Spare Room Closet Clean Out

Ok, I owe you a closet clean out post… Sorry that it didn’t come at the end of last week. We were headed out to our Middle School Fall Retreat and I ran out of time to get it posted, but better late than never, right?

This one goes out to all of you organizers. If you recall, we already did one closet clean out in our bedroom some time agoCloset Clean Out

Which, quite frankly, could use some more attention these days. It’s amazing how fast piles accumulate in our house, but how loooooooooong it takes us to make them go away. Cripes. ANYWHO, back to the issue at hand: the Spare Room closet. Here’s what it looks like all closed up and un-disaster ish:watermark closet doorsBut inside, things had gotten out of control…

Left Side Bottom (BEFORE):

Closet Clean Out

Left Side Top (BEFORE):

Closet Clean Out 2

Right Side Bottom (BEFORE):Closet Clean Out 4

Right Side Top (BEFORE):

Closet Clean Out 3

It wasn’t so much that the closet was bursting at the seams (ok, it could have used some paring down too) but more so that nothing had a specific place. As a result, things just kept piling up only to topple down on us whenever we tried to get something out. Especially those stupid spray paint cans- grrr! So, everything came out to give us a fresh start:Home Tour 006We needed a system to organize things and give everything a designated “home”. Because custom-built shelving was out of the question (and not something we wanted to invest in if we didn’t know what this closet would be used for in the future), we went for something a little less permanent. The cool thing is, our solution ended up being the best organization system we have in the whole house. And all it took were a few Rubbermaid containers from Target…

Left Side Bottom (AFTER):
Home Tour 014All of those boxes of “good dishes” got moved to our bedroom closet so that we could use the floor space of this one for things that we use on a regular basis- things that are very frustrating to take out and put away when they’re tucked far back in corners and on high shelves. Let me break down what’s happening above. As for the top container, we needed a better method of storing gift wrap supplies. Before, they just got crammed into a plastic bin way up high in our closet. Now…

DrawersDrawer One: Bows and Ribbon

Home Tour 013Drawer Two: Gift BagsHome Tour 012Drawer Three: Tissue Paper

Home Tour 010Drawer Four: Boxes and Extras

Home Tour 009As for the wrapping paper, it now has a home on the shelf above. We used an extra-long storage bin to fit them all. The boxes on top are all of the Christmas stuff and on the highest shelf, we left the paint from various walls in our house that we don’t need to have access to regularly.

Left Side Top (AFTER):Home Tour 015Back to that white drawer system… We grabbed two smaller three-drawer units to house all of our home maintenance supplies. Having more drawers for this came in handy because it allowed us to break up the stuff into categories and give each item a designated space.DrawersHere’s how we broke it down:

Drawer One: Paint Supplies (Rollers, brushes, etc.)

Drawer Two: Sanding SuppliesHouse 133Drawer Three: Spray Paint

Drawer Four: Misc. PartsHouse 132Drawer Five: More Spray Paint

Drawer Six: Small Tools and Supplies (Spackle, zip ties, stud finder, etc.)House 131And as for the rest of the closet, well it might not look all that much cleaner, but trust me- it’s organized.

Right Side Bottom (AFTER):Home Tour 016Right Side Top (AFTER):

Home Tour 017

Maybe this is not all that exciting to the average human, but let’s just say it’s made our lives a little easier and a little less “piles everywhere”. And that, my friends, is a win.Home Tour 014

Have a great day!


PS. I’m working on finishing up a montage video of this year’s family vacation (mentioned in this post), so hopefully that’ll be coming this week! Stay tuned…


Not Your Average Bookshelf

It’s a week of Spare room updates! Yesterday we debuted the big map and you got to meet my grandpa (!!)… win win, huh? Today, I’m going to do my best to give you the low down on how we made the bookshelf in the spare. Remember it from way back when?
after spare

Yep, that’s the one. Here’s a better shot:watermark bookshelves

Funny thing is, it didn’t always look like this. Actually, this is the combination of three different bookshelves cut, copied, and pasted together in a combination that best works for this room. This was a good lesson for us in using what we had and not being afraid to adapt something old to make something new. You can see in the picture above that we used two shorter bookshelves for the base and flipped a taller bookshelf on its side for the top. They weren’t always this sparkly white, though. This is what we started with:new house 016Very cute, Mitch. We actually got these shelves from the Habitat Restore (for pennies!) and they were originally office-esque, super sturdy bookshelves. Heavy is not an accurate enough word to describe how hefty these babies are. There were choice words while trying to get them up the stairs… that’s all I’m sayin. Anyway, they got a crisp white makeover:Bookshelf Evolution

…and then we had to figure out what to do with them. Originally, we thought it could be cool to have floor to ceiling bookshelves. However, once we stacked a short on top of a long (we originally had two of each, so we could create two ceiling-height shelves) we realized how overwhelming it would be in the small house 050 It was towering and immense, but not in a good way. Soooo, back to the drawing board. We tried these shelves everywhere in this house. In our room, downstairs in the family room (before we landed on the fireplace); we just couldn’t figure out a good spot for them. Until we abandoned the traditional bookshelf “stance”. It took us some time, but we originally figured out that we could still achieve (a more manageable version of) the “tall library” look if we pushed the two smaller shelves together and set the taller one on top, but wall 056

So try to imagine the top shelf (in the picture above) without the smaller, horizontal dividers. Originally, when we flipped the shelf it just looked like long columns of empty space, so we added some inserts to create smaller cubbies. All it took was measuring the depth and width of each shelf and cutting some plywood to size.Shelf Inserts

From there, we just jammed them into the existing shelf spaces. Yes, jammed- that’s as technical as the installation process got. We realized that they were such a tight fit that we didn’t need any other reinforcements. Maybe someday down the line we’ll add glue and screws, but this seems to be working just fine for now. I mean, it’s been a year and there have been no book casualties, so I think we might be in the house 171

So the next time you’re in the market for a bookshelf or a “built in” system of some sort, don’t write off the pieces you might already have! Just a few pieces of cut plywood turned this into a spot for books and some of our most treasured nic-nacks. I’m still working on finding the key to styling the top ledge of the entire thing- it seems a little awkward with the few bigger things I just threw up there “for the time being” (*cough* a full year now). gallery wall 056

The good news is that now you can look forward to a future post, entitled “I’ve Figured Out the Top of the Bookshelves and This Is What It Looks Like!”. In other words, stay tuned for the styling portion of this project. For now though, have a happy Wednesday! Go read a good book! That’s what I’m in the mood for… give me a thunderstorm or blizzard and a book any day and I’m a happy camper. It’s the little things.

Oh, the fun!


Go Big or Go Home

It’s been awhile since we’ve done anything in the Spare Room (aka. the Room of Requirement), so let me refresh your memory of where we left off:water couch roomAnd how about that couch that’s sometimes a bed?

watermarkNow do you remember? For more about the painting and carpeting process click here and to read more about the wonders of the futon click here.

One of my favorite parts of the room is the map that sits right above the couch (or bed, depending on the situation). The original intent was to have a piece that we could use to mark our travels and keep track of the places we’ve gone and hope to visit in the future. watermark mapThe map was laminated and then backed by a bulletin board that I grabbed from Micheals. This way, we could stick push pins in it for marking purposes. Here’s where the plot thickens… as time went on, the map (although really cool) started to feel a bit underwhelming. It didn’t take up quite enough space on the wall and didn’t have quite as much presence as we’d hoped. Also, at one point I had to take it down because I needed the bulletin board for something (read about that here), so afterward it never actually made it back onto the wall. Which was fine because right about at that time, my parents gifted us with this…map 002Now, when I say “gifted”, I actually mean that we asked them if we could borrow and hang it in this room until they decide that they have a new place to hang it in their own home. It had been sitting in the basement, so we’re giving it a long-term, temporary home until they ask for it back- and we’re more than happy to enjoy it until then.

house 096This is no ordinary map… in fact, it’s not even flat! The cool thing about this piece is that it is a “relief map”, which means that certain parts of it have been peaked or “valleyed” to mimic the actual terrain of the country.

map 008This map came from my grandfather (you can just call him “Grandpa”), who worked for a printing press. Actually, before I tell the story, do you want to meet him? Here he is dancing with my grandmother (you can call her “Mimi”) at our wedding:_R7A7634Yeah, they’re great (and dancing machines, at that). Ok, back to the map. I did a mini interview with him to try and learn some of its background and he said that it was originally printed on flat plastic by the Edward Stern & Co. printing company. This is where Grandpa worked (he was chosen out of 100 applicants for the job!). From there, the map was sent to a different company to be “reliefed”… aka. the process of being formed/raised/peaked. Grandpa ended up with the map somewhere in the neighborhood of 1953, as he recalls, so that gives you an idea of how old this map is.

house 111This piece is truly remarkable in person, but I know it’s hard to see the 3-Dness from the photos. Let’s see if we can zoom in a bit…

house 105Pictured above is California and if we look at it straight on from the side (think opposite of a bird’s eye view), this is what it looks like:

house 100Pretty cool, huh? We spent many hours running our fingers over the bumps and grooves as kids, trying to pick out different places, trying to find where we lived, etc. As for how you can tell the scale, the map has a key with all of that information (you can see it if you scroll up a few pictures).

Map Key

The plan is to grab a bit of trim at some point and create a frame for it (it’s currently sporting some blue duct tape for that purpose), but for now we’re just enjoying “the view” as 003And that’s what’s happening in Thomasland these days… more Spare room updates this week including how we made the bookshelf from this post and another massive closet clean-out like this one from way back when. See you tomorrow!