Clearing out, Organizing, & Redecorating Room by Room | Utility Rooms, Dining Room, & Bathrooms

June 2, 2011


Here we are on the third day of a four (ok, maybe five) day process of simplifying our homes!  Yesterday we overcame the bedrooms and office–it’s all downhill from there!  Today I’m going to go through my utility room, dining room (if I had one), and bathroom.

As a reminder, here are the General Rules I Follow for All Rooms:

  • I always have a trash bag with me.  That way if there’s something I want to throw away I can do it right then.  This eliminates the second-guessing and the huge trash pile in the middle of the room.
  • In addition, always have a second trash bag, a box, or a special place in the room to put things that I want to give away.  These are things that I know a certain person or family could use or would want.  When I’m done with a room I move those items that I’ve cleared out from that room to a central place in my home and bag them up (I use old grocery bags).  The name of the person or family goes on the bag and those bags get put in my car.  Then the next time I see them I already have their bag in my car! The same goes for things I’ve borrowed from others that I find when clearing out my home.
  • If I’m planning on having a garage sale I’ll have a third trash bag, box, or special place to pile items to sell in the garage sale.  Again, when I’m finished in a certain room, I’ll move those items to a predetermined “garage sale” area of my home (sometimes a bag or box to be put in the attic if the garage sale will be several weeks from then).
  • I always start at the door of whatever room I’m clearing out and work my way clockwise until I end up back at the door again.
  • I make a list as I go of things that Tim may not want me to get rid of to ask him about later.
  • I try to just make a decision right then and there about everything I touch.  There’s really only five categories I work with: keep it, toss it, give it away, garage sale, and ask Tim about it.  If an item lands in the “keep it” category but is in the wrong room I immediately put it in the proper room.
  • If I haven’t used an item for over a year (and it’s not something that logically doesn’t need to be used in that amount of time–for instance, it makes sense to hang on to pregnancy/baby stuff if you’re planning to have more children even if you haven’t used it in over a year) then I get rid of it (throw away, give away, or save for garage sale).

One last note before we get started: You must be in the mood to do this.  If you’re not in a “clearing out” mode, it’s just not going to work and you’re going to spend all day going through a room and when you’re done it’s going to be exactly the same.  Make sure you actually want to clear out your home!

Remember:  The name of the game is Simplify!

Utility Rooms

  • First, decide what the point of this room is.  Is this the laundry room?  The mud room (Oh, how I wish I had–or needed–a mud room!)?  The pantry?  The storage space?  Is the answer to all of these questions “Yes!?”  Once you decide what the purpose of your utility room (or utility rooms) is, stick to that thought the whole time you’re in there.  If you decide this room needs to have more than just one purpose, try to separate each function as much as possible from the others.
  • This is the room where you may need to spend a bit of money on organizational items.  An iron/ironing board hanger, a broom/mop hanger, a wire rack to hold sheets and towels, shelving, etc.  I’m assuming this room is rather small and so the more items you can get on shelves or hanging from the walls, the better.
  • Keep objects that go together together.  Keep your laundry detergent on a shelf right above your washing machine, for instance.
  • We used to store many items in our utility room that really belonged in our tool shed.  In the name of simplification, get things that don’t belong in your utility room out of your utility room!
  • Get rid of items that have expired or that you no longer use.  Make sure you dispose of each item properly!
  • Finally, remember that baskets and tubs are your friends! :)

The Dining Room

  • I do not have a separate dining room, but these following ideas could (and do) apply to my kitchen nook area as well.
  • First, decide if this room is your dining room or your office where you also store that big table you eat off of two times a year.  If it needs to be an office, then make it an office!  Consider moving the dining room table to a corner and re-purposing it (after covering it with something, of course) as a craft table or something.  You could store the chairs in the attic or in a closet.  Make the room be whatever it needs to be for you–don’t think that you MUST have a formal dining room!
  • However, if you’ve decide that you want a formal dining room, make is JUST that.  Don’t try to cram too much in the space–the more simple, the better.
  • Either way, the table should be void of random things.  I know that at some points during the year this might be impossible.  Maybe this is the table you make quilts on for the fair, maybe this table is your candle-making table at Christmastime, maybe this is your kid’s home-school table.  Whatever the function of your dining room table, keep it neat!  Purchase a big basket to run down the center to hold all the aforementioned items you need at the table.  Just because it’s a functional table doesn’t mean it needs to be messy!

The Bathrooms

  • This is a room in which I always throw away the most stuff.  Why do I have six empty bottles of the same exact color of nail polish?  Go through every single drawer.  Pour everything out onto the floor and sift through it.  Is it empty?  Can you re-purpose it?  No?  Toss it.  Is it broken?  Toss it.  How many years have you had it and never used it?  More than one?  Give it away.  GET RID OF STUFF YOU DO NOT WANT OR DO NOT USE!  Why do I have so many random jars of makeup!?  I use one very specific type of makeup, two, sometimes three types of eye shadow, eye liner, and mascara.  Where did all this come from!?
  • Use baskets in the drawers to separate tiny things like hair ties and bobby pins.
  • Use your medicine cabinet!  It’s amazing what can actually fit in there, and since it’s at eye level, randoms have less of a chance at getting lost.
  • Be creative with your space.  If you have a small bathroom consider shelving above the toilet.  We got an over-the-toilet organizer from Wal-Mart that has open shelves and a cabinet with doors.
  • Keep things off of the counter.  The fewer items on the counter the better–that’s what the medicine cabinet and drawers are for!
  • To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here is a list of every single item that is in my bathroom:
  1. In the shower- Dr. Bronner’s shampoo mixture, apple cider vinegar conditioner, Dr. Bronner’s for soap, 2 razors, 2 loofahs
  2. In the medicine cabinet- 2 sticks of homemade natural deodorant, jar of oil face wash, jar of coconut oil for lotion, soap pump of homemade natural toothpaste, contacts, contact solution, retainer
  3. On the counter- 3 toothbrushes in a holder, soap pump of Dr. Bronner’s, 1 candle
  4. In the organizer above the toilet (displayed)- a few arranged wash cloths, a bowl of homemade soap, a picture frame, 3 bottles of body spray/cologne
  5. In the organizer above the toilet (in the cabinet)- baby powder corn starch for hair, aloe vera for gel, glasses cleaner spray and cloth, 3 hair products I use regularly
  6. In sink drawers- (in first drawer)- make-up bag, plastic basket of hair ties & bobby pins, hair brush, comb, (in second drawer) medicine, oils, and band-aids in plastic baskets, nail polish and remover, (in third drawer) q-tip box, cotton swab bag, tampons
  7. Under the sink- electric hair clipper, and a plastic tub with a hair dryer, hair waver, & 2 very different sized curling irons.
  8. On the floor- scale, trash can, bathroom mat
  9. On the wall- double towel rod with two towels, hand towel holder with hand towel, small clock, and picture frame
  10. On the back of the door– Luke’s towel
  • Listed out like that it seems like quite a lot, but when you really start to think about it, it’s not that much.  We use every single one of those items AT LEAST once-a-month–most of it we use every day.  I could, of course, get rid of some of these things like the curling irons, the cologne, and the nail polish, but I don’t want to!  I like curling my hair, smelling good, and having pretty nails.  And there’s nothing wrong with that. :)  The problem would be if I, for instance, had hung onto that set of curlers that I never use!  See the difference? ;)

There!  Your entire home is now simplified!  Doesn’t it feel fantastic to finally only own items that you actually use!?  Don’t forget to take the items you want to give away to whomever they go!  Also, set a date for that garage sale today so that it really happens!  Now all that’s left is the outside!

Have I missed anything?  If there’s something in your home and you just don’t know what to do with it, ask!  Maybe I or someone else will have a brilliant idea!

Next time: Outside–the dreaded garage and tool shed! (oh, and anything else I missed)


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