Kids’ Closet

Lately this has come up in more than one conversation. One of the biggest questions I get asked is “why don’t your kids have dressers?” Maybe it’s asked because in some of my before photos there ARE dressers, and now there are not. Or maybe its because it’s a little out of the ordinary to not have dresser for kids. I’m not really sure.

But to start off, you are correct. My kids DID have dressers. Both of them had dressers before we moved into the Dream Home and in some of our first Dream Home tour photos, you will notice they still have dressers. My daughter had a tall, slender dresser that housed her fish tank and all her “bottoms” (shorts, pants, underwear, socks, pjs). Her baby brother had a long horizontal style dresser that doubled as a change table.

The biggest reason for the change came from a lightbulb moment I guess. It drove me crazy that most of the time the kids’ closets were a mess, and mostly filled with junk. When I opened their closet doors, it was rarely filled with clothes and just seemed like such a waste of space.

The more I thought on the subject, the more I wanted to change it. When it comes to a kids’ room, let’s face it, most are small box shaped rooms. They are already short of square footage, and a dresser and bed pretty much take up 80% of the room. I felt like I was being cheated. I was wasting so much floor space that could be used for so many other things (a toy bench/box, a desk, a vanity, a reading corner, a doll house, you get the picture).

Now, a closet, you can’t really change. Even if you take the doors off, at the end of the day, it’s still a closet. You can’t really gain that sq footage back to the room itself. It will always be different. It felt like no matter what, I couldn’t change that divide of space. So my wheels started turning about ways that I could really cram as much as possible into that closet. That way, I could give my kids back their rooms and personal space. It felt like I was beating the system! Sticking it to the man, so to speak.

I started researching and pricing out new ideas. They had a tower/cube system installed in there when we moved in. Other than that it was a pretty blank canvas. I wanted to keep what was there but add to it to make it more efficient. I also decided to make the closets the exactly the same (but mirrored). This way it was fair, and easy for me to organize.

Let’s take a look at both, side by side. Sorry for the terrible photos (it was challenging to get a photo that showed both sides of the closet without getting crowded by the doors). I pushed the original tower system to one side (and kept their canvas cubes). I use this tower to store their seasonal things (they each have a “swimming” bucket, a “too big/too small” bucket, etc). Basically those are the bins I need access to, but don’t use regularly.

Each kid also has two closet rods for hanging. Let’s face it, kids do not hang bottoms, So this was pretty easy to organize. Tanks and t-shirts go on top. Dressers, sweaters and outerwear go on the bottom. As you can see, the rods were placed to allow lots of growth. I hung an adult size shirt on both of those rods before they were installed. Just wanting to make sure they grow with each kid.

Now, the only thing I had to buy to make this closet happen was a wider tower with drawers. This tower came with shelves and the drawers came in packs of two (sold separately). Each child got 4 drawers, although I did have drawer dividers that I used to provide even more options. The top drawers are for socks and underwear. The divider keeps them separated and organized. The bottom drawer is always pajama’s. The middle has a drawer for shorts, leggings and jeans. The kids are a bit different in that sense, but basically both have two middle drawers for their “bottoms” for going to school/daycare.

Now the shelves look a little different for each child as well. My sons contains the extra bedding for his crib, extra baby blankets, a shelf for his diapers and wipes and the top shelf holds two plastic buckets (I picked up from the Dollarama) which contain anything else I might happen to need room for. (Most of the time it’s clothes I’ve bought that are in the next size up).

My daughters’ on the other hand looks quite different. She is five, so there was no need for diapers, wipes and crib bedding to be placed on her shelves. Instead, her bucket contains mismatched socks, new clothing sets for spares at school and daycare, her middle shelf holds her duffel bag (which is now being used for her summer soccer stuff). And the bottom shelf we leave empty so that we can lay out her outfits for the next few days. I normally lay out 2-3. And let her choose which outfit she would like to wear each morning. It helps her express herself, but also allows me to make sure she is wearing the appropriate size, and that everything matches and is appropriate for the weather.

Now, I understand that these drawers may not scream “long term” to some. They are shallow and will only hold a few pairs of adult jeans for example. But when their clothes do start to get bigger, these drawers will convert to full “personal” drawers. Housing things like bras, underwear, bathing suits, and socks. The shelves above will then be used for folded stacks of jeans, shorts, or leggings. (The canvas cubes could also easily be removed to create space for pants as well if needed.)

Eventually hooks could be added above the entire unit for ball caps or school bags. Or a shelf could be added across the top for addition storage (suitcases and out of season footwear).

Having everything in one spot has made our lives so much easier (the kids’ included). They are learning where their clothes go away and can be taken out from. When putting away laundry, it’s a one stop shop to get everything organized and away. It has given them more privacy, to be able to close their closet doors on their personal things. And they have both gained so much extra room! They now each have a deacon’s bench filled with stuffed toys, a cube tower for their family pictures, piggy banks, and keepsakes. And overall it’s helped eliminate all the clutter that would previous gravitate towards the tops of their dressers. One of the best decisions we ever made. Oh, and in case I forgot to mention, I was able to makeover both closets for about $100 each. Good luck finding a decent dresser for $100!

 

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Playroom Purge

When Spring arrived I had the itch to purge and organize. I’m not as much into the “cleaning” but I love a good declutter to start off the summer.

One of the biggest and messiest areas in our home is the playroom. No matter how many times I organize, label, tidy, it can be destroyed in a matter of minutes with the right amount of kids. Most of the time I don’t mind, I mean, that’s what it is there for, right? But it got to the point that new toys came in for Christmas and birthdays and nothing was going out. Those new items did not have permanent homes on the shelves or in the cubes, so the kids didn’t know where to leave them once finished with them.

I decided that I would take my Spring fever and channel it into organizing their toys. I already had put a lot of time into the storage ideas down there but it was long overdue for a refresh.

We went through all the toys, one by one. We created a box for donating and a box for garbage. Anything broken, torn, one time use, etc would be thrown away. All the “baby” toys that the kids no longer played with, we boxed up to donate so they can be loved by other children. Once the purge was completed it was time to organize and label for all the leftovers.

My wall to wall shelves made room on the bottom for all of our “Little People” sets. The kids still really enjoy them and our collection has grown. Craft supplies continue to be at the very top to avoid unnecessary messes. We added an “appliance” shelve for imaginative play, we also needed to make room for the new Home Depot toolbox set.

The day bed got all it’s bedding put in place. And some rogue accent pillows made their way onto it for a comfy place to play or watch cartoons.

Our Lego table got a new, fun rug added. This is the most popular play area when kids come over, and because there are only two stools, it can get crowded. Having the rug all around makes it a bit easier for everyone to play together and be comfortable, even when not on the stool. This entire table now stores Lego on one side, and Mega Bloks on the other. Previously it had imaginative play items (wooden food, pots and pans, etc) but that was integrated into the cubes under the TV instead. It seemed to work better with all building blocks in one place.

The kids had a new circus tent added this year so it was placed by the window as it needs quite a bit of floor space. Because all of the walls have designated spaces or centers set up, there were limited options for that.

The Barbie area got shuffled a bit to make room for the tent, and the car carpet now has actual ramps and cars to play with. When the carpet was originally purchased we had very little for vehicles, mostly the kids would use it to land their Little People plane.

And that is pretty much it for the purge and refresh. A few small tweaks here and there to the original plan made it work much better for the kids. And if you walked into our house today and headed down there, it looks identical to the pictures. Every toy now has a home, making it easier for clean up. (It also helps that Kennedy is now reading and can read the labels put in place for easy organizing).

 

Basement Bar

I don’t know about you, but I can’t picture a Dream Home without thinking about some kind of mancave/bar. I’m not even a huge drinker myself but it just feels like something that should be there! Maybe it’s more about being social, or the thought of entertaining. It was an idea that Dave didn’t have to twist my arm to discuss. We were both very clearly on the same page when it came to that idea.

The layout of our home is pretty straight forward. Basically the top floor, is copy and pasted to make up the downstairs. The walls are in the same place, the room sizes are almost exact. There is a perfect match/pair for each room downstairs to a room upstairs.

For example, My daughters room, is the match to my office. My son’s room is our utility room. Even our laundry room has a match downstairs, being our walk in pantry. When deciding where to put a bar it was pretty easy to imagine. We were putting a family room/entertainment room as the match to our upstairs living room. Therefore, it only made sense to make the pair to our kitchen, a bar.

Of course we wanted to make this happen cost effectively and quickly. But of course, we made several wrong turns, tried lots of things that just didn’t work, until we finally found what we wanted.

I searched through photos for one that went far enough back to see the bare bones. These photos were taken when Dave was still installing the floor. It has a window that needed to be factored into the plan, and a walk out patio door.

But first things first, the floor was finished to match the rest of the space. Once the floor was in the whole room felt a lot bigger and left us with a good visual for planning out the room.

We grabbed some cabinets off of kijiji and set up a cabinet wall to see what it would look like. These cabinets were way too big. Oversized boxes, doors that went every which way. It needed a lot of elbow grease and we still weren’t sure it was what he wanted. And as you can see, the design didn’t exactly fit. Originally we thought it would be a great idea to have a sink. Once we had it all in there we realized a sink in the basement wasn’t really necessary. We had a bathroom sink if need be and I felt like the counter space would be more beneficial. With the same speed, we had the cabinets gone again and decided to design from scratch. We would choose smaller boxes for a cleaner look get exactly what we want for the same price as some second hand sets on kijiji.

Of course, yet again, we jumped online to IKEA and used their kitchen design tool. It made my life so much easier, once I designed the kitchen bar with exactly what I want, it provides me with an itemized list of what I’ve chosen. A few days later, it was here.

It took a lot of late nights to get this all together. I will say that after the first few boxes it got a lot easier. And I was extremely impressed with the quality and how well it was thought out. Once all the boxes were together it was easy to get them into place, mounted, etc.

This was the design I created. All the upper cabinets were glass doors (to match the glass doors I selected for the entertainment wall). The lower cabinets contained shelves and a recycling drawer, also a drawer for hard liquor. We opted for an island which has a wine rack in the middle. We are using the island for snacks (candy drawer and cabinets for chips), perfect for girls’ nights in, or family movie night with popcorn.

Next came the counter top. We ordered it to fit for both the bar wall and island. We picked the exact countertop that we have in our master bath. Mainly because its a perfect combination between greys, whites and browns. And that’s pretty much our color theme when it comes to cabinets, flooring and fixtures. We also got our hardware picked out and installed. I picked a minimal brushed nickel pull and simple knob. We didn’t want something too big or fancy, then it would take away from the cabinet design itself. They were fairly inexpensive at our local Home Depot.

The glass shelves were then added to the inside of the upper cabinets. We started unpacking and placing our many glasses and collections. There is still tons of space for new things to be added and moved down there.

Here is an updated photo of the cabinet wall. This will give you an idea of what the final product will look like. As you can see, the walls are not yet finished, ceiling and lighting will also need to be done. But we are in no rush to complete those tasks as we will be able to use the space in the mean time as is. Now, let’s take a look at the island.

We had the counter top cut large so it would overhang and we could place some bar stools. These two stools were picked up at Homesense and we love them. The seat turns to change the height of the stools. The island still needs its toe kick put in place and its back panel (which is white). As you can see, we already have a snack drawer started for movie nights.

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Here is the bar all together. We tried to keep it simple and minimal to not crowd the space. The idea is, that if you’re sitting having beer and nachos at the island with a friend, you can very easily still watch the game from the entertainment wall. The large lower cabinet is serving as our game cabinet at the moment. The large drawer holds card games, notepads for keeping score, small boxed games like “cards against humanity”, and the large doors (which open up to shelves) have all of our large boxed games (such as monopoly and clue)

As the drawers and cabinets get more organized, I will provide a follow up post with the best ways I’ve been able to do so. So, what do you guys think?!

 

 

Entertainment Wall

I haven’t posted much for progress downstairs lately. Mostly because it still isn’t finished, but also because we change our minds so often that it has been hard to keep up.

We knew what we wanted to put downstairs, and which area we wanted to put each designated room (office, playroom, family room, etc). But it was such a blank canvas when we moved in that we had no idea what we were doing for layouts. And for us, it’s always been a trial and error type thing.

I’m going to provide a little update on what is currently downstairs and how we got to that stage. Mostly to hold myself accountable to creating more blog posts, but also so you know I haven’t been slacking off all this time in between posts.

If I’m not mistaken, these would have been the last photos posted of the space, and a lot has changed since then. We struggled with where to put the TV. There was an outlet and a cable plug on the side wall seen in the photo above. So we automatically put the TV there, with a cheap kijiji fireplace underneath. Then we had two couches and a loveseat placed in an awkward “U” shape around it. It seemed like a good idea at the time because it accommodated a lot of people (perfect for entertaining), but it was terrible for movies and watching TV.

I had purchased some short bookshelves from IKEA to use for our DVD’s, a couple accent pillows, but we still weren’t in love with the design idea.

We decided that we couldn’t get our desired look or feel downstairs with this layout. And we basically went back to the drawing board and started over. We sold both couches and the loveseat, sold the fireplace, corner cabinet and even the large decorative pier 1 wooden cabinet and started again.

The first thing we decided to do was place the TV. Although the previous homeowners had it all set to go on that end wall, it just didn’t seem like the best place to put it. It turned the “family room” into a bowling alley that seemed small and closed off. Instead of the large entertaining space we wanted it to be. The IKEA shelves got moved to the larger wall with the TV, so we could continue to use them for DVD storage. But now that wall seemed empty with the large gaps on either side. And the space on the sides became wasted and useless. Another IKEA order was placed as we continued to transform the space.

To avoid losing the wall space on the sides of the TV to wasted space we opted for extra storage. I grabbed 4 cabinets that were the same width as my DVD shelves. I went with tall bookcases to make it feel more like a built in. Now, at first glance, all of the shelves and DVD’s make it feel busy and cluttered. Don’t worry, we found a pretty good solution for that too.

We picked up 8 doors for the tall bookcases. I chose a solid bottom door with a glass display on top. I have quite the collection of “display” items so I thought it would be the best of both worlds. I’d get the opportunity to put some of my favorite pieces on display, and also have the bottom of the bookcases to hide all the not so attractive items.

We set up the surround sound, cable, DVD player, and we were in business!

Instead of looking for another couch and loveseat combo, we opted for another Costco sectional. This one has all individual pieces that can link together any way you want! You can link the ottoman as a chaise, you can separate the set into two love seats, or add them all together for an extra long couch (which is what we did). We linked all 4 backing pieces together to create the best, family movie night, cuddle spot ever. And the great thing is, all seats have the same view! Which means no fights over who is closer or who can see better. Just like a movie theater. All we need now is a ceiling and some lighting.

We’ve already had some pretty great movie nights down here with the kids. And the nice thing is, even when you are on the other side of the room, you can still hear the music, see the show, or chat with your guests sitting down.

I told you we’ve been busy 😉

Spring Cleaning – Purge

As mentioned in my previous Spring Cleaning post, we live by two rules: Purge & Organize. Purging is a must! You can only be so organized before junk takes over all the work you just did. Purging is something we have gotten really good at, but I completely understand that it can be hard for others.

When we are cleaning or going through items I keep in mind a few key things. And they are a great place to start if you are new to the whole “purging” thing. Here is what you need to ask yourself:

  • When was the last time I used this?
  • How much did this item cost?
  • Will I need this in the next month or so?
  • Could this item be of use to someone else?

The reason these questions are important is because it helps bring into perspective the importance of the item. If you haven’t used the item in the last year or so, do you really think you will use it going forward? Chances are you have replaced it with something else that you DO use!

When it comes to the cost of the item, I’m thinking in terms of replacement. If I give it away and all of a sudden need one, what would my loss be. For example, the kids seem to collect character cups (Plastic cups with Paw Patrol and Disney princesses on them). Sometimes they crack or get worn out and the pictures slowly fade and peel off. When going through them, it’s easy for me to say “Yup! I got my .99 out of this!” and throw the bad ones away and replace. You need to look at all items in this way. If you’re not sure if you will need it or not, maybe have doubts about getting rid of it, then hold onto it and grab it on the next round of purging. 6 months later when you come back to the same item, you will be more certain with whether or not it has been used or is worth the storage space.

When you are looking at an item and deciding on whether or not you will be needing it in the near future, here are some things to think about. Is this a seasonal item? For example, plastic cups for the patio. Annoying to store, and maybe don’t get a lot of use. If you’re coming up onto summer months, it’s a great time to revisit the idea of using them. Do you have an upcoming BBQ that will require cups? Did you forget you have them?

Lastly, could this item be of use to someone else? This is big for me. Old blankets that we never use anymore that are just collecting dust, could be a goldmine to a shelter or homeless person. The bottles of shampoo and body wash that you didn’t like, could be a luxury item to an abused women’s shelter, filled with people starting over with nothing.

What about clothing that no longer fits? They could be clothes to a family who just lost everything in a fire. Check around your community! Help out people in need! There are tons of organizations that will even pick up donations or have drop off zones for things like that. Pick up a coffee, drive through the city and make some donation stops. You will feel great for getting your space back AND doing something good for someone else.

Old rags and towels that might have holes or are fraying, make a great donation for animal shelters who go through endless amounts of rags and towels.

So now that you have completed the purge step and have thinned out your belongings. It’s much easier to organize and “home” everything.

Spring Cleaning – Kid’s Bathroom

It’s my favourite time of year. Snow is melted, grass is starting to grow and be green again. It reminds us that Winter doesn’t last forever. The light at the end of the tunnel.

But I also love Spring because it starts to feel like a new beginning. And there is no better feeling then starting again inside the house. Most people buckle down and do the annual “Spring Clean”, and the dream home is no exception.

When it comes to cleaning, the Dream Home lives by a pretty basic “rule”. It follows us from room to room, and so far it has proven time and time again to be a good rule to have. We abide by “Purge & Organize”. Yup, that’s it. I know, right? Seems like there should be more to the story. But those tend to be the biggest “problems” with a household. Holding on to too much junk. And not having places to put the stuff that you want to keep.

So every year, we do an annual “purge”. I try to tackle room by room because it makes it easier to contain the mess to the rooms that have yet to be done. I decided to tackle the Kid’s bathroom closet because I was getting annoyed with the shampoo bottles that seemed to be everywhere. I took every single thing out of the closet and wiped it all down. Got rid of dust and dirt and dried on toothpaste, and baby hand prints.

Next I went through every single item that came from the closet. It needs to be wiped down, inspected and then sorted. When I say “inspected” I’m referring to empty toothpaste tubes that my kids try to sneak back into the closet because they like the picture on the front. Or lotions that my son has shown an irritation to that we have never used. Basically using this process to make a decision on each item that came from the space. I make a pile for “keep”, “donate”, and “toss”. Donate would be the things like the lotions that are perfectly good, and full. Toss would be the empty toothpaste tube.

Once that takes place you are pretty much done with the “purge” part. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be feeling better and lighter already.

My kids’ bathroom closet previously had Dollarstore baskets in them for organizing. And I still love that system but I did need a couple extra baskets and I dug the label maker back out so that I could re organize each basket accordingly.

Here’s two newly organized baskets. I used one strictly for the kids medications, Tylenol, band-aid’s, even medicine cups and syringes. The other has been labelled “bath time” and will contain bubble baths, shampoos, and oatmeal treatments for bath water. Previously, I had a basket in each child’s name instead of a combined basket. But now that Foster is older, it just didn’t seem to make sense.

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Next I created baskets for “teeth” and “hair”. Our teeth basket always holds extra toothbrushes (or multi packs), toothpaste, kids flossing characters and travel stuff, like toothbrush holders and small toothpastes. The hair bucket, which used to be strictly named “Kennedy” has expanded to include detangler, combs and brushes, elastics, clips, headbands and a small bag of lice tools for routine checks to both kids. Once all my baskets were divided and organized, I added the new labels to any that had changed.

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The baskets were labelled: Medication, bath time, skin care, teeth, hair styling, face cloths and guests. Next step was to organize them back into the closet.

I put the things I use the least, at the very top. You’ll notice from the photo above that means “medication” and “guest”. The medication bin needs to be up high to ensure kids can’t get to it. Even on their teeth brushing stool.

Bath and Skin care take the next shelf down. Kids do not handle that department either quite yet. So It’s just out of reach but still easily accessible for us. The next shelf down contains hair styling and teeth .This shelf is low enough to be reached by Kennedy regularly, or Foster on a stool. Perfect for starting out. Foster can put his toothpaste back in the bucket, Kennedy gets her hair stuff in the mornings so I can put her hair up before school.

The very bottom shelf has the face cloths and towels. I leave that on the bottom because it does the least amount of damage in the midst of a temper tantrum or curious toddler. Also because its the tallest shelf and those fluffy towels stack up pretty quickly. So have extra room to store them is definitely beneficial.

The closet door is a pocket door so when company comes over, it can easily be concealed. Well, that’s the end of the closet clean out.

Next up, kitchen pantry!

Command Centre

Running a household can feel impossible some days. And it doesn’t seem to get any easier. Quite the opposite actually. The older the kids get the more I have to juggle. Not only do we have family activities, but we have daycare, school, work, special occasions, after school activities, sleepovers, movie nights, and those are just examples of things out of the house!

My point is, things get busy. And I am always struggling to make my life more organized and less stressful. Naturally, that prompted some changes at the Dream Home for efficiency.

Do you see this wall right here? It is a small wall that pretty much floats in the middle of our upstairs living space. This view is from the front door of the house. After some planning, I decided to turn it into a “command centre”. Anyone with Pinterest probably knows what that is, but in case you don’t… it’s basically an organized wall for your family. Some of the most common things you would see are: a calendar, whiteboard, menu, paper storage, family photo, etc. Although each family puts their own spin on it.

The issue with these types of walls (and something Pinterest seems to neglect to advise you on) is that you have to have all of your items before you start the wall. They tend to be more of a “gallery” style so you may need to hoard some of your great finds until you’re ready to complete the entire thing.

I used painters tape to mark where I wanted my items to go. It was easier for me to visualize without making multiple holes in the wall. I placed a lot of items on the floor first to get a more accurate idea of what the whole thing would look like. And once my tape was in place and I was happy with the look. I started to place the items (and by I, I mean Dave who was my helper for this project).

A helpful hint for anyone who decided to take on a project like this. Start by hanging your larger items first. The smaller “filler” items are easier to alter if the tape is slightly off.

For example, the first two things I placed were my large family calendar, and the clip frame that takes up the entire left side. The tape was previously there for the frame in the middle, but once they were on the wall I was able to centre my family photo so it floated in between. My calendar I attached with command strips, the others were hung with hardware.

And then it is all about building the items outwards. I tried to always add the next closest item to the centre point. And then complete it’s opposite. So the clock was the next closest item on the top, then you can see Dave working on the closest item to the centre on the bottom.

The most important item for me to have on this wall was hands down a calendar. I am constantly trying to juggle the schedule of multiple people and It was the first item I began to look for. I purchased this one on amazon and I liked that it was magnetic, a white board, and also has a cork frame for adding notes if need be. I added the clock because this being the centre of the house makes it easily seen from anywhere (always convenient) for a busy family. Although a family photo is important, I didn’t want to take up a lot of space with pictures. Let’s face it, this wall is not huge and almost every other main level wall has photos hung. So it didn’t seem like a huge priority, although a small 5X7 did make it into the centre.

The bar and buckets were also important. The larger bucket holds notepads, post-it’s, your standard office supplies for grocery lists and homework. The smaller bucket contains all the writing tools. Pens, pencils, highlighters, markers, etc.

The large frame that takes up the entire left upper side is a wooden frame that contains three metal hooks. I stuck some photos inside but I thought it would be perfect for things like concert tickets while waiting for the show, or programs for pre school graduations, etc. Things that you want to show off but don’t want people to touch or lose.

A metal mail sorter was added to the lower side as well. I added labels which read “mail”, “memo” and “file”. A place for me to stick the mail when I am walking in the door. Once open it will be moved to either “memo” or “file”. Memo will end up being items that have to go back out, maybe things to add to the calendar, etc. And file will be the things that need to be filed away in my office. Paid bills, bank statements, etc.

Now, are you ready to see how it all came together? A few final finishes were added and now we’re in business!

And this post wouldn’t be complete without the side by side before and after. So, let me take you back to the front door view of the entire wall.

Now, down the road we have talked about staining the little entry table to match our kitchen table but after the harvest table we are taking a little break from staining. That project will simply get added to the end of the list of “upcoming projects”.