It’s been a busy week finishing up some copywriting for a client and helping a friend begin the process of organizing her home. She’s home for the summer and is determined to use the time to get her home back on track and working for her family again.
Working with the layout of your home and making that layout as efficient as possible is so critical when you have five teenagers living under the same roof. Every space has to have intent. Every space has to be carefully laid out so that it functions the way your family lives.
Remember the dining room update I put together for another close friend of mine earlier this Spring? Walking through her house room by room with a fresh set of eyes, I was able to evaluate the furniture layout, flow, and storage solutions in each room. My goal was to also help this family of seven in the same way.
We began by walking through the main areas of her colonial home – kitchen, living, dining, foyer, and mudroom. We talked about how her family lives and how she uses each space – evaluating every piece of furniture and accessory, it’s function, and it’s placement.
Since each room requires it’s own detailed plan, I’ll post the organization plans for each room over the next few days.
Annie’s (not her real name to protect the innocent) home has the typical colonial floor plan. As you walk in the front door, you enter into a large foyer. Here you’ll see a large open, double doorway to your right leading to an office area and one to the left to the dining room. Just ahead of you is a staircase and beside that a long hallway leading to back of the house. Along the back of the house is the kitchen and living room which are open to each.
Today, let’s talk about Annie’s kitchen…
Annie’s kitchen has a u-shaped layout with a peninsula island that comes off one wall. The peninsula countertop overhangs and seats three comfortably. She also has a small, round hightop table and two chairs along one wall. Her family eats quick meals here and then sit-down meals in the adjacent dining room.
There are several upper and lower cabinets and she’s also repurposed a large TV armoire to use as additional storage.
Mail. As mail enters the house daily, it’s dropped on her kitchen counters. A few sorting bins sit permanently at the end of the peninsula which means the 3-person counter is reduced to two. Two of her upper and two lower kitchen cabinets are also filled with with mail that needs to be filed. Since the home office is used by Annie’s husband for work, she needs a place where she can sort mail and access it for later reading and sorting.
Coupons. Coupons arrive in the mail daily and then sit on the countertops for later use.
Food. Some dry goods are stored in the armoire, but in no organized fashion. Other groceries are stored in the finished cellar and are brought upstairs into the kitchen as needed.
Crafts & Hardware. The armoire is also filled with school supplies, markers, crayons, craft paper, hardware supplies, hundreds of blank gift cards
Newspaper Clippings. Annie’s entire family is highly involved in high school sports and the community so they’re often in the local newspaper. Newspapers pile up so the articles can one day be placed in individual memory books.
A few minor changes and the the large armoire in Annie’s kitchen could easily function for her needs. Here’s an image of an almost identical armoire I happen to have in my stock of furniture.
The top of the large TV armoire is still arranged to house a single, large item the size of a big, bulky TV. It’s one large open 33″W x 31″H open area. Like Annie’s, it had a swivel, lazy-suzan on the bottom that allows a TV to pull out and swivel side to side for easier viewing.
The first thing to go is the swivel, lazy-suzan. Just remove a few screws and it lifts right out. We’re now left with a large, flat surface on the bottom of the cabinet.
Here’s the new plan for a very efficient, organization station.
Shelving will be added so that labelled baskets and bins can be placed in an organized manner – making items easily accessible. We considered having shelving built, but then found a very easy, pre-made solution. Wood shoe organizers fit perfectly and are very inexpensive. They’re sturdy and can be stacked. Two stacked on top of one another instantly create shelves. Organization solved!
The shelves will hold various sized open baskets. One basket will be specifically for coupons to be placed as soon as they enter the house. If she plans to go shopping, she can quickly grab the coupons for just the stores she plans to shop that day. Coupons solved!
The top area of the of this space has a spot that used to house a cable box for a TV. The plan is to place three letter-size trays that are for immediate sorting of daily mail. A cost-effective option are these wire letter-size trays.
Mail should be opened every day and over the trash. Junk mail gets thrown away. Coupons go in their basket. Monthly bills get placed in one tray, mail to read and take action on later in another, and mail to immediate file away in the other. Daily mail sorting solved!
At this point, Annie doesn’t use a filing cabinet. Currently stand-up files sit in on her peninsula and take up valuable counter space. I personally believe every home needs at least one large filing cabinet. They’re not always pretty, but they’re essential. Every family has important papers that have to be saved – medical, tax, mortgage, etc.
We found a large, 4-drawer, metal filing cabinet buried in Annie’s garage. The plan is to dig this out and leave it in her garage (for lack of a storage location inside), but in an accessible spot just outside her mudroom door. By setting up files for important papers, she can now empty her countertop and two other kitchen cabinets of mail. Permanent mail storage solved!
The base of this large armoire is filled with miscellaneous supplies – crafts, construction paper, markers, crayons, left over school supplies, hundreds of blank gift cards, and hardware supplies (tape, screw drivers, scissors, mounting hooks).
A quick trip to Target to purchase $12 worth of clear plastic bins with covers and this entire area will be transformed into an organization masterpiece. I purchased three 16 quart and four 6 quart Sterilite storage boxes with lids.
Each group of supplies will have it’s own storage box. All craft and schools supplies will be in one large bin. I have one of these and my kids actually do their school supply shopping from this bin because we have so much left over year to year. Crafts and hardware storage solved!
Finally, the base of this cabinet also held the very large pile of loose newspaper clippings. Annie is actually going to ask an older family member to put them all into memory books. The plan is for future clippings to be placed in a dresser drawer – out of sight but neatly contained.
The plan is for a dresser with large drawers to replace another piece of furniture that offers little storage. More on that later when we talk about the living room plan. For now… newspaper clippings solved!
By organizing this large armoire and making it work efficiently and by setting up a detailed filing cabinet, we’ve now cleared off countertops and emptied four kitchen cabinets that can both now be used the way they were intended.
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John Willingham says
Very insightful post. It is really necessary to have a furniture piece where you can keep all the paper records organized and in a systematic manner. You have a great thought process.