Home Organizing: The Second Bedroom Edition

So we’re in the process of organizing our home. Paring down, doing away with things we don’t want or need, and finding a place for the rest of our stuff. A couple weeks ago, we tackled the second bedroom in our house. And it was a doozy.

Here’s the thing. Corey and I both owned all the furnishings necessary for a house, as we had each been living on our own 2004, and needed those things. So when we got married and had to merge stuff, we had double of almost everything. It was completely overwhelming. Not to mention, Corey had a ton of stuff from when he was little that needed to be sorted through, organized, and consolidated. So here we were, 2 years after we got married and we still had one whole room that we were essentially using as a giant closet.
Ridiculous, right? I’m kind of really, really embarrassed about it (kinda can’t believe I posted that picture on the interwebs). It was too much to handle, so I basically just kept the door shut and ignored it. And things just kept piling up. Sheesh! We didn’t need a lot of those things anymore and most of the stuff just needed to be consolidated and put in storage in the attic.
So, here is what we did. We set aside a whole weekend to do nothing but work on organizing the house. We started on a Friday night and worked until Sunday afternoon. We had our fair share of breaks, but we intentionally had no other plans outside the house that weekend. I’m not really sure I’m qualified to give any tips here–I mean, look at that before picture–but I’ll try to share what worked for us.
One of the keys to keeping us on track was making lots of good food and snacks. I knew that if we had some good stuff to eat on hand, we wouldn’t be tempted to leave the house in search of something delicious and derail the whole process :). Sadly, I don’t have pictures of the food. But I made homemade salsa and guacamole, Chicago-style deep dish pizza, barbecue chicken sandwiches. Plus I had lots of fresh fruit on hand for snacks. So tip #1: have good food in the house!
Another thing that helped make the whole experience a little more pleasant was listening to podcasts.
“This American Life” is one of my favs. “Dinner Party Download” was a new one to us. It was entertaining, but probably not going in the regular rotation (with the likes of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” “The Briefing,” and of course “This American Life”). Tip #2: keep it entertaining!

This is where we ended up Friday night:

Not a bad start! We had a sizable donation pile that Corey loaded up and took to the Durham Rescue Mission Thrift Store Saturday morning. We have one rule we’ve instituted that has really helped us. If you haven’t seen or used it in 6 months, it’s out! It helps us weed out things we don’t use anymore and don’t actually need, and we avoid arguing over what should or should not stay. Now, obviously there are some things that this rule does not apply to. For example, Christmas decorations/seasonal stuff gets to stay even though we only use those once each year. Tip #3: If you haven’t seen or used it in 6 months, it goes!
We worked throughout the day Saturday, doing a lot of organizing and made some good progress. In order to make things easily accessible in the attic, we clearly labeled all of our storage boxes with what was inside.
I just took plain 3×5 notecards, wrote with a Sharpie, then covered it with packing tape. Done and done! This way, when we’re looking for something in the attic we don’t have to actually open each box, we can just find the item on the label and grab that box. I did this with a lot of our stuff from childhood, college things, and just the stuff we don’t really need on a daily, weekly, etc basis. Tip #4: Label everything–and be specific!
Our Christmas decorations also got put in storage bins and clearly labeled and put in the attic. Previously, it had all been in our downstairs closet taking up a TON of room. Now we have more room down there to store the things we need more frequently.
The storage bins made a HUGE difference. We were able to clear out most of the cluttered room, plus the closet in the guest room. LOTS of progress was made on Saturday!!
So, Sunday we really just had some small things left to do. We were already feeling so good about what we had accomplished! One of the important things that needed to be done was every bit of paperwork that was floating around the house needed sorted and filed. I didn’t realize how many unnecessary papers we were holding on to! It felt so good to have everything properly organized and the junk weeded out!
Look how nice that is! We each have a personal tab, one for the last 6 years of tax stuff, one for receipts and warranties, one for owner’s manuals, and one for official documents like birth certificates and our marriage certificate. Then each tab is sub-divided as necessary. To me, this was one of the most fun parts of the weekend. I loved taking that messy pile of papers and putting every last piece where it belonged. It was such a great feeling! We have one more file box for overflow because this one was getting pretty packed.
After doing all of that this is what we were left with:
How amazing does that look? We felt so. good. Just some bigger things that needed to be donated when we had a bigger vehicle to do so. We also completely cleaned out and organized the closet in this bedroom and the guest (third) bedroom, and the large downstairs closet. Whew!
Here’s what we’re workin’ with now that the bigger things have been cleared out and donated:
She’s a beaut! There is still a little bit of clutter because we’re prepping the downstairs for a fresh coat of paint. It is such a relief to walk past this room and not have a panic attack over the clutter and mess.
As far as what’s left, I have plans for the lamp, dresser, rocking chair, and mirror, so stay tuned for that! This room is ready for big things :).