making ourselves at home

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, All Things Home, Organizing37 Comments

Before I get into today’s post, I want to encourage you to visit one of my friend’s websites.  Laura Dreyer is a talented artist and creative business owner (she is the creator of Little Clay Land), but is also a long-time friend and the designer of my logo and lot of the branding that became the cornerstone of my professional look.  She is publishing a series of interviews by creative entrepreneurs and mine is posted today.

As a part of the series, she is including hand-drawn lettering of the creative’s business.  Here is the one she did for me…

Anyway, just a little light reading, if you’re interested!

A part of what makes me feel not-at-home somewhere that isn’t my home is that I don’t have a place for everything.  That might sound like a stupid and obvious statement, but hang in here with me.  I end up being a very messy traveler, because my stuff is scattered all over the room I’m occupying.  Not literally.  It doesn’t look like a messy teen’s bedroom, but clearly I don’t know where to put things, so I just set them down somewhere. The result is my belongings become like an invasive vine creeping over a garden.  It takes over.  (Can you tell I’ve been doing lots of research about vines?)

So, when I think about literally making myself at home somewhere, I think about everything having a home.  I know where my shoes go and where I drop my purse when I walk in the door and where to hang Sebastian’s leash and the spots to search for the latest lost toy.  I know where to find tape, tools, and the Tylenol.  Things being organized and in there place makes me feel at home.

When we first moved into our house, we just needed to get things roughly in the right spot.  I’m sure you can relate to that!  There are usually grand plans to unpack box by box carefully, contemplating the perfect spot for each and every item.

But then, there is reality…

A flurry of people are unpacking boxes, holding up random, unrelated items, asking where each should go.  The help is greatly appreciated, so you tell them to just stick it over there and put that thing in this cabinet and you’ll get it sorted out later.  You are sick of stacks of boxes in your hallway, so you just throw things into a closet and vow to come back to it when there is time.  Then, you get into the routine of life and the sheets and towels and sleeping bags balled up and stuffed on linen closet shelves seem normal and completely okay.

Until one day you realize you’re not really making yourself at home.

Yes, you’ve painted the walls and bought furniture to fill the space.  On the surface, it looks settled, but you couldn’t find even one of at least ten screwdrivers you own if your life depended on it.  They are probably in a box in the garage buried under an accumulated pile of cardboard that needs to go to the recycling center, but you can’t even get to that because of the maze of bikes and scooters and nerf guns that have yet to find a permanent home.

That’s been the reality.

All of this has been sinking in for me over the past few weeks and maybe even longer than that.  When we first moved in, we were laser focused on getting specific projects done before our first winter – finishing the studio, painting the kitchen cabinets, etc.  Nitty-gritty organizing was just not a priority.  Stuff was behind closed doors, so we can just close the doors and deal with it another day.

Now that we’ve been here almost a year, though, I have found myself getting increasing frustrated at the disorganization. That doesn’t stem from the fact that the spaces are a mess, because they really aren’t.  (Well, the garage is, but that’s really the only space that is out of control.)  The frustration has much more to do with the fact that I still don’t know where everything is!  The garage, especially, drives me nuts.  There are so many tools and supplies that I have needed, but I can’t locate them, even though I know they are somewhere in this house!

So, I’m using the summer to work through the house, closet-by-closet and drawer-by-drawer, until everything is sifted, sorted, and organized, and has a proper place.   The nice thing is that we purged a ton of stuff before we moved, so I don’t have a lot of purging to do, although there is some.

Last week, I worked on two of the spaces that needed the most attention – the laundry room and storage in the master bedroom (my closet and wardrobe).   Other than the normal cycle that happens with the wearing, washing, and putting away of clothes, things were pretty much where I plopped them when unloading the moving truck.  I hadn’t adjusted shelves or tried to fold things nicely and arrange them in like piles.

I took the time to do all of that and even weeded out clothes that are too small or ones I never wear.  And it looks so good!

I don’t know about you, but organized closets make me happy.

I shared my closet on Instagram Stories and received a lot of questions about the closet system we have.  It was here when we bought the house, so I don’t know the brand or anything like that.  It may have even been custom made.  Either way, I am so thankful for it!  After sharing a closet that is typically the size found in a “kid’s bedroom” with Jeff for 11 years, this closet is luxurious and I love it!

Now, I feel like I’m taking full advantage of it.

I also sorted out my wardrobe, which is where I keep my folded clothes.  It really needed to be thinned out as well.  I packed away the jeans that are a bit too tight in the hopes they will fit again soon.  Until then, I’m not having to sort through them when I’m getting dressed in the morning.

There is a real joy in knowing that you can put on anything in your wardrobe and it will fit.

One thing I realized is that I have a lot of clothes!  I know not compared to some, but I’ve never had a huge wardrobe and this feels like a lot to me.  I could stand to get rid of even more, but I’m going to wait until I (hopefully) get back into some smaller sizes.

I also got the laundry room organized…

I absolutely love having a utility sink and laundry room right off the kitchen and it’s nice that the traffic path doesn’t go right in front of the washer and dryer, but it is still a bit of a tricky spot to keep tidy.  It’s especially a challenge when I’m doing laundry and four baskets are lined up on the floor, creating quite an obstacle course…

When we first moved in, I made the decision to use the closet for storage.  I filled it with a couple of cheap plastic utilities shelves and filled them with paint, tools, etc.  As I started using the space, I realized all of that stuff should be stored in the garage or utility room and I needed to claim that closet for laundry baskets and supplies.

It’s definitely not pretty, but it is so much more functional!  I moved the plastic utility shelves to the garage and utility room and cleaned out the closet.  I then filled it with an adapted wire utility shelf (from the garage) and set the shelves, so they would accommodate laundry baskets.  On the top shelf, I keep my detergents and such, which is a much better spot than the floor!

I can store all four laundry baskets on the wire shelves while I’m doing laundry, so it can all be hidden behind the doors and, more importantly, the floor is clear and I’m not tripping over baskets or stepping into freshly folded clothes.

I also cleaned off the washer and dryer and organized all of the cabinets.  They mostly house cleaning supplies – rags, microfiber cloths, spray bottles, speciality cleaners, scrub brushes, extra spongers, etc.


Now that it’s cleaned and organized, I’m going to paint, swap out the cabinet hardware, hang some things on the wall, and change out the light fixture.  It’ll be sort of a mini-makeover.  Maybe one day we’ll give it a full overhaul, but it really doesn’t need that at this point.  It could just use a little prettying up.

As I’ve been working through each space, it really has felt more and more like we’re making ourselves at home here.  It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s kept me away from more creative endeavors lately, but it was time and it’s worth it.

Up next is the garage.  Send a search party if I disappear.

making ourselves at home

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37 Comments on “making ourselves at home”

  1. Lucky you it looks nice. Organized closets (finished) make me happy too but organizing them what a difficult job for me.
    Have a nice day.

  2. I can’t think straight if something is not organized, it drives me crazy. But a lot of time, life does get us throwing stuff in closets to get out of site, and I try to go through a few times a year. I know that after a move, it can seem daunting…but you are making headway! Good luck in the garage, I have a feeling you will feel sooooo much better once that is organized. Then to the fun stuff….makeovers!!! Enjoy the process.

  3. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to find stuff in your home right away! I have been going through the same sorting process for a few months. I no longer hang on to clothes that are too small. I figure that if and when I drop the pounds, I will reward myself with new pieces. That has freed up a tremendous amount of extra room. We own the same hiking boots, btw.

    1. I was thinking the same thing.

      If something does not fit or you haven’t worn the item within 12 months, then Get.Rid.Of.It! Donate the item(s) so that someone else can use the item(s) while the clothing style is still current.

      If and when you lose weight (and let’s get real here about that happening), and KEEP IT OFF for, say, 6 months, then at that time buy something in the new size. Otherwise, if you keep all of your smaller sizes, the clothing not only takes up valuable space but the smaller sizes serve as a constant reminder of your current weight and of the weight that you used to be. What a way to start each day as you face your closet to get dressed each morning and there, staring you in the face, are pile(s)/hangers full of smaller sized clothing.

    2. Yep, I agree with that and I got rid of almost all of that, but I held onto jeans that are just a bit too small. They even fit, but they are tight, so I don’t wear them. If I lose 20+ lbs, I’ll need to treat myself to new clothes! I also kept my “mustard seed” t-shirts that are snug, since they are my brand. 🙂

  4. Question about your front load washer. Most of us that own them have a real problem keeping the rubber seals clean and free of mildew. I use a cleaner made for this but after a few washes it right back. Perhaps I should just accept the fact that I will have to clean the seals after every wash. Just wondering if you know a product that works better?

    BTW…you closets look so nice and organized!

    1. I have that same problem with mine, which is an older model. I wipe it out after every use, leave the door propped open, and every so often I squirt a bunch of gel toilet bowl cleaner with bleach in the seal, let it sit for an hour or so and do a quick laundry cycle to rinse it. It helps for a while.

    2. I used to have the same problem with my front loader. What I did to resolve the problem was to run an empty washer with hot water and bleach. Every night I just keep the door opened and in the morning just close it. Has taken care of the problem. Easy for me because my units are in the kitchen. Also when I had a top loader I used to keep a tennis ball in the little cup under the lid and close it. Just enough air to keep it sweet…………

    3. I just keep mine open for about an hour after each wash (when I’m done with all of my loads), so it can dry out. I’ve done that for a while and I’ve never had an issue with mildew.

  5. Teresa
    I just wipe out the seal with a dry microfiber cloth after I get done with the last load I’m doing that day. It really doesn’t take long and in 1.5yr I’ve never had any problems with mold/mildew:)

  6. Very nice! Just sayin’ you still have at least twice as many clothes as I do. For one thing, I hate shopping. I’ve gained weight, which I am working on losing right now, and I have no idea what looks good any more. Second, I can’t stand our garage. My husband is a musician and a computer guy and a motorcycle guy and it is stuffed with all his gear and tools, etc. Plus we just moved my father in law into assisted living housing so all his family and excess possessions were crammed in there. I need help to sort it out but my hubby is never home right now. So I just stay out of there!

  7. oh my gosh, you described the way I feel traveling to a T. Very discombobulated. Takes me longer to get ready. At home I have a place for everything, very organized (well, most of the time!!!). Great post.

  8. Thanks for sharing your challenges after a big move. I’m finally tackling my final 20 boxes from my move in 2016. I can so relate to knowing you have something but you can’t find it. I agree with Karin who suggested letting go of the clothes that don’t fit. It really does feel good just to let them go – been there, done that.

  9. This is an afterthought, but I learned the hard way after 5 moves. I numbered each box & had a notebook where I listed each item in that box. They were also labeled as to what room they go into. So, the boxes got dumped into each room & I emptied them out that way. It’s a pain in the fanny to do this, but worked out great for me in the end.

  10. Could you please tell me how to paint fabric and what paint to use? It’s not a real thick fabric. It is on wall around head of bed in an R.V. Thanks!

  11. When we travel I pack a clear over the door organizer last in my bag. It’s the first thing that goes up and we can throw all the random crap into it. Makes our lives so much easier when away from home.
    Closets look nice!

  12. Organization helps my brain to function on other things.
    Here is an idea that I came up with for my own closet…..First of all, I noticed in your closet, some of your wooden hangers were dark and some were light. Mine too. This is what I do, the bulk of my clothes are on the light colored hangers, as in clean from the laundry. I put a blouse or dress that I have worn once (or just for a few hours) on a dark or different color hanger. So I know, it’s not really dirty but it is not freshly laundered and I can get another wearing out of it. This also helps if doing a load of laundry and I could really add another item to the load. This system also works great for kids clothes and mostly sweatshirts….and hubby too!!!
    I am anxious to see what kind of “new handles” are going to work on those cabinets…..I have the same ones and don’t like the look.
    Keep going Girl!!!

    1. Good idea with the hangers! Mine are just two types of hangers merging in one closet. 🙂

      As far as the new handles, the search is still on. It’s a tricky one, but those white plastic ones can definitely be improved upon!

  13. I admire your clean up and clean out accomplishments. A few months ago I started on the same journey and I have such peace and joy from knowing where everything is and “force” myself to put everything back in its proper place. I visited uTube for folding techniques etc. I have to say I have been “keeping” up with a neat and tidy dresser organization. Also did my jewelry which was in chaos. Gave what I didn’t want to a thrift store and organized the rest.
    I bought eggs in clear plastic cartons and organized my many earrings. Now instead of wearing the same old jewelry all the time it is fun to pick and choose what I want to wear. I force myself to put the earrings back too.

  14. Organized? Whats that? I have had such a crazy couple of years, my usual neat and tidy (pick a room)has become disastrous so it is nice to view yours. I don’t even have the excuse of recently moving.

    1. There are definitely seasons of life when my house has been a mess, but I will admit my tolerance for mess is pretty low. I’ve gotten more relaxed with kids, but I still really need things to be to a certain level of organization or I have a tough time relaxing! I wish I could just let it go sometimes!

  15. I love organized closets – I love reading about organizing closets. I love cleaning and organizing my own closets. I’m weird that way. So I loved reading this post.

    About traveling, though. I travel quite a bit and I’ve learned that I have to ‘move into’ every strange room I spend the night in. I need certain things by my bed: water, chapstick, tissues, my watch and my Kindle. If there is an adjacent plug, I also like to have my phone charging there, too. I always decide where the key ‘belongs’ before I put it down the first time and it always goes back there. I also find a place for my cosmetics etc. in or near the bathroom. If I’m there for more than a night, I unpack. I travel light, so this isn’t a big deal, but I find that it really helps me stay organized.

    The downside of this is that every time I leave a hotel room, or a guest room in someone’s house, I feel a bit sad. Like I’m leaving a little home. I’ve learned that it helps me to stand near the door as I’m leaving and just mentally say goodbye to the room that has sheltered me and briefly – reviewing what I’ve done while I’ve stayed there. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this because it sounds sappy, but it only takes a couple of seconds and it really works for me.

    1. My mom is like that. She will unpack her suitcase and put her clothes in the drawers, etc. while she’s staying somewhere. I’m just a total slob (the only time in my life!)

    2. Caro – I don’t think it’s ‘sappy’ at all! It shows an awareness and gratitude for the shelter you received. I often say good-bye to my home when leaving for work in the morning.

  16. Love me some storage!!!
    I’ve just moved house before Christmas. We down sized the house but bought more land (a small farm). We had to cull massively, and I’ve still got boxes to sort through as the storage inside the house is limited.
    I love being organised. Knowing where things are and having systems reduces my stress and anxiety, so I’m constantly trying to think of ways to reorganise things, like kids bags and toys. It’s nice to see a post of the day to day things like this.
    Enjoy organising the garage 🙂 it’s the hardest but most satisfying place.

  17. It’s nice to have a house that works…I find keeping organized is difficult with small closets. I do dream of a home that is custom designed but I am blessed to have what I have.
    Someone mentioned the mold on the seals of the washer …I run the speed cycle with hot water . I add vinegar to the detergent cups and softener cup. I read in my manual the key is not to leave laundry wet in the washer and to dry it when the cycle is done. This is my second front loader. My first was 14 years old and was starting to leave brown marks on my whites and brights. So I run my cycle once a month now . Sorry to highjack the blog for my advice .
    So my house has got behind and I am focusing my energy on organization and a little purging too.

  18. The closets is beautiful! I have just moved and broke my arm on the last day of the move so I have been very slow in getting organized. But I am wishing and hoping I can get my closets and cabinets organized like yours very soon. I have a method for cleaning my closet twice a year, October and May. I turn all of my hangers “backwards”, then as things are washed or cleaned I turn the hangers the opposite direction, the “normal” way. When it is time to clean again, I can tell at a glance what I have not worn in the last six months. These are also the times I put the clothes for the next season in the closet and put away the clothes for the previous season away. This has helped me so much and helps me stay organized.

  19. Marian…well said! Just hitting 2 months, and while we have moved a lot, and I have learned a lot about how I organize/operate. But the DERN light bulbs. Sooo many light bulbs!! We were left with a bunch at this house for some reason. I am trying to figure out which ones we actually need, but have them stashed in 2 major places. Oh, and the basement. I need to organize them by which ones we use on each floor..that sounds good, right? RIGHT???? Ack!!! Love you!

  20. Mini-makeovers! Love that idea as the big two-month makeovers, etc. just drive me crazy. No doubt when the garage is done, you’ll feel great (and be able to find things that you needed and couldn’t find)! Want to mention that I bought a “Ladies” and a “Gentlemen” metal sign today at the Hobby to put on two doors in our house and they are fabulous! Now don’t get lost in the garage and we’ll look forward to seeing how it went!

  21. Something about the saying, “Everything has a place and everything should be in that place” really makes me happy too.

    Little by little your progress is always amazing.

  22. you have so much time and talent! I’m envious of all you do to get your house in order. I used to be as motivated, but working full time sure derails my house projects. I wanted to ask a favor: if you have any advise for those of us thinking about starting a kitchen remodel. Any first steps or advise. I would value your opinion. Thanks!

    1. Oh yes, working full time will definitely slow down home progress! I totally get that! I do try to remind people that working on my home IS a part of my job, so that’s one way I’m able to get so much accomplished.

      As far as starting a kitchen remodel, I think it depends on what will be involved. If you’re replacing cabinetry, rearranging the footprint of the kitchen, etc, I would definitely consult with a professional who can make sure everything is well planned. If you’re working with what you already have, I would suggest making the big choices first, like cabinet color, counters, etc. and then make the smaller choices once those bigger ones are in place and you can see how everything works together. I hope that helps!

  23. Marian, I will share with you one of the two best things I have ever done as a parent: making the kids do their own laundry. You may recall that I have three boys. I started this when a friend told me about her philosophy of “raising boys to be good husbands”. Plus I realized the boys all knew how to work the TV and the game console, and let’s face it, the washer and dryer are even easier. Anyway, each kid has an assigned day to wash and dry their own laundry and the next day their chore is to fold and put it away. Since the responsibility is theirs, I never hear “Mom, where’s my shirt?” It’s genius, if I do say so myself. 😉

  24. Organizing IS creative. You are making space for things that matter. I always feel so accomplished when things are in their place so when I open the door I can find what I need….Thanks for sharing your spaces! Looking great

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