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!


  1. You did great! Wow. It looks wonderful and so much more usable. I'm sure you appreciate being able to find things quickly and easily when you need them. You should be very proud of your accomplishments!

  2. Wow! You have been busy and definitely it shows. What a great storage area. Isn't it a relief to have things organized and in its place?! I'm so thankful for this challenge and the deadline was a great motivation.

    1. Thanks Kristin! It certainly is a relief!

  3. Great job! Your space came along so nicely and it's an inspiration for all of us with overfilled basements. I'm proud to say that this room makeover yielded 0 things to my basement because we also donated a bunch of stuff to Goodwill. Thanks for participating along with me in the challenge each week :) Jenny

    1. Thanks for all your encouraging words Jenny! You did a great job also!

  4. outstanding work. you've really transformed your basement and i'd like to see more.

    you have a lovely blog but please use labels or tags so that new readers can find the articles that interest them specifically rather than running through a chronological archive.

    1. Thanks Jasi! All this tech stuff is new to me. At your suggestion I did tag a few more posts to make it easier to find what you are looking for. I hope it helps!

  5. Wowza, tackling your storage room is no easy feat (well at least I think it would be) so fantastic job! I LOVE how you guys actually had lunch down there just to admire your hard work....that is awesome!!
    ~ Kimberley

  6. Wow! You went through a lot of stuff to get this room in order. I'm impressed!
    I especially like the plastic drawer sets you have labeled - so handy and easy to find what you need and put things away.
    I'm working on a similar space in my home and you've inspired me to keep at it. Thanks!

  7. Great job organizing your furnace room! It looks great down there, and I love that you and your hubby had lunch down there! ;) Your house is beautiful, and congrats on conquering the last area to be organized!

  8. You have done an amazing job!! I hope you got the washer fixed! This has certainly made me find some other spaces that need attention now too!

  9. Wow! Your basement looks fabulous! Doesn't it feel good to be done?
    Congrats on all your hardwork. I don't know if I would have been able to get it done with the possibility of bats.