Saturday, November 12, 2011

Function vs. Beauty - It Can Be Done!

Function and beauty at the same time!

I'm the type of person who loves a clean, organized house.  I love to wander through the storage section of any store, and looking through a catalog that has endless organizers and containers gives me the *warm fuzzies*.

This can become a pain for the folks around here because everything has to have a home, and if it's not in it's home I get all grumbly.  Let me defend myself for a minute here.  This obsession has come in handy more times than I can count.  At one point in my life I condensed a 3,000 sq. ft. house and five people into a single wide mobile home with room to spare!

I believe organization is key to living a life wherein you take advantage of all your assets and use every item that comes into your home (which follows the main tennent of this blog). No matter the size of your home, if you can't find your stuff and have to buy it again or you are tripping all over your possessions, then that's wasteful.  Have you ever forgotten you had something because it was misplaced or lost?  Have you ever donated or tossed something into the trash because you couldn't find the piece that would make it work?  I have, and that drives me insane!  Just when I get rid of whatever it is, the missing piece turns up... Grrr!

Our house is no different than yours!  It gets trashed and we trip all over ourselves too.  Who wouldn't have a messy home occasionally when there are five adults living in 1050 sq. ft..  This set of photos were taken after my two adult kids (18 & 20) and their significant others spent the night here and then left for work the next morning. They know the rules, so that day I threw away a pair of jeans, a tank top and a pair of shoes.  I know that sounds harsh, but if they can't be bothered to clean up after themselves and they disregard their items enough to leave them on the floor, then the trash is the best place for them.

Our kitchen table can easily become a catch-all, so we try to have folks walk straight to their room before they drop their stuff.  However, that doesn't always work as you can see by this picture. We try though!  Honestly, as I sit here and look at this picture, half the stuff on the table is mine! Shh, don't let my kids hear me say that. ;-)

So let's get organized!

Where do I start you may ask?  My suggestion is to start in the busiest room of the house.  I know for some that might be a scary place to begin, but you will see the biggest difference right from the start which will motivate you to continue.  In our home the kitchen and dining areas see the most traffic so we started there.  Your kitchen should fit your families lifestyle and the way you live.  Most kitchens are designed by people who rarely use the space for anything other than making a cup of coffee or reheating take-out.  I remember that in my first custom built house I let the cabinet maker design the layout of the cabinets.  I was a young wife and mother, and I was naive enough to think that a 'professional' would know better than me.  To my surprise, when the cabinets and counter top were installed (no going back now), I realized that I had NO PANTRY!  What good is a kitchen when you have no place to hold the ingredients you are supposed to cook with?  I asked the company about this, and their answer was that most people just use a few cabinets to hold their canned and boxed goods, and that a separate cabinet to house food was for older style kitchens.  "Oh, you mean back in the day when families use to cook and eat at home?", I thought to myself.  IMHO, that's not a working kitchen, that's a glorified dorm kitchen with the requisite microwave!

So here is where we started.  We reorganized both the kitchen and the dining room to maximize our working space.

I took all the big kitchen items that take up a lot of counter top space and put them on a handy shelf in the garage.  This way I don't have to toss the item but its not eating valuable counter top space.

We had an old kitchen table that was taking up space in the attic, so we brought it to the garage which is right off of the kitchen so it's convenient for use.  We placed the most frequently used items on it and plugged them into a power strip so they're ready to go.  In the summer this is another way we control the heat that a working kitchen generates.

We moved our pantry outside to the garage, and since we buy most things in bulk, this makes it easier to store larger items. (this is a bad pic, we were reorganizing at the time and half the food was on the floor)

  This was our original kitchen pantry which we turned  into an "above ground root cellar" to hold all our fruit and veg as well as the recycle bin.

We have a small spiral staircase that has a little nook of space underneath.  Underneath it we have a recycled plant rack Racey found on the curb of a house where the residents were moving and couldn't be bothered to take it with them.  McClane and his granddad cut wooden shelves to serve as a solid base so I could use the space more efficiently.  This now holds many of my 'go to' items that I use several times a day.

We had a coat closet next to our dinning area.  It had mirrored sliding doors and was just wasted space in my opinion.  So we took the doors off, hung a long curtain in its place, and now it stores our large containers of bread flour, all-purpose flour, self rising flour, and sugar.  I use the old coat rack as a pot rack, and I found lid holders at Goodwill and mounted them on the wall.

Our home is very small and if we can find all this storage and organizational space, I know you will have success as well.  It's all about deciding what things you want to accomplish in each room and start to think out of the box.  The fact that just over 1000 square feet functionally fits the needs of a family of five is proof that you can do whatever you really need to do, and it can look plenty nice at the same time!  Just check the pic at the top for proof!

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