For years, I’ve been looking forward to building my own home. I’ve drawn up plans, made lists of ideas, and poured over books on the subject. Our space just HASN’T been working for us, and I’ve been looking forward to designing a space that would. Last week, I had a photo shoot with a friend, Amber, whom I met through Manuela, and seeing her house was like having one huge “AH-HAH!” moment for me! I came away with so many organizational ideas and that night, the older girls and I stayed up until way-too-late-o’clock moving things around and re-doing our living room and kitchen space. It started out with the most ridiculously simple idea I’ve ever seen, but never would have thought of for myself…
The Living Room:
The BIGGEST, most important thing on my “build a house” list is that I want a play room right off the living room. This is hugely important to me, because we’ve found that the best way to keep down clutter in the rest of the house is to keep all the kid’s toys in the living room. Works great for keeping the bedrooms clean, but the living room is always a wreck. For years, I’ve been wanting a space for the kids to play in, but it never occurred to me that the solution was right in front of my nose until I saw the setup at Amber’s… Her couch was moved AWAY from the wall and placed at an angle to create space behind it for a play area. Genius!!!
I don’t have a “before” picture, but here are some “afters”…
Facing the front door (the kid’s clothes are laid out on the loveseat for violin lessons):
Facing the fireplace and play area:
Facing the right side of the play area, there is enough room here to eventually add a small activity table:
Facing the left side of the play area:
Eventually, I’d like to get some of these shelves to organize the toys behind the couch a little better:
but for now the toys behind the couch are in large tupperware bins and others are in this shelf, tagged according to what’s inside:
One of my favorite things I put up in this play area is this:
This was originally posted here and the basic idea is that when the kids need me they can clip one of these to my shirt. Normally, I don’t mind being interrupted and I can usually answer them pretty quickly, but there are times (when I’m on the phone, for instance) that they’ll need to wait for an answer. During these times, they can grab their clip, attach it to me, and know that I will get to them as soon as I can. LOVE IT!!!
The other daily irritation in my life has been our kitchen. Several years ago, we were blessed with a very nice kitchen table from my Mother in Law, and two beautiful curio cabinets. The table is large and, sandwiched between the two cabinets, it’s difficult to maneuver around each day (which I have to do in order to get to the school stuff, located inside the curio’s.) I’ve been reluctant to part with the cabinets, and we haven’t been able to purchase a smaller table (besides the fact that we really NEED the large table!) so we’ve just been stuck. Well, the living room set-up at Amber’s house made me consider: why is my kitchen table in the middle of the eating area, anyway? Why couldn’t I move IT to the side, like the couch? Again, no “before” pictures (I really wish I had some, because our kitchen was a wreck), but here are some “afters”:
The table now sits to the SIDE of the room, and is in front of the two cabinets, rather than between them. The bookshelf with all the tupperware containers is new – I just moved it from the kids room (we wouldn’t have had room for it, before, and all the kids books are now on the shelf in the living room) and we just hung the hanging sorter on the wall.
Here is our brand-new school area…
The School Room
This is the “during school ONLY” side of the kitchen – everything here is completely off-limits to the kids except during school time:
(Need to fix the handles on the cabinets!!!)
This is the cabinet that is accessible to the kids whenever they want to draw or do an art project.
My favorite part of the new school area: The hanging sorter, a $6 hanging shoe organizer from Wal-Mart and another idea from Amber:
We have another one in the kids room for things like socks and headcoverings, and we’ll eventually get another one for the hall closet to organize things like gloves and hats, and one for the kid-accessible side of the kitchen but we’ll need to build up our supplies, first. This one is perfect for the school supplies – it keeps them all right where I can see them at a glance, I don’t have to go digging through drawers for anything, and I can quickly access when we’re running low on supplies. LOVE IT!!!
Of course, the organizing didn’t stop there. How could it?! I was on a roll! 🙂 I completely re-vamped my husband’s desk, the girl’s closet, my photography area, and cleaned out our hall closet and emptied an entire dresser and several drawers in another dresser (what am I going to do with all this extra SPACE??!!) I also gave each of the girls a “keepsake” box for all the special artwork and note cards they want to keep that were previously just floating all over their bedrooms. It feels SO GOOD to have places for all these things that were previously everywhere and anywhere! I’ve mentioned before that I’m not exactly skilled in the art of organization, but seeing Amber’s house and getting ideas from her really gave me the push in the right direction I needed to figure out new ways to utilize our space! It also helped me not be afraid to think outside of the box and move things around in ways I wouldn’t have thought of before.
So now, as my husband said, it’s like we’re living in a classroom (or a daycare!) And the funny thing is, I’m LOVING that! I think I’ve resisted a lot of changes I could have made before because I thought it would make my house look cluttered and unsophisticated (I think I’ve always had this “better homes and gardens” ideal in my head, which would probably be really funny to anyone who has ever actually SEEN my house with it’s easter egg paint job in the front of the house, dark brown and bright red carpets in the back of the house, and nary a matching towel or linen set to be found anywhere throughout!) Nevertheless, I’m THRILLED with the way things are right now, and thrilled with the way my husband and kids have responded to it!
Something my daughter said last night kind of sums it up. She said: “it feels like we have a HOUSE now!” My children (who don’t really do art work all that often) spent almost an hour last night coloring at the kitchen table. I was talking to Jon about them all sitting and coloring together and musing over whether it’s because things are organized now, and my oldest piped up and said “yea, I always felt like everything was everywhere so I never really wanted to get it all out and do anything with it.”
I was writing to Amber last night, telling her about all the changes and said:
In a way, I’ve always felt a little lost when it comes to homeschooling not so much for lack of ideas but just because I didn’t know how to MANAGE anything (i.e. “stuff.”) When you asked me if I wanted the things you were passing along and I said I didn’t because I didn’t have any place to put them, that’s kind of been how everything has been for me… I didn’t have a place to keep [things] where they wouldn’t get destroyed, and I didn’t have anything in place to say “okay, this is just for craft time, and during craft time X and Y and Z happens and after craft time, A and B and C happens” in order to keep our stuff organized and in nice condition, etc. It just completely overwhelmed me ALL of the time.
I feel that it’s a little too early to say this, but I’ll say it anyway… the Getting Things Done book has really changed my life! Had I visited Amber’s house a year ago, I don’t think that anything in my life would have changed, because the steps involved to change things would have seemed too overwhelming. Now, they’re just part of the system, and all my ideas for more household changes and more homeschool activities and more craft ideas are getting filed away in my little folders and slowly but surely we’re getting it done!
Think it’s safe to say I’m “nesting?”
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