Simple Locker Redefined

My husband works at a university and frequently shops their surplus store. When faculty transition or when a remodel occurs, all the old desks, chairs, fixtures, etc. go into their surplus storage and are then available for sale to the general public. Many schools have these, so you should check with your local college to see if they offer surplus sales.

After his trips to the store, my husband has come back with lots of awesome-ness, such as cabinets for the garage, children’s chairs that we’ve donated to our son’s school, a Restoration Hardware light fixture, and an old small locker. The locker looked like a perfect addition to my son’s room, so I decided to give it a new look.

Here’s what it looked like when he brought it home.

School Surplus Locker

School Surplus Locker

I got some spray paint primer and dark blue spray paint and started covering the whole thing. I ended up running out of the blue, and I didn’t like that brand, so I ended up trying Rustoleum’s spray paint for metal, which was MUCH better – I found mine at Lowe’s (sorry, I didn’t snap a photo of it).

Spray Paint for Metal Locker

Spray Paint for Metal Locker

After about four coats of paint, it was a great addition to my son’s bookcase in his room.

School Locker Redefined

School Locker Redefined

Isn’t it fun? There are so many things you can do with old classroom surplus…you just have to redefined it.

I’ll show you more of my little guy’s room throughout the week!

Little Details

I probably jumped the gun a bit when I showed you the built-in desk organization and master closet projects.  What can I say, I got a bit antsy and honestly was proud of my progress.  However, in both of those projects there were little things that I still wanted to complete.

In the closet – we added what I call “steel” (actually brushed nickel) closet rods instead of the wooden dowel rods.

Before Wooden Dowel After - Steel Dowel

Amazing the difference, huh?

OK – call me crazy but I love the simple update.  Not to mention the wooden rod was sagging a bit in the middle.  Perhaps it was all my clothes but I will blame it on the wood.

The next update is a bit more noticeable.

In Progress - Built-in Desk

Built-in After

Added a few more bins and found these fabulous chalkboard labels on Etsy.

Liam is obsessed with writing his name these days so he added his signature to the bottom two bins.

Side note: although I love the chalkboard look I sort of dislike how bleak real chalk appeared so I bought one of these pens.  The chalk “marker” wipes right off with water and it achieves the look I wanted.

Oh and I decided my color scheme on the outdoor furniture project.  But this time I will wait to share until the final project is completed.  And because the cushions I decided on won’t be here until JULY 1st!  I know, I can’t stand the wait but I think it will be worth it.  Stay tuned.

HAPPY MONDAY everyone.

“Desk” Organization

I use the word “desk” lightly.  We have no stand alone desk nor room that we deem our office.  We simply have an area in our kitchen that has a built-in “desk”.  This is a bare minimum shot of the built-in desk area during our kitchen renovation.

Three drop down pendant lights - replace ceiling fan

And moment of confession, before Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013, it looked like this…

Built-In Desk Area Before - Doors Open

Built-In Desk Area- Before

Built-In Desk Area Before - Doors Open

Built-In Desk Area Before – Doors Open

I know, I know.


Very embarrassing.

So, I decided enough was enough and I went and got these baskets.

New baskets - found at Home Goods

New baskets – found at Home Goods

Three baskets all for 12.99 - used for desk storage

Three baskets all for 12.99 – used for desk storage

Three baskets for 12.99 a set – and 12.99 times two and I have a great solution to a massive unorganized mess for under $30 total.

I still have some minor adjustments but between playing outside with the kiddos, eating dinner, bath time, kiddo bedtime and a solid hour or so reorganizing, this is the after:


Built-In Desk - After

Built-In Desk – After

I still need to figure out how to make those bottom two shelves work but I am SO happy with the progress.  For more organization projects click here and here.

Now to find a desk chair…

YEP, we currently sit on a big exercise ball.  Hey, one benefit – I am working my core while I type.

Contain your clutter – Part II

As the saying goes, “A place for everything, everything in its place.”  – Benjamin Franklin

This slogan holds true in our household.  Each and every room in our house seems to have a basket, bin or tote to put items.  And in case you missed the first edition of “Contain your clutter” from Erica check it out here.

Storage items can be found in all shapes and sizes, colors and textures.  A quick cruise around the house I spied these items in which I think I hit on Erica’s tip number 1 – Baskets and bins EVERYWHERE.

In the living room, perhaps inspired by the popular color blocking trend, is this $12.99 textured bin I found this past weekend at Home Goods (it should be illegal to have one within 5 miles of your home – we do and it is dangerous let me tell you).  This newest addition to my storage items holds Dax’s toys.

Living room basket for Dax's toys

Living room basket for Dax’s toys

On the other side of the bookshelf is Liam’s toy storage bin for his “big boy toys”.  This bin hits on the very popular chevron print and black and white combo.  I found this puppy at Target for under $20.

Living room bin for Liam's "big boy" toys

Living room bin for Liam’s “big boy” toys

Also in the living room because lets be honest when a diaper needs to be changed I don’t want to go upstairs to the other diaper changing area.  (Moment of confession, I don’t even have a changing table…eek!)

Living room bin for diapers, baby socks and baby products

Living room bin for diapers, baby socks and baby products

This textured “diaper” basket holds diapers, wipes, little shoes, socks, lotions, creams and other baby creams that are used on a frequent manner.  Throwing all these items in a non-baby like bin helps it fit into the living room decor.  This was a Hobby Lobby find years ago for super cheap.

Moving to the basement…

In the media area we have storage to disguise magazines.  I dig the graphical print and again the strong black and white combo.

Downstairs - Media area storage for magazines

Downstairs – Media area storage for magazines

Also, in the basement I have these great vintage storage trunks that I found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market when I lived in California.  You betcha I was going to drag these puppies all the way back to Kansas with me.  This was years ago before the vintage trunks were really back in and “cool” so I scored each of these for under $25!

Downstairs - Media area storage for blankets and pillows

Downstairs – Media area storage for blankets and pillows

These trunks help infuse color while storing blankets and pillows for movie viewing.

Downstairs open play area -toy bin specifically for books

Downstairs open play area -toy bin specifically for books

With our basement split in half with media area and play area, these bins are used for books in the basement.  I like to keep books on each floor in the house that way there is always a story to read easily accessible.

In the nursery, I went a bit untraditional with these locker room inspired storage bins.  I splurged a bit on these knowing that I can use these for years and years.  Now they hold baby blankets, bibs and extra diapers.

Locker room inspired storage

Locker room inspired storage

Of course all storage doesn’t have to be out and about for eyes to see.  This round basket holds my bangles and bracelets in our master bathroom.

Under the cabinet storage found in bathroom

Under the cabinet storage found in bathroom

Also found under the sink is this textured basket to hold beauty supplies and necessities.

Store beauty items and necessities in this beautiful basket

Store beauty items and necessities in this beautiful basket

And the most obvious of places to have storage – a closet.  In our master room closet I have these storage items to add pops of color and great pattern.

Storage ideas - closet

Storage ideas – closet

I scored these puppies during the craze of Missoni for Target last year.  Or maybe it was longer than that – I tried to block that out of my memory.  People were CRAZY about that line.  But I do adore these bins – that store hats and scarfs.

Again, baskets and bins EVERYWHERE can help contain your clutter…Yep, I think I have that covered.

Contain your clutter

So here’s our first post! We are so, so excited to start our blog, and we really hope you’ll enjoy it and give us feedback as often as you can. We hope to grow and learn right along with those who join us each day. So here goes…As moms who work outside the home, Jill and I both struggle trying to keep all the “stuff” around our house under control on a day-to-day basis. So, we created four simple things you could do over the next month to make your home feel a bit more like a haven.

1) Use baskets and buckets everywhere.

We all have areas of our house where everyday items pile up: shoes at the front door, books next to the bed, random things scattered up and down the stairs, etc. Place a stylish bucket or basket in those areas and pick one time a week to put everything away – otherwise, you’ll end up just letting it all stack up and spill out onto the floor.

Basket for shoes at the front door

Basket for shoes at the front door

2) Create a Mail Center.

Find an open space on your wall near your kitchen or mud room dedicated to organizing your mail and important school documents. Most home goods stores have inexpensive mail centers or magazine racks that hang on the wall – they range from $10 to $50. Not only will this help keep your counters paper-free, you’ll be able to find these documents a lot faster.

Wall mail center

Wall mail center right by garage entrance

3) Find furniture that doubles as storage.

Even though we spend the majority of our time in our kitchens and family rooms, most of us would rather not have those spaces completely covered with plastic toys and electronics all the time. So buy a few pieces of furniture that have plenty of storage space to hold toys, portable electronics, chargers, workout items, and game station accessories. You don’t even have to spend a ton of money on new furniture. Just scour garage sales, craigslist, or thrift stores for pieces with doors, drawers or lids. Then personalize them with a new paint job or fun new hardware. Our favorites are:

  • Trunks or ottomans with lids that double as coffee tables (this is an example from my own family room)
  • Entertainment hutches with doors across the bottom
  • Side tables with drawers that hold chargers when not in use
Coffee Table Organization

Coffee Table Organization

4) Have a designated “place” for everyday items.

It’s so frustrating when we’re ready to walk out the door, and we can’t find our keys, kid’s backpack, purse, sunglasses, or other must-have stuff. Create spots for the things you use every day, and commit to utilizing them. For instance, when you walk in from the garage…

  1. Immediately set your keys and sunglasses in a designated spot – this could be in a drawer or a hook on the mail center;
  2. Set your mail and other important documents in the mail center;
  3. Then place purses and backpacks in a convenient location, such as the hall closet or on hooks in the laundry room or mud room.

Incorporate these solutions into your house and daily routine, and you’ll notice a positive change in your stress and energy level. What are your clutter-free tips?