This post tests popular home methods of organization and tells what really works! Includes inexpensive products used and tips on how to use the methods in your own house.
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Self reflection is the key to understanding, right?
So often, I talk about organization methods I'm using throughout our home - but a few weeks ago, I realized that I typically talk about these organization methods once and never really mention them again. Of course, not every single thing that I try works! I very often have failed organization projects - after all, I'm human too. Today, I wanted to look back at a few things that I've talked about on the blog and give an update as to whether they worked for us or not.
I brainstormed a few of my favorite projects. Most of these organization methods are from our current home, but I do hit on a couple of ideas I started using in our last home.
Spice Cabinet: 👍🏻
This was a fairly recent project for us. To sum it up, I put all of our spices in uniform (easily storable) glass containers and labeled them for easy reference.
I am happy to report that this project worked exceptionally well! I love these containers - even if I take a few out for cooking, they're super simple to reorganize and kind of push together to line up neatly. The only issue I've seen is really just a laziness issue - I've found a couple of spices that I didn't initially label and haven't yet, simply because I haven't taken the time to pull out my vinyl cutting machine and get it done. So, a couple of containers are missing labels. Not really an issue since I generally know what's in them (I have the containers in alphabetical order), just something I need to work on soon.
Playroom Fabric Bins: 👍🏻
When we put in our Ikea Billy Bookcase hacked built-ins about a year ago, we bought a bunch of these fabric bins to organize the smaller toys in our playroom. They really fit perfectly in the bookcases and were a colorful, focal-point kind of way to corral the never-ending supply of small trinkets in the playroom.
This is another project that worked incredibly well. It's been so easy to keep everything organized with these! The kids can pull them out of the bookcases when they want to play so simply...then, when it's clean-up time, it usually takes just a minute or two to organize everything back into the respective bins. I've actually been pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to keep everything organized. We had another kind of bin system in our old playroom that didn't work as well.
These were such a hit that we're planning on using this system in the craft room we're putting in right now. We also just used billy bookcases as built-ins in my daughter's room and are using these same bins to organize her American Girl/Barbie accessories.
Kitchen Container Lids: 👎🏻
A few months ago, I talked about a really inexpensive way I was organizing container lids. I used Dollar Tree pencil baskets to keep all of our lids together.
This one, unfortunately, isn't working all that well. The main issue is our lid supply - there are just too many of them! This might be a little bit more effective for a limited set of Tupperware, but our lids are constantly overflowing the baskets. This has helped organize lids, sure, but I know there's a better way (and I'm currently on the hunt for another way to organize these). So this one was a no-go.
Laundry Room Baskets: 👍🏻
One of my Pinterest wish list items when we built our forever home was a large cabinet in the laundry room just for baskets. I had big plans - each person in the house could have a basket in this space, or we could organize laundry by color/type. The possibilities are endless!
This is one feature that I honestly don't think I could live without at this point. I only do laundry once a week, so organizing our laundry into these baskets (by color) has been absolutely perfect for my laundry system. Each basket equals roughly a load of laundry, so when the basket is full, I run a load (which typically works out to doing everything once a week, all at once).
There are so many times that my kids change clothes downstairs and just throw their dirty clothes in these baskets - Emmie is old enough to know what goes where, and Jackson is learning. It has basically eliminated dirty laundry accumulating where it isn't supposed to in our house and makes laundry day a breeze. I love this space!
School Papers: 👍🏻
For years, I've organized our school papers the same way. I let our papers accumulate throughout the year, take pictures of the fun stuff, and pick just a few special items to keep in a memory box.
This is the school paper organization method I've done basically since Emmie started preschool, and I have no plans of changing it up anytime soon. Yes, it's kind of a daunting project once a year, but it really is the easiest way for me to keep everything nice and organized. It significantly cuts down on the amount of papers that have to be stored throughout the years - this way, you're really only concentrating on the special items, but can still remember everything through a simple photo book.
The kids love looking back through their books (and I honestly don't think they'd be that into flipping through hundreds of saved papers). So yes, after years, I still recommend this one!
Bathroom Drawer Organizers: 👍🏻
This is an idea that might very well not work for anyone else but us - but, it's worth a try! When I was organizing our master bathroom, I found these containers at Dollar Tree that fit absolutely perfectly in our cabinets. It divided our bathroom drawers into 6 equal sections that I use to keep makeup, medicine, and toiletry items organized in the drawers.
It has been so easy to keep bathroom drawers organized with these simple containers. I think I paid $4 for all of them - worth every penny! I use my top bathroom drawer for makeup (organizing face products/eye products/lip products into their own sections) and one for medicine, vitamins, and other less-used toiletries.
Pantry Bins: 👎🏻
When I was organizing the pantry, I decided to use these bins from Target to kind of corral like items. They come in so many colors, are pretty affordable, and add a really pretty decor element to a space that can sometimes be kind of boring.
I won't say that this system hasn't worked at all - our pantry is still pretty organized. But I often find certain sections overflowing, with no way to organize those items with their "kind" of food. It kind of drives me crazy to have sections with tons of items sitting on shelves and other sections completely empty. Yes, this is great motivation to use up some of the sections that are too full, but it doesn't solve the immediate problem of it looking kind of sloppy.
So - meh. Not terrible, but I don't know that I'd use this organization method again.
Kitchen Cup Cabinet: 👎🏻
Staying in the kitchen - this is another method that hasn't been great. Here's the problem with cups in our house - they multiply like crazy! It seems like I'm constantly throwing out cups from restaurants/events.
This is really a cleaning issue more than an organization issue - I just need to make a set time once a month (maybe on my Journey to Clean calendar) to throw out excess cups. I'd also like to find a way to more securely corral the cups I have laying horizontally in the cabinet. Those seems to slip around a lot, taking up more space in the cabinet than they should. I'm thinking maybe a wine rack?
Tablet Charging Station: 👍🏻
I don't think I've ever shown a picture of this on the blog - I put this in after I published our office tour, but it's now one of my favorite organization tools in the office!
I bought a dish drying rack from The Dollar Tree to corral our family's tablets while they are charging. I have a power strip hidden in that wicker bin behind the rack that hides all of the cords/plugs for the chargers. As I see a tablet not being used around the house, I've tried to make it a habit to take it to the charging station - everyone in the family now knows to look there if their computer is missing. It keeps everything charged and makes for a great storage area for electronics. And it was so inexpensive to make!
Utensil Drawer: 👍🏻
This is another one of those Pinterest-y things I found long before we ever built this home. I knew I had to have it in our kitchen - I've never had a great system for organizing the many utensils we have in the kitchen, and this looked like the perfect solution.
Not only has it been super effective for keeping our utensils in one place, but it's actually stayed really organized! We keep bigger utensils in one container, metal ones in another, etc. Everybody kind of understands where each one goes when putting dishes away, so it's easy to keep everything tidy. I've been so impressed with this space - definitely recommended if you're doing custom cabinets. (And no, the space under the cabinet isn't wasted - I store seasonal plates and containers we rarely use underneath.)
Bathroom Drawer Tower: 👍🏻
I honestly don't even remember how long we've had this organizer - I'm pretty sure it outdates our relationship. If I had to guess, it's from Noah's fraternity house room - yes, this thing has seen a lot! 😂 Now, it resides in our bathroom. I put it there to try to group together some of the smaller toiletry items that don't necessarily have another place.
It has been really effective! Again, I think it's all about teaching systems and making sure everybody in the family knows what items go in the organizer. Everybody in our family know that, when you need dental floss, it's in the top drawer; if you need shower gel, it's in the "extra" drawer. It's really nice to know that all of your toiletries are organized in one place; it makes finding what you need so much easier.
Craft Supplies in Office: 👎🏻
I mean, I feel like this picture says it all - even when I tried to organize everything, it still just wasn't quite tidy. As with the other organization issues in our home, I think the whole issue was trying to fit too many items into too little of a space. Our office is very small (maybe 50-60 square feet total), so just office supplies are more than enough for the room.
We finally decided that we needed another area for this earlier this year...and we're in the process of making just that! Our craft room (that we've been planning since the spring) is almost done. I've been sharing little peeks on our Instagram, and I should have a full tour on the blog in the next month or so.
Paperless Organization: 👍🏻
I absolutely swear by my paperless organization method. We keep very few papers in our home - instead, I use a few essential online organization programs to scan images of receipts, documents, and school notes to easily keep track of them.
This is something I've been doing for years in pretty much the same way. Once a month, I've got a cleaning task on Journey to Clean to organize my command center - for me, this includes scanning papers into Evernote and disposing of pretty much anything I can. It makes a massive difference in paper clutter in your home - I highly recommend it!
Labels in Playroom: 👎🏻
I think this was a nice idea in theory that absolutely did not work in practice. These labels were from our old playroom - I attempted to attach them with label holders.
And they didn't stay at all. Most fell off in the first month or two, the other ones were hanging off or empty. The labels are cute, but it might be a better idea to laminate and attach (or put on the inside of clear containers.
Chore Chart: 👍🏻
I have relied on this chore chart so much this summer. Both of our kids (and me, for that matter) thrive on a routine; this little piece of paper has given us just that. I put it in an old picture frame and had Emmie check off basic things that needed to be done each day anyway; she got a pretend dollar (we call them "Lambert Loot") for each one she did. She got to trade those in for fun things throughout the summer: dates with mom or dad, a chance to pick what's for dinner, a trip to the Dollar Store, etc. They were little things that really motivated her! We tried doing actual money for this last summer, but it just wasn't super motivating for her; having something specific she could spend money on just in our home did the trick.
We loved it so much that I recently revised it for the school year. Not much change; it just divides the tasks into morning and afternoon and updated a few things that she needs to do during school that aren't necessary during summer. I made a printable version here (with a font that a 7-year-old didn't pick and omission of cleaning ears, since most of you aren't in the throws of a new ear piercing) - just click to download.