Mean, clean, clutter-fighting machine

Yup. I’ve officially joined the bandwagon of a society rushing to get organized in the name of the new year.

Instead of “Spring cleaning,” I jumped ahead and took care of a little “winter cleaning.” In fact, I don’t usually have a “spring cleaning” session in the closets and storage areas of my home. I am a clean-and-organize-as-I-go type-a gal.  If I see a corner that looks chaotic and overrun with stuff, I immediately get to work on some piles (“donate,” “trash” and “goes somewhere else”).

And that’s exactly what happened in our studio. I’ve done my best to make the most of the big closet, which is used for home decor, crafting stuff, tools, and boxes and boxes of art supplies. You can step back in time and check out what happened when we added two huge shelving units to store things vertically – They have been a big help over the past six months, but I am plagued by a tendency to fill space if I have it so my storage has gotten more and more packed.

Time for heavy-duty purging.

My first step when I take on a big closet organization project is to get it all out and in plain view. I tend to make better decisions if I can sit on the floor somewhere and take my time looking through pieces. So I just grabbed the first thing I saw and started making one big pile to go through and sort. The only problem was that the closet was able to hold a lot more than I had imagined. So much so that I had to pull things out and sort in shifts!

Here’s my first big pile:

And here’s the very small (almost unnoticeable) dent it made in the closet:

I could not believe that all of the stuff was somehow packed onto those two shelves. It truly blew my mind. And as I slowly pivoted back and forth between the little space I had managed the clear in the closet and my HUMONGOUS pile of crap to go through, I almost reached a breaking point – We are talking hands thrown up in the air, tears welling in my eyes, and a whimpery call to John for help.

But I somehow sucked it up and just took things one piece at a time. I focused on what I had pulled out of the closet and started sorting into the piles I mentioned before – A pile for trash (things I will never use again, mostly papers and receipts I was holding on to), things that need to go elsewhere (why is there a cookbook in my art studio closet?) and things to donate to charity.

In the end, I was left with a lovely clean closet and two medium-sized piles – One to disperse throughout the house (to the left in the photo below) and one to box up for Goodwill (to the right).

Oh and here’s a shot of the trash pile – It quickly overtook the little trash can I keep beside my desk.

This, my reader friends, is the moment we reveal the finished closet – Clean, organized and ready to hold more things but ONLY if I need to store something. Although unofficial, I am resolving this year to not bring anything unnecessary into the house unless we really NEED it, not just because we happen to have room for it. Honestly, the sweat and almost-tears from this particular closet organization will probably hold me to that statement with little effort.

Notice that there are two COMPLETELY empty storage boxes on the upper shelf in the “After” picture above. This brings me great joy…In fact, I also emptied one of the big green Tupperwares stacked on the floor, but I later designated it for “Your Thrift Store SCORE!” inventory.

Now for a few more “After” shots of the shelves:

We can’t forget about my desktop-file-box-turned-gift-bag-storage on the door! I also hung an inexpensive 3M hook with removable adhesive for a place to store a gift bag full of tissue paper (read up on that in detail here).

And since everyone likes a good “Before and After,” my closet went from this…

…to this:

No, my closet is not painted on the inside with a gorgeous chandelier painted in a bright color and shelves lined with vintage paper (ALL of which I would absolutely love to do), but it’s functional and I guess that’s all I can ask for…Maybe the “designy” part of the redo will come later on when I start to run out of big projects to focus on.

Oh and that big pile of stuff I started out with on the floor was eventually cleared and we had carpet to enjoy once more…(Luna’s enjoying it too – those big green eyes are silently screaming “Mom!!! Come play with me on the clean floor!”)

What are your New Year’s resolutions? My official goals for the year are to give up three foodies that I partake in far too often – Hot dogs, bagels and boxes of Kraft mac & cheese. I’m pretty devastated about the whole thing, but ya gotta do whatcha gotta do, I guess…Have to fit into that white dress in April, right?

Good luck with holding strong to your resolutions in 2012 – For what it’s worth, I believe in you!

P.S. Want more closet clutter fighting tips? Check out my friend Beth’s post over on – She shares a bunch of helpful hints that can get you on your way to better organization (click here for that). Oh and if you missed my own post on the blog all about kitchen renovations, check that out here!

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