Organization Starts in the Bedroom… Or in the Kitchen… Depending on Who You Ask

By Mac Fife

“Where do I start?” That’s what we organizationally challenged folks ask… almost every day. There are two schools of thought on the subject. Professional organizers will often say the kitchen. (That makes sense. You’ve got to eat!) But interior decorators say it’s the master bedroom. I really can’t tell you whether eating or sleeping is more important. (I really have trouble when I wake up at night with an urgent chocolate craving!) But I can tell you how to make your bedroom a little nicer!

After years of using our bedroom as the house junk room, I’ve actually come around to prioritize this room as the tidiest and most organized room in our home. For me, it’s all about having a stable “base of operations” on those days when life just seems out of control. When I start getting that overwhelmed feeling (my primary procrastination trigger), I can still take five minutes, retreat to my room with my journal and laptop, and prioritize my day in a calm, healthy way.

And guess what! The master bedroom is actually the EASIEST room to keep tidy! “How?” you may ask. Well, let’s look at all the functions your bedroom should fulfill.

1. Sleeping. Make yourself a bed you’ll love to sleep in! Think about how you and your spouse like to sleep and how you usually make your bed. Are they compatible, or do you find yourself kicking an over stuffed comforter and 25 throw pillows to the floor every night? Do you and your spouse use the same blanket, or, like most couples, does one spouse require ten heavy quilts, while the other sleeps with just a sheet?

Why not make a bed that reflects real life? Get him a light blanket that coordinates with the heavy quilt you love! Shams are a sham! Get pretty, machine washable pillowcases you can smear mascara on at night, and toss in the laundry the next morning! My husband and I were jealous of our toddler’s plush, micro-fiber blankies, so we make our own bed with a giant version! With plain white jersey sheets, and a single embroidered accent pillow (to bring out a bit of Bohemian flair), our bed is inexpensively outfitted, beautiful, practical, and so much quicker to make than a more formal set.

2. Dressing. It’s difficult to talk about the subject of clothing storage, because every home has certain advantages and difficulties in this area. Older homes are particularly difficult when it comes to finding adequate closet space. However, the best piece of closet advice I’ve ever received should really apply to us all: You should only put clothes in your clothes closet. Yes, I know you’re thinking it’s impossible, but with creativity and determination, I really believe you can find other places to store the random crud, and it just makes such a difference!

We’re blessed with ample closet space in our apartment, so our standard walk-in closet now houses every single piece of clothing we own, and absolutely nothing else. We’ve organized it into “his” side and “her” side. Seasonal items are kept in Rubbermade bins on the top racks. I’ve affixed a shoe organizer to the back wall, and our folded items are now housed in hanging sweater holders. Socks and under things live in small rolling three drawer carts, the tops of which act as caddies for jewelry bins and small accessories. Our laundry hamper sits under the lower shelf of my husband’s sparser side, making our closet double as a dressing room.

I love how this arrangement makes putting away and finding our clothes much easier. At a glance, I can see when my husband is running low on clean socks, or that, while he has a wide selection of dress shirts, I need to start watching for good deals on men’s blue jeans. I find myself putting more of my own wardrobe into rotation, that otherwise, stuffed in the back corner of a dresser drawer, would have been forgotten for months!

What? You need your walk-in closet all to yourself? I recently watched an episode of “House Hunters” where a divorcé demanded “hers” and “hers” walk-in closets to house her expansive wardrobe. When is enough, enough? Call me crazy, but should ANYONE need more than six feet of closet space? If we learned to utilize quality basics, and spice up our wardrobes with trendy accessories, I’d bet almost ALL of those outfits stuffed into the guest room closets could be donated! (Ha ha! Yes, I DO know you that well!) These have helped motivate me: http://missussmartypants.com/ and http://www.thegreatamericanappareldiet.com/ and http://www.thewomensalliance.org/

3. Other. While its inadvisable to let your bedroom double for other activities, I admit I use mine for storage of seasonal décor, memorabilia, gift wrap, and sewing/crafting supplies. Our second, smaller closet houses most of my husband’s electronic and sporting good “toys“. We don’t have a lot of choice in the matter, but we try to keep more work-oriented items (bills, reference books, computer equipment) in the main living areas, and reserve this room as a place of peace and recreation. Since all our clothing lives in our closet, our dressers house my crafting items. Storage bins hold extra linens under our bed, and a small bedside table keeps the necessary household “junk drawer”.

While our room is a mostly kid-free zone, it’s nice to have a couple easy to reach activities on hand for my son. A large basket on top of one dresser holds my son’s wooden puzzles, while a bin next to my chair cradles story books.

When you keep your real life habits in mind as you organize, your bedroom can be the easiest of rooms to maintain! And in those rare times when mayhem does breaks loose in the rest of your home, you’ll love taking a mini vacation in your own little paradise! Good luck!

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Categories: Organization | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Organization Starts in the Bedroom… Or in the Kitchen… Depending on Who You Ask

  1. Stephishungry

    I am sooo bad about storing non-clothing items in my clothes closet!!! What do you do about the putting laundry away fiasco? I’m great at washing and sorting it. Just terrible at putting it where it belongs! I almost have 1-2 baskets if clean clothes sitting in my bedroom waiting to be put away. 😦

    • I just typed like five paragraphs on laundry, then deleted for brevity! I just need to do a post on the subject. But good job on having your clean clothes folded! I confess that, currently, mine are wadded up in the chair beside my closet!

      I realize this won’t work for everyone, but I tend to wash by room rather than color or fabric. (And, consequently, I make my fabric purchasing choices with this no-sorting habit in mind.) Bath towels are one day. Kid clothes another. Kitchen linens another. Our adult stuff on it’s own. Then, when I’m feeling less motivated, I stand and fold in the location where that load of laundry lives. A much easier task now that we don’t use drawers for any laundry items.

  2. ken

    very good stuff and also a good read

  3. Only clothes in the clothes closet? What a concept. I’m definitely going to have to use this one!

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