Well Begun is Half Done! ~ by Sam

Maybe Mary Poppins wasn’t referring to my linen closet when she said that, but I like to think that she would be here, cheerfully spurring me to action, if she could.

It seems our monthly projects are each going to take about a month and a half.  Okay, actually, they only seem to take about a month, but we don’t seem to start on them until about halfway through the month, so we are just slightly off schedule.  I figure, as long as we keep working our way through our list, it will all get done…or, at least, we will manage to make a dent in every problem area, and that’s worth something, right?

Last month’s challenge was closets.  We got all of the kids’ closets and ours pretty much done, and, today, I reached a stopping point on the linen closet.  Yes, I reached a stopping point.  I know, Mary Poppins would want me to finish.  I would, but I am fighting what many who know me probably think is a losing battle.  Like Jane, after all, I am “rather inclined to giggle, doesn’t put things away.”  (For the record, like Michael, I am also “extremely stubborn and suspicious,” but that doesn’t really apply to this particular situation).  When I started working on the linen closet last week, I had grand plans, and every intention of realizing them.  I thought I would line it with contact paper, paint, and organize; but, after getting just one shelf lined, I decided it was more important to get the closet organized and get all of the linens out of the parlour, where they lay stacked in heaps for days while I struggled to figure out how to negotiate the closet.  I will revisit the decorating aspect of it later, but, for now, at least we have a workable system in place.  I think we need to install one more shelf for it to be perfect (you’ll see where I have the swim tote piled on top of the basket of bath toys), but it is definitely a vast improvement. Because…
well…I am really terribly embarrassed to share this picture, but…*sigh*…

THIS is what our closet looked like before I started working:Image

I know, I ought to be ashamed, and I am.  We just never got it under control, and it ended up being the place where everything we didn’t know where to put got stashed.  This made it nearly impossible to find matching sets of sheets, as well as small items like wash rags.  It was really awful.

The first thing I did was remove everything, and clean the inside of the closet.  Next, I made a plan.  We decided to keep our bed linens, which are a different size than the children’s, in the cedar chest in our bedroom, so that freed up some space.  I also decided to store curtains and draperies there, since it is a nice, big chest.

Then, I started folding.  A strategy that helped me tremendously with this task is something I saw online (here is a link that might be helpful).  It is so simple, and yet so brilliant, that it has forever changed the way I deal with my bed linens.  Here it is: when you fold your sheets, fold the flat sheet and fitted sheet together, so they are just the right size to fit inside one pillowcase (I fold mine so they are are wide and half as long as the pillowcase).  If your set has a second pillowcase, fold that in with the sheets.  Now, slide the folded sheets inside the first pillowcase.  Tuck any extra pillowcase that overhangs back in to itself (stuff it inside the pillowcase) or fold under.  Voila!  Your matched set of sheets is not only stored together, but it looks neater, and takes up less space on your shelf (or in your cedar chest).  AWESOME.

On one shelf, I used two of those little wire extra shelf things that just sit on your shelf.  It was a good solution for us, because I wanted a higher space on one side of my shelf, and then I wanted to break up the other side of the shelf in to two levels (it will make sense when you see it.  It think).  Also, I owned them, so it didn’t cost me a cent to add an extra shelf.  Next, I repurposed a little basket that was just collecting odds and ends in my bedroom to corral the wash rags, which tend to get lost in the great abyss of our linen closet.  I also lined one shelf, using leftover contact paper from Hallie’s locker (the inside was covered with inappropriate graffiti, so she lined it with pretty paper to make her school days a little more pleasant).

A priority for me was to keep like items ~ items that might be used in the same venue or context, like, say, towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. ~ together, instead of storing towels, games, moon sand, and polyfill in the linen cabinet, toothpaste and toilet paper in the laundry room (WHAT???!!) and epsom salts and bath toys in a separate cupboard underneath the linen closet.  Truly, I have no idea what we were thinking when we moved in and started putting things in this closet.  I think it was something like, “AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  MUST UNPACK!!!!  SO MUCH STUFF!!!  SO MUCH HOUSE!!!!!  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

Well, anyway, I am done.  For now.  It is much better.  I took some after pictures, so you can witness the vast improvement.  Someday, when I pretty it up more, I will post pictures of the finished product, but I think it’s okay as it is.

Image

As you can see, the top shelf still has some sort of odd, out-of-place stuff.  For now, that’s working, because, let’s face it, that stuff has to go somewhere; and it’s not like I want to keep anything I have to reach every day up there ~ I’m 5’1″ tall.  Speaking of which, that was also something I thought about while organizing.  Kaia and I are not tall.  I wanted to keep things we would need on a regular basis within easy reach.  So, towels, rags, etc., which we need everyday are on a mid-height self, with bed linens, which we need only once a week or so, are on the shelf above.  Beach towels, sunblock, swimsuits, cover-ups, my dive boots and gloves, and the tote in which we carry it is on the shelf below, because, let’s face it, we live in SoCal ~ we’re going to need that stuff.  I moved the games to the separate little cupboard underneath because it is easy to reach, and I just thought beach towels made more sense with the linens than board games did.

So, as you can see, it’s okay.  Not perfect, but much better, and I decided that, this time, for now, that’s good enough.  It wasn’t worth stressing out over, and, now that I am done, I have plenty of time to devote to getting the bathrooms in order.  However, someday, I will revisit this closet.  Here is the one shelf I lined, and it looks awfully cheery and cute.

Image

I am thinking of painting the whole inside of the closet a nice blue, to pick up the blue in contact paper, then lining the rest of the shelves just like this, and making cute labels (like the one on the basket) to post on the inside of the door, listing what items belong on each shelf.  Wouldn’t that be cute?  Ah…someday…

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