Sep 30, 2011

Home improvement is harder than it looks

The following is a true story.  I haven't changed any names or details to protect the innocent. It happened earlier this week when I decided I would knock out two trouble spots before fall break.

The first hot mess was this plasticware storage cabinet in the kitchen.  It started out fairly neat when we moved in, but every time we pulled something out or put something away, it got a little messier.

Fetching a plastic tub for leftovers was a form of torture.
The second wreck was this under-sink cabinet area on my side of the bathroom.  Like the other one, it started out neater when we moved in but daily use took its toll.
This is the mess I faced each morning and night.

So I asked myself, just how hard could it be to bring some organization to bear?  I mean, reality TV shows can make over entire rooms in half an hour.  Surely this wouldn't take more than a few minutes, maybe an hour of my time, right?

(Insert hysterical laughter here.  Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.......)

A little background:  when we bought the house, someone had installed a wire two-tier pull-out thing in my bathroom cabinet, seen in the picture above.  (Curses to the builder who skimped on drawer space in the master bath to begin with. I know a base cabinet with only two tiny drawers is cheaper than one with a tower of drawers, but really?  You couldn't figure out how to squeeze a few more bucks out of the budget and upgrade the cabinetry to a reasonable amount of drawer space when the bathroom is bigger than most bedrooms and some apartments we've lived in?)

Ahem. Deep, cleansing breath.  In case you didn't pick up on it, a lack of drawers is a pet peeve of mine.  Well, really it's the disorganized chaos that stems from lack of drawer space that is the thorn in my side.

But anyhoo.  This cheesy little wire thing just wasn't cutting it - my jewelry was a slippery tangled hodgepodge, the hair dryer cord was always flopping over the edge and preventing the cabinet drawer from shutting.  And it looked a mess, no matter how neatly I arranged the bottles and containers of stuff.  Painfully messy.

For several months, I searched the stores and the internet for some decent shelving or drawer unit to insert in there, to no avail.

I finally resigned myself to plastic stacking drawers and tubs.  Gritting my teeth the whole time because I really, really dislike the plastic stuff:  it's flimsy, wobbly and otherwise prone to rapid failure.

But the wire pull-out thing would work great to corral the kitchen mess, and I needed to find something to organize my bathroom mess in order to free up the pull outs for the kitchen - it's a process.  Here is what I mentally sketched out beforehand:

1. Take all the stuff out of the wire unit, dump it in a laundry basket to temporarily hold it
2.  Move everything back in, using the plastic drawers and a bin or two.
3. Install the wire pull-out drawers and organize the plastic-ware.

1,2,3, easy as do-rey-me, right?  Errrm, not really.  I quickly realized why these two items had gone undone for so long.  For starters, the laundry basket was full of unfolded clothes.  For shame. No problem - dump them on the bed and fold them when I was done, right? Sure. Except the bed wasn't made either.  (WHERE are the laundry and cleaning fairies in my hour of need????)  This is how it really went:

Day 1:
1. Make the bed and dump the clothes out of the laundry basket.
2. Fill the basket with bathroom stuff and remove the wire pull-out unit.
3. Install the plastic containers.
4. Cringe and groan because I still hated how it looks - see what I mean?
This was the "after" picture.  Ugh.
5. Move on to the kitchen and install the wire drawers and organize the plastic ware.
6. Move the unfolded clothes back to the basket for the night.

Day 2:
1. Make the bed, dump the clothes back on the bed.
2. March into the bathroom in the cold light of day and take measurements.
3. Visit Target and find a shelf unit that could be cut down and re-tooled to work, plus baskets to optimize the storage space.
4. Pull out the plastic drawers and bins, and fit the new shelf unit around the plumbing (this involved screwing, unscrewing, sawing, re-screwing and installing. And a little glue.)
5. Return to Target to exchange the original baskets for others, because "optimize" does not always mean "biggest size they make."
6. Move everything from the plastic drawers to the new baskets.
7.  Move the unfolded clothes back to the basket.

Day 3:
1. Make the bed.
2. Fold the now seriously wrinkled clothes and put them away.
3. Return the plastic drawers to the store for a refund.

So instead of a few minutes, this became a project that spanned three days.   All of that, just to organize the contents of two cabinets. But on the bright side, I can now say:

The plastic ware is now neatly organized and accessible.

The bathroom cabinet is organized and functional - I make a happy sigh every time I open the cabinet doors now.  

My makeup and jewelry are in the shallow larger basket on top, easily accessible.  And my everyday jewelry is no longer in imminent danger of dangling or tangling.

The hair dryer has its own bin that is deep enough for the cord to stay neatly inside; cotton balls and swabs and other items have their own little cubby, too.  The other two cubbies hold everything else - lotion, contact lens solution, sunblock, razors, jewelry cleaner, and on and on - it's a lot of stuff stowed out of sight but within reach.

The clothes are folded and put away.

The bed is made.

An investment of about four hours over three days, including two trips to town, one $10 shelf and five $15 baskets equals peace of mind.  Which is priceless.

The end.

Happy organizing,

P.S. Please tell your home improvement efforts go the same way mine do? Even if they don't, just tell me they do.
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