Getting Organized – Creating your own Grand Central Station

Last week I came to the realization that my family needed its own “Grand Central Station”. You know, a specific place that gives your family all the important information they need to carry out their day the best they can. This great epiphany came after I showed up for work on the wrong night…again. I also forgot my oldest had a field trip and scheduled a dentist appointment for him on the same day. Needless to say, I needed some help keeping all my family’s activities straight. I searched the stores and internet for pre-made organization centers and really didn’t like anything I saw (also, they were expensive and I’m c.h.e.a.p), so I decided to create my own. The great thing about creating your own station is that you can customize it fit your family’s needs. Here’s how I created my family’s “Grand Central Station”.

Supplies:

  • 17in x 23in Cork Framed Bulletin Board
  • 1 yd fabric (your choice)
  • 10in x 7in Plastic Mail Organizer
  • Pencil Cup
  • Pencils
  • Sharpies
  • Calender
  • Push Pins
  • Hot Glue Gun/Glue
  • Magnets/Adhesive Strips/Nails

Directions:

1. Take your bulletin board and set it on a flat work surface, face up. Place your fabric over the bulletin board, making sure the fabric overlaps the sides. Place a push-pin in each corner of the bulletin board to hold the fabric in place and cut the fabric along the OUTSIDE of the frame.

Fabric cut to fit bulletin board frame

2. Next, take a butter knife (careful with this step) and carefully tuck the fabric under the frame (between the frame and the cork). You will need to the tuck in one side, and then tuck in the opposite side. You will notice that the fabric will become very taut…this is what you want.

Using knife to tuck in fabric under frame

Fabric covered bulletin board

3. After you get your bulletin board base completed, you will need to decide how your want your bulletin board to function. For my family, we needed a calendar to help keep track of family schedules and special events, a mail organizer, and lots of extra space for various school papers that always seem to crowd my refrigerator. Some other ideas for your board: grocery list, message board, menu, to do list, chore list, etc… Whatever your family needs is what you need to include on your bulletin board.

4. Next, lay out your items on your bulletin board. As you can see, I placed a calendar and mail organizer on the top portion of my bulletin board. Then, I added a pencil holder on the bottom. To attach these items to my board, I used a hot glue gun. Make sure to let your items dry before you place your bulletin board upright.

5. Flip your bulletin board over and attach either the magnets (with hot glue) or adhesive strips (these usually come with the bulletin board) to the back, if you are not hanging the board up with nails.

6. Now add all your fun accessories. I wanted to keep our board simple so I added different colored sharpies (each color for a different activity), pencils, and metallic push pins.

Let the creative juices flow and bling your board however your choose…fun pics of your family, ribbons, funky fabrics…anything that displays your family’s personality.

We have really enjoyed this ‘Central Station Board”. My oldest is a schedule nut, so he loves knowing when I have to work and what’s for dinner that night. So far, it’s helped keep us organized and on track.

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Getting Organized – Kid’s Desk

Grant's very messy desk

This week, I continued to slowly work on organizing and redecorating Grant’s room. After successfully reorganizing his closet, I wanted to work on his desk space next. As you can see, my little man is somewhat of a paper junky. He loves to write stories, draw, paint, make math sheets/play school… you name it, he’s creating it. The only problem I have with his creative personality is the huge mess he makes of his desk and room. Papers and books scattered everywhere, markers without lids, dried paint on paint brushes, and a trash can that is never empty.

Desk before

The first problem to tackle with his desk space was the desk itself. It is basically a square table with no drawers and I knew I would need to get him a desk that would better suite his needs. I needed a desk with plenty of storage that would fit in a small space. Thankfully, my mom came to my rescue. She had an old desk that my grandfather made in shop class over 60 years ago that was in storage. Well, I’m not one to turn down free things, so I gladly accepted the desk. After looking at the desk for the first time, I knew it would need a little sprucing up. I decided to paint the desk using leftover baseboard/trim latex semi-gloss white paint. I sanded the entire desk with sandpaper, working from the most coarse to fine, until the entire working surface was smooth and ready for paint. I also removed the drawer hardware prior sanding and used wood putty to fill in any major flaws/holes before painting. I removed the drawers and using a brush, I applied 4 (yes 4) coats of paint, letting each layer dry completely before starting on the next layer. After the desk and drawers were completely dry, I re-applied the hardware, put back the drawers, and the desk was done. Finally, it was time to organize the drawers

Desk after

Mod Podge can organizers

I knew that Grant would need many different cubbies to organize all of his different things. I really didn’t have anything around the house that would work, but at Wal-Mart I found organizers for really cheap in the kitchen section. I ended up getting all the organizers for less than $10. I also thought that he would need some organizers for the top of his desk. I had a few containers that I was going to throw away (coffee can and bread crumb can) that I knew would be perfect. I covered both cans with Mod Podge, tore pieces from a brown paper bag, and glued them on with the Mod Podge. After letting the containers dry, I placed them on his desk and filled them with scissors and paintbrushes. Grant loves his new desk, and I love that it cost me less than $10 to repurpose.

Getting Organized – Kid’s room

In my quest to get my house organized, I knew that I would need to start with one of my boy’s rooms. How did I know I needed to start there, you ask? My first clue was the sore foot I got from stepping on a toy car few weeks ago. The second was the constant morning wail, “I can’t find any socks!” when I know for a fact that both of them have socks in their drawers. The final straw was when I finally uncovered the strange smell coming from my son’s closet…a forgotten sandwich shoved under piles of clothes after his last attempt at cleaning.

Grant's long narrow room leaving no room to play

So what did this mama do? After praying a very frustrated prayer for patience (and throwing the sandwich away), I got to work. Knowing I would need a clean slate to start with, I took everything, and I mean everything, out of my oldest son’s closet and piled it on his bed. I don’t have a before picture, but let me tell you, it was really bad. I had willingly allowed my kids to color on and put stickers/pictures on their closet walls (I thought it would curb the urge for them to do this to their room walls). My oldest, a packrat in the making, took this a little further by taking weather striping and making roads on his closet walls (that was fun to remove…trust me). After scraping off the stickers and weather striping, I cleaned the walls with damp rag, also cleaning the baseboards, ceiling, and light fixture. Next, I grabbed a can of white flat latex paint and gave the inside of the closet 2 coats of paint. After about 2 hours of cleaning and prepping, I finally had an empty, clean closet to start organizing.

Organized closet

While I was working in Grant’s room, I had decided to get rid of his long dresser and move all his clothes to the closet. This would hopefully make his narrow room seem much larger than it is. With an empty closet and a bed full of clothes, I headed to Target and Lowe’s to explore my closet organization options. At Target I picked up a ClosetMaid 3 Drawer Organizer and Closetmaid Stackable 3 Cube Organizer for about $60.00 and also a few more children’s hangers. I wanted to add more hanging space, so I bought 2 Real Organized Adjustable Closet Rods at Lowe’s for about $8.00 each.
First, I assembled the two ClosetMaid Organizers as directed. Next, my loving husband anchored the bottom drawer to the wall. Unfortunately, this took some time, because there were no wall studs where I wanted the shelves (right in the middle of the closet). Now, I know many of you are asking, why do you need to secure the drawers into studs? Two words… my boys!  I once found my youngest straddling the fireplace mantle and the TV cabinet to retrieve a toy that had been put out of reach as punishment. So trust me when I say, it’s always a smart idea to secure heavy objects, or items that might be used for climbing, to the wall studs.
Another run to the store for a box of wall anchors and 20 minutes later the bottom drawers were successfully anchored to the wall. My husband then added the top shelf organizers, once again anchoring them to the wall. The top shelf that you see was already in place, but it was difficult for my son to reach his clothes. To make clothes more accessible, and add more storage space, we screwed closet rods to the lower half of his closet on both sides. This took two people, lots of measuring, and a small level to get the rods in the exact position we wanted. The last thing I added were a few Command Medium Hooks to the inside of his closet for hanging items such as his backpack, robes, belts, etc…
 I was finally ready to start putting items back in his closet and cleaning out his dresser. Here are some organizing tips that I learned along the way:
      • Delete. Get rid of those clothes your child has grown out of, damaged, or they just won’t wear. Make 3 piles, one to keep, one to donate, and one for trash. I also added a fourth pile, clothes that will go to little brother. Be fierce, keep only what you think your child needs.
      • Hang like items together. You can see from Grant’s closet, his shirts are on one side, and his pants are on the another. I also further organized them by season, use, and color. For example, his long-sleeved shirts (shown on top) are organized by function (school shirts, sweaters, dress shirts) and then by color. This has made it easy for him to find his favorite things. With his pants, I placed the more frequently used jeans on the bottom rod and have his dress slacks on the top.
      • Fold neatly. I know it’s a pain, but well folded clothes make it easier for kids to see what they have. Here are a some great sites if you need help folding clothes:
    • Keep it clean. That’s right, the solution to a clean and organized closet is to…..KEEP IT CLEAN! No more clothes on the floor, writing on the walls, smelly sandwiches, or any other closet disasters you might face. Try to encourage your kids to keep their closet clean and organized (and a little 5 minute help from mom every day doesn’t hurt either).

Grant’s closet has been like this for a few weeks now, and after a few minor mama/son misunderstandings (like your clothes DO NOT belong on the floor!), it’s still looks really good. We did add a small laundry hamper to the corner, but other than that, the closet looks the same. This project took most of the day to complete, so if you decide to do a total closet redo like I did, plan accordingly.

Grant's desk, an organizational nightmare

Next week, I plan to show how I got my little packrat’s desk more organized. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.

Paper overload!

If you compare the “holding on to sentimental items” issues between my husband and I, my problem seems miniscule compared to his. For example, he has three large totes of broken toys from his childhood taking up valuable space in our garage. His reason for keeping them is because “they are valuable”, while my response is “they’re broken!!!” I really didn’t notice I had problems until we moved from a house with an unfinished basement, i.e. tons of storage, to a house with no basement, no attic and very little space to store items. It also doesn’t help that we now have no “extra” rooms in our house, with our newest addition expected in May. This has forced our master bedroom to become our new dump zone. Any extra junk ends up there and it is definitely not the peaceful sanctuary that people talk about when they design fabulous master suites.

My husband sees no issue in this, except that it takes some fancy footwork to maneuver to the bathroom from his side of the bed. I, however, have crazy dreams of being overran by paperwork, clothing and furniture. They say that your dreams become more vivid and detailed during pregnancy, and they do, but I feel like I’m living my organizational nightmare every day.

One very unorganized desk

Also, my nesting phase has started. Add the fact that I have problems with starting projects and not finishing them, and you get the mess that is now my house. My first task in getting prepared for the new baby was to finally move my son’s closet contents to his new room and remove/sort the mess that became our guest room closet (which is the new baby’s room). It’s overwhelming! So far, I’ve found tools, paperwork, school textbooks from 9 years ago, old lamps, rugs and craft supplies. It’s a good thing I have 4-5 months left for all of this because it will probably take me that long to finish.

Sorted piles

My first task is our mess of paperwork. Here lies three issues: what documents to keep, where to store them, and how long do I need keep them. I scoured the internet and found a good resource on GoodHousekeeping.com . Here is a link to their helpful list: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning-organizing/important-papers-to-keep

So far I’ve found bank/credit card statements from 5 years ago among with other documents that have absolutely no importance! Sheesh, who knew you weren’t even supposed to keep these after the month end. Wish me luck as I go navigate through my own personal paperwork jungle.

Resolutions

Our very messy closet

Every year I do it. I make resolutions that I am determined to keep, only to find myself easing back into my old, comfortable way of living. Last year I was going to lose weight. The year before, I was going to lose weight. The year before…well, let’s just say there’s a definite trend. This year is different. This year I’m putting my foot down. Yep, this year I am BOYCOTTING resolutions. That’s it, you heard it here first. A woman swearing off the need to announce on January 1 that she is going to lose weight, travel the world, climb a mountain, fix the economy, wash her hair every day, cook 10 meals at home a day, whatever. This year I’m taking a stand! Now saying this, that doesn’t mean I can’t set goals, right? I mean, it’s good to have goals. One personal goal I set when I started running was to run a half-marathon. Check…currently in training and signed up to run in April. Another goal was to try to be more frugal at home. Check…already couponing up a storm, using homemade laundry soap, and cutting back unnecessary expenses. My last goal was to finally get this house organized and…hmm…that one didn’t seem to get started. As you can see by my linen closet, organization is not my family’s strong point.

Neatly rolled up towels

So, I decided to buckle down conquer my overwhelming phobia of “a place for everything and everything in its place” and just get organized. My obvious first choice, the linen closet, got a complete facelift. First, I emptied the entire closet (my husband LOVES when I do this) and sorted my linens by category: bedsheet sets, towels, hand towels, wash clothes, blankets, and tablecloths (these got moved to my new buffet as you will later see). Then, I gave the closet a good dusting (you’d be surprised how many dust bunnies are hiding in your closet). Next, I inspected my linens closely for any damage or mismatched sets. After cutting several mismatched linens into shop towels, I was finally ready to put things back together. I had bought some clear plastic containers for this project at a local big box store for about $3.00 each. I wanted to use clear bins so I could see my items when looking for something in particular. Next, I added my linens to the bins. I rolled my towels for maximum space-saving, and stored my sheet sets in their pillowcases. I also placed them on the shelf according to use and reaching ability of small children. The last thing I did was label my bins so that anyone folding and putting away laundry would know exactly where to put them.

The finished project. A nice, neat, organized closet that my family can now use

This project took me about 2 1/2 hours to do from start to finish. We’ve had it this way for almost 4 weeks now, and as you can see, this system seems to work for us. Hopefully, this is the start of a beautiful, new, organized home. Let me know how you keep your home neat and organized. Trust me, I could use the advice 🙂
P.S. I’m currently working on my oldest son’s room and it is such a big project I will have to give you weekly updates. Look forward to more closet organization, headboard making, homemade curtains, and more (all on a very strict budget). I can’t wait to share it with you!
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