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Posted at 05:54 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Organizing your chaos


My “before” cabinet picture. It's a mess of medication, broken toys, checks, gift cards and, oddly, nail polish bottles. Whenever I would remove an item, several other items would fall out. You can see why. (Sara Kehaulani Goo)

I was inspired. It came in the form of a bottle of children’s Motrin that landed on me for about the fifth time in a week when I opened our side cabinet in the kitchen.

Many people have a “junk drawer” in their house. We have a “junk cabinet.” (We have a junk drawer, too, but that’s another blog post.) In our house, this kitchen cabinet never really took on an identity, so it became a vehicle to park all kinds of odds and ends. It started out as a medicine cabinet. But then toys, crayons, bills and lots and lots of unused gift cards accumulated. (Is there any money left on them? I have no idea.)

But finally, on this past dreary, rainy February weekend, the %&#$*QO&% bottle fell on me again and I couldn’t take it anymore. I thought of Terri Sapienza’s very organized cabinet and how easy she made it seem. I dropped everything and drove over to the Container Store and solve this disorganized problem for good.

When I first arrived, I couldn’t help but become enchanted by the rows of beautiful baskets, in bold colors and polka dot prints. I had thought enough to measure the cabinets, but I realized I had no idea what to get. My instinct was to just buy little containers that would fit.


The 'after' cabinet. You can actually see what's inside and remove items without an avalanche of unrelated items falling out. (Sara Kehaulani Goo)

A nice saleswoman approached and asked a question I hadn’t really thougth about: What do you keep in the cabinet?

I made a visual inventory, and then I came up with a vision: The top shelf would be for items off-limits to kids: Rubbing alcohol, matches and an oddly large assortment of lollipops leftover from my son’s potty training days.

The middle shelf would be for medicine. The helpful Container Store woman said I should skip the fancy baskets and instead opt for the clear plastic (and less expensive) ones so I could see what was inside. I bought two: One for kid meds; one for adult meds.

And the mess that was the bottom shelf would be cleaned up with storage slots for things I use daily: A plastic container with a divider for scissors, small screwdrivers on one side; tape, glue sticks and glue on the other. I splurged on a cute white pencil cup and a matching letter sorter for my stamps and letters.

To boot, I even bought a pack of those nice sticky labels.

A cluster of three stackable plastic bins sorted out the other items I had found that we use: One for bandage strips; one for those gift cards (I figured with them in a highly visible spot, we might remember to redeem them); and the final one for — believe it or not — nail polish.


Although I mostly went with practical plastic containers, I bought a stylish white paper holder and cup holder to liven it up. Now, I love to look inside the cabinet. (Sara Kehaulani Goo)

The “after” picture is nice to look at. Of course, the Container Store is not cheap, even when you buy a lot of plastic. But the finished product relaxes me, in a way that I never knew.

Now, let’s hope it stays that way.

Have you got some organization tips? Share your photos of your home organization in the gallery below. And tell me, especially, if you have found ways to save money using other items to organize your things.

Related: Get organized in 20 minutes

Related: Home organizing with Terri Sapienza

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GALLERY: Upload photos of your organized home

By  |  05:54 AM ET, 02/07/2012

 
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