A Simple Item I Love to Use

By | Organizing

I love organizing and one of my favorite places to organize is a kitchen pantry.  For me, there’s something so wonderful about creating the different categories, all catered to what each client needs, arranging them in a way that is personalized and specific to the people who live in the house, and then being able to stand back and see the end result – an organized pantry where everything is seen.  I absolutely love taking a small, focused space and making it completely organized and “pretty”.  Since starting Top Shelf I’ve used several different organizing items in pantries but the one item I recommend more than anything else is a standard wire basket.  These can be found at stores ranging from different dollar stores all the way up to West Elm and The Container Store.

One thing I love about wire baskets is you don’t have to use a label.  I know labels are super popular right now, but not everyone has the creative bug to create and maintain labels.  There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just not for everyone.  Wire baskets are great if you want to keep your items contained but still want to see how much you have. And the great thing about baskets is, the contents don’t have to be arranged nicely.  They’re baskets! Just throw those bags, boxes, or bars in there and walk away.

By using wire baskets, you can tell with just a glance what “category” they basket belongs in, the contents it holds, if your supply is getting low or if you can skip buying that item the next time you are at the grocery store.  I had one client who didn’t realize the amount of beans and lentils she had until I gathered them all and put them in one basket. When she saw all that she had she said, “Well, looks like I won’t be needing to buy lentils and beans for a while!” (saving money, cha-ching!)

So, could your pantry use some wire baskets?  Go check out your pantry and see if they could help you out too.

A Simple Item I Love to Use was originally published on

If It’s Missing… Get Rid of It

By | Organizing

I’m sure you read that title and thought, “Wait what? If it’s missing then how can I get rid of it?”.  The answer is in the “…”.  If it’s a puzzle missing a few pieces, get rid of it.  If it’s a game missing pieces, get rid of it.  If something is incomplete and you don’t use it BECAUSE it’s incomplete, why are you hanging on to it?  I realize there are heirlooms and other things passed down that you may want to hold on to, which is fine and totally understandable.  But if it’s a game or puzzle and it’s missing any part of it, clear it out of that space!

Several years ago my parents and I went through a period of time where we did a LOT of puzzles (rocking out to Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera because we’re super cool) and, as all puzzle aficionados know, when you finally finish a puzzle and discover pieces are missing… In that moment there’s nothing worse.  The elation you should have felt is gone because all you can see are the empty spots scattered around the puzzle.  And I’m not being dramatic.  Be honest, if you could choose between a puzzle that was complete or one that had “missing 3 pieces” written on the box, wouldn’t you go for the complete puzzle?!  Yes!  Of course you would!  So get rid of the incomplete one!

I have 7 nieces and nephews (and another one is on the way this month!) and if one of their games is missing pieces it’s not as much fun to play (again, personal experience talking here).  If you have children and can relate, then get rid of the game(s)!  If you don’t have children and can relate, then get rid of the game(s)!  If it’s one the kids (or you) love I’m sure you can find it again in a store or online.  Or you can hit up a much loved family member and they can search for a replacement, but there’s no reason to keep the incomplete game.

And don’t feel guilty about getting rid of either of these items!  Wouldn’t you rather see games and puzzles in your cupboard or closet that you actually want to use instead of a bunch of boxes that you never take out anymore?  Yes.  The answer is yes.  Every time.

If It’s Missing… Get Rid of It was originally published on

Organizing the Catch-All Room

By | Organizing

Well, it’s the fifth week of the month which means your weekly “tip” comes in the form of a previous job. 🙂

Some homes have “catch-all drawers”, “catch-all cupboards” and “catch-all spaces”… This home had a “catch-all room”.  I met the mom in a ballet class we both were taking and every week she would tell me she needed to hire me “one day” (which I hear a lot) and she actually did!  I went to her house for a consultation and she showed me her “catch-all room”.  As we discussed her desires for the room, she told me it needed to be multi-functional for her family.  She is a crafter and seamstress so she needed a space for that, she home-schools her 3 kids and so she needed a space for them to do work individually, she wanted a space for all the arts and crafts supplies they use every day, along with a place to store books, old pictures and other random items that didn’t have a home.  If this sounds overwhelming, it was.  It was a a VERY cluttered space but had SO much potential.

We worked hard for several hours and came up with 4 different “zones” in this large room.  She had her craft and sewing space, her kids got their desk space (she only has 1 kid at a time sit a do work so the desk she had was perfect), the large bookshelf that already had arts and craft supplies on it just needed to be organized and the small bookshelf was perfect for the items her husband needed stored, along with the pictures and books we found along the way.

The one tip I’ll give to you guys based on this job is this – purge! Every single item in your space needs to be addressed. A lot of what you’ll see in the pictures was thrown out or donated.  If she hadn’t been so ready to get rid of the unnecessary, this job would have been a lot harder and a lot longer.

Overall it was a great experience and I was thrilled I could help a friend out.  Scroll down to see the “before and after” pictures.

Organizing the Catch-All Room was originally published on

A Guest Post For Every Parent’s Need

By | Organizing

Okay maybe not EVERY parent, but parent’s with young kids.  One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “How do I keep my kid’s “too small and too big” clothes organized?!”  I’m sure some of you out there are saying, “YES!”, but even if you’re not just keep reading.  You never know when you may be able to pass this info along.

Kristin at Everyday Organizing has personal experience with this (unlike my single, childless self).  She has twins, a boy and a girl, and at the time she wrote this post they were toddlers – yikes for clothes organization!!! She addressed this issue in her post Too Small/Too Big Baskets. She writes:

“…the areas of my house that require the most constant purging are my kids’ closets.  As all parents know, toddlers grow out of clothes in the blink of an eye.  I swear, pants that fit perfectly last week are suddenly two inches too short.  At least once a week, I put an item of clothing on one of my children only to find that it no longer fits.”

If you can relate then click the post title and see how she combated this problem!

A Guest Post For Every Parent’s Need was originally published on

This is One of My Least Favorite Organizing Tools

By | Organizing

This organizing tool is one that can be found in dorm rooms all over America, which is fine.  In my opinion they should stay in dorm rooms.  They are handy, they do provide extra storage when needed, and they are affordable, but please, do NOT bring this item into your home once you’re out of college and in your own place.

Okay, so what is this item?  Plastic stackable drawers.  These guys are magnets for dust and dirt in every tiny little corner, they bend, warp and break very easily because they’re cheaply made and, quite frankly, they just aren’t nice to look at.  If you’re willing to do just a bit of research you’ll see there are so many other great options out there.

One such item is IKEA’s Raskog utility cart.  This consistently is one of IKEA’s top sellers and everyone who has one raves about it in all the reviews and online articles.  If you don’t like the look of that particular cart or the price is higher than you’d like there’s other carts out there such as this one from Wal-Mart or this cart from Amazon.  Or, maybe you want to go in a completely different direction and buy something like this from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Whatever you choose to use, do yourself a favor – donate those plastic drawers to someone going off to college in the fall and find a new way to store the items it contains.

This is One of My Least Favorite Organizing Tools was originally published on

This Item Will Transform Your Drawers

By | Organizing

Guys, let’s get real for a second – if I said the word “drawer” to you, your mind would probably go to the messiest, most unorganized, clutter-filled drawer in your house; the one drawer you really want to organize, but probably never will.  Instead you just keep digging through it, finding what you need and then closing it without ever addressing the issue.

Well, let me give you 2 words of advice: Drawer.  Dividers.

Seriously, these things will change your life.  And your drawers.  Drawer dividers are different from regular utensils holders because, unlike standard utensil dividers, they come in a variety of sizes and shapes.  Some are just simple spring-loaded pieces of plastic, wood or bamboo, similar to tension rods.  These dividers in particular allow bigger items to be contained (like different clothing items, kitchen utensils, tools, etc), whereas the tray ones provide smaller spaces for little items (like rubber bands, scotch tape, hair clips, etc).

I love using the standard utensil dividers for more than just utensils (and you can read about it in another blog post) but sometimes they aren’t the best choice to go with and here’s why: you can only add so many items to one slot, sometimes the trays in the drawer add just enough height so baking utensils like ladles and whisks don’t fit in the closed drawer anymore, and sometimes there are oddly shaped items that don’t fit into a narrow slot no matter how you rearrange the other items.

When that happens I usually suggest some of these:

Bamboo drawer dividers

Plastic drawer dividers

Adjustable drawer dividers

There are plenty more options out there for every drawer you can imagine, in every room you can imagine.  I’ve used these drawer dividers in kitchen drawers, dresser drawers, bathroom drawers, and more.  They’re so handy to have and can be a help to everyone by keeping a drawer organized simply by keeping the items in it separated and contained.

This Item Will Transform Your Drawers was originally published on

Get Rid of This and Your Life Will Be So Much Easier!

By | Organizing

I know, I know, that title is a bit much, but honestly, it’s true!  And not just for this specific post but every “Purge” post I’ve written so far.  Getting rid of items that are just taking up space is sooooo freeing.  I have had many clients tell me “Wow! I feel so much lighter!” once a job is done and their clutter has been cut down.  It really does affect us physically and mentally!  Trust me!

So this week’s item is just as important to get rid of and I think most people will agree with me and most of those who do will probably need to follow this post’s suggestion.  Plastic containers (ie tupperware) –  lids without bottoms and bottoms without lids.  Why on earth do we keep these in our kitchens?  What’s the point?  They’re just taking up space and if they can’t even be used… why hold on to them?

Take a couple minutes (okay maybe more like 15) and pull out all of your plastic containers and lids.  Match each one together and if one doesn’t have a matching lid or bottom then toss it.  Obviously you can recycle/reuse certain containers (which I’m okay with), I just don’t want to see them get thrown back in with the rest of the sets, continuing to make your life just a little more frustrating than it needs to be. Whenever I organize a kitchen this is one of the steps I take and no one has ever told me later “Gee, I really miss those things.” Those lids and containers are impossible to miss, especially when you need to store some food and don’t have to dig to find matches. All you’ll end up saying is “Why did I hang on to those all this time?!”

Get Rid of This and Your Life Will Be So Much Easier! was originally published on

A Guest Post to Remind You About What’s Really Important in Life

By | Organizing

Today’s guest post is from Laura at  Summer is in full swing here in Nashville and with it comes the pressure to do, do, do; keep busy, busy, busy; take advantage of the slower schedule by cramming it full of camps and lessons for the kids, more training for your work, adding on side jobs and taking more on your plate, always going somewhere so you don’t feel lazy or judged by other people who are habitually always on the go no matter what time of year it is.

Laura wrote a post of reflection after her daughter headed off to college and I thought it might be a timely post, especially for those at home parents with school age children in the midst of summer vacation; those pining away for the day they send their kids (of any age) off to school again so they can have some peace and quiet.

If you need a reminder of what’s important in life, then take just a minute or 2 to read Laura’s post, “Slow Down and Enjoy the Journey“.  Don’t let the rest of the summer rush by without enjoying each day and the people in it.

A Guest Post to Remind You About What’s Really Important in Life was originally published on

This is Not a Display Case

By | Organizing

For this month’s “Don’t” post, I’m going to use a personal example from my home growing up (get ready mom and dad).

When I was younger we used the doors on the refrigerator as “catch all” spots for various items.  We left notes on them, showcased “works of art” on them, displayed photographs and other mementos on them, and, my personal favorite, we taped up any comic strip from the daily newspaper that reminded us of someone in the family (mainly from the comic strip Foxtrot but Garfield had a few appearances as well).  I LOVED reading those different comic strips and finding one in the paper that reminded me of one of my sisters (which inevitably highlighted an annoying habit of her’s) made me giddy with excitement to show it off… but was that really the best place for them?  Nope.  Do I even remember which comics were showcased on the fridge?  Nope.  Do I remember how cluttered the two doors looked? Yep.  And do I remember where all of those papers, notes, works of art and beloved comic strips ended up?  Yep.  In the recycling bin and trash can…  Because the fridge is not the ideal space to show things off for a long period of time.

Now hear me out, if a special picture gets colored and your child wants it displayed on the fridge, I have no problem with that, but keep in mind moderation is key.  If you’re not careful pretty soon the fridge doors can look like a cluttered desk top – covered with so many items nothing is actually seen.  I’m not in the camp that says “if something is on the fridge it just gets overlooked” because I know from personal experience that’s not always true.  And I’m not even in the camp that says “a fridge door must be completely clean” (unless, of course, you’re getting your house ready to be put on the market).  But I AM in the camp that says “try to find a better place for it” because a cluttered and busy refrigerator just adds to the cluttered and busy feel of a kitchen, much like making your bed makes your bedroom feel less messy.

Whether you use a complete command center in the kitchen, a diy message board hanging on the wall, or a simple collage picture frame to show off your latest memories, there are plenty of options available to show off what you want without cluttering up your refrigerator doors.

This is Not a Display Case was originally published on

A Great Non-Traditional Organizing Tool

By | Organizing

This is a tool I really like, but it’s not one I commonly use.  And that’s just because it’s not a common item to have in the house.  So what’s the item?  A small tension rod.

The reason I like it is because it’s so easy to use and can transform spaces.  How?  Well you can use them in your pots and pans drawer for lids, in your tupperware drawer to keep lids and containers separate and organized, under your sink to hold spray bottles, as an under the counter paper towel holder, to keep cutting boards organized, and even as a spice rack!  And that’s just ideas for the kitchen!

There are SO many creative ideas out there for all areas of the home.  Type “organize tension rod” into your search engine and then click “images” to see so many different ways to use tensions rods.  Incorporating this one simple item into your home will make your life a little easier, reduce stress and keep those spaces organized… for not a lot of money!  Win win!

So head over to Google and get inspired to get organized today!

A Great Non-Traditional Organizing Tool was originally published on