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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Making Your Home Work for You: Identify YOUR Problem Areas

I’m a collector. A packrat. A clutterbug. Every once in a while I go on a de-cluttering spree and for a few days hours I’m pleased with the clear open spaces of my home. But it’s not long before I start missing the things I threw out. Or the clear open spaces are not so clear and open anymore.

And I’ve come to realize something. I’m always going to be a collector. It’s part of who I am. Having a model home is not.

That said, my ultimate purpose in life is not to have stuff. I highly value the simple life. You won’t find any dust-collecting trinkets or fragile doodads lining my mantle (and that’s not because I don’t have a mantle). But

simple ≠ Spartan

It will look different for each family. The key is to recognize what your family actually needs and what is just sitting around clogging up your life. And finding a doable solution to keep the things you need where you use them.

Again, this will look different for everyone.

Not everybody has 4 homeschooled kiddos with a ravenous appetite for books, drawing supplies and food. And not everybody has over 2000 square feet of living space. But I think most people have some problem areas in their homes…places where some sort of organizational solution is needed to keep things working efficiently.

BTW, you might think that having more space will solve your problems. Eh, nope! Just a bigger area for spreading out the messes.

It makes little sense to have the things I do have if I can’t find them when I need them, right?

Living in a perpetual state of chaos isn’t fun for anyone, so I’m on a mission to solve my problem areas and you can join in on the fun.

The first step: go around your house on an average day (not a “I just cleaned up all the messes” day) and take some photos of your problem areas.

This will give you a visual record of what you need to fix and (believe it or not) some ideas on how to fix it. I’ll go first.

Let’s start in the kitchen.020

Ok, that doesn’t look too bad, but…021…notice how it’s pulled out from the corner? That’s because of this:

022The cord won’t reach otherwise.

Now, I could use an extension cord, but frankly, with my kiddos, that’s not a safe solution.

016 This is our school area.


Oh dear!


Does everyone’s fridge look like this?


On to the “mudroom” (enclosed porch).

At least there isn’t any actual mud.


Eeeps! In my defense, this house has no 1st floor closets and putting cardboard outside in the snow to wait 2 weeks for the next recycle pick-up isn’t happening.

The living room.025

These movies and games actually do all fit into this shelf. DVDs are irresistible to toddlers so they eventually all end up stacked on top.

Not the best way to keep track of your library books, I admit.030

Need a clean out here.032

The front hall.

This hall tree isn’t really sufficient for a family of 6. Plus any guests. And it’s by the front door. The only time we use the front door is to walk to church. But it won’t work at all by the back door.035

In the library.

The games and kid book shelf is a bit of a dud. The books never make it back to this shelf. Well, you saw, they are all on the radiator in the living room.028

This was a valuable exercise for me…it showed me not only what the problem areas are, but why they are problem areas. The first step to finding solutions, don’t you think?

And it inspired me to do something about it immediately. I wanted to solve all the problems at once, but reality set in. So we started in the kitchen. And put in some coat hooks where we actually need them…


…by the back door!

We still keep the adult coats by the front door.

The microwave was moved to the kitchen counter and the cart moved to another corner of the kitchen with the humidifier (now the toddler can’t play with the water, yippee!).

I plan to post on this topic weekly as I (hopefully) fix my home’s problem areas.

Does your home have any problem areas? What can you do to make them work for you?

Linked to The Christian Home: Issue 3 at Legacy of Home.


  1. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation~I'm a collector TOO..LOL..and well, not sure I can do the pic thing right now, but seeing yours makes me SMILE b/c you are living a REAL life~one where important things are handled FIRST, Susan~the love and care of your kiddos overrides the desire (that we all have) for the HOUSE beautiful mag look~IT IS house beautiful~beautiful with LOVE...btw~salivated over that hall tree~gorgeous!! One thing we have done in two of our homes that we haven't here YET is create the coat hanger/rack on the wall system like you've got there~LOVE IT! HUGS!! I will be following you on this adventure~and just *might* find myself inspired enuff to DO something myself! Spring is coming!! ;-))

  2. Susan, This is a wonderful tip! I think it would help me so much.

  3. Susan: Thanks for the real photos. I look forward to next weeks. I am on a mission today also. No homeschooling today, so I should have some success.

  4. I love the real photos. Not sure i'd be so brave with the schoolroom or garage right now. I did see some photos of the school room from last september and thought, wow, it doesn't look like that now! The guilty bug almost crept in then the homeschool mama brain won out - of how lovely the room has been filled full of our "stuff" throughout the year. The microwave center? That's another story . . . .

  5. Can't wait to see the transformations! I'm trying to decide what to start on next.

  6. Excellent post and the pictures say a 1000 words. Thank you!


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