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1 hour ago, lauraw4321 said:

The table is fine (to my mind) to store summer workbooks and journals the kids have to do daily.

Ok, so then you just defined the Big Thing. It's some kind of big basket that goes right in the middle and takes up a fair chunk of the room. And they know exactly how the workbooks go back into it. https://www.target.com/p/decorative-coiled-rope-floor-basket-white-threshold-8482/-/A-53192988

Maybe that's not quite the right one, but you get the idea. Maybe a square wicker kind of basket thing. Something that holds the stuff that should be there and makes it very clear that the rest that is there shouldn't be there, except for coffee cups. Maybe even two bins side by side, so there's even less surface area. 

https://www.target.com/p/decorative-cube-basket-with-leather-pull-13-34-x-11-34-natural-threshold-8482-designed-with-studio-mcgee/-/A-78169130  Maybe like this?

The point is not to have clutter. The point is to have a Big Thing so all the other crap doesn't have room. Real simple. Something intentional, something purposeful, something planned. 

I don't know, it's just what works for me. I have long dining table and with only 3 people most of the time it just gets COVERED if I'm not careful. That was the strategy I finally figured out. So I think two wicker baskets to hold workbooks could be really snazzy. You'd still have room for coffee mugs and it would be quite clear what belongs and what doesn't. The baskets would add texture with the smooth surfaces of your wood and leather.

Edited by PeterPan
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Just a caveat about stacking bins and even containers with lids generally: Some people will not take the time to put things all the way away. Then you will have items *near* their home.

I'm rather like this when it comes to school supplies, I've found. Open-top containers only if I'm going to actually use them.

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I can so relate to your table and closet.  That was my life for years and years.  I just couldn't get it together.  When the Konmari craze was on, I read the huge thread here and some other posts elsewhere about it (try as I might, I just couldn't connect with the book, I think I tried 3-4 times to read it and never got more than a few chapters in but I gleaned enough from other sources to figure it out).  And yes decluttering really was the key but I had to think through WHY I was holding on to stuff.  One of the wierder ones for me.  I had these metal gadgets for making Rosettes (a light batter deep fried and then sprinkled with powdered sugar).  I always thought of my grandma and I held on to that thing because I was going to make them sometime because they made me think of her.  But I started really thinking about it, like WHY did they make me think of her.  I never made them with her and to my knowledge she had never made them.  I finally realized that they made me think of her because of an event we attended.  Once I separated that out in my head, the actually making rossettes wasn't nearly as important to me.  And by the time I finished decluterring, I found not one set, not 2 but 3 different sets of rossette makers.  Yeah, I really didn't need those but everytime I ran across a set I held on to it "because of grandma" and never realized how many of those I had.  But examining my motives like that really helped me let go of things.  

Also it took me way longer than anything else hinted it would.  Most talked about months to declutter.  It took me 4 YEARS to get through the house.  Yep, it was bad and I was slow but I did it.  Once that initial purge was done, it was easier to go through things again and start working on the idea of homes for things.  This step was more expensive for me because rather than buying the first thing that could kina sorta do the job, I really thought through what I wanted and I shopped until I found the right thing instead of the cheapest thing that could do the job.

It all takes time but just keep plugging away.  I tried to do 30 minutes of decluttering a day (in addition to the normal cleaning) but I didn't beat myself up when it didn't happen or I forgot for a day or two or week.  Just start again as soon as I was able.  

The slob comes clean was also helpful in being mindful of those small pieces of time.  Like Hey, I'm brushing my teeth, I can use my other hand and a rag and wipe down the sink/counter.  Or my tea takes 2 minutes to heat up in the morning,  instead of wandering around or staring out the window for those 2 minutes, wipe out one of the silverware/utensil dividers.  Small things that don't seem like much but when you consistently do them over time they really do add up.

 

ETA a couple of years ago our sump pump died while we were on vacation (and our entire lower level is finished).  We had to strip the basement and very little survived but even the kids were like "MOM, we are so glad you had decluttered this all.  Can you imagine how much worse this project would have been when we still had all that stuff". SO even the kids had learned the value of not holding on to so much even if they didn't like the process at first.

Edited by cjzimmer1
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Ok, so on the putting away, my dad doesn't really put anything away. That's clinical, lol. And my ds, well if he pulls it out I would expect him to be able to put it away. If *I* pull it out then I assume *I* will probably/possibly have to put it away. And since my ds (ASD2) is not pulling things out for his school work, he's not putting them away. So that wouldn't bug me in my world, hanging with people with disabilities.

But as far as monitoring, that seems like a pretty reasonable goal to plan to train to pull out, train to put back. Do you read aloud there? If you do two bins, one could be your read alouds and memory work for the week and the other bin could be the summer workbooks.

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Fwiw, I'll bet you could solve half of the *floor* of that closet in 15 minutes if you tackled it. Like not the whole closet and not the whole, just one side of just the floor. Because really, the top wasn't bad, kwim? Only the floor was cluttery. Cut the elephant into chunks. But you've got this momentum with 15 minutes on a surface today, so REPEAT it tomorrow with 15 minutes tackling a small area tomorrow. Those efforts with small chunks will add up.

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Yeah, I'm another person who feels like decorations are clutter.  I still have some obligatory items in the usual places, but nothing looks as good to me as a completely clear surface.  😛

And yeah, in my house, it does not matter whether a surface is clear or decorated.  People will dump clutter on it.  And I'm not just talking about kids.  The only hope is to convince people that certain surfaces are "their" dump spots and others are not.

So (for me) the decorations are just another thing to keep moving and dusting and trying to "not see" when I need to feel like things are in order.

Indoor plants annoy me.  People buy them for me for Mother's Day / birthday and I'm supposed to look after them.  I never remember to do it.  The only time I remember they exist is when they are getting in the way of my view, my activities, or my cleaning.  Eventually they dry up and I throw them out.  Of course I can't say this out loud IRL.  😛

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4 hours ago, cjzimmer1 said:

  Like Hey, I'm brushing my teeth, I can use my other hand and a rag and wipe down the sink/counter. 

 


You can physically do that? There’s no way my two hands could do those two different things simultaneously. 

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8 hours ago, Danae said:


You can physically do that? There’s no way my two hands could do those two different things simultaneously. 

Right?!  I’d probably end up chewing on the rag and using my toothbrush on the sink!  😄

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On 6/20/2021 at 11:17 AM, happi duck said:

Fly lady is based on the system in the book Sidetracked Home Executives.  If you can get your hands on this old book I highly recommend it.  Even if you don't use their card system exactly it is still really helpful.

Sticking to my cards is the only way I can keep up.  If I blow them off everything falls apart.

I second this book.  Your library should have it. It’s where FlyLady got her ideas and there are no emails/computer time to distract you. 
 

In your situation, decluttering one upstairs room per week and getting your cleaning lady up there seems like a good start. If your clutter is clothing, go the konmari route. Dump them all on your bed, divide into Keep, Toss, and Donate. Trash the trash, put away the keepers, and load the donate box into your car. You’ll be done before bedtime and your life will be better. 

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22 hours ago, lauraw4321 said:

My goal for this week is just going to be keeping that table clean.

That is a great goal and the table looks awesome! I vote for keeping the table where it is with no baskets or decorations except for maybe the summer workbooks/journals. I love the look of a clear table or a table with just a few books on it. Nice job and enjoy your clear table! What beautiful wood!

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On 6/21/2021 at 11:28 AM, PeterPan said:

This is so good!!! But why are you keeping it if it collects clutter? Get rid of it and end that work. 

 

Ok. That’s a good point. I wasn’t born organized. I’m not responsible enough to own a dish drainer. When I have one, there are ALWAYS dishes piled in it. I got rid of mine years ago and now the dishes get put away immediately.  
 

on a related note, I’m not responsible enough to have a hamper with a lid. I’ll pile on top of the lid. 😆

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Regarding the coffee table.  I struggle with clutter but we do have a coffee table.  We need it for jigsaw puzzles and somewhere to set down a cup etc.  We use our coffee table.

I don't mind items that have a home being out and being used.  The stuff that's piled up that *doesn't* have a home is what makes me twitchy!

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I read and tried a few different systems many years ago, and was overwhelmed by clutter.  I didn't like flylady even though all my friends of the time used it.  My Ah Ha moment was when I got Julie Morgenstern's book and started using her system.  It's not judgmental at all, and it works whether or not something sparks joy or not, whether or not I use or wear something or not.  I like all my weird artifacts and dress-ups, I just need them to be organized and in their homes.  Don't buy the containers until you've done the first three steps.

It's easy to remember because it's based on this acronym: SPACE

Sort

Purge

Assign (a home)

Containerize

Equalize (maintain the system)

So you start by sorting into like-things.  Take a pile or a box and go through it one by one.  Hair ties, ibuprofen, and nail clippers are like things.  Scarves, books, and Christmas ornaments are not.

Purge by getting rid of garbage or donations.  Physically do this before moving on.  I do cheat with a psychic purgatory level which is for things I want to throw away or donate but they need to sort of off-gas my connection to them for a month or two or ten.  I do have a home for psychic purgatory.  Whatever you want to keep is fine.  Keep it for any reason.

Assigning a home is possibly the most important step.  My dress-ups go in the attic.  The hair ties go in the bathroom.  Board games in the back room.  Try to put things where people expect them as much as possible and your system has a better chance of holding.

Containerize by deciding what kind of container you need and want.  I try to never use cardboard boxes because our house is prone to mold and cardboard is mold food.  For a while I used vintage suitcases because I liked the look but found they molded too.  Dress-ups go into plastic totes in the attic, hair ties go into a basket in the bathroom, board games go onto a rack in the back room.

Equalizing is a way to continue the acronym but just means maintain your system once you have it set up.  When you've assigned everything a home, you have a place for it all to go, and when you clean and tidy, it goes there.  Done.

 

 

 

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15 hours ago, Spryte said:

That’s hysterical!  I had to show DD.  🤣

I am amused by this.  Is this to teach children to stuff things under couch cushions?  My kids must be gifted because they seemed to come preequipped with that skill.  I need a video to teach them to walk whatever it is back to the room they got it from.

 

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Ok, I’m back. I need some advice. The first is about the pencil drawing. When we got married we didn’t have much money, but I didn’t like having bare walls. I found some drawings my husband did in college in Europe and I framed them. This is one - I don’t have a place to hang it now. But I figure one of my daughters may want it some day. Thoughts? 
 

The next is the Christmas picture. This is a framed Christmas card that my grandmother sent. A cousin found and framed it. It was very kind and thoughtful of her. However, I have no sentimental attachment to it - I didn’t realize what it was when she gave it to me. I’m a terrible decorator and the idea that I will replace some picture in my house with this at Christmas time is ludicrous. Thoughts?

Finally I want more advice on this closet. It is actually a very deep and tall closet, but the hanging bar and coats cover the shelves in the back. So it’s not very useful. I did make some progress, but it’s still kind of random/messy. 

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Christmas Picture: donate. Someone will love it and use it. You don't need to keep it. You have appreciated the thought and love in it (both from cousin and grandmother), but it is clutter for you now.

DH picture: Can you "unframe" it and store it in a book? Do you have a hope chest? Hang it up to cheer up a laundry area or mudroom? Or even hang it in this closet? That way it is not taking up valuable shelf/floor space, but you have it for the future.

Closet: I would store something I only need annually/periodically on the shelves here. Personally, I'd probably store the winter gear (boots, gloves, hats, coats) back there during summer/swimsuits & beach towels during winter. Some other ideas: Suitcases, Christmas decorations and/or dishes, stockpile of cleaning supplies/medication/blankets/etc, kids' clothes to grow into & hand me downs for younger kids, future homeschooling or old homeschooling books (like if I've pre-bought 2 years or am storing a program for a younger sibling). You could also use it as your "stuff purgatory" area - boxes go here as you decide if you want to donate or keep items. If you don't feel like pulling it out by a certain date, then it goes, unopened, to Goodwill. 

Great job keeping up the momentum!!

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If you have no attachment, get rid of it.

That said, I love framed seasonal pictures. Mine are mostly kids’ artwork, lol. I don’t really have anything to show because I’m in pack what I can mode, but I just take one frame down and replace it with another, depending on the time of year.

For the most part, easy peasy.  Don’t ask me about the snowman still hanging in my tall staircase though.

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Regarding framed artwork:

I do swap some things at Christmas time.  I store the Christmas items with the other Christmas decorations and the "rest of the year" items live in the Christmas decoration box during the holidays.

Like mentioned above, I have some framed art hanging in my front closet.  It is just being stored there because they are pieces I love but don't fit any of our current wall space.

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2 hours ago, lauraw4321 said:

Ok, I’m back. I need some advice. The first is about the pencil drawing. When we got married we didn’t have much money, but I didn’t like having bare walls. I found some drawings my husband did in college in Europe and I framed them. This is one - I don’t have a place to hang it now. But I figure one of my daughters may want it some day. Thoughts? 

That is a beautiful picture. I wouldn't throw that away either, which says something since i am sort of compulsive about throwing things away.

If it wasn't already framed, I'd put it in a photo album type book.  I hesitate to say scrapbook, because to me that implies stickers and stuff, but we have books with flat artwork that my kids have made, and photos of other things, that they like to look through.

Since it is framed, I'd walk around my house and really make sure I didn't have anything hanging that I liked less, and switch it out.  I really like that, so it might make it to my walls.  If it didn't, I'd put it in a box, and put it away for the future.  I have some sealed boxes with things I know I want to keep but don't interact with much.  The dress my kids wore for their baptism, the original copies of DS's birth certificate (replaced when we adopted), the wedding picture of my parents.  So, it could go in there
 

2 hours ago, lauraw4321 said:


The next is the Christmas picture. This is a framed Christmas card that my grandmother sent. A cousin found and framed it. It was very kind and thoughtful of her. However, I have no sentimental attachment to it - I didn’t realize what it was when she gave it to me. I’m a terrible decorator and the idea that I will replace some picture in my house with this at Christmas time is ludicrous. Thoughts?

Thrift store, unless I was was, right at this moment, looking for a frame to put something in.  Then I'd take it apart and use the frame.  

2 hours ago, lauraw4321 said:

Finally I want more advice on this closet. It is actually a very deep and tall closet, but the hanging bar and coats cover the shelves in the back. So it’s not very useful. I did make some progress, but it’s still kind of random/messy. 

It depends if you have other, more hidden storage.  If you don't, that space back there is perfect for things like that box I mentioned above with the drawing. If not, I'd put things in there that you only access occasionally.   The Christmas decorations.  Either the box with the hats and gloves and scarves, or the box with the sand toys (these get switched out in my house).

You are doing a great job!  I really like that picture.  

 

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I saw a show or YouTube video where they used a rolling wire shelf in a deep, but narrow closet like you have to make it more functional. It could be rolled out to access the items as needed. You'd obviously have to measure, but maybe something like this:

Screenshot_20210623-083742_Chrome.jpg

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On 6/21/2021 at 8:01 AM, lauraw4321 said:

This is my coffee table. There are a lot of books (no room on any bookshelf in the house), an etch a sketch, slime, sunglasses, kid jewelry, a Nintendo DS, GS badges, a pile of $2 bills, tea bins full of $.50 cent and $1 coins (fun uncle present), a laptop that I don’t use but don’t know what to do with it, a kid Disney souvenir, stress balls the kids made with a babysitter, a charging battery. I don’t know where to put 85% of this stuff.  

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90% of issues with clutter is getting it out and never bringing it back.  The other 10% is that it MUST have a home.

Because, you will find that once you "declutter" it won't be long before you re-clutter.  It's a cycle.  Not bringing it in was an important revelation (at least to me) when I was trying to live minimally as a big family.

For me, I just ran the numbers.  If every person had a reasonable 5 pairs of shoes? That's ten shoes per person or ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY shoes in our household.  Add in shirts, pants, jackets, pillows, stuffed animals, toys... it could mentally break a person.  

We currently own more stuff now than at any point in my parenting journey and I can see it is impeding time, creativity, and joy.  It also helped me to realize I was not being loving by allowing my kids to have  a lot of stuff... I was actually hindering them.  For me? I had to work out the mental game - guilt, the urge to acquire, the difficulty of decluttering, because the physical aspect is not as hard as the mental.

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I store framed artwork that I want to keep but don't currently have a place for in random spots like behind the sofa, under the sofa, or slid behind the headboard of a bed. 

I don't keep stuff unless I REALLY want it. So my dh's framed drawings, yes. The Christmas card? No way. 

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1 minute ago, BlsdMama said:

90% of issues with clutter is getting it out and never bringing it back.  The other 10% is that it MUST have a home.

Because, you will find that once you "declutter" it won't be long before you re-clutter.  It's a cycle.  Not bringing it in was an important revelation (at least to me) when I was trying to live minimally as a big family.

For me, I just ran the numbers.  If every person had a reasonable 5 pairs of shoes? That's ten shoes per person or ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY shoes in our household.  Add in shirts, pants, jackets, pillows, stuffed animals, toys... it could mentally break a person.  

We currently own more stuff now than at any point in my parenting journey and I can see it is impeding time, creativity, and joy.  It also helped me to realize I was not being loving by allowing my kids to have  a lot of stuff... I was actually hindering them.  For me? I had to work out the mental game - guilt, the urge to acquire, the difficulty of decluttering, because the physical aspect is not as hard as the mental.

I got really ruthless about junky kids toys and that made a huge difference.

McDonalds toys, junk given as prizes at carnivals or church activities, cheap sunglasses that they got from birthday parties. etc...

I would sneak them into the trash or the goodwill bag and my kids NEVER missed them, They didn't play with them, but didn't want to discard. It was just junk that cluttered the house. If I found these things laying around the house, poof...into the trash.

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On 6/20/2021 at 10:17 AM, happi duck said:

Fly lady is based on the system in the book Sidetracked Home Executives.  If you can get your hands on this old book I highly recommend it.  Even if you don't use their card system exactly it is still really helpful.

Sticking to my cards is the only way I can keep up.  If I blow them off everything falls apart.

Yes, I’ve tried both, and i didn’t like the Flylady emails, but the book I followed a lot longer. It had some very useful ideas I still use even though I don’t do the whole thing

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2 hours ago, historically accurate said:

Christmas Picture: donate. Someone will love it and use it. You don't need to keep it. You have appreciated the thought and love in it (both from cousin and grandmother), but it is clutter for you now.

DH picture: Can you "unframe" it and store it in a book? Do you have a hope chest? Hang it up to cheer up a laundry area or mudroom? Or even hang it in this closet? That way it is not taking up valuable shelf/floor space, but you have it for the future.

 

I agree.  I wouldn't part with the pencil drawing......I think you should find a place to hang it. 

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3 hours ago, happi duck said:

Regarding framed artwork:

I do swap some things at Christmas time.  I store the Christmas items with the other Christmas decorations and the "rest of the year" items live in the Christmas decoration box during the holidays.

I love the *idea* of this, but you know the saying, Roman, know thyself?  I know myself. 

I'm going to put the drawing my husband did back in the closet for now until I find a better solution. Christmas card is getting donated.

I don't know WHY the idea of putting winter stuff on the shelf back there never occurred to me, but it hadn't.  I had a kind of broken laundry basket and I filled it with snow shoes, ski goggles, hats, mittens, scarves and put it on the shelf behind the coats. Our "red thing" (literally, that's what we call it) by our front door where backpacks, purses, etc. get hung has NEVER been cleaner! It was stuffed full of those things, which makes no sense in summer in Alabama. It is still a mess, but it's 1000Xs better.  

Baby steps!  Thank you all SO MUCH!!!

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2 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

I got really ruthless about junky kids toys and that made a huge difference.

McDonalds toys, junk given as prizes at carnivals or church activities, cheap sunglasses that they got from birthday parties. etc...

I would sneak them into the trash or the goodwill bag and my kids NEVER missed them, They didn't play with them, but didn't want to discard. It was just junk that cluttered the house. If I found these things laying around the house, poof...into the trash.

I bought those things from my kids.  We'd sit down and have serious negotiations, but my kids didn't have a lot of money sense so we'd be arguing about whether that right with a spider that they got off a cupcake was worth 7 cents or 8.  My kids thought they were rich because they had hundreds of pennies in their piggy banks, and they got lots of practice in math.  

I have always had at least one teacher friend I knew who liked that stuff for prizes, or sorting, or whatever, so I'd just give it to them.  

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1 hour ago, lauraw4321 said:

I love the *idea* of this, but you know the saying, Roman, know thyself?  I know myself. 

I'm going to put the drawing my husband did back in the closet for now until I find a better solution. Christmas card is getting donated.

I don't know WHY the idea of putting winter stuff on the shelf back there never occurred to me, but it hadn't.  I had a kind of broken laundry basket and I filled it with snow shoes, ski goggles, hats, mittens, scarves and put it on the shelf behind the coats. Our "red thing" (literally, that's what we call it) by our front door where backpacks, purses, etc. get hung has NEVER been cleaner! It was stuffed full of those things, which makes no sense in summer in Alabama. It is still a mess, but it's 1000Xs better.  

Baby steps!  Thank you all SO MUCH!!!

Hey, that drawing might look better to you with a different Mat. The white paper with a white mat doesn’t help the drawing “pop”.

id do a black mat in the frame 

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You are doing so well! 
I see some posters have already used my answer- entertain! It’s the only time my house gets the works. And I don’t consider it a successful clean unless there’s trash and give away piles. But, we have lots of stuff, and definitely haven’t mastered not bringing new stuff in. 
The last two days I’ve been purging and cleaning and simplifying. But I do like displaying personal items and pictures. I want to feel like I’m in my house. If I don’t have stuff around, then it feels like a hotel room. 
That said, I would definitely display your husband’s drawing. It would be a good memory for me when I walked by. And that’s what I want to feel in my home. 
Now, my issue is clothes! Always has been. It’s definitely a bad thing. I have way too many, and still buy things, hoping they will look better? I don’t know. But that’s on my list this weekend. Because my bedroom is embarrassing. But no company goes there, so it never gets the good effort😀

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Does anyone else have closet envy?  Seriously, that storage behind the clothing rack is genius.  Perfect for off season storage (we’d fill it, easily).  Or seasonal decorations.  Or just whatever!

I’d save the drawing.  If you like the framed card, or if it’s sentimental, I’d probably lean it on the mantle at the holidays with greenery around it and some other items, just make it part of a little vignette.

This thread is inspiring.  I am dying to go organize and de-clutter now.

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