As I have mentioned, I moved about six weeks ago. A move that was neither anticipated or instigated by myself has resulted favorably–a great apartment, a fabulous roommate–but has created no small amount of upheaval.
Taylor cat sat for my while I was on my Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip and he mentioned my bedroom was entirely too small to relax in–and he was right! It was totally the kind of thing I needed an outsider to tell me.
I have been treating this as an opportunity to start fresh. My old place was pretty tiny, poorly laid out and filled with half-completed home organization and improvement projects. I purged a ton when I moved, as one does. I am much better at purging than I used to be. I grew up poor and we moved thirteen times by the time I was thirteen years old. I love to “nest” and I like having a lot of things. I’m also a magpie, anything shiny I want to keep around me. Further, I’m a perfectonist. I often don’t finish things because I’m afraid they won’t look perfect and therefore won’t be good enough. It’s a treacherous cycle.
In the last few years I’ve practiced time and again getting rid of things and freeing myself. But it doesn’t mean I don’t still have a lot of stuff. Clothes, especially. And craft stuff! Dear lord. I love to design things with my hands and I’ve always dreamed of having a dedicated craft area. It was my plan to convert my old living room into a craft room. I was about halfway there and then sort of stopped, at a loss of how to organize it and also an issue with getting shelving up.
I’m a good information organizer but not so great at things.
The finished craft corner. There will be a new bookshelf to replace those cardboard boxes full of books.
Along comes my friend Elisabeth, who pitches herself as an organizational top and volunteered to help me sort my new craft area. It was a really incredible process! She was so kind! So many of those TV shows about organization start with someone mean about people’s stuff. But Elisabeth was gentle. Between our time together in my craft area and my bathroom I learned a lot about simple steps to home organization from Elisabeth and I wanted to share them with my readers who are not organizationally-inclined.
1. Take all the stuff you need to organize out, and separate like with like.
For my crafts we started with what project they created (all hair bling stuff went together, knitting stuff went together, etc…), then subsections based on what part of the project they work for. So hair bling flowers are in a bag together, hair bling backings are together, feathers have a shoe box.
I designed this hair bling to go with this jacket–as seen on Golden Girls’ Blanche, by the way.
For the bathroom we just pulled things out of boxes and saw the categories, even though I couldn’t think of them until we started pulling them out. Like medicine, hair accessories, lotion, nail stuff, etc…
2. Start putting stuff together and find spots that make sense, and containers that make sense.
I really believed that I had to get special matchy matchy organizational boxes or whatever to really succeed at this project. I didn’t. Elisabeth said very distinctly “Don’t wait to have the ‘right’ sorting mechanisms. So, I just used what I had and it seems to work great. In fact, I have this huge surplus of these great purple re-usable shopping bags I made as merch once but didn’t sell even half of them. So those are quite handy, and don’t look bad.
I also used a lot of vases and tiny glass bottles and previous organizing craft caddies I already had.
I also have noticed in the bathroom already there’s a section of stuff that could use a different kind of container, so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for a basket or something cool during my thrifting adventures.
3. Save the micro projects for later.
There’s a few little things I need to consolidate further, but not getting bogged down in the micro projects meant we could finish sooner.
I dislike cleaning, so to make it more fun I wear a cute apron. This oil cloth apron is water proof and is a cute vintage style. Also, I believe in cute baskets for organizing, like Baby Girl Chicken (tea, duh) and a stereo for music while cleaning. Shout out to Bklyn Boihood calendar!
4. Be gentle, loving and willing.
Elisabeth was so sweet and loving during the whole project. It was nice to have conversations about items. I was very willing to take her direction (and, in fact, really needed direction, even if it was heading somewhere I was already inclined) and willing to let go of stuff that didn’t make sense.
Being gentle meant I could be flexible with the space. Sometimes sorting things helped the space take shape around where things needed to go. It felt pretty amazing and freeing.
Pretty much all of our appliances have outfits. I didn’t realize my Kitchen Aid was naked until it had this jaunty crocheted doiley.
5. Use the Buddy System.
Elisabeth said I really just needed to invite friends over to do this work with me. It was quite nice to share the experience, talk about my stuff on the outside instead of relying on my inner process which is often clouded by a critic who is hard to ignore, especially when doing something daunting.
It was also lovely to catch-up with a friend! And we discovered in my archives box that we had the same Day/Night journal from 1999. She said she had struggled with how to use the two sides of the journal. I totally used one side for day-to-day journaling and the other side for BAD poetry.
Me and Elisabeth! Thank you again so much!!!
So that’s it! I’m no design blogger, but I hope these tips are helpful to folks like me who always want their presents to look Martha Stewart fancy but more often than not use the store’s bag and tissue as the wrapping. My life is going to always be a work in progress. But this progress feels so significant and I celebrate that the progress is where the living happens.