thats it!  Now take a picture and share with us.

 Is this paper necessary to keep? (Taxes, etc)
Is it needed in the future?
Do I have a place for it?
If you answered no, toss it! (Shred if it has personal information on it).

Since Frank and I have already gone through all of our papers a while ago, this job will be a bit easier than it looks. However, if you recall one of my more recent posts about our little office nook (here), I have many ideas on how to make this space even more organized and even more interesting.
If you would like to join in on this challenge--it's not too late! A Bowl Full of Lemons posts weekly challenges, but you can complete them at your own pace and link back to this blog and her blog (here). 
Here is the before picture of our neat, but sad little office space. I can't wait to tackle this project!

If you just yawned I will not be surprised or insulted. Trust me. I know this space needs a LOT of work. This week or so Frank and I will tackle the following:
1. Those two filing bins to the right of the desk. They need to be re-organized and better labeled. 
2. The filing bin to the left under the desk. That needs to be organized as well as that tiny little drawer to the left corner of the desk.
3. Come up with some type of solution to make the cork board look nicer. 
4. Add some little personal touches to the area to bring in some color and some personality. 
(See here for my idea post on this)

Have you organized your desk space lately? How would you bring some color to our tired little office?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday Wishlist: Office Space Ideas

First of all...Yes, I am aware it's not Wednesday. It's Thursday. But this was an entry I began on Wednesday...and due to the fact that I've once again started grad school classes (and for the last time yippee!!) I was delayed in finishing. Please forgive me! 

Second of all, let's just be honest, our desk area/office is pretty sad looking.

We recently went through and began to organize as much as we could (mostly shredding and tossing a huge bulk of the papers we had been holding on to). We also purchased that drawer organizer as well as the cork board. However, I'm still extremely unhappy with how unfinished, matchy-matchy, and just completely boring this space is. And since next week I will be working on organizing the office further for the Home Organization 101 week #4 challenge, I thought for this week's Wednesday Wish List I would show you all some of my ideas and dreams for our office space that I've found on Pinterest and around the W.W.W.

1. First, I absolutely love the look of white and greens. After we took down all of our Christmas greens the apartment felt so much less colorful. There's something about the color green that is calming--perfect for an office space. I'd love to incorporate the color green as well as actually have some sort of plant on or around our desk area. 

Home Office Design Ideas Pottery Barn 8 Photograph 01
Pottery Barn

2. Again, the plant, though small, definitely brings life to the area. I also love the fun lamp and comfy chair. This blog, 20 Minute Mom, is definitely worth a read, by the way. Click on the picture caption to view this genius desk organization!

20 Minute Mom Blog

3. Our cork boards are functional, but need some major help. I love this idea of painting a chevron design with white paint to bring the board to life. I also love the chair. I am curious to find a way to maybe add a fabric padded seat or seat cover to our boring chair to bring in some color and add comfort. 

Pinned Image

4. I absolutely LOVE this desk space. The use of shutters instead of a cork board is genius! I also love the fab color combination and filing box. 

Pinned Image
5. In this picture, I love the creative storage solutions on the wall. Since I don't have much space around the desk, we need to capitalize on the space to the left and in the sliver of space between the corner of the wall and the beginning of the window. The short white shelving would be perfect to hold filing boxes, decorate with pictures, hold a plant, and a way to de-clutter the top of the desk for more desk space.
I also love the mix of white, black and natural tones. That's the look I am going for in our living room (where our little office corner is located). 

6. I also absolutely love the idea of switching out the boring matching chair with a cozy, comfy chair like this one to bring in some subtle color and to make the space more inviting. 

              7.  Although, purchasing additional furniture can be costly, so maybe for now I can figure out a
    way to paint the chair to make it more interesting in addition to my cushion idea above. Perhaps a color?

Like one of these?

Source: via Brittany on Pinterest

or these?

8. And last, I'd LOVE to replace that ugly black lamp. It doesn't match any of our decor and it would be fun to bring in a bit of color or at least a different texture to the space. I love these lamps.

Solid Shade Stick Lamp Intense Jade

Gourd Shaped Lamp with Shade - Green/White

Anyway, I have my work cut out for me in the office area of our living room.

My goals are:

1. some type of shelving
2. New lamp
3. Jazz up the cork boards
4. Re-do chair to add color or new texture

What would you do to our mini-office "nook"?
Have you had to get creative with a small corner of your home?

Happy Wednesday!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Home Organization 101: The Pantry

Well, here we are! The end of the long weekend and the end of week #3 of the Home Organization 101 Challenge. The Pantry. To be honest, I think it still needs some work, just like the kitchen, but this week has been a great start! I just love how I feel after everything is organized and has a place of its own. And trust me, this was not an easy one. Ask my husband. I am pretty sure I reorganized, just this week, three different times before I was satisfied.

But, here it is! Our newly organized pantry where we can actually find what we're looking for! What a concept...

 The Pantry

 To start, I took everything out of those boxes we had laying on the floor of our pantry for 2 months just taking up space. The appliances were not getting used since they were hard to get to and still in their boxes instead of easy to reach and accessible. We put them on the top shelf (and the coffee maker on the bottom) so that when we need them they are visible and reachable, but also out of the way making room for the green drawer chest we found at Target you will see below.

Next, to keep the shelves more organized, I kept canned goods on one shelf with beans, soups, jarred sauce and our oils and vinegar at eye-level. I grouped them together in rows so they are easy to locate and easy to see what we have to stock up on.

One of the reasons for all the clutter was lack of room for everything. So, eventually things became piled on top of other things resulting in us digging for things we needed. In the drawers I put baking items which I don't use that often. The flours and sugars, baking soda and baking powder are all on the bottom drawer. I keep them on the counter in white canisters, but the extra supply stays out of sight and out of the way.
The top drawer holds snack foods. Pretzels, tortilla chips, nuts and dried fruit. 

Two shelves above the green drawer chest I have 4 green baskets I found at the Dollar Tree for $1 each! They hold items that are easily get cluttered. To the left I have our oatmeal, next a basket with to-go breakfast things--our granola bars and apple sauce cups. Then, I have a basket with condiments and seasonings we don't use often. Then, a box with instant meals like Frank's beloved mac n'cheese and boxed soups. 

Then, on the last shelf I have all of our grains and starches. We have pasta in a neat stack with quinoa, brown rice, and barley in great air-tight containers from Dollar Tree for $1 each. And cereal in containers from Shoprite for $2.50 each. (clearly we need to stock up on cereal). I set extra bags of grain behind the containers so that when we run out, we can pour more right into the container. I love these containers. They keep everything nice and fresh and super easy to see what needs stocking up. 

We used an old trash can I had when I was in college that is bright pink and doesn't go anywhere else in the apartment to hold all of our grocery bags. When that basket is full, that's it--the rest goes in the garbage. No more having trash bags taking up our entire pantry floor! We have our garbage bags in boxes in front of the grocery bags and the coffee maker (in case we need it for when we have guests) to the right of the drawers. 

On top of the drawers is a mesh basket I got from Dollar guessed it-- $1. It's the perfect size for holding potatoes. We don't eat them often, but when we do, we now have a clean accessible location to keep them so they don't get forgotten or squished. 

What a change! It is so nice to open the pantry and not instantly feel anxious! I can see everything, reach everything, and I know where everything is--it's lovely. If you haven't given your pantry a make-over--do it. It seriously has made making meals so much easier. And I'm sure it was have a positive effect on my grocery trip planning as well!

I still have some ideas I did not have time to complete this week. I'd like to make labels for the green bins and the drawers as well as labels on the grain containers with simple directions on how to cook them. For example, 1 cup water for every 2 cups quinoa (or something like that). 

I'd also love to get either an over-the-door contraption or broom hooks to go on the pantry door to hold our broom, mop and dust pan. I may also try to find a way to put up a small cork board to hold a grocery list I can update when I am running out of something. But  all of those things can wait for another week!

Next, I must think about the next challenge! Week #4 is coming up!

A Bowl Full of Lemons
A special thanks to A Bowl Full of Lemons for such a great challenge! We are really enjoying the inspiration and motivation to get our apartment in order. Once we complete the challenge we can focus less on the mess and more on decorating projects!

Visit A Bowl Full of Lemons to join the challenge or to see what other bloggers are doing for the Home Organization 101 14 Week series (here).

Thank you for reading! I'll be posting before photos of our home office in a few days, so stay tuned!

How have you organized your pantry? Any tricks or tips?

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Home Organization 101: Week 3, The Pantry

So, according to A Bowl Full of Lemons blog it is week #2 The Garage, but since I don't have a garage, we are skipping over to week 3: The Pantry.

A Bowl Full of Lemons
This week I will be organizing our pantry. Our pantry is not in the kitchen, and since it's a fairly big job in itself, it's separate. Like last time, I will be emptying my pantry COMPLETELY. And putting everything back once I have found solutions to the lack of organization that is my pantry...I'm not joking.

Here are the embarrassing before pictures...seriously it's absolutely awful. I think both the pantry and the coat closet (that challenge is right around the corner) have become places to throw things that don't fit anywhere else.

There are four shelves that cannot be adjusted. There is also a significant amount of space underneath the shelving where Frank and I have been storing some of our large appliances that don't have a place anywhere else...and we don't use that often.

As you can see we have WAY too many plastic bags and they have begun to take over the left corner of the closet. We also have no real place for potatoes and for now I just set them in the closet since it's a cool, dark place.

Baking items and condiments are just shoved onto the shelf.

Our crock-pot lives on the top shelf with the cereal we rarely eat. Canned goods, pastas, and grains are strewn all over the place. It's extremely difficult to find anything I need as you can see.

Step 1: Take everything out and wipe down shelves and sweep floor. Check.

Step 2: Lay items out and categorize them. Put aside items that do not  belong. Check.

This week I will be working on Step 3: putting items into bins and containers and labeling them accordingly. 

I have quite the project ahead of me! I took the time today when I emptied the pantry to make a list of items I need and plan to head to the dollar store, Walmart & Target for affordable organizing items. I will be working on this project for the rest of the week. You can look at what A Bowl Full of Lemons did with her pantry (here). 

Stay posted for our results this weekend!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Home Organization 101: The Kitchen

After a whole week of living with kitchen items all over my counters, kitchen table, and living room floor I can finally say that I have completed the first Home Organization 101 challenge: The Kitchen!

A Bowl Full of Lemons
Before I reveal the results let me just share with you some things I've learned through this process:

1. I am really bad at taking my time putting things away.

2. Organization takes time and some serious thought. It took some searching to find the right containers for each group of items.

3. Organizing a space in a week is a challenge if you are working and interning and living a normal busy lifestyle at the same time. We still have a few things that need a home and we definitely realized this week how much we would like to do in the kitchen to make it more homey.

4. Apartments are really difficult to work with. Less drawers, less counter space, smaller cabinets, and little to no flexibility. Organizing and decorating an apartment takes an extra ounce of creativity, but it can be done!

So, with that in mind, notice we still have ugly white walls, and little decoration, but we worked with the space we had to give all of our kitchen items a home.

Welcome to our newly organized kitchen!

1. From plastic drawers holding Tupperware to a coffee station.

We bought the cart from Target for $49, the k-cup carosel from Bed, Bath & Beyond with a gift card from our wedding (it was $20), and the two baskets are from HomeGoods $4.99 each.

We keep all of our tea supplies in the right basket and our to-go mugs in the left basket. We were lucky to find a cart sturdy enough to hold our microwave as well to get it off our prep station table.

2. So where did all the Tupperware go, you ask? Where all the coffee stuff used to be!

This way we were able to put all the Tupperware with its lids and group them by size. We were even able to store our glass containers on the top shelf.

3. Prep Station Table

Without the microwave we have room to move our mixer from the floor and we have more space to prep for meals.
 I removed some of the clutter on the shelves and put the knives on the counter since it makes sense to have them near the cutting boards and where I'd most likely use them.
I realized I never took before pictures of the drawers, but this is how I organized the extra knives, bag clips, and other utensils. 

4. The Fridge

I found these great plastic bins at Target for $3.99 and used them to group cheese items and jars of sauce and cooking items that don't fit on the door.
I took the produce out of the bags and lined the drawers with paper towels to keep the produce easy to find and to help them last longer.

We went through some of the items on the drawer and re-grouped them better. I recently chose to switch to almond milk so it creates more room on the door just doing that.

The freezer could use a bin or two, but for now we basically just organized the items with fruits and veggies on the left, seafood & meatballs in the middle, and boxed items on the right.

5. The Counters & Sink

Moving clutter helps so much. After giving everything its own place this was so much easier to do.

Without the keurig next to the sink and by moving the knives to the prep station I created room around the sink. Just that makes it look so much better.
I also got that adorable cake stand from HomeGoods for $7.99 to keep the hand soap and sponges off the sink ledge. The dish soap goes under the sink.

6. Under the Sink

We hung my oven mitts and my lunch bag with command hooks on the door. 

I put the baking sheets and the pizza stone to the left since when they are vertical they are easier to take out than when they are laying down. 
I found a great 3-section tray at Target for our food wraps and keep our water bottles and Frank's protein on that great white shelf from Walmart.
I used a black container for all of the sponges and dish towels and store the cleaning supplies on the white shelf.

Where are the rest of the baking sheets?

7. Oven Storage

By removing the baking sheets I made room to put less often used baking items like cake pans, muffin pans and the  broiler pan in neat stacks.

Above the stove we organized the items more logically and spaced  everything so we can actually see what we need when we need it. 

8. Cabinets

We put all the plates together where the cups used to be and organized our spices in that black container I got from Target for $2.50 (same as the one under the sink). 
The top shelf holds serving bowls and cake stands.

I found this great lid rack at Target. Makes it way easier to find the right lid!

Since I moved the plates over by the baking items and spices, it made room to have all of our glasses in the same area along with the bowls.

This strange hard-to-reach corner space was so difficult. We keep items we don't use very often and grouped them better. I stacked the strainers neatly and keep them towards the entrance so they are easy to grab.

And that's it! Our kitchen!

I still have tons of other ideas that we will likely work on in the near future.
We'd love to add some artwork above the coffee station or great shelving like this.
Coffee bar. <3
Source: via Brittany on Pinterest

We also still would like to move the spices from the bin in the cabinet to a spice rack, but for some reason they are impossible to find. We want one that hangs which they seem to have stopped making.

spice rack
We also would love to paint--which we can do here. It is just something we are trying to decide whether or not to do based on how long we'd like to stay in this apartment. But, if we could, we'd do something like this blue-ish grey on the walls in the first photo and on the cabinets in the second one.

Source: via Brittany on Pinterest

But these are things for the future...

It was quite a project, but I am so glad we did it. Thanks to A Bowl Full of Lemons blog for the excellent inspiration! Please feel free to follow (this link) to her kitchen organization and where this post will be linked with many others from all over blogland for more ideas and pictures of other kitchens.

Look out for the next challenge. The Pantry.

I'd love to hear creative ways you've been able to organize your kitchen. Happy Organizing!