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I went on a bit of an organizing binge toward the end of last year and discovered so much extra space in my existing cabinets that it made me fall in love with my tiny house all over again.
Well, let me back up because that’s not entirely fair to my little house. I’ve always loved this place, but right before my binge, we put in an offer on a bigger house and lost it to a significantly higher bidder — an all-cash offer, the kind that makes you realize you never really had a chance at the house in the first place. San Francisco problems, am-I-right?
The emotional highs and lows of the process took more of a toll on me than I expected. It felt like I’d been dumped by my high school crush, so I channeled my sense of powerlessness into better-organizing our current home. “Fine,” I thought, “If I can’t have the big house I’ll make the current one I have so amazing that I won’t even care about the other one.”
And, it kind of worked. I’m still writing about the other house, so I obviously haven’t totally forgotten it, but spending the time and money now to actually make the best of our current home has been hugely impactful in saving me time and money in the long run.
I tell you this whole backstory for a few reasons:
1) I needed a big motivator for me to do this — to organize. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t or can’t get organized any time soon. I’ve lived in this house for five years and this is the first time I really set aside time to clean out cabinets and organize their contents. When we moved in, we had an 11-month-old, and I was 5 months pregnant with our second child. It’s a wonder that any boxes got unpacked at all, let alone their contents neatly and thoughtfully arranged.
2) I also want to make clear that I’m not a neat freak or minimalist, so I believe the tips I’m sharing are realistic for most of us. I am neat; I feel better when my house is tidy and I believe there’s a place for everything and everything has a place, BUT that doesn’t mean everything has to be exactly where it belongs all the time. I live here; my family lives here. We need to live here, and it doesn’t bother me if we have some stuff on our counters or if toys don’t always make it back to their homes. Knowing that there is a home for everything, though, does bring me comfort. In hectic family life, finding any way to bring simplicity is worth it.
You can do this, even if you don’t consider yourself well-organized and even if you don’t get around to it for another five years.
What I Did
I cleaned out and rearranged all of my kitchen and bathroom cabinets and organized my kids’ art supplies onto an art cart. Last year, I tackled organizing their toys after their epic haul of Christmas loot, and I shared my toy storage tips from that effort in an earlier post.
How It’s Helped
1) I uncovered so many products that I’ve been re-buying because I didn’t realize I already had some stashed in the back of the cabinet. Cheers to future money savings.
2) I can actually find what I’m looking for without digging around and messing up everything else in the cabinet. It’s a zero-frustration search that helps keep everything organized.
3) I save time thanks to that zero-frustration search.
4) I don’t risk being buried by an avalanche every time I open an upper cabinet. I’ve had some serious issues with sippy cups in the past and Tupperware? Don’t even get me started. Now they’re all resting peacefully, waiting for me to take what I need.
5) I get a sense of happiness every time I open a well-organized cabinet. This one might just be a me-thing because my personality craves order and efficiency, but even my best friend who thrives on going with the flow admitted that getting her cabinets in order made a big difference in her day-to-day living.
Watch the Makeovers
How I Did It
I broke the project up by room so I never had to devote a huge chunk of time to the project at any given moment, but, in aggregate, here are the steps I took.
1) I measured all of the interiors of the cabinets that I wanted to organize and wrote down their dimensions. (10 – 20 minutes per room)
2) I mentally took note of the contents of the cabinets and thought about what items I wanted to go where. Things I use every day need to be easily accessible. Other stuff can live farther from reach. (simultaneous to measuring)
3) I shopped online, browsing for cabinet organizing solutions and ordered what I thought would work for my particular space (see below for the products I used). Remember to maximize vertical space whenever you can. (1 hour per room or you can go down the rabbit hole of internet shopping and take as long as you’d like)
4) I kicked my family out of the house so I could have uninterrupted time to execute the organizing. Kidding, sort of. My husband was at work and my kids were at school. (5 years in the making)
5) I purged my cabinets — throwing out or donating what I didn’t need. (30 minutes)
6) I discovered existing containers through my purge that I could re-use in different ways to keep items organized. (pure luck)
7) I reconsidered whether the location of products still made sense. For example, I moved cleaning products from a high up shelf to under the kitchen sink now that my kids are old enough not to mess with them, and I gained a whole pantry cabinet from that move. (simultaneous to purging)
8) I installed my new organizing elements and put stuff back in the cabinets. (1 hour)
What I Used
These are the products that I found most useful in organizing my cabinets. After I did my Instagram stories I ended up ordering several more clear plastic bins, mesh drawers, and under-shelf bins. Once I got going the potential for organization seemed limitless! A lot of the bins come in a variety of sizes, so don’t forget to measure before ordering.
- Keep like items together
- Use small containers to keep items accessible
- Use all the vertical space available
- Factor in future products that will need to fit in the space. (e.g. If you know you need to buy more dish detergent remeber to reserve a spot for that in the cabinet.)
Good luck! It’ll be worth it.