If you were anything like me in January, you probably found yourself doing some mega-purging of closets, drawers, maybe even entire rooms of stuff that no longer felt necessary in your life. But now that a few months have passed, how are those spaces looking? Anyone else guilty of letting the clutter creep back in?
Life gets crazy, you guys, and there is no way we were ever going to maintain perfect clothing folding techniques or stop accumulating piles of who-knows-what all over our homes. But, there is something to be said for creating a system for cleaning, sorting, purging, and donating ... and keeping up with it!
Over the years, I've created my own little process for doing this, which I'm sharing today while teaming up with Value Village™ to talk about responsible ways to donate as a part of your regularly scheduled decluttering! This new campaign is all about you doing YOU when it comes to cleaning. Because you don't have to be perfect - just Neat-ish!
Everyone has their own way of doing things, and you should find yours! My method may not be exactly right for you, but I do hope that it'll help get you motivated. After all, setting yourself and your spaces up for success is half the battle! This is my way of decluttering, but ValueVillage™ has put together some other fun and motivating ways to approach this not-so-fun task right here. Check out my friend Orlando in this quick video to see what I'm talking about!
As for my own closet, I began this project back in January, and while I had gotten it to about 85% organized, recently the shelves and floors had begun to clutter up again. Rather than let things go too long, I decided it was time to really finish the job and give my little closet a much deserved refresh in the process! Nothing motivates me like the opportunity for a fresh coat of paint!
I began by going through every inch of this closet, considering what I really needed to keep (I discovered that we had like 5 umbrellas!), and making responsible decisions on what to donate (a lot of it!) or throw away (only what's necessary, like broken items that aren't suitable for donation).
Value Village™ - a part of the Savers® family of thrift stores - created the Rethink Reuse™ campaign to shed light on the environmental impact of clothing and educate people on the steps they can take to offset their footprint by shopping smart and donating reusable items. But, that concept goes beyond clothing and into every aspect of our homes, too! Donating rather than trashing perfectly good items can help keep over 700 million pounds of reusable products out of landfills annually.
Believe it or not, I cleared out about 4 bags worth of donations from this space. Don't believe me? Check out this before and after (this is about to get ugly!) while I walk you through how I get from chaotic clutter to a totally gorgeous, organized space. Are you ready for the disaster that once was this closet??
YIKES, right!? Looking at these photos, I can't believe I actually let our closet get to the state it was in. But that's the problem with closets, right? There's a door you close and forget about it all until one day you open it and everything literally comes crashing down on you.
While looking at this mess was very overwhelming, it was even worse to think about not doing anything. We obviously needed some systems and storage - fast!
Here's my method for tackling projects like this one! Each of the images above represents the results from the corresponding steps.
1. The first part is pretty obvious: Cleaning & Sorting! In this case, I took everything off the shelves, wiped things down, and made piles of things to keep, to trash and to donate. Pretty basic, right? But it's important to be thorough in this process! I sorted through it all, down to the last nubby pencil and stray spare change, then put things back in the closet to see what kind of space we were working with.
2. When I'm done with phase one, I move to phase two, which I happen to think is the most important part: Categorizing. Thinking about all the stuff you have not only in the closet (or room or drawer) but other stuff in the house. Do items in the closet belong with other household items? Where should they live? For example, we had some outdoor gear in this closet that went downstairs to live with our other camping gear.
3. Phase three is my favorite part because it usually involves a trip to the store for baskets, bins, and all the other good stuff that helps keep things where they ought to be! I call this creating systems for success. We use it for children a lot: bins for legos, baskets for toys. But us busy adults need them too! This closet required a spot for some 'office' type of organization, plenty of bins for all kinds of storage, and a toolbox for items that I use a lot around the house (because I'm lazy and don't like to run downstairs every time I need a hammer!).
4. Last, but certainly not least, is making your new, clean space a space that is respected and thoughtful. So, make it pretty! Ok, so maybe a kitchen drawer won't be getting this final step, but a walk in closet? A spare room? Even a cupboard deserves a little love! By making this closet more of a room, with fresh paint and wallpaper, I now feel an even greater responsibility to keep it clean and lookin' good.
TA-DAH! Can you believe this is even the same space!? While I'm very excited about how pretty this space is now, more importantly I can now see everything. Why does that matter? Given that we are all increasingly conscious of our impact on the environment when it comes to consuming and waste, cleaning is so much more than cleaning these days. By keeping down the clutter, we consume less, and waste less because we know what we already own, and what we have room for.
By the way, let's all keep in mind that it took me a few rounds of effort to really get a space to where it is now. It's not going to happen in a day!
In the first round I purged so much that I became hesitant to get rid of some things. After living with the newly organized closet for a few months it became obvious what items were really being used, or where we might be in need of a little more organization.
It's ok to take things in phases - in fact, it's great! And now that my closet is practically perfect, I plan on keeping it that way by assessing it at the end of every season. Savers® calls this 'making reuse a ritual' and I love that phrase. I did a second round of cleaning out and donated a couple more boxes at my local Value Village, and really pared things down in here. So much so that it kinda feels empty!
And if you're wondering what the final little updates I made to this closet were... well, here you go!
I replaced our old peg rack (that was falling apart and in an awkward spot) with a rack that has fewer pegs (giving me less excuse to clutter it up!), and placed it above the wood trim so it wasn't sticking out so far. I love the way it looks and that it's more minimal.
As you already know, I gave the closet a new coat of paint (the same color as our kitchen, but in a semi-gloss), and attempted to wallpaper the accent wall. This not only helped the space feel more clean again, but also more like an actual room!
I somehow found a white toolbox (leave it to me!) and also swapped out the navy blue bins for cream ones to keep things light in here. If you're looking to create calm in a normally chaotic space, then keeping a single palette really helps! I prefer a lot of white, but liked the touches of blue in here too.
And finally - I added more bins bins bins. I used small toy storage bins for items like light bulbs, and the bamboo bins you see here for garden tools and dog accessories. I like this type of storage because you can still easily see everything and grab it but it's just contained to its own designated spot.
And now that we have room for it, I also keep a stool in here so that I can easily reach everything! Ha! If you're eager to get started on your own organizing now, here are all the sources for the items we used for this space.
1. quilted canvas bins | 2. small wood toy bin | 3. bamboo stacking bin | 4. schoolhouse flush mount | 5. stockholm paper drawers | 6. white desktop organizer | 7. natural wood peg rail | 8. hanging basket | 9. striped wallpaper
Do you have your own methods for seasonal cleaning and organizing? I'd love to hear them! And if you have any questions about this space, or trouble spots in your own home, ask away!