Sunday, March 31, 2013

31 Day Organizational Challenge Grand Finale!

Welcome to my final post in the 31 Day Organizational Challenge hosted by Organizing Junkie!  For those who haven't seen any of the previous posts, I chose my furnace room to get cleaned and organized in the 31 days.  You can catch up by checking out my before photosmy first updateupdate #2, and update #3.  Or you can just check out all the before and after photos on today's post!

Here's a reminder of what I started with.

Are you ready for the big reveal?!  Here we go!

Look at all of that empty floor space!  Let's look a little closer, shall we?  Here is the before and after on the left side of the room.

And this is the before and after on the right side of the room.

But that's not all!  This photo was taken about 1/3 of the way into the room.  There was still more behind me!

This is to the left of the doorway was you walk into the room.

This is where I store all my Christmas decorations.  The first two photos are before and the last one is after.  Here's another shot.

The first photo is actually an after photo in my first update but we had so much empty space once we were done that Mr. P cut one of the shelf posts so that the Christmas trees would fit on the shelf.  They are now up off the floor.  We left everything that was in behind the furnace.  There is an antique bed back there that was given to us by the daughter of the original owner of our home.  It was hers when she was growing up here.  There are also some old doors and window frames.  For those who don't know, our home (pictured at the top of the blog) is 111 years old and we decided to keep these things in case we ever sell and the new owner wants to restore it back to its original form.

Now lets look at the right of the door as you walk into the room.

The first two are before photos and the last one is after.  This section is all my outdoor items such as lawn chairs, BBQ supplies and gardening supplies.   Here is another view.

You can just see at the top of this photo where Mr. P hung the fishing poles and nets up in the rafters with bungee cords.  They are out of the way and easy to find for the next fishing trip.

I wanted to show you some quick before and after photos starting from behind the furnace and working my way around the room.

Two before photos and an after photo of the same area.

We kept the two large deck boxes.  One contains all our camping supplies and the other one contains all of the boys' hockey equipment.  They are now clearly labelled.  The high chair is one that came over from Holland when my mother-in-law was born.  It converts into a rocking chair and is a family keepsake.

This area now holds all the extra supplies from various renovation projects.  There are extra spindles for the porches, left over cresting for the porch roof and various tiles from a minor kitchen renovation.

The top shelf now holds household items like the bathroom sink that will be used in an upcoming bathroom renovation, the air conditioner for my youngest son's room and some old door knobs just in case one of ours breaks.  The bottom shelf holds travel supplies for both humans and pets.

There were so many boxes filled with random items that we emptied out!  I moved all my painting supplies to this side of the room because it has better lighting.  I also got rid of a lot of paint!  What I love about this area now is that I have created a home for all my painting supplies.  Before there was a general area for them but unused brushes would stay inside bags and I can't tell you how many butter knives I ruined because I couldn't find my paint can opener!  We even found the heat gun that went missing years ago!  Now everything has a clearly marked home that will make it easier to find things.

Even the paint was labelled so that it was easier to figure out where it was used.

In a room like this there are always so many little household items that are hard to know just what to do with.  I bought a couple of tackle boxes with adjustable dividers and placed some of the things in there.

There are some Command hooks in there, bungee cords, extra hooks and some felt pads for under furniture so that it won't scratch the floor.  There is also a large wooden box with dividers for various sized screws and nails.

I am so happy with how this room turned out!  It had become a dumping ground.  For the past few years I have been meaning to get it cleaned out during that down time in the winter when all the Christmas festivities are over but before it's time to start working outside on the gardens.  However, it always seemed easier to just close the door since no one ever went in there anyway.

Only problem was, our furnace quit this winter and the repairman had to get in there to fix it, twice!  To say there was only a path to the furnace would be kind!  It was more like an obstacle course!  I had an hour to make a path to the furnace before he arrived and I can tell you that I was extremely embarrassed by the mess.  It was just after that, that I signed up for Organizing Junkie's challenge.  The challenge and the embarrassment were just the motivation I needed to take the time to get that room under control!

Opening that door and looking at the whole room was overwhelming to say the least.  We broke the room down into 5 areas.  We started with the Christmas decorations one week.  We took everything out into the adjoining laundry room and starting sorting and purging.  When we knew how much we had left, we went out and bought containers and shelving.  Notice that we did not buy the containers before!  Buying too many containers would have just lead to more clutter!  When the Christmas decorations were done we moved on to the other side of the room where all of our outdoor items are kept.  By breaking it down and only concentrating one area at a time it wasn't as stressful than if we had decided to tackle the whole room at once.

I told you the story about the repairman coming to fix the furnace twice while this room was a mess.  Well, during the challenge our washing machine broke.  Guess which room was now holding a large portion of this mess while we were sorting through it, along with huge boxes of items that were waiting to be dropped off at Goodwill!  Yep, the laundry room!  I can't win!

Here are the questions Laura asked us to answer.

1.  What space did you decide to organize and why?

I decided to organize my furnace room because it is the last room in the house that really needs to be organized.  Plus my embarrassment from having a repairman in to fix the furnace was a huge motivation!

2.  What steps did you take to ensure that you completed the space within the 31 day timeline?

Mr. P and I decided to work on this space together at least one hour every Saturday and Sunday (sometimes we did more) plus I went in there 15 to 30 minutes each day during the week.

3.  What was the hardest part of the challenge and how did you overcome it?

The reason that this room got as bad as it did is because there are sometimes bats in there.  I hate bats!  I would get in and out of there as quickly as possible and I hated to disturb anything, just in case!  By having Mr. P in there with me I knew I only had to outrun him and not necessarily a bat.  Just kidding!  However, he is my bat catcher and I felt much better having him in there with me.  During the week I brought things out into the laundry room to sort and as the space got emptier I wasn't so afraid of one popping out and scaring me as much.

4.  What did you do with the "stuff" you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

A lot of the stuff was donated to Goodwill.  We brought huge boxes of items every week.  There was also a lot of trash in there, at least one to two large garbage bags each week.  I took some old paint cans to a recycling centre at our local hardware store.  A large pile of plumbing supplies went out to the garage and 5 bicycles were taken out to the shed.

5.  Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?

It most certainly is not a pretty room.  It was once the old coal storage room which is why some of the walls are black with old soot.  However, last weekend Mr. P decided to set up a couple of lawn chairs and we ate our lunch down there just sitting and admiring all our hard work.

6.  Explain any organizing "tools" you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?

The plastic shelving is a new addition to this space.  It got a lot of stuff up off the floor so that things were not piled on top of one another.  I also love the smaller storage bins for the holiday decorations.  They are see-through, two fit on each shelf, and because they are smaller I can carry them upstairs myself without waiting for someone to come home and lift it for me.  Labels have also been a great organizational tool for me.  My paint supplies are all clearly labelled and I can easily see just how many brushes I have left, instead of buying new ones each time I start a new project.

7.  What is ONE piece of organizing advice you've learned on this journey that you could encourage someone else with?

I think that the best piece of advice would be to divide and conquer!  This room is approximately 20' x 40' and to look at the big picture was overwhelming.  By dividing the space into zones and assigning a purpose for each zone it broke the job down into manageable parts.  I essentially had 5 zones:

1. Holiday Zone - to the left of the door
2. Outdoor Zone - to the right of the door
3. The shelving on the right side of the room behind the furnace (paint supplies, travel supplies and household supplies)
4. The back shelf and floor space (left over renovation parts and clear space)
5.  The shelving on the right side of the room behind the furnace (a wallpaper zone, small household bits and since there was plenty of room left over, Christmas trees)

These are in the order that we worked on them.  We did not move on to the next zone before we were satisfied with the current one.


I would like to thank Laura over at Organizing Junkie for running this challenge.  While I was highly motivated to get this room clean, Laura gave me a deadline which helped to get me down there every day and do just a little bit in order to reach the goal.  It wasn't always easy and I have to give a huge thank you to Mr. P who did so much work in this room even while he was suffering with a kidney stone the entire month!  It was also great to know that I wasn't alone and that there were plenty of others out there doing the challenge along with me.

I would like to say that I would do this challenge again in a heart beat but I really hope that no room in my home gets so bad that I need to!

Friday, March 22, 2013

31 Day Organizational Challenge Update 3

It's time for my Friday update to my 31 Day Organizational Challenge with Organizing Junkie.  Mr. P and I have come a long way since the beginning of the month!  Here are the before photos and you can see the updates by clicking here and here.

For those of you who don't know, we chose our furnace room to organize.  And, believe me, it needed it!  It was that last room in the house that needed to be cleaned out.  We never got to because it was easier to just close the door and ignore it.  But signing up for this challenge was just the motivation that we needed!

I case you forgot, here is a before photo.

Since this photo was taken we've made some pretty good progress.  Last week the room looked like this.

However, we weren't done yet!  This week we took everything off of the shelves on the left hand side of the room.

We ended up with a pile of stuff that needed to go out to the garage.  Most of it was plumbing supplies and, since Mr. P owns a plumbing company, they would be better stored out there where he could find them more easily.

After that I went through all our old paint and took two bins filled with old cans to a recycling depot at our local hardware store.

I moved the paint to another spot that has more lighting and labelled all the cans so that I knew what they were used for.

I then put a few things back on the shelves.  There is now a wallpaper area that holds all our leftover wallpaper and supplies to hang it.  I actually donated 6 full rolls of wallpaper that we don't even have on any walls in the house any more!  I forgot to get photos of the two very large boxes that Mr. P took to Goodwill on Tuesday.

The purging is now pretty much done.  There are a few things to put away and I still have not put my label maker to good use.  However, we will definitely be finished by the March 31st deadline!

Here is a photo of the shelves with the few items put back.

I love seeing empty shelves!  It reminded me of a passage in a book that I read recently called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben.  "An empty shelf meant possibility; space to expand; a luxurious waste of something useful for the sheer elegance of it."  Okay, I certainly wouldn't call this space elegant but it does make me incredibly happy!

Friday, March 15, 2013

31 Day Organizational Challenge - Update 2

For those of you who don't know, I signed up for the 31 Day Organizational Challenge with Organizing Junkie.  I chose my furnace room.  In my first post I bravely showed by before photos.  I also showed some great before and after photos in my first update.

Here is the before photo for the back half of the furnace room.

Now for the after!

I'm still not finished but I did find the floor!

A lot of stuff left this area including this pile of garbage.

Mr. P and I started to put things back on the shelf that we cleared last week.  I have an area for "travel items".

I purged 5 suitcases along with a few carry ons and condensed everything else down into 3 suitcases.

The shelf above that holds household items.

There's a sink on the shelf that will be used in our bathroom renovation along with some extra wallpaper, some old door knobs (always handy when you live in a home that's over 110 years old) and a small air conditioner that is used in my youngest son's room in the summer.

I have a pile of containers sitting on the back shelf that were emptied during the purge.

As I start to organize what is left over I will "shop" from here first when trying to find containers to hold things.  Anything that is not used will head out to the garage to be used for a big purge and renovation project out there this summer.

Now that the majority of purging is done (I still have to go through the shelves on the left hand side of the room) it's time to start implementing some organizing systems so that it does not revert back to being the disaster area that it was.  I'm looking forward to this part!  My label maker is fired up!

Friday, March 8, 2013

31 Day Organizational Challenge - First Update

Last Friday I showed you my disaster of a furnace room.  If you missed that post you can see it in its entirety here.  Now it's time for an update on my 31 Day Organizational Challenge with Organizing Junkie!

Mr. P and I were able to get quite a bit done in the past week.  Here is the before photos from the left side of the door as soon as you walk in.

And here are the after photos!

This area is for all of my holiday decorations.  Kind of looks like Christmas threw up in there!

I went through all of my Christmas decorations and I really did get rid of a lot that I don't use.  I emptied all the bins that they were in and I bought new storage bins for them.  There were two reasons that I decided to purchase new storage containers.

One,  I knew that we had to put shelving in that area to get everything up off the floor.  In looking for shelving that would fit the larger bins, I found that everything was either too tall (there is a heating duct that goes right through the middle of this area) or it was too expensive.  This is what the old containers looked like:

The new containers were less than $5.00 each at Walmart and I was able to fit two of them on each shelf.  The new shelving units were only $50.00 each (we bought 3), they snapped together easily and hold a lot of weight.

The second reason I decided to buy new containers is because the old ones were too big for me to lift by myself.  Whenever I wanted to decorate anything I had to wait for someone else to come home to carry the container upstairs for me.  Now I can do it myself and not have to worry about anyone hurting themselves trying to carry awkward bins up a flight of stairs.

This area has worked out great!  I was even able to find enough room to bring in all my Halloween decorations that were being stored in the laundry room and put them on the shelves.  All the containers got some nice, new labels and now I know where everything is.

Mr. P put some hooks into the walls to hang the wreaths so that they don't get damaged.

I even hung a wreath on the back of the door and found a spot to store my do-dad for hanging outside lights.  I've lost it countless times so Mr. P made me one out of copper pipe which is there too.

Now for the right side of the door that used to look like this:

And now after!

This is my "outdoor" section of the furnace room.  The new shelves now hold coolers, outside Christmas lights, gardening supplies, outdoor decorations and a couple of tackle boxes.  Everything is easy to find.  I'm not sure who thought it was a good idea to store bikes in the basement but they have now been taken outside to the storage shed where they belong.

A lot of the mess was helped by stacking some of the chairs in the corner.  These wicker chairs are not used too often but I love having them for entertaining.

I set up a large plastic container to use for BBQ storage.  It holds things like utensils, wood chips, charcoal and anything else that is used for BBQing.

I got rid of several coats that were hanging in the basement and took 3 spring coats to the upstairs closet in the hopes that spring will be making an appearance soon!

The blue chairs and the black chairs will go outside when the weather warms up.  There is a large, green table behind them that we use when we host large parties.  It was leaning in front of the shelving further into the room but it was blocking everything on the shelves.  It is out of the way against this wall.

We also managed to get some of the shelves on the right side of the room cleared off.  Here's the before.

And here's the after.

As you can see from the floor there is still a lot more work to go but we are making great strides!

The last thing that I wanted to show you was what Mr. P did to organize all the fishing poles.  He put a couple of hooks into the overhead beams and strung a couple of bungee cords between them.  He then tucked the poles up into the ceiling rafters, out of the way.

It's a long post today because we did a lot of work!  But it was so worth it!  I'm looking forward to organizing all my paint supplies this coming week along with a few other things.  We seem to be on track to finishing this project by the end of March!