Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pretty & Practical Solutions

I have a slightly crafty project on my other blog today with a practical plus - no more stinky shoes! And they match the planned colors of my pantry/mudroom/laundry.

If you want to check out how these cute little deodorizers are made, just take a visit to my crafty blog!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Super Shoebox Storage

I am a couponer (NOT an extreme couponer, LOL), so our bathroom closet has been slightly overflowing with extra toothpaste, deodorant, etc.  I don't have a ridiculous amount of anything, but probably enough extras for 6 months.  I have always kept everything in a couple of large plastic baskets, but with 5 people in the house they were becoming a jumbled mess that I was tired of digging through! (I wish I would have taken "before" pictures, but I got a little too excited!)

After assessing the space available in our bathroom linen closet and the amount of stuff on hand, I decided that shoe boxes would be a good solution. Not wanting to spend a lot of money, I headed off to the dollar store and picked some up. I even managed to NOT buy anything else while I was there (except a new wastebasket for the kids' bathroom)!

So, I came home and started sorting things out by type and putting them in the boxes.  The only things that didn't go in the boxes were shampoo and conditioner - the bottles are too large.  Those went under the sink in a different solution I'll show some other time.  The Husband wanted to know how he was going to know what was in each box.  DUH, he should know I am a label freak!  I also wanted to make them a little pretty because The Husband has a bad habit of leaving the closet door hanging open and I didn't want to look at boring shoeboxes with plain labels on them.

Since I have what amounts to a craft store in my house, I just went "shopping" for things that would match the future beach-y theme of the bathroom.  Here's how they turned out:

I just love, love, LOVE them! Especially that burlap ribbon!  If you want all the details on how I decorated the boxes, you can head over to my "crafty" blog - I thought we'd concentrate on the organization here.

Depending on your amount/type of stuff, you may need more/fewer/different categories than I used, but I thought I would share the way I organized mine. I even used one box for manicure/pedicure supplies, because a) I don't really do my nails that often and b)it will keep my kids out of my expensive polish.  I put everything on the top shelf of the linen closet because we wouldn't be pulling them down often - this is mostly the EXTRA stuff.  Here are the categories I used:
  • body wash/shower gel
  • bar soap
  • shaving
  • nails (mani/pedi that is, not hardware)
  • lotion/lip balm
  • facial cleanser & moisturizer
  • toothpaste, etc.
  • deodorant/body spray
  • bandages/first aid (all of them - we have a band-aid bandit in our house)
Hope this gives you some ideas for your own storage solutions.  Thanks for coming by! Oh yes! Cost!  The boxes were less than $10 with tax.  The other supplies were already on hand - I know the burlap ribbon was about $8 for 5 yards but the other I don't remember.  The buckles were probably the most expensive things, but I'm sure the total is less than $30.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Install Cabinet Hardware for an Inexpensive Upgrade

So, I'm finally back.  things move slowly in real time, especially when there is a lack of money involved!  However, I was finishing up my latest project and I realized that I never posted the promised kitchen cabinet transformation.  I actually did that in April, but got delayed in editing the video and I kind of forgot.  I know, BAD me.  Projects should be coming on a bit more regular basis now - a big garage sale is looming for that all-important funds infusion, and the kids are back in school to give me a little more time again.  Without further ado, here is how I transformed my greasy fingerprinted cabinets to stunners.

BEFORE - check out those nasty kid prints all over!
This video shows how easy it is to add hardware to cabinets where none has been before!

Now for more details on my homemade cabinet pull template.  I used a thick plastic sheet from Clear Scraps to create my template.  If you need to make your own template, the plastic (or cardboard) needs to be wider than you drawer pulls spread by a couple of inches, and it needs to be longer than the height of your drawer.  You need to score a section of the plastic across the width so it can rest on the top edge of your drawer front.  Mark the center (side to side) with a fine tip permanent marker by drawing a vertical line. Determine how far down your drawer front you need your hardware to be, and mark those spots on the template.  Punch out the holes in the plastic with a Crop-a-dile or punch and you are ready to mark your drawer fronts.

A few simple steps, and you have a reasonable facsimile of a store-bought template!
Finally, a word about the screws included to install the hardware.  I mentioned in the video the need to purchase longer screws for my drawers.  Here's why:
The included screws are on the right.  Because my drawers fronts are doubly thick, they are not long enough.  The ones on the left are the replacements I purchased.  They are long enough to go through both parts, plus have enough left over to screw into the drawer pull.

I loved that this is a fairly inexpensive upgrade, and makes it much easier to keep the cabinets clean of grimy finger prints!  I purchased our hardware at Lowe's, and chose a simple knob style that I could get in bulk packs because we have a large number of cabinets in our kitchen.  In case you are interested in the hardware I purchased, here are the links:

That's all for today!  Next time, a kids bathroom remodel on the cheap!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why I Hate Pedestal Sinks, or, Why I Love My Powder Room NOW

When we bought our home, one of the many corporate-builder basics included was the cheap-ass (pardon my language) powder room on the main floor.  The oddly shaped little room included a toilet, cheap towel bar above the toilet, plain oval mirror, and aforementioned pedestal sink.  I should have taken pictures of the horrors, but when I started this project I had no idea I would wind up blogging about it!

Having more urgent items to spend our money on, I approached the room a tiny bit at a time.  After a few years of trying a separate small storage cabinet (thanks Mom), it just wasn't working.  What should have been a decent sized powder room felt cramped, and not very kid friendly.  So, a couple of years ago I started in - The Husband hated the pedestal sink even more than I did, so for Christmas I bought him a small vanity/medicine cabinet combo from Lowe's.  I also bought a new Delta faucet for it, which actually cost more than the vanity & cabinet!

It sat there, hooked up, for over a year, but not flush with the wall because we hadn't yet decided what to do to the rest of the room.  Lucky for us, I won a raffle from our school district last Spring and got a $250 gift card to Lowe's.  So off I went!  First, I chose some solid bamboo flooring.  I bought Natural Floors by USFloors in Jacobean/Brown.  I also got wainscoting panels and cap in white, and opted to keep all of our existing wood trim in an oak finish.

While The Husband removed the wood trim and tore out the existing vinyl flooring, I chose paint and a new light fixture.  I headed to our local Ace Hardware and bought a gallon of Benjamin Moore paint in Bird's Egg (the rest is going in our laundry/pantry).  I had previously stumbled across a neat metal-trimmed shelf in Hobby Lobby, and some clearance towel bars, etc. so I wanted a light fixture to match the dark finish of those.  I finally found the simple (and inexpensive!) fixture I was looking for at Home Depot.

So, I primed & painted - including the ceiling.  I used a semi-gloss finish, since we have 3 kids (and plenty of little visitors), and this finish makes kitchens & baths much easier to clean.  Did you know that painting the ceiling the same color as the walls can make a small room seem larger?  Especially with a nice light color like this one.  I also installed the new light fixture.

The Husband got stuck with the hard labor of installing the flooring, wainscoting and cap, and hooking the sink and toilet back up.  Yay, everything is trimmed around the sink now and it looks built-in, with a nice seal between the vanity top & the wall.  Oh, and he says he will never install wainscoting for me again!  Apparently, since there are no load-bearing walls, the builder decided to put all of the studs 24" on center instead of the standard 16", which made it not so fun to install.  In fact, we have a spot where things are coming away from the wall a bit.  Should be a quick remedy with a tiny toggle bolt and repair to the wood.

Finally, I installed a towel ring & toilet paper holder, reserving the towel bar to use in the master bath along with a second set I purchased (I love clearance!) once we get around to adding some new features up there.  I hung my Hobby Lobby shelf and prettied things up with some accessories and a couple of pieces of paper-crafted art I made.

Here are the "after" photos.  Sorry for the image quality - it's hard to get pics in a small space with no windows and the lights caused some glare on the walls.

I now have a nice little cabinet in which to store extra hand towels & toilet papers, and a few cleaning supplies, without taking up extra floor space.  I forgot to snap a picture, but I also have a nice small fabric laundry hamper that fits in the space behind the door.  Perfect for kids who tend to change their clothes wherever they feel like!

So, that's it for today.  Still working on collecting stuff for that big yard sale!  I did just have a new dishwasher installed, thanks to the handle on our old one almost completely breaking off.  And I was lucky enough to have gotten a sale price when I bought it, and a price adjustment for free installation this week!  So, I bought cabinet hardware for the kitchen cabinets, in an effort to keep most of the grubby little fingerprints off of the doors & drawers.  That's the next project you'll see here!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Abracadabra and Alakazam! - Two Magic Words to Clear Out Clutter

Clutter busting is hard to do this time of year in northern Illinois.  I'm relying on money from the sale of our clutter to help fix things up, so just dropping stuff off at Goodwill is not an option.  Enter my two magic words for clutter removal: consignment and Craigslist.  (I totally avoid eBay unless it's something I know will sell much higher there - I hate to deal with shipping.)

I already consign my better quality kids clothes as they are outgrown, and that helps soften the blow of buying new clothes for three.  This is a topic I will cover further in a future post: due to the nature of clothing consignment (seasonal), it creates a bit of its own clutter while I'm waiting to take it in.  For today, I will focus on the area of hobby hijinks.  Whether you're a quilter with a fabric stash, or a sports lover with an ever-growing collection of your favorite team's memorabilia, it's not quite so fun anymore when it starts outgrowing your space.

For those of you who don't know me, I am a heavy-duty paper crafter and a direct sales consultant for Close To My Heart (a scrapbooking and stamping company).  As such, there is always something new I "have to have", but even with a separate room for my craftiness, things tend to get out of control.  Lucky for me, there is a craft consignment sale in the area a couple of times a year where I can clear out the old to make more room.  No matter what your hobby, if you live in a more heavily populated area, there is probably a consignment sale or group "garage sale" where you can sell a few things.  Google is your best friend when trying to find a consignment store or sale organizer - start searching!

If you can't find a consignment option, my favorite "wider net" is Craigslist.  It's regional, free to list items, and no shipping required!  There is one caveat when selling through Craigslist though.  If you are not comfortable having buyers come to your residence, you will need to arrange to meet somewhere.  I suggest a highly trafficked location where there will be plenty of people able to see you.  I personally think a McDonald's parking lot is a good option: there are always people there, and there are lots of windows where people inside can see out.

So, here's my current problem: I've spread out so much in the craft room, that it's nearly impossible to get into the closet.  The closet is a bit weird, as it's narrow and deep, so you have to walk in to get to anything.  I've had this tall drawer storage for a while, but when I moved things around it wound up almost blocking the door.  And since I had a hanging organizer thing hanging on the door, it was really hard to get in & out.  So my goal was to get rid of both the drawers and the hanging storage.

I cleared out a bunch of crafty stuff, plus some sewing things from upstairs, and got it priced & tagged for the consignment sale.  I reorganized, consolidated, and eliminated, and happily have both items out of the craft room now for a much cleaner space. There's always a little more to do in here, since I regularly USE things in here, they always have to be put away & kept organized!  But at least now I can get in the closet where I keep the yarn, cross stitch stuff, and miscellaneous craft supplies.  Look how nice & organized it is in there!  And the way is clear to get in.

I also made a visit to Ikea and spent about $13.  I needed to get my paper punches out of their drawers, because I had to dig through piles to find the one I wanted, and it was a pain to get them all back in again.  I've seen many people post about storing their punches on the Bygel towel rails from Ikea, so I went the same route and bought 2.  I also bought 2 of the wire baskets that hang from the rails, and a pack of the hooks to hang random things.  That punch assist tool on the far right end always took up a lot of room in a drawer, but it takes up a narrow space on the wall hanging from a hook.

OK, now I'm all ready to drop off my stuff to that consignment sale!  Here's my pile, waiting to be loaded in the van:
Wish me luck!!

Shopping List for Ikea:
  • Bygel Rail, 2 @ $2.99 - $5.98
  • Bygel Wire Basket, 2 @ $1.99 - $3.98
  • Bygel S-hook, $.99
Total Expense: $10.95 (plus tax), about $13

Total income?  We'll find out soon!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Our Story

We are the parents of three kids with lots of clutter, and we've had enough. Inspired by the original Clean House series from The Style Network, we are taking back our clean house one room at a time! Like most people, we can't have a crew come in and help us finish this enormous project in a week, so we are on our own. I plan to document all of this foolishness removal in the hopes of 1)keeping us accountable and invested in this project and 2)helping others wanting to conquer this same problem without going broke in the process.

So, here's a little about us and what causes our clutter:
  • Lori - I work part-time outside the home, run a business from home, do work as a craft designer, and am a professional crafter (I sell stuff I make - well, I'm supposed to anyway).  The Husband and I share household duties depending on who is home, but I tend to get stuck with bathrooms and any kid-related laundry most of the time.   My contribution to the madness is that what happens in the craft room doesn't always stay in the craft room, and I tend to forgo things like unloading the dishwasher in favor of crafting.
  • The Husband - TH works full-time outside of the home, coaches soccer Spring & Fall, and helps out with Scouts.  He's a pretty handy guy to have around, as he has tools and knows how to use them, and he tends to get stuck with yucky stuff like replacing garbage disposals and sump pumps, and outside stuff like mowing the lawn.  (I think I need to start helping with that last item this year - time to get a little more exercise!)  His contribution to the madness is huge collections of Matchbox cars and train cars, feeding the kiddos' addictions to Lego and video games, and being less than willing to get rid of things like books.
  • Big Sister - Currently a 5th-grader with a unique but picky sense of style, a huge artistic streak, and involvement in Girl Scouts.  Currently responsible for cleaning her own room, two days a week cat duty, and other jobs as assigned - generally things like unloading dishwasher, picking up kid bathroom, cleaning up the book area, etc.  No major duties yet.  Her contribution to the madness is art supplies & finished projects, random papers left wherever they fall, and the apparent inability to ever put away a bag or box of food.  And an attitude.
  • Little Sister - Currently a 3rd-grader with a voice as big as her personality, the desire to have it ALL, and involvement in Girl Scouts.  Currently responsible for cleaning her own room, two days a week cat duty, and other duties as assigned (see above).  Her contribution to the madness is the fact that she is a clothes horse - she may change her clothes 3 or 4 times a day, and every item she takes off winds up on the floor.  Somewhere.  It is also like pulling teeth to get her to pick up in her room.
  • The Boy - Currently a first-grader with an attitude and a big mouth, a love of cooking & baking, and involvement in Tiger Scouts.  If the weather is decent he will be found outside with friends; if not, he's playing video games, building Lego creations, or helping make chocolate chip cookies.  Currently responsible for cleaning his own room (his is pretty clean most of the time), two days a week cat duty, and other duties as assigned (see above).  His contribution to the madness is the aforementioned Legos (definitely not his alone), the inability to hang up a wet towel to dry, and the inability to pick up a dirty dish or empty juice box without being told. 
While we are generally not as bad as the people you have seen on TV, I am currently unable to walk across the floor in our loft/playroom because it is wall-to-wall Legos and Little Pet Shop.  We have some big problem areas, and it's not due to lack of space - we do have 3500 sq. feet finished - it's partially due to poor design and bad organization.  Of course it's also due in some part to laziness on all of our parts; who wants to put away laundry or dishes when you could be scrapbooking?!  (Or whatever that hobby is...)  So my main goal in this big project is to make things easier to take care of by getting rid of things we don't need or use, and to better organize what we have.

I hope you'll follow along as I share my plans and actual results from this project!  Since we live in the Chicago area, a yard sale is impossible until Spring, so many projects will have to wait for that warmer weather.  But I can't wait to start sharing my plans and some before/after results.  Stick around and see what happens!