Sunday, July 26, 2015

77 Organizing Under the Kitchen Sink

I have no idea how it happened, but this past week was one of those blink-and-it-is-over type of weeks.  All of the sudden it was Friday morning and I was hit with the realization that I hadn't organized one single thing all week.  The horror right? 

As far as our kitchen goes, the good news is that we have begun installing trim, toe kick and moulding!  I am hoping to have a full kitchen update for y'all very soon; we definitely needed to step back and take a small break to troubleshoot a few issues that have come up as we near the end of the renovation.  One problem is in regards to a major appliance/kitchen island snafu... We also have some cabinet moulding decisions to make and the Mr. and I are not seeing eye-to-eye.  We appreciate you hanging in there as we work through some of those detailed decisions that we just don't feel comfortable rushing.

This week when I took a look at my giant Home To-Do List, I picked something that I knew I could accomplish quickly, something that would keep me excited about the kitchen, and something that would help us out during our day-to-day routine.  I decided to tackle the cabinet under the kitchen sink.


Although our kitchen was far from finished, we needed to reclaim our guest room a few months back.  All of our kitchen belongings that were temporarily being stored in the guest room, were brought back out to the kitchen and the boxes were unloaded in a single evening.  When we came up with our initial cabinet design, I made sure to assign every last pot, pan, appliance and gadget a home.  This made quickly unpacking our items fairly painless, however, nothing more was ever done.  Many of the cabinets have since been in a state of chaos and waiting for that special touch, under the kitchen sink included.


Majority of the items under the sink are things we use to clean our entire main level.  There were also a few items that were brought up from our cleaning cabinet for a single use and then tossed below the sink instead of being returned to the proper home.  Paper bags were acting as our recycling bin, and things were always getting lost in the back of the cabinet.  It was time for a little organizing action.

Step one, empty it out!


My initial impulse was to reach for some shelf liner I had on hand...


But the pattern was a little busy and the lack of color left me looking for a different option.


I found some gift wrap (purchased from HomeGoods) and knew it was more more fitting for my love of color happy organizing.  I also knew that once things were placed back into the cabinet, that the boldness of the paper would simmer down a bit.

To ensure the gift wrap would be easy-to-clean and hold up to heavy daily traffic, I covered it in clear contact paper.  Read more about this process here.


As I was emptying out the cabinet, I jotted down a list of everything that I needed to store, as well as the ideal way to do so.  One thing I realized right away is that I wasn't taking advantage of the cabinet doors.  Also, I have been wanting to find a second caddy to corral cleaning items as I have been enjoying keeping house chore supplies on both levels of our home.  The entire cabinet needed to be purged down, items needed a specific home, and a few labels would be useful in keeping the entire family on the same page.


I began by addressing the items we utilize daily to clean the counters and wash our dishes; we use a combination of dish cloths, scrubbers and sponges.  Because these items become wet during use, they needed to be stored in a location that would allow them to dry, without damaging the interior of the cabinet. 


I found an acrylic spice rack at The Container Store, and thought I would give it a try.  It ended up being the perfect solution because it is easy to clean and extremely light weight.  I was able to use a couple heavy duty clear Command Strips to hang the organizer on the inside of the door, and now our daily tools are always within arm's reach, yet keep the sink area clutter free (and I can think of 1,589 other places I would love to add these charming little gems).


I also appreciate that the spice rack pairs beautifully with the clear stacking drawers we had used in our previous kitchen setup.


I removed the jumbled mess of cleaning rags from the drawers, and washed/re-folded all of our dish cloths and towels.  I also added some vinyl labels to the faces of the drawers to keep things orderly down the road.

On top of the drawers I added our wet-sack to hold our dirty/damp used rags that are waiting for wash day.


HomeGoods came through for me in my quest for a second caddy to corral our daily cleaning supplies. 


The caddy is large enough to hold a variety of items; everything from our hand sweeper and dusters to rags and cleaners.

When selecting items to use for storage and organization, the number one requirement was that they had to be easy to keep clean/wipe down.  I also tried to select items that would be versatile should our needs for the cabinet ever change (which I really don't see happening in this case).  A simple clear tray holds our extra soaps for the dishwasher, sink and fruits/vegetables.


Our pull-out recycle bin didn't fit in our new cabinet because the new sink is fantastically larger and deeper.  I searched high and low for an alternative pull-out trash option but came up short.  It is totally worth it to have the deeper sinks though, so I just stayed with a very basic bin that also received some vinyl labeling love.


I put the other cabinet door to work holding our paper towel roll and dish-washing gloves.


The paper towel holder is extremely light, and was also attached to the cabinet with a Command Strip.  I am not ready to screw holes into our new cabinet doors just yet, not even for the sake of organization.  And although I didn't end up storing our food wrap boxes inside the cabinet doors for long, I did want to re-use the dowel and hooks for my dish-washing gloves.  I just wrapped the dowel in some vinyl to protect the wood from wetness.

And suddenly I had myself the happiest cabinet in our kitchen!


No organization project is complete without a before and after to celebrate:



And a quick recap of our under-the-kitchen-sink essentials:



Aside from a little product sourcing/shopping, the entire project took about an hour (planning, cleaning, lining, organizing, Command hooking, labeling and admiring).  Not bad for one of the busiest cabinets in the entire kitchen. 

Now that I am feeling accomplished again, I can get back to fun in the sun with the kiddos.  I mean, back to installing trim and moulding.... sigh...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

18 UHeart Organizing: Playing With Toy Storage

When it comes to organizing, playrooms are like the Disney Land of the home.  And I am not talking about just for the kids.  They are about the most fun and magical spaces to work on, it really doesn't even feel like a chore!  Fun graphic labels, playful colors and a variety of storage solutions, always equates to a fun task ahead.  Megan, of The Homes I Have Made, recently moved with her family into a new home.  The first area she tackled was her playroom because not only is it a fun space to create and use, it was also helpful to give the kids a comfortable place to enjoy during their new transition.

Today, she is sharing with us a glimpse into her new play area, including all of the specific details behind the solutions she selected for the variety of toys and crafts she stores within the space.  And if you are a fellow renter, I highly recommend following her journey to making her new house a home over the next year.  She is already on a roll creating a beautiful selection of renter-friendly projects, big and small.



Happy Summer, iHeart Readers! My family and I have been spending the summer packing, traveling and moving into our “new” house in Kansas! We’ve been busy settling in and organizing each space, and I am so excited to be dropping by today to show you the very first glimpse of our new playroom and the various ways we organize all things toy!


The playroom was one of the very first spaces we set up as the moving boxes came off the truck. Not only is organizing toys one of my more favorite tasks (truly!), but it really helped to get our 4 year old’s play zone up and running so he could stay busy while we focused on the rest of the house. This is our very first time having a dedicated and separate playroom in our home, and what a treat it is. We had lots of good storage systems in place in our last home, and I loved building off of them for our new space.

These last few weeks, I’ve been busy purging, sorting, and consolidating ALL of our toys into this single space and finding just the right way to store and contain each and every one, from the itty bitty to the large and loud! My goal is to employ systems that are fun, simple to access, easy for both me and my child to maintain, and space savvy. While I like a picked-up space, it’s important that my child can see what all we have so that it will actually get pulled out and played with. Finding solutions that meet all of these criteria is the fun part of organizing a play space for me!

The star of our toy storage solution is the all-mighty IKEA Kallax (the new version of the beloved Expedit). We have used these sturdy, cube shelves to organize a variety of things around the house, but I find they really are ideal for toys. The cubbies are large enough to hold a majority of big, clunky toys; the toys that don’t fit can be placed on the top ledge; and the coordinating bins and baskets hold SO much!


Our basement features a wide focal wall, perfect for a long stretch of cubbies to hold all the playtime goodness. Putting them up on feet helps the units look more like furniture and allows for extra storage underneath (for games!) should we need it down the road!


We started using picture-labeled toy bins a while back, and now my 4-year-old is great at cleaning up! He knows just which toys go in which bins at the end of the day, and it really helps to keep control of the toys by giving everything a dedicated home. (And boy do they help when he’s trying to find something. I can simply say “Look in the school bus box!” and he can find exactly what he wants right away!)


I used my e-cutter and simple white contact paper to make the labels and stuck them right to the cloth baskets. They stick wonderfully, but aren’t too hard to peel away when I need to swap them out. Once or twice a year (usually after birthdays and Christmas), I go through all the bins and re-categorize/organize based on what we’ve accumulated, gotten rid of and are/aren’t playing with anymore. Not only do I love the graphic punch of the images on the boxes, but the pictures are ideal for little ones who can’t yet read!


The IKEA bins are a great size, and I am always amazed what can fit in them. Sometimes, however, they can hold too much, and little bits and pieces get lost in their depths. As such, I’m always on the hunt for small toys storage solutions. I recently stumbled upon these handled, metal tins from IKEA, and they are perfect for corralling our Play Dough supplies and play food. The lids fit snug, they are spacious, and have a handy handle, making them ideal for little hands. More vinyl labels help my kiddo know just what’s inside when he’s rummaging through the larger blue bins.


Magnetic letters, card games, puzzle pieces, and flash cards were other items that were constantly floating around the bottoms of the large bins. For a quick and easy solution, I turned to my fabric stash and made a set of these Velcro-topped see-through pouches. The Velcro keeps everything contained inside yet is easy to open, and the clear window allows for quick and easy identification of the contents. I can think of so many great uses for these pouches and am hankering to make some more!


DIY clear puzzle pouches are a similar solution for keeping puzzle pieces with their boards! These made-to-fit, envelope-style holders were a simple sewing project and great scrap-buster. Again, the clear window helps little ones see just what’s inside, and a simple snap closure makes the puzzles easy to get out and put back.


I also discovered that the clear packaging sheets/bedding/duvets come in are the perfect size for holding puzzles! If you’re not able to store your puzzles flat, these are a great solution for upright storage. If you pack them full/tight, the pieces don’t fall out!


I hoarded a ton of these flip-top plastic boxes while living overseas years ago, and they are great for grouping collections of items (below left). A party bucket (intended for drinks) fits the cubbie shelf perfectly and is a great catch-all for our blocks (below right).


I snagged these wooden lidded boxes from the clearance section at Target and discovered they were great for holding Little People, Little People Animals, and all those random and very precious little toys from machines, the dentist office, and Happy Meals!


The boxes are perfectly sized for the shelves and are labeled with simple black contact paper and a chalk marker. This is one of the only things in our playroom not labeled with a picture, but my little guy has pretty much figured out what’s in each one!


Anything can be used for storage if it’s the right shape, holds something just right and fits on your shelving system! A plastic tote corrals racecar track; a simple gift box keeps all of Mr. Potato Head’s parts together; and a metal bread box has become the perfect “garage” for our die-cast cars collection!


Our playroom doubles as our downstairs family room, so adding in furniture that works double duty not only allowed us to save space but also visually reduced toy clutter. I recently transformed an old ugly trunk into a show-stopper by covering it in grasscloth wallpaper. Not only is it perfect as a decorative coffee table, but we discovered the hidden storage was ideal for holding our extensive train and track collection. Since our kiddo prefers to build tracks on the floor now, we were able to get rid of our dedicated train table so the room feels less full and a bit more adult-friendly!



As our son gets older, our playing together has transitioned more into coloring, games, puzzles, and Lego building as a family. As we arranged the furniture in this new house, we realized we had just enough space behind our sectional couch for a small antique table that had been living un-used in our garage. Paired with some stools, we now have an (expandable!) table we can sit at as a family. I love that the table is in view of the television and playroom and is large enough for us all to sit at together. No more crowding around a tiny kid table!


To encourage art time as much as possible, I wanted to keep supplies easily accessible. Using only things I had on hand, I transformed an old wooden toolbox from a thrift store into the quintessential coloring caddie that can sit right on the table!


One of my quickest and easiest tricks for making dividers of any sorts is to use thick form core. If cut snug to your dimensions, the dividers will stand up right and not budge. To make this art caddie, I simply cut down foam core to fit the inside dimensions of the toolbox. I then used Mod Podge to wrap the dividers in leftover wallpaper from the trunk. Once slid into place, we had a quick and easy way to keep our art supplies sorted!


I am loving having all of our Play Doh, art supplies, papers and stickers easily accessible, and a place to sit and craft as a family!


Now that the function of this room is fully sorted out and set, I am hankering to move on with some other (more decorative) elements in this space! I’ve got a lot of fun things planned in here, including a no-paint, renter-friendly wall treatment for that blank space up there above the television. I’d love for you to follow along over at The Homes I Have Made as I update this space and the rest of our house as we live here for just a year! Happy Summer and see you next time!





Hello! I am Megan, an exercise and nutrition professional turned stay-at-home mom and DIY blogger. I am married to a U.S. Marine and currently reside in Eastern North Carolina, my 5th home in 9 years! My focus is renter-friendly, movable décor and organizational projects that are high on style and function yet low on complexity and budget. Armed with creativity, ingenuity, a can-do attitude, and a strong Type A personality, I have become a pro at making each and every temporary living space an organized, functional, and well-styled home for my family! You can get all of my DIY, organizational and crafting ideas on my blog The Homes I Have Made.


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