Sunday, April 29, 2007


The job is done and I am thrilled with the results! This room is always going to be a basement pantry/laundry/utility/storage room but it doesn’t have to be the Black Hole of Household Debris that it was before.

Not much has changed in the pantry, although I did relocate some “non-food” items into other areas.

My “household tools, light bulbs and miscellaneous hardware” area is MUCH improved. There was so much stuff there that belonged somewhere else. I used some spare jars to catch nails, screws and other hardware, and some old tins for sewing and shoe care items. The jug at the top holds plastic supermarket bags that we reuse as wastebasket liners. BIG improvement over the old pair of sweatpants on a hanger that I had been using to hold these bags!

I found some curtains while I was going through the cabinets and boxes, so I replaced the ugly ones that HAD been in the windows. These let in a lot more light--plus they're blue, my favorite color!
I bought 3 bins at Target to take care of my storage needs. As I suspected, I already had enough other storage items for what I needed to “corral” in bins. I came in well under my $50 budget, having spent under $20 for the bins! And they are perfect for the job of holding my brown bags, gift bags, and spare hangers (I hate having empty hangers cluttering up the closet bars and floors, and I need hangers in the laundry room sometimes to hang up items that shouldn’t go into the dryer.)

I use wreath hooks to hang these tote bags on the closet door (inside the closet, all the Christmas decorations in their storage bins). The orange bag contains swim goggles and a few other odds and ends that we use in the summer to go to the pool. The straw bag contains small coolers and lunchboxes that are great for long car trips or visits to the pool. See the orange, blue and yellow panels? Those are sliders that hide more storage space. My husband had no idea there was storage space back there!

I turned the dresser around and pushed it back in the room so I have the space to unfold my large laundry-drying rack. I use this on rainy days when I can’t dry clothing on the outdoor clotheslines. Less use of my dryer means smaller gas bills AND less wear and tear on the clothes! Everything’s off the top of the dresser so I can use it to fold and sort laundry, wrap gifts, or “whatever!”

Everything’s off the top of the dryer except my tissue box, clipboard for shopping list and freezer inventory, and a series of empty detergent lids. Those are labeled with each person’s name as well as “coins” and “sewing.” If I know who belongs to the stray hair clip, Scout pin or other item that finds its way into the laundry, I put it in the right bin. Unidentified buttons wind up in “sewing.” Coins that end up in the washer or dryer are officially considered the Laundress' Tip.

Next project: the kids will have to “dive under their beds” and find the mates to all these single socks! This little line is the place where the odd socks hang out until their mates have been found. This cute burlap rice bag that I’d been saving is just the right size for my spare clothespins.

Here’s my laundry-sorting area. When a hamper is full, I run a load of laundry.

This white basket contains items to be mended, handed down, or returned to the store. The tote bag is full of paper goods to be used at an upcoming church function; I’ve been filling that up as I go through the room. This way I only had to handle that stuff ONCE!

Extra storage containers for spaghetti, chili and other things I make in bulk and freeze are kept in these two washtubs. Up above the freezer are seldom-used items such as party chafing racks, camping equipment like the Coleman stove, the steam cleaner, a tub of cookie cutters and a coffee urn.

My "BEFORE" pictures and description of the mess at hand are located here. I'm republishing the pictures below:

I owe a big THANK YOU to Laura, the Organizing Junkie, for hosting this 30-Day Organization Challenge. This room has been an embarrassment to me for years, but I needed some incentive to get it done. The shame-factor of posting photos of my mess on my blog was a BIG incentive! I appreciate the tips and motivation that Laura provided on her blog.

All in all, it wasn't too painful and the room is 100% better.

And here are the questions that we have been asked to answer as part of the Challenge:
1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it? I think the worst part was just dealing with all the stuff that I have been squirreling away in that basement for over 8 years. When I would clean out my desk, a box of junk would wind up in the instead of dealing with those items I would just leave them there. I forced myself to handle each and every item and decide if I really wanted to keep it AND where it really belonged.

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order? I'm trying to remove things that don't belong before they grow roots in the room! This means that if I go upstairs out of the basement, I try not to go empty-handed.

3. What did you do with the "stuff" you were able to purge out of your newly organized space? I had 8 "freecycle" pickups, 4 boxes donated to the Vietnam Veterans, many trips to the garage to put all kinds of tools and things back where they really belong, and innumerable Hefty bags!

4. What was the biggest lesson you learned from this experience? Don't let the size of the room, extent of the mess, or length of time it has been this way paralyze you. Just jump on in!

5. Now that you have completed the PROCESS, do you think having and keeping your space organized will make a difference in your life?
Yes, I do. The room is brighter and more spacious. I can use it better as a place to dry laundry on a rainy day, sort clean clothes, wrap gifts, and store what I really need to keep down there.


  1. Hey Barb,
    I just tried to send you an email but it came back to me. Your space looks AMAZING! I'll have a post up on Tuesday with the new Mr. Linky's. I'll have a quick post up shortly though with the 5 questions I'll want everyone to answer about the challenge. Keep checking back for it.
    I'm soooo happy the challenge was successful for you!!

  2. You've done a great job! I'm just a little jealous of your space though! lol!! I love the sock idea...I'll have to try that one!

  3. Congrats on a completed project; it looks great! That is a wonderful amount of storage space (especially the pantry!).

  4. Here from Laura's. This really encourage me. I'm doing my launry room too! Your idea for using the different colored detergent lids for those things that come into the laundry is brilliant. Love that!

  5. Great Job! Your space is now, so much more functional. I think a lot of us can relate to the issues you were having with this space.
    What an encouragement you are!

  6. Barb,
    What an amazing job you've done! You give me great inspiration. I have a really REALLY large basement and I am totally overwhelmed in where to start. I guess I need to just "jump in" as you said. What a great pantry area. I'm sure it is a joy to be able to find what you need, when you need it.

    Awesome job,
    Rean Day

  7. Wow! Congratulations! Looks fantastic...and I'll bet if feels fantastic too, huh?

  8. I am so impressed. That's a fabulous re-do!

  9. Great job. Congratulations on completing the challenge. Your pantry space is amazing.

  10. GREAT JOB! That was one large space and you really orgainzed it beautifully.

  11. Wow! What a lot of work that must have been!!

    You did a great job on it!

  12. You did a fantastic job! Wow!! I love the quote you have from St. kind of sums up my experience with my laundry room as it almost seemed impossible when I started it a month ago ;o)

  13. Awesome job!!! I used to be a Manufacturing Engineer and a part of my job was setting up signals to initiate action, called Kanban. Well, my favorite part of your laundry area are the color coded laundry baskets that signal you to do something when they're full! Great job!!!



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