Thank you for reading my special weeklong series about cleaning my house. Having a schedule doesn’t mean I stick to it every day, but it does help me keep track of daily priorities. It helps me pay attention to even the smallest parts of my house. The smallest of all the areas is the entryway, but it tends to be the most messy. I’ve tried to organize everything so that this cluttered catch-all is contained.
Saturday is entryway day.
Because of the shape of my house, it’s impossible to get a proper snap of the whole space. I tried. From the ‘before’ it’s obvious that I had food stored in my front closet. I don’t have a pantry so I thought I could make this work, but it did not. Once I re-arranged some things in my kitchen, I had more room to store coats, shoes and bags in this closet. The metal over-the-door hooks were previously turned to the outside of the door, but that was a cluttery mess. I turned it to the inside because there’s room now and I allow myself to keep one purse, umbrellas, a small bag with gloves inside, and hats on it. On the side wall of the closet is a shoe storage bag. This is where shoes we don’t usually wear stay. The frequently-used shoes stay on the outer shoe rack. One day I dream of having a bench with shoe storage underneath. It isn’t going to happen right now. The vacuum also hides in here along with my grocery store bags and a couple of Hubby’s presentation posters. On that top shelf is usually his soccer bag. He started keeping all his soccer paraphernalia inside and that’s helped to cut down on the shoes.
On the wall we have a clock, key rack and I recently added a desk mail sorter. That will hold any urgent paper reminders or outgoing mail. I put an old round table underneath. I generally dislike round tables because of their awkward shape. This one was Hubby’s from before we got married. It’s covered with two fabric scraps. An easy way to cover a round table without making a round table cloth is just layering two rectangular cloths on top. Below is a hiding place for items that need to go somewhere like books to be returned or cans of oil to be added to the car or a gift to be given. Those kind of things would previously wait around on the stairs or floor and drive me nuts– or simply be forgotten because they weren’t in my face. Two wire baskets sit on top of the round table for incoming mail and Hubby’s things. I suppose it’s because they don’t have a purse, but men always seem to have a lot of little things–wallet, sunglasses, ID badge, kufis–to keep track of.
This space is better now- there is a place for everything I need coming and going- but I do have some plans to make it even more welcoming. Keep reading to see.
AFTER: Welcoming Entryway
Friday is the spare bedroom day. This is the room that used to be our master bedroom. Now it’s a big open space for Boo-Boo to play in and I have a large table for sewing and crafting. There are two closets. One stores out-of-season clothes and a few boxes. This was the other one a few months ago:
Needless to say, I wasn’t able to find anything I needed. Due to somewhat limited storage, this closet must hold my crafting supplies, the tool box, gift wrap, fabric, keepsake boxes with photos, beading supplies and any other random thing I think I may use to make something. I like keeping everything in the closet because I can close the door and not see it anymore. It also helps keep the baby from eating my scrapbook paper and paint pens.
I bought two fabric shoe holders on clearance for about $2 a piece. If you have never checked them out before, JoAnn’s has great seasonal clearance. One of the holders I put on the door as it was meant to be. The other is cut into two and thumbtacked onto the back wall. Most of my small fabric pieces fit in there along with a few other odds and ends like Mod Podge, paint chips, and feathers. The other items are stored in a plastic, three-drawer shelf and various plastic boxes and baskets. I would love to have all the containers match and sitting on a shelf so it’s easier to get to, but right now this is as good as it can get.
Now I can find all my supplies for all my crazy ideas.
Thursdays are so close to the weekend, I am usually a little out of steam. I decided the living room would be a good room to focus on this day. Because we are in it so often, it actually gets picked up pretty frequently.
Thursday is living room day. My usual tasks include wiping down the leather couch and coffee table, dusting, and cleaning the glass sliding door. I also put away things that don’t belong but have accumulated throughout the week.
My townhouse has a built-in bookshelf on either side of the fireplace. On one side we have the computer with books above it. On the other side we have a small bookcase we use for toys underneath. It has books on the smaller top shelf, but the larger bottom shelf has been a big, empty cavern since we moved in three years ago. I tried storing blankets, papers, duck food- none of which looked right. Since I decided to remove office stuff from the breakfast nook, I thought I could fit it in this space.
I used some nice scrapbook paper to line the wire filing crates. This takes up half of the shelf and almost all of the height. On the other side I have things I use frequently: my coupon binder and ABC sheets for little Bean (the toddler I babysit). I stacked two magazine holders on top of each other and used it to store supplies like my paper cutter, three hole punch, ruler, and glue. In front of that is a small tray with a drawer. I bought it at Target on clearance. It was meant to be a tea tray, but I just saw an extra drawer for the desk. It holds small items like stamps, rubber bands, thumbtacks, and clips. On top of the tray is our heater and a pen cup. I wrapped some more scrapbook paper around the outside to make it prettier. Scrapbook paper is one of my favorite things to use. I bought a book of 28 sheets for about $6 (with a 40% off coupon, of course!) at Michael’s. All the sheets are double sided and they all coordinate so I just picked a color scheme and style I liked and I had some instant prettiness.
Now my desk stuff is organized and bearable to look at.
That’s right, it’s not all glamor and hot glue guns. The toilets need cleaning too. On Wednesday, it’s bathroom day. I have two bathrooms upstairs and a half bath downstairs. I don’t do a complete scrubbing each week, but I find if I do at least a light cleaning it’s easier because there’s less buildup. Strong chemical cleaners like bleach make me sick, so I try to clean with vinegar and baking soda and cleaners like Seventh Generation or Method.
One day while showering, I was appalled to see a crusty buildup of something on my shower head. I had never looked up there before. Never cleaned it. I’m not even sure what it was– perhaps rust or lime? All I knew was that it was creeping me out and it needed to be cleaned because it must be contaminating my shower water.
I have to add a disclaimer here about my photos. It was not easy to snap a properly lit and focused photo of a shower head in a bathroom with no windows. I think my pic may make it look a little worse that it actually was. But in my mind, that’s how it looked.
So I started by dipping it in a cup of vinegar. Not much happened. I added a little baking soda to make it fizzy. That’s when the brown stuff came off. After that, I brushed it with an old toothbrush I keep for just such an occasion. The black plastic is movable so it pushes in when it’s touched. This made plain-old scrubbing difficult. After the vinegar and baking soda, there was still a bit of white residue. I dunked it in a cup of hydrogen peroxide and that took most of it off.
Now I can take a shower without the grime.
Continuing my weekly housework schedule: Tuesday is office day. Since we don’t actually have an office, it’s more of an abstract set of tasks. It’s the day I take care of the bills, paperwork, mail, bank, or any other errands I might have. We used to have a desk in our breakfast nook, but I got rid of it in my postpartum purge (that’s the opposite of pre-partum nesting FYI). After losing the desk we had everything arranged on a double shelf and in two filing crates.
And then Boo-Boo learned to crawl.
I snapped this “before” photo after one particularly destructive rummaging session. When he started pulling my carefully color coded files out of their box, I decided we needed to change the setup.
BEFORE: Adventures in Babyproofing
All of the desk and craft supplies that were kept on the shelf are now moved to a space in the living room and spare bedroom (tune in later this week to see those projects). On the shelf I put only baby toys and the kitchen items he plays with. The shelf is on the opposite side of the room with the recycle bins perched on top. Guess who was getting into those too.
On the wall hangs a magnetic board that I covered with extra fabric to add a bit of color. It’s still magnetic, but a little less powerful so some of the lighter magnets won’t stick. There is another dry erase board that I hot glued magnets onto the back– it’s a magnetic magnet. It hangs up so I can see my calendar, but comes off so I can write comfortably. I have four small magnetized folders for things that need to go to the bank, receipts I need to keep, coupons, and miscellaneous items. I try to make sure these are cleaned out on a Tuesdays too. Next to the board are two pieces of lovely scrapbook paper with clothespins hot glued to them. This is something I learned as an elementary school teacher. It’s a cute and easy way to display child artwork without putting holes in it.
Also included in this shot is my double stroller that is too big for my car trunk. It’s living in here for now. I would eventually like to put down a rug or those rubber mats so the babe doesn’t have to play on the floor. But at least now he has a safe place to bang together pots and spoons while I’m cooking.
AFTER: Organized space
This week I’m sharing my household cleaning routine. Monday is bedroom day. I usually wash the sheets, dust, and do laundry. Lately there has been a lot of re-arranging of clothes due to the change in seasons and growth in Boo-Boo. One thing to know is that Boo-Boo sleeps with Hubby and me, so when I say “bedroom” I do mean everyone’s bedroom.
We made the decision to keep him in our room when I was pregnant. But at some point in my last trimester, my hormone-addled brain decided we should make the second bedroom the family bedroom instead of the master. So it wasn’t until a few months after he was born that I finally got all the clothes and furniture moved into our current room. I can’t remember exactly how long this project took, perhaps a few weeks. (I don’t want to pretend like I did this all in one day or anything–did I mention that I have a baby?)
This snap is of the one side of the room that underwent the most drastic change. We had just gotten rid of the television in this “before” snap and I was in the middle of cleaning out some boxes of old classroom stuff I had stored in there. That hideous brown blob is a make-shift light blocking curtain (a sheet) that Hubby pinned up there one sunny morning. It was odious yet effective.
Once the chest of drawers was moved in from the other bedroom, I organized our clothes and my jewelry and bags inside. I got some proper light-blocking curtains on clearance at Walmart. They are the color of dirty snow–I guess that’s why they were $5–but I hung them on the inside of our blue curtains so they don’t really show. I went through the storage items: two large boxes and a hanging file crate. And divided them into the classic “keep,” “trash,” and “give away” piles. The give aways went to a teacher friend and my keeps are in a small box. That box is elevating the paper lamp in the corner. I felt like it needed to be taller than the chest of drawers for better scale.
Since this photo was taken, I have had to remove the nightstand. I didn’t imagine Boo-Boo would be able to pull it down on top of himself! This had caused a problem with unruly cords, but that’s a project to be tackled later.
Another easy/cheap idea in this room is the canvasses above the bed. They are just plain canvasses with fabric staple gunned on. The one in the middle (there are 3, one is not pictured) is one of the king-sized shams that came with the bedding set. I can’t deal with pillows you aren’t supposed to sleep on, so I cut it up.
The closet space is an ongoing issue and I’ll be honest–all my drawers aren’t organized. These are topics for another before & after! But at least now we finally have all our clothes together.
BEFORE: Messy fridge
One thing that’s helped me stay relatively organized and sane is my cleaning schedule. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I have my house divided into seven areas for seven days. Of course there is still minor upkeep like washing dishes and laundry that has to be done every day. But this schedule helps me stay focused and get more done despite all my distractions.
This week I thought I’d share my schedule and have a Before & After from each room.
Sunday is kitchen day.
I do meal planning, give the kitchen a good cleaning, and try to make one or two things ahead of time to cut down on cooking during the week. I chose Sunday for this task because Hubby is usually home and can entertain Boo-Boo, who complains woefully when I’m in the kitchen and he can’t be.
My refrigerator had increasingly become a messy hodgepodge of condiments, vegetables, tiny baby food jars, and, well, pots. Nothing fit properly and I spent too much time rifling around to see what I had. I decided to got some dollar store bins and put an order to things. On the top shelf are baskets with cheese and baby food. On the middle shelf are bins that hold ingredients for the meals I plan to make that day. The bottom drawers are for spices and miscellaneous foods. The door holds the properly arranged condiments on top and drinks on the bottom.
I’m never sure if an organizational system will work until I use it for a few days. I made the labels removable so I can make changes if needed.
Now there’s a place for all the food– and all the food’s in its place.
AFTER: Organized fridge