Blending living styles can be a challenge. Like many couples, Shaun and I have very different cleaning and organizational styles. Shaun’s idea of cleaning is pushing all his things into a corner and calling it done, while I prefer an organized (and labelled) place for everything. I don’t consider myself a neat freak per se, but Shaun loves to whisper “Monica Monica Monica…” while I’m on one of my cleaning sprees (Friends fans, anyone?). It’s all relative.
Anyway, it’s fine and well and good for me to organize my things, but sharing and organizing our used-daily, storage-is-at-a-premium closet is another story. In fact, it’s it is only one of two closets in our apartment. It’s an entry closet, linen closet, and extra storage closet all rolled into one.
I needed to come up with system that worked for both of us, not just me. As much as I’d love to use all uniform baskets everywhere and keep it perfect and folded, it’s not entirely practical. Here’s what we ended up with…
But for the sake of a good before and after, here’s what we started with…
Ugh… Overwhelming. Our shoe rack didn’t fit and kept falling down, so shoes end up spilling out everywhere. My purses ended up in a heap without anywhere easy to place them. Honestly, everything else was just tossed in the closet when we moved and it shows. I needed a proper place for everything.
Wondering how you can implement a storage system in a small space, especially if your partner is less than enthused? Here’s how I did it.
First off, I assessed our needs. How did we use this space daily? How could we make it work for our very different habits? Here were the goals I kept in mind on my quest for a clean closet.
1. Implement systems. Since this space is so multifunctional, I needed systems for my purses, cleaning supplies, shoes, little odds and ends… you get the idea.
2. Keep it neat. Since Shaun (and I, admittedly) often leave the closet doors open, so I wanted it to look as organized as possible when visible.
3. Make it easy. Shaun isn’t inherently as clean as I am. Basically, he does it to please me, which honestly, I’m so grateful for. In order for him to keep on top of it too, it has to be as simple as possible.
Here’s how it turned out!
Much better! Maybe it’s not as picture perfect as it could be, but this system works for us. Everything we use regularly is within arm’s reach. Here are a few clean closet tips:
1. Use baskets to hide away clutter.
I love the look of uniform baskets to keep everything tucked away out of sight. I ended up going for more of little blue basket I keep my laundry supplies in from Walmart. They’re sturdy, super light, fit the top shelf PERFECTLY and could easily be reused for another purpose in our next home. At about $7 each, getting a group of them was a bit of an investment, but they were worth it.
2. Label baskets so every member of the family can find what they’re looking for.
Since I clearly can’t see what’s in them (I’m 5’3), labels help me to find what I’m looking for quickly. See how I made them in Monday’s post.
3. When tackling a new organizing challenge, include your partner as much as possible.
Since Shaun had already edited down his belongings into cardboard boxes, I kept it at that. If I reorganize what he’s already tackled, why should he bother trying?
I also thought about a big basket to toss all Shaun’s shoes into, but he preferred this shoe rack. He cut it down to size, and I used some super glue to actually keep it in place. Just because I like my idea, why shouldn’t I consider his? As a bonus, he was even motivated to make it work.
4. Keep your partner or family’s tendencies in mind when designing your systems.
I’d love to take credit for this one, but of course, I got it from one of my all time favourite blogs I Heart Organizing. Shaun tends to dump his work stuff (kept oh-so-stylishly in one of my old Lululemon bags) on the entrance floor when he gets home. Instead of asking him to put it nicely in a basket, I tried to keep as close as possible to his tendency: here, he can just place it on the shelf without anything getting in the way. Easy.
5. Make it easy to grab the things you need when you leave the house.
For me, this meant designating a spot for my purses, hanging bag for all our reusable shopping bags and creating an “outbox” for things I want to return, donate, or anything else that needs to be out of the house.
To keep my purses from piling up, I picked up some cheap book ends from the thrift store so each bag has a spot. I also added a little shelf from the dollar store to put my slouchy purses on so they don’t end up in a heap.
And lastly, 6. Make use of vertical space.
Our broom, swiffer, umbrella and reusable bags are all hung up on the sides of the closet.
So there it is! It may not be as gorgeous some of the photos I’ve seen on Pinterest, but we can maintain it because it works with our tendencies and habits, not against them.
How do you organize keeping the needs and habits of your family or boyfriend in mind? It’s an ongoing challenge for me, so I’d love to hear from you!