I have two confessions to make
#1) Although I LOVE organizing (duh), I kinda stink at keeping things organized. Life with two kids is sometimes just too hectic to maintain the level of organization that I strive to create when I re-do a space. This means that many of my closets are in desperate need of some TLC, and some of my main living spaces are way on the cluttered side of the organization spectrum.
#2) I failed to do a very thorough (or, um, any) pre-holiday deep cleaning and purging.
So....put 1 and 2 together. Then go out of town for 8 days and return home with twice as much stuff as you left with...and the end result is the inability to do anything more than unload our car into the front entryway without basically re-organizing our entire house. Every toy and book shelf was about as full as it could be, and every closet was either full or a complete disaster inside. And to make matters worse, our kids playroom was in pretty bad shape- so even the toys that are generally neatly stored were completely out of sorts!
SO- while my husband frantically paced the hallway and told me that he was going to go hide in a corner until I made it all go away, I got to work on attempting to find new homes for all of our stuff without needing to buy any MORE stuff just to store it all. I will have several posts in the coming weeks with some specific before and after shots and strategies (before pictures that I cannot believe I am going to show you all!), but for today I thought I'd post my general strategy in case you are facing a similar situation.
-Asses your use of your current space:
Where do you spend most of your time when you are home, and what do you do in that space? Do you love to cook and entertain? Are the kids' bedrooms just for sleeping, or do your kids play there as well? If you work from home do you have (or need) a space devoted entirely to your home office? Where does your family spend time together to relax?
The spaces that you use the most are what I call Prime Real estate, and ideally should be filled only with things that you use often and love. If it's not functional or aesthetically pleasing to you, there is no reason to keep it on display- particularly in places of Prime Real estate.
-Inventory and categorize your "stuff"
Take a survey of the new things coming into your home, and what the sum of the parts will look like when you add it the things in that "category" that you already own.
If there are things that are direct replacements of things that needed to be replaced- get rid of the old version. For things that are not direct replacements, but more in the "supplemental" category, get a feel for how large your new collections will be once the new stuff is added.
Also, inventory your storage options: closets, shelves, buckets, baskets etc. Inventory everything! Furniture can be moved from room to room. Storage can be emptied and refilled with different content. Putting away new stuff does not need to involve the purchase of an enormous amount of storage containers if you take time to ensure the most efficient use of your space (more on that in the next step). Just because it's a linen closet now, doesn't mean it couldn't become a craft storage closet if you find a new place for the extra sheets and towels that you never use anyway.
Get rid of some stuff and/or figure out how to use your space more efficiently.
My ideal use of this space is for us to spend quality time together as a family here, and since the book shelves in my kids rooms were full to the brim- my solution was to purge some of the unused adult books from the shelf and turn it into a family book shelf. Once we take our Christmas tree down I am going to create a little kiddo reading nook in the corner near the book shelf.
By simply getting rid of my old textbooks and yearbooks I solved a few problems, because when I moved the kids books into the living room, I freed up some space on shelves in their rooms for new toys!
I can't wait to show you some of the projects that I've been working on, but in the meantime, good luck with all of your organizing projects!
Take it one step at a time and don't be terribly alarmed if your house gets messier before it gets cleaner. The end result will be worth it!