It’s here. The beginning of a brand spanking New Year. The time when so many of us turn our thoughts to getting organized, because let’s face it, January and organizing go together like Lucy and Ethel.
This month is a busy one in blogland, full of fabulous organizing tips that kinda made me wonder if I have anything new to add to the conversation. Then I realized that yup, I do, simply because I’m NOT a professional organizer, but just a regular person like you who has gone through two moves in as many years and most recently combined two households into one. Oh, and the one we are in now is more than 700 sq. ft. smaller than our previous home, so I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Whatever areas of your home that have been driving you nuts, chances are you’re giving some thought to doing something about it right about now. Maybe it isn’t the first time you’ve tried to get organized. I’m willing to bet it isn’t. But for some reason, things never work out. You pick up a book or a magazine that promises to get you organized in ‘ten easy steps’. Sounds like a plan, right? Wrong. Yeah, it’s a good plan as long as it meets YOUR needs.
Let me tell you a little story. There was once a British soldier by the name of Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore (1761-1809). He happened to be well known for his innovative approach to training. He was stationed at a camp where new buildings were being constructed and the architect asked him where the paths should go. The General replied ‘wait a few months and see where the men walked, then put the paths there’.
So what does this have to do with organizing? A lot. I’ve set up way too many organizing systems that failed because they didn’t work with my lifestyle, and I’m confident you have too. If you take one thing away from this post, take this:
Your path is unique to you and only you. If you have a ton of hair products that you use every day, find a place to store them that’s easy to get to. Putting them somewhere ‘out of the way’ just for the sake of making everything look pretty won’t work. Now, that’s not to say you can’t find a functional and attractive way to store everything, but always consider HOW YOU LIVE when developing organizing systems. If you have a tendency to take off your shoes right by the door, then don’t go putting a shoe cubby for your shoes in another room simply because you won’t like the way it might look by the front door. Maybe you won’t, but I guarantee you’ll like a bunch of shoes piled up even less, and that’s exactly what will end up happening. FOLLOW YOUR PATH, and you’ll be much more successful in your attempts at organizing.
Up until less than three years ago, we lived in the same house for 26 years. That’s 26 years of accumulation. Stuff in our large attic, our shed and our garage. For several of those 26 years, we had a weekend home, so we basically had two of everything. During the last two years, we’ve moved twice. Once to a rental, and once to our weekend home, which is now our only home. So I’m no stranger to decluttering, purging and organizing.
Let’s get to it.
When you stand at the door of our bathroom, this is what you see. This is what it looks like ALL THE TIME and not because I’m a neat freak (even though I kinda am) but to show you that when you have the right kind of organizing systems in place, it’s super easy to keep things tidy. I spend almost zero time organizing on a day to day basis. I simply put things back where they belong after I use them! Seriously, how hard is that??!
I’m not a huge fan of items on the counter, unless YOUR PATH demands it. On the left is our double vanity (you can only see my sink in this picture) with three drawers in the center and a cabinet for each of us. On the right side are two cabinets, which provide fantastic storage and take up very little space.
This wood cabinet I purchased at HomeGoods shortly after we purchased the cabin 9 years ago and it’s a work horse.
Except for the top drawer, the drawers are pretty deep so I keep my taller bottles stored in here. Stuff like bubble bath, shampoo, hairspray, etc. Mostly things that are extra that I don’t use every day.
This other cabinet, one of my favorite thrifted finds, houses lots of smaller items. Extra skin care, soaps, medicine, etc.
Again, most days I never have to open this cabinet. It’s typically used for storing extras. Now I understand that your bathroom might be the size of a broom closet and you might not think you have the space for one extra cabinet, much less two, but I bet you’re wrong. I bet you’re only utilizing half the available space you have, if that.
Don’t believe me? Send me a picture of your bathroom and I’ll prove it to you. Double dare ya’.
So…here’s ‘our path’. The area where we keep the items we use every day, or almost every day.The medicine cabinet houses the items we use often like toothbrushes, deodorant, powder, cologne, etc.
The top drawer is mine. This is where I keep my makeup and toothpaste. I’ve divided up the products by type, i.e., lipstick items in one tray, brushes in another, powders in another, mascara and concealers in another and so on. If you share your bathroom with someone else, it’s great if you can have separate drawers and/or cabinets. If not, I recommend having designated areas that perhaps can be divided with the use of baskets or trays.
The middle drawer, which is deeper than the top drawer, is Fisherman’s. Except for the shared hair dryer, everything in here is his.
The bottom drawer is where I keep extra cotton balls, makeup sponges, and some nail care supplies. I don’t need these items on a day to day basis which is why they’re in the bottom drawer.
Cotton balls are an item I use everyday so I keep them easily accessible, and as a bubble bath gal, I just couldn’t resist this storage solution!
Under my sink is where I keep cleaning supplies, a garbage pail, extra tissue boxes and toilet paper.
*Tip* Use laminated placemats on the bottom of under sink cabinets in your bathrooms and kitchen. They also are great in the fridge.
Fisherman keeps some of the same things but also liquid soap and some personal products have found their way under here. Huummmmmm…maybe that’s because I have both storage cabinets and two drawers?
Tucked away in the far left corner is where we store our sheets and towels. I made this curtain to cover it up because I’m kind of anal that way, but there would be nothing wrong with keeping this area exposed, especially if you can keep things reasonably neat.
The towels, since they’re changed out fairly often, are stored in baskets, but the sheets are stored in covered containers and labeled ‘summer sheets’ or ‘winter sheets’. We don’t have a lot of sheet sets. I’m a firm believer you really don’t need more than two, but I do like flannel sheets in the winter so that brings our sheet sets to a grand total of four (two for each season).
Now here’s my number 1 tip for bathroom organizing:
BE RUTHLESS ABOUT WHAT YOU KEEP!
The only reason I have so much ‘stuff’ is because I have the space. Some of the things you see in my drawers and cabinets were my daughter’s, but when she moved to Singapore a lot of things stayed behind. I could easily scale down at least 30-50% of what I have and not miss it.
Oh, and here’s a bonus tip: If you absolutely, positively must keep items on your counter, place them on a tray for easy removal when it’s time for cleaning.
In other news…
Next time I will show you how I organized one of the most important rooms in our home and probably yours too, the kitchen! I’ll also be sharing some organizing products I love and my all time favorite organizing tips.