Category / Organization

Basement Progress: Under Stairs Playspace and Ikea Algot Toy Closet

We haven’t done much in the basement in recent months (other projects taking priority!), but I’m still behind on updating what we’ve accomplished so far. This time last year we gathering estimates for tape and texture on our drywall, so we’ve come a long way! Today I’m sharing the area just to the right when you come down the stairs — the under stairs playspace and toy closet!

You can see we still need to mount the little house number “5” (Crew’s lucky number!) and trim out the faux wood so that it seamlessly connects with the wall and gives the illusion of a roofline. Crew’s favorite part of this spot is by far the ability to reach the light switch inside and turn on his “porch light”.

(By far, the tiniest room I’ve every attempted to photograph!) This space will change many times I’m sure, but for now it’s a little reading nook with his Pottery Barn chair and a couple shelves to hold favorite books. We kept it clean and simple in here with white walls, and I applied navy decal stars to give the feel of wallpaper on the far wall.

(The view looking up from that little red chair — we continued the star theme with some string lights he can plug in for a little extra magic in this space. The “Be You” sign was originally gold and I spray painted it navy to make it feel a bit more masculine.)

And the view looking back toward his little door. We did a flush mount light to minimize head bonking, and I love that the “Be You” sign is hidden until you’re all the way in here. Some stained wood arrows pointing into the space, and matching book shelving complete this little spot I’m totally giddy about.

I Want My Hat Back / Ferdinand / Love Matters Most / Not A Box / Be Kind banner

Back across from the playspace entrance is the double doored toy closet. (And for those who’ve asked, the framed print is from Smallwoods — the lyrics to “Forever Young” seemed so appropriate here!)

This closet has always been at the top of the list for the basement plan, as we saw one similar in a builder’s house we toured before building our own home.

It doubles as current toy storage on the bottom half, within easy reach for Crew…

…and outgrown toy/baby gear storage up high. It’s so nice to still be able to find our bins of infant/toddler toys when babies come to visit us, and until we know if there’s another kiddo in our future or not, this stuff is tucked neatly away.

We also have a couple of bins for things he either hasn’t quite grown INTO along with a couple Christmas and birthday gifts we were able to hide away in all the celebrations, for a rainy day when all the newness has worn off and he’s ready to play with something different.

I’ve used some Elfa products from The Container Store, but decided for this closet to try Ikea’s Algot system. Overall, we’ve been really happy with it. There are plenty of options and ways to configure what you’re after, although Page might write a bit different review about actually mounting the support pieces on which we built this all. I HAVE found that with the lidded tubs (up high) you have to line them up JUST right to get them on and off the rails — which would be frustrating for a small child trying to access bins of sorted toys, so I’m glad we kept it easy with freestanding tubs on the floor and open mesh basket drawers (that don’t come all the way off, but rather function like a normal drawer).

It is SO nice to have a spot for everything, and be able to shut the doors on it all!

striped bins / red tubs / red grommet bins

Cheers to a new year, organization, and a new indoor spot to play on days like today when it’s 2 degrees out!

*This post contains affiliate links.

the minimalist game: 30 days of purging

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Recently, Page and I watched the documentary, Minimalism.  While of course, to be entertaining, the people featured are going to extremes (tiny houses, possessions that only fit in a backpack, etc) it still fired up the desire in me to get rid of some excess around here. After poking around the creators’ website, I spied The Minimalist Game, a challenge that lasts 30 days. Day 1, you get rid of one item. Day 2, you get rid of two. And so on. I was all in.

minimalist game | get rid of 465 things in 30 days | www.lifeinyellow.com

It’s been 30 days and I have purged…donated, pitched, sold on facebook, and dropped off at consignment stores. No room was off limits. I jotted down what I parted with each day, and most days I managed to get a photo as well. It’s crazy to think that following this schedule allows you to get 465 items out of your house by the end of the month.

I’m pretty committed to combing through stuff on a regular basis, and the recent swap of Crew’s room and my office/guest room, coupled with having to clear everything out of our basement for renovation, have both forced me to go through our stuff numerous times and really assess what we didn’t need. And yet…I still managed to find stuff that we won’t miss. Not everything was tangible — I figured anything I could delete/uninstall/unsubscribe from also counted — after all, it’s less “stuff” in my life.

If you need inspiration as to where to dig for items you might be able to purge…here is my list for each of the 30 days!

  1. hair bun shaper (because unless I’m going for the Leia look, why do I have two??)
  2. old bath toys
  3. pieces of costume jewelry
  4. IKEA light pieces (we bought for our wardrobes, never used them, and have since lost pieces)
  5. kitchen gadgets
  6. kid dishes (more than we need!)
  7. email lists unsubscribed from (“stuff” can be digital, too!)
  8. bath products / nail polish, etc.
  9. apps deleted off my phone
  10. home decor items (mostly nursery decor)
  11. undergarments (hello bras I hate and never wear)
  12. expired meds / millions of travel toothpastes, etc.
  13. baby supplies (unopened wipes, food pouches, etc all went to a local pantry)
  14. clothing items
  15. baby / toddler outgrown toys
  16. glass frappucino jars (haven’t used since we moved)
  17. more clothing / accessories
  18. random items from basement storage (lamp, garment rack, pillows, duffel bags)
  19. basement samples / swatches / paint chips
  20. used bottles / pacifiers (while clean, they’re gross looking —  one of a few things I would buy new again if there’s a baby #2)
  21. more clothing (went through off-season and maternity stuff this time)
  22. pantry items (expired stuff and stuff we tried and didn’t like, random entertaining pieces, etc.)
  23. random stuff in my office (supplies, old notes, ClickSmith materials, etc)
  24. old art supplies (mine and Crew’s), random laundry supplies
  25. more bath products, cleaning products
  26. more dishes, kitchen supplies, table linens, cocktail napkins
  27. old art supplies, photography gear, newborn props
  28. so many papers — reference articles, statements, old lists, etc
  29. outgrown Crew clothing items
  30. stationery / invitation samples / misc. paper products (haven’t designed invitations in years!)

#minsgame

Finishing the Basement: the play space

I definitely jinxed myself saying we’d have flooring in for the next post — nope, backordered, then backordered FURTHER, and the latest update is that the mill is now making a whole new run of our carpet, so yes…more waiting.

So I figured in the meantime, I can still share some updated “in progress” pictures — this time, of the play space. This little cove wraps around the bottom half of our stairwell, forming an under-stairs clubhouse spot on the right, and a closet designated solely for toys (and storing baby gear up top) to the left.

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I have since finished arranging all the components just the way I like them (we went with the Ikea “Algot” system, and so far, I’ve been very pleased!). I’ve also been slowly relocating a few toys from upstairs down here — which will be a fun rediscovery for Crew when he can get down here to play in what is (hopefully!) a couple more weeks.
toy closet in progress

We still have some work to do on the clubhouse. Since the first photo above was taken, our electrician installed both a light inside, and the “porch light” on the outside. We’ve purchased some plank style paneling that Page will rip into the shape of a house, and edge with some leftover trim we have on hand. Finally, when he builds a sliding barn door for the bottom of the stairway to help muffle some sound, his plan is to create a mini version to serve as Crew’s front door. I’m thinking a mailbox and/or a flower box of some sort is in order to make it especially homey! 🙂

PlaySpace

I’m waiting to take pics of the inside until it’s truly finished, but decorating this little spot has been so much fun! We will back soon (fingers crossed!!) with the reveal!

less stuff. more organization.

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(guest room closet before…)

I’ve been on a mission to de-clutter our home. I think (??) it started with the flex room and wanting to sell the hutch that lived in there (thus needing to find a new spot for my photo supplies). Then again, it might be stemming from wanting to get our basement under control, so we can take steps to finish it later this year. Then again, it might be that all I did for the first 6-9 months with a newborn in a new house was to just throw crap in random spots, with no energy or brainpower to organize. Wherever the motivation began, what finally kicked my butt into gear was swooning over this craft closet reveal, after planning to do something similar in our guest room closet. So yes, the declutter/purge/organize bug has bitten me HARD.

IMG_1513(…now my “craft closet”)

It’s that start of the new year thing that makes me take a fresh look at our stuff…and frankly, the maintenance and time to clean, organize, pick up, make room for, and search among, it all. We don’t NEED all the stuff. I’m also just more than ready to start really LIVING in my HOME, instead of feeling like in many ways, we’re still moving in and finding more permanent spots for things.

To get started, I’ve been tackling a few projects:

  • I hosted a Facebook “virtual” garage sale to family/friends with an album of everything I collect in my “must go” pile. (Anything not worth the time to snap a pic and post with a price can just go in the car for a Goodwill drop-off.) I like that, as opposed to a traditional sale with price haggling and strangers, I can just name a price, people can decide yay/nay and comment accordingly, I can make piles and totals for pickup, and it all leaves my house in a short, orderly time frame.
  • I’ve been using ThredUp – to consign clothes as I go through my closet. womens and childrens clothing. I’ve been less than impressed by our local consignment shops and how unorganized they are, and I love how easy it is to just fill the bags they send me and whisk off magically to the land of sell and recycle. I don’t even have to do my post-consignment-shop trip to Goodwill with the items they didn’t take. ThredUp recycles anything for me that they don’t take, and I cash out via Paypal. I just sent in my fifth bag. Ahhh.
  • As for baby clothes and gear, I’ve been able to part with a few items as we’ve found our parenting style and which gear best serves us. Several apparel items have moved out, either because they are so worn they can be tossed, they’re a bargain brand that can be donated, or we found it was hard to put on/too itchy/etc so it was never really worn to begin with. Aside from donating/tossing, any brand-name/designer things we can do without have been sent to ThredUp.

As I’ve been going through things, I’ve been doing a little online reading to keep myself on track. In particular, I liked this breakdown of five of the best-known methods for decluttering, the philosophies and personalities attached to them, and of course, links to the books written about them. Also in my search to get motivated to declutter, I came across this blog, which, while more extreme than I have the desire to go, was a pretty fascinating read, and definitely confirmed that there’s plenty around our house with which we can part.

I’ve always been weirdly excited by the idea of purging. Case in point: when the boys were out of the house for a couple hours one Saturday recently, I went wild with my free time…and organized the junk drawer. And loved it. #livingontheedge

I have been using the tools over at A Bowl Full of Lemons (her 14 week challenge is so well organized!). I also stumbled across this 52 weeks to organized checklist (each week is a clickable link to get you psyched for the week’s task). I haven’t followed either plan religiously, but it does keep me on track to tackle SOMETHING on the list each week.

One project I’m particularly excited about is to tackle photos. I found myself nodding along with this article — we are in the exact same boat — so many albums and scrapbooks that take up too much space and never get looked at. I’m hoping to scan my heart away and piece together some albums from our last eight years of marriage. Plus I love that unlike my “system” now for photos, MyPublisher will archive my images on their site and I could reprint a new book at any time in the case of a disaster.

So there is my random rambling of a catch-up, complete with “meh” iphone pictures, on what’s been going on around here in recent weeks. I’m hoping to create a couple posts of the more transformed spots in the house (an updated “before” of our basement, and my reworked guest room closet, housing all of my crafty stuff). Until then, you can likely find me creating categories on my label maker. Try not to be jealous of my coolness factor.

organizing, baby!

organizing baby

The long and short of it is that a baby…equals way more stuff.

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While in some areas I go crazy (as in…ALL the adorable baby boy clothes!), there are other areas I was super minimalist when it came to buying all the “stuff” (I finally caved and agreed we needed a jumper, but only now that the swing is gone – neither of which takes up a SMALL amount of space or looks very chic with the rest of the house ha – but this grin makes it worth it!).

In an attempt to keep from all the baby gear taking over the house, once Crew outgrows things, they are sorted into sell/donate, or keep, and promptly taken to the basement to be stored. There is so much stuff since his arrival and I’m constantly working to keep it under control. I love to see how others with littles are doing the same, so here’s my version of organizing/storing all things Crew-man.

crew's nautical nursery | www.lifeinyellow.com

A while back I posted about Crew’s nursery. To take a little more in-depth look, here is how things are organized within its four walls.

crew's nautical nursery | www.lifeinyellow.com

For the most part, the clothing he is currently wearing is divided among the dresser drawers by pajamas, tops, bottoms, and one-pieces. Socks/hats,/bow ties and other accessories have a drawer of their own, as do the muslin blankets he cuddles with at night. We designated a drawer just for burp cloths (hopefully we are nearing the end of needing those!) and another for sleep sacks/nighttime diapers.

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Any clothing he hasn’t yet grown into (and anything “hang-worthy” he is currently wearing) is hung up and organized by size — super helpful when I’m shopping for upcoming seasons/ages to know what we already have in the stash. Toys for when he’s older and stuff for his someday “big kid room” are stashed on the shelf up high, spare crib sheets and changing pad covers are in the shelving on the right, and his collection of blankets made by family and friends are stacked along with his growing collection of stuffed animals! We are hoping to have his future play area in our basement completed by the time he’s old enough to really play with these, and many other toys, but for now is his small room, they set up camp here.

As he outgrows clothes (I seem to find something just about every time I put away a load of laundry), I either choose to pitch/donate, or it goes in a hidden storage bin under his crib. Once the bin is full it gets labeled with the size ranges it contains and stored in the basement. This is easier than trekking downstairs all the time, but also keeps too-small things from getting back into the drawers.

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Just outside his door is the “kids bath” as we call it. The large section of this cabinet is perfect for stashing his towels, baby wash, meds, and the overflow of diapers, wipes, diaper pail refills, and more. (God bless Target subscription, yes??) Bath toys are stashed in a catch-all that suction cups inside the shower.

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I try and work during Crew’s naps, but sometimes we find ourselves in our upstairs landing, where he can spread out for a little playtime while I try and answer a few quick emails. Eventually, I see this space becoming more of a hangout with some beanbags and a TV, but for now it has my desk and the Ikea shelf holds some bins of toys/books for the baby man.

Downstairs, I’ve designated a kitchen drawer to all things Crew-food-related. By now, all the pumping supplies have been moved out of here and replaced with spoons and sippy cups, and of course, the ongoing supply of bottles. A couple of dollar store baskets and a divider from IKEA help keep things in their place and easy to grab. Crew is entirely on formula now, which we buy in bulk and I store in this easier-to-open flip lid container.

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I’ve been making my own baby food, and dedicated a shelf in our freezer to store it all. In general, when I make a batch of something, I divide it between some cube trays and pouches, eventually putting the frozen cubes into baggies and sorting both cubes and bags into separate bins for fruits and veggies. Super easy to grab a cube or two when we’re eating at home, or to send a pouch along to day care.

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I’ve never wanted to carry a diaper bag — it’s not really my style, and my everyday bag is a pretty large tote that I do keep a spare diaper, slim pack of wipes, and changing pad in, along with a teether and a little cosmetic bag that holds some baby meds if needed. For the rest of the things I may need on extended trips out and about, I keep a fabric cube on the floor of the car near Crew’s carseat. In here, I stash a couple toys, books, blankets, burp cloths, more diapers and wipes, and a bag of various meds. For me, this works much more easily than carrying it all on my shoulder for as often as I really need it.

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It’s still a lot of stuff – but I’m trying to keep it corralled! Anyone else have tips or tricks for keeping ALL. THAT. BABY. STUFF. under control??

home sweet apartment!

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Yesterday, I picked up the keys to our digs for the next eight months. I’d post more than one pic… but this is essentially all of it. 🙂 One bedroom there in the back to the right, and a bath between it and the kitchen. Laundry is in the closet you see to the far left, and a large coat/storage closet is out of view, even further to the left, at the top of the stairs/entry. (First time in a second floor apartment – I thought it would be inconvenient, but I’m liking the higher views out the windows!)

It will be an interesting challenge to find a place for things between this one bedroom and some storage space, but I’m also grateful that it’s helping us prioritize belongings, only keep the things we need and love, and be reminded that while the “stuff” is fun, it’s far from necessary.

I’m looking forward to some challenges and projects in the coming months that I can share here. I’m hoping to write about maximizing small spaces, organizing every inch of cupboard  and closet spaces, and the whole idea of creating that feeling of “home” within a budget and effort level appropriate for a very short and temporary timeline.

Looking ahead to the (cozy!) adventure that awaits us here!

work it.

seejanework

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Our office has been in renovation mode for the past several weeks and next week I finally get to relocate to my permanent spot. Fresh and new…but sparse. Enter some cute accessories. These are some things that have caught my eye, from some of my favorite resources for lovely office things! (Be sure to check out the link below to Poppin — desk accessories in whatever color you like!)

anthropologie

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KateSpade

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poppin

 

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pencilshavingsstudio

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moving checklist (free printable!)

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As promised — coming at you today with a moving checklist! I know there are several floating around in cyberworld, but I found myself needing one that applied to those who have to move TWICE — both to temporary housing and a storage unit, and then again in a few months. So I included some line items (if applicable) for anyone else in the same boat.

moving checklist | lifeinyellow.com

movingchecklist

Click the link above (or hover on it, right click, and save) to download a copy to your computer.

Happy packing!

***Pst! You can snag other free printables from Life In Yellow:
Sitter Notes
Meal Planner
Holiday Decorating
Gift Planner