Monday, February 1, 2010

The Family Room (soon to be Den)

Well, I decided on a room for the challenge. Our family room. It is the room that serves as our main entry into our house, it also serves (mainly) as our dumping ground for anything and everything that comes into the house. It has an entertainment center and a couch, both of which are used very little. Well, the entertainment center is used quite often, but mainly as a place to stack things, to put things, and it's just not working for me.

We also happen to have four desks in this room - our big computer desk, which also is a dumping ground, Boy A's desk which serves as one as well, Boy B's desk, which...yup, also a dumping ground, and my now, you have guessed it, dumping ground.

We also have two small endtables in here, both used to hold stuff. A shoe shelf, an armoire, and a deep freeze. The shoe shelf holds shoes among other things, though not in any organized fashion. The armoire is additional storage for a tiny bathroom that is completely lacking in storage space. It works, although the top of the armoire just serves as yet another place to stack things. The deep freeze holds our frozen goods and keeps them nice and cold, but once again, the top of it is a place to put things down when we come inside and it doesn't get moved again until we need to get into the deep freeze or until a certain mood strikes to clean it all up.

Along with cleaning, decluttering, purging and organizing this room, I plan to rearrange a few pieces of furniture. The deep freeze will be moved downstairs to the basement laundry room. The entertainment center and couch, since the sparse usage of these items are done by the kids, will be moved to the playroom. The shoe shelf will also be moved to the playroom, I think. The desks and the armoire will be rearranged for more of a study/den type room. I plan to bring in a long, low, 9 drawer dresser that is currently sitting unused in our garage, to use for seasonal weather storage drawers. We have six members in our family. That would give us each one drawer, with three drawers leftover. The three leftover drawers could be used as overflow bathroom storage, or something else. If we aren't using the armoire for the bathroom storage, it can be moved to another part of the house where it will be of more use. Probably the playroom or the living room, though I'm not exactly sure yet.

One of the endtables will either go with the couch into the playroom or else go up to the living room, while the other endtable remains here in this room.

All four desks will have a major overhauul session done on them and things will be put away, neatly and organized. I brought home some small shallow boxes from work for the boys to use for organizing their desks. Totally free, which I love!

And everything in the room will be moved around as well, except for the computer desk, because it has to be in a certain spot, due to it's power and telephone cord needs. The walls need to be cleaned, the carpet needs a good cleaning as well. Between a two year old with crayons, markers, and whatever else the bigger kids leave out and his view of our walls as a canvas, there's a LOT of "artwork" to remove. At this point, it may be easier to just paint, but we will try some good ol' elbow grease to start with. That's something that the whole family can get into, right? :) Teach our older kiddos to keep their art supplies picked up and put away, teach our little artist not to draw on the walls, teach us to keep a closer eye on what the kids have left out and to not allow the little one to roam freely throughout the house playing. Because he's not playing. He's coloring - EVERYWHERE!

So, here goes: A pic of our "family room" soon to be our new den:

This photo was taken in the evening after a grocery shopping trip and some other stuff, so there are bags and such left by the sliding door (where our non-cold stuff often ends up sitting while the cold stuff gets taken upstairs to be put away) and the kids had been playing. There is just mess in here too from a weekend of an unattentive babysitter as well.

I think I answered most of these questions within this post, but now for the specific questions from Org Junkie's site:

1. What do I want the purpose of my room or area to be?

This room will be turning into a den, a place for us to work and study. It will also continue to be our main entry into our home as well as a place to store our coats and shoes and such.

2. What do I need in or near the room to serve that purpose?

We have four desks in the room that will remain, just in different spots and a small endtable. There may be bookshelves coming in and possibly a 9-drawer dresser.

3. What can I remove from the room?

Shoe shelf, armoire, deep freeze, entertainment center, end table, and a couch will all likely be moved from this room.

4. What problems do I see with the room?

As it is right now, it is just not being used as it was intended. Other than the desks and such, it is a duplicated room. We have another room meant for an almost exactly similar use. No need for two rooms with the same main function.

The second problem with this room is that although there is plenty of storage, things are not being put away, neatly.

Another problem with the room is the vertical blinds over the sliding door. I hate vertical blinds with kids. They just do not hold up well. Unfortunately, there is not a lot I can do about the shades being there, since we rent, but I do need to go out and buy some new blinds to replace the ones that have been knocked down or broken by the kids when entering and exiting that door.

5. What organizational tools might solve those problems?

For the desk drawers and maybe for the winter storage drawers, I am planning on utilizing some small boxes that I brought home from work. The boys can use these to organize their desk drawers. And if they want, they can use some cool crafting paper to cover the boxes first so that they are more likely to use them. And for the winter weather storage drawers, I was thinking about those sock drawer organizers that make little X's for you to put a pair of socks know what I mean? Well, at work, the beer bottles are separated by a similar thing, cardboard of course, but once again, a free item that I could easily re-use. This way I don't spend a lot of money on items that may or may not work well for the family. And if they do work well for us, and I decide down the road that I really want to have it look nicer, then I can always go out and buy those items. But really - they will be inside of drawers and I'm just not that worried about it.

Not really an organizational tool, but a small trash can at each desk might be a great idea as well.

And I have some 3M hooks to put up where the armoire is over by the door - for us all to hang our coats on. There is a closet inside the playroom, the door of which is next to the computer desk, but that's a long way to go for hanging something up. I think its better to just change the house to solve the issue first.

6. What habits need to change to solve the organizational problems?

I think that putting the non-cold food items by the door when we come in from grocery shopping will be fine, but I need to set a time limit to have it dealt with. Or just have the boys take the bags upstairs to the kitchen counters.

Another will be to actually put shoes away and hang up coats and backpacks.

I think having a trash can near each desk would also work wonders. That way when the boys are working on projects at their desks, they can easily throw away their excess items. Same for Hubby and myself. And since Hubby and I will sometimes eat or drink at the computer desk, it is especially important to have a trash can here so we can throw the trash away right away.

7. What kind of a budget do I have to create the organized room of my dreams?

I don't have much of a budget for this. Somewhere near $20.00, is what I'm thinking. But I have a lot of ideas and solutions that require re-using items already in our house, or re-using items that I can bring home free from work, which I love!

8. What kind of a timeline is necessary to organize the room? (28 days!)

Well, I have three-day weekends and ideally, I would love to have this room done in one weekend. However, in order to move some of the furniture items out of this room, I need do some work in the playroom first to get this room done. So, the playroom will probably take a full day's work and then the family room/den will be done the next two days of the weekend.

9. What is my plan of action?

My plan of action is to first get the playroom ready to receive the entertainment center, couch and one end table. Then those will be cleared off and moved out. The areas under them will be cleaned and vacuumed, the walls scrubbed and then repeat the process with the armoire, the deep freeze and the shoe shelf. Then, clear off the desks, clean out the drawers, and then put the items back in that belong in there (this project will need to be done with the boys' involvement and presence). The desks will be moved to their new locations and the areas under and behind where they were would be cleaned, vacuumed and then the walls scrubbed clean. Then, the additional items that will be brought into the room can be added in. Then, decorate and put the finishing touches on the room. And voila! a room transformation! I can't wait!

I forgot to add that I also like to take pictures of just certain areas - say the top of one desk and then deal with that area in the photo - nothing else. It helps keep me motivated by not being so overwhelmed with all of the tasks at hand. I can (kind of) have tunnel vision and get this one area done. Then there is the sense of accomplishment. It doesn't seem like that much work to take care of one photo area. But you do get a bit of a kick of adrenaline to see what you have accomplished. The remaining 35 photos don't seem like that much work after that first one is done. I can trick myself into working faster and staying motivated by doing this.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! I'm so excited for you because you have a most excellent, doable plan. I love your ideas and I absolutely love the idea of taking a picture and working on one space at a time using the picture to help you stay focused. So great!

  2. Thanks Laura! Yeah, I got the idea from a book that I absolutely love called, "The House That Cleans Itself" Awesome book! While I haven't done it the way it says to do it, I have picked up some tips and techniques from it that are really helpful - one of them being the picture by picture cleaning project

  3. Sounds like a very workable plan, and it's a nice big space to work with!