Monday, January 21, 2013

Updates to the Living Room

 This week I only have a very small update to our place to show you.



Yes. I got a small coffee table for my Birthday! And I am so happy because we finally have a place to put something to drink or to play games.



Of course, for the last week our living room has stil looked like this a couple of times, with the table pushed to the side ...

Next week I´ll have more updates for you.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Organizing the Paperwork

Today, I would like to write about our paperwork and about how I organized it. 

Throughout the years, I have tried different systems for organizing all of our paperwork. Some of them worked well, others not so much. 

One thing I learned from filing things in binders, in hanging file folders, in regular file folders in magazine holders, and lastly by jamming all of our new mail in a box is the following:  

I hate to whole-punch stuff. I am not sure why. But if a punch is involved, my files are going to sit there for a while waiting to be put away.
I also don´t like binders too much, as once they start to fill up, they become heavy and impractical to use. 

With our move to the new apartment came a whole new bunch of bills and papers that needed to be organized and put away. Since my 2 binders were stuffed to the rim and not working for me, I temporarily placed everything new in a box. There was a little problem though: Each time I needed to review something or find information in there, I had to go through the entire thing waisting time searching. 

So looking over my freshly-made list of projects, I decided to tackle the paperwork and bills next.
Here is what I started with: 

    • A bunch of letters stuffed into a box
    • A bunch of large envelopes with insurance policies and the like
    • 2 big binders full of our documents
    And here are the steps of thought I went through:

    1. I really thought about the different systems I had used previously and which types had worked best for me (meaning paperwork was filed on time and my husband could find things easily).
    2. Next I decided on either hanging file folders or something similar.
    3. After that, I thought about all the different types of documents we use and the number of folders we would need.
    4. Then I researched prices and found these:


    5. Lastly, I went about organizing all of our paperwork again, purging were possible and creating categories with sub-files. I placed household bills in one color of folders, investment and retirement account info in another color of folders, and so on. In the end, I had about 6 or 7 different categories with differing numbers of sub-folders.


    6. For now, I placed these folders in the same box as I previously used for the loose bills right onto our desk in the living-room. Once I tackle the whole living-room storage situation in a few weeks or months, I will remove them from plain sight.


    What I like about these folders:
    • They fit a lot of differently-sized paper
    • Each bill, account or household member has its own folder
    • Folders can be transported easily if needed
    • When filing new paperwork I can just get out the ones I need
    • No whole-punching required
    • I can add to this collection or re-arrange it very easily

    So what do you think? I hope this system gives you an idea on how to file your own paperwork more effectively.

    Take Care!


    Monday, January 7, 2013

    The storage room is pretty much done!

     Remember this pretty storage room with lots of un-used potential?


    Up until this Saturday it sported all but two tiny shelves and an assortment of hooks on the wall.
    Most of our stuff was placed on the floor wherever we had a spot. One of the shelves housed a ton of boxes (from the coffee maker, the waffle cooker, and our dishes). And the other one contained our cleaning supplies and some other stuff.

    Our paper recycling consisted of an old moving box. Talking of which, I already moved all the other  boxes down into the basement storage room.

    In order to make this place useful I went through several steps:

    1. Function: I thought about how this room was going to be used and decided on the following functions:
    • Recyling Area
    • Cleaning Supply Storage
    • Suitcase Storage (I don´t want to put those into the dungeon-like basement)
    • Tool Storage
    • Housing for our Vacuum Cleaner plus attachments and filters
    • Pantry and miscellaneous Household Items
    • and the list might get longer ….
    2. Brainstorm Storage: I researched different types of shelving, storage containers and possible layouts for how everything was going to be put together. I also thought about the size of container I would need for each category of items.

    3. Budget: I set a budget for this project and researched prices in order to decide on a final system.

    4. Purchase and Assembly: Once I had brought everything home, the fun part started.
    Assembling everything.


    Since we are only renting and did not want to install anything permanent I purchased one of those black shelving units that can be put toghether very easily. I also got an assortment of purple and lime green containers.


    I removed everything from our storage room, and went to town filling each canister with its intended items.

    5. Love the results: Things are looking much better already.


    Now the bottom container holds a few tools and cords, the next one up is used as paper recycling bin (that can be brought down to the garbage easily thanks to its handles). The medium sized purple containers hold glass recycables and plastic bottles respectively. Finally, I placed cleaning supplies and cleaning cloths in the larger green bin and our vacuum cleaner supplies in the smaller one.
    On the other side, I used the top shelf for luggage bags and the one below for my grocery bags.


    As you can see, there is still some space to add another shelf if needed (such as for additional kitchen supplies).

    6. Reevaluate after some time: For now I have to wait and see how this will turn out, but re-evaluating a project after some time always helps.

    Before (left side) & After (right side)


    Take Care!


    Post linked up here:
    - Thrifty Decor Chick (Before and After Party January)

    Sunday, January 6, 2013

    52 Weeks of Organizing - Here is the Plan

    Here is as promised a list of Tasks I am planning on completing throughout the year. I won´t complete them in this specific order, as their completion depends on their cost and the time needed to complete them. Some of these things I feel are much more urgent than others, and I will consider that as well when selecting the next area to be worked on.
    Also, there are not exactly 52 tasks as I might add things throughout the year as necessary.

    Feel free to follow me along as we turn this place into our home.

    Organize Storage Room
    1 Bring Moving Boxes into the Basement
    2 Install addtl. Shelving
    3 Organize Cleaning Supplies
    4 Create Recycling Center

    Organize Hallway
    5 Hooks for Jackets
    6 Hooks for Keys
    7 Baskets for Scarves, Gloves, …
    8 Shoe Storage

    Organize Office
    9 Filing System for Important Docs
    10 Filing System for Bills
    11 Office Supplies; Cable
    12 Instructions and Guarantees
    13 Organize Photos

    Organize Living Room
    14 Add Couch Table
    15 Storage for Media and Books
    16 Extra Blankets
    17 Curtains/Blinds

    Organize Kid´s Room
    18 Organize Art and Craft Table
    19 Organize Wardrobe
    20 Organize Toys
    21 Reading Corner

    Organize Master Bedroom
    22 Organize Jewelry
    23 Organize Medicine/1st Aid
    24 Organize Linens
    25 Organize Wardrobe and Dresser
    26 Laundry Hamper

    Organize Dining Room
    27 Add Storage
    28 Place for Table Linens
    29 Place for Craft Supplies
    30 Place for extra Dishes

    31 Pots and Pans
    32 Cook Books/Recipes
    33 Cooking Supplies
    34 Baking and Breakfast Supplies
    35 Windowsills

    36 Storage for Towels
    37 Storage for Extras
    38 Electric Razors
    39 Laundry System

    40 Seating

    Garage and Car
    41 Organize

    42 Organize

    Paint Walls
    43 Living Room/Dining Room
    44 Hallway
    45 Kid´s Bedroom
    46 Master Bedroom

    47 Grocery Shopping
    48 Photo Year Book
    49 Seasonal Decor
    50 Tax Filing System
    51 Cleaning System

    What we will start with ...

    Yesterday I shared with you our apartment as it looked like empty and before we even moved in. Today, I would like to share how far we have come so far.

    Our entry way now looks like this:

    As you can see, not much has been done yet. Our jackets are hanging from random hooks and nails leftover from the previous renters. Scarfs, shoes and miscellaneous items have no designated spot yet.

    The only thing I added were two command hooks to the bottom of our entry door enabling our little one to hang up his own jacket. I am planning on adding a small bench with cubbies for shoe storage, a place to put jackets and maybe a mirror or art work.

    Next up, we have the living room/dining room/office.

    For this rather large space, we purchased a dining room table with four chairs, a sofa and a TV. The desk is my childhood desk, as is the far too small TV stand.

    Here I would love to paint the walls, update my childhood desk, create some kind of smart storage for all things media, books, office supplies, arts and crafts supplies and most importantly our files. Furthermore there is a sofa table and some art work planned.

    Moving from the living room to the kitchen, you will see that we added a small table and chairs (from my parents).  Unfortunately we do not have much space in the cabinets and I will need to find a way to store at least some of our supplies elsewhere.

    Actually, as of yesterday, the kitchen table looked more like this:

    And here is the prep area:

    For our kitchen we need to find some kind of storage solution as the one in place right now. I would love to paint in here and add roman shades.

    Right after the kitchen we have the bathroom which by now looks like this:

    In here, I need to work on organizing the cabinets and finding a solution for our electric razors, etc.
    Unfortunately, during the winter months there is no other way to dry our clothes than on the clothes rack, but once the weather turns nicer, this rack will spent most of its days on the balcony.

    Our son´s bedroom now looks like this:

    We added the wardrobe, the toy shelf, and the kid´s table. The walls still feel very stark and I would love to paint in here. Further, our son needs a big boy bed, I would love to work on the art area and to create a cute little reading nook.

    Finally, here is our master bedroom:

    In here, we still need to paint, purchase a bed (that´s a sleeper sofa borrowed from my parents) and eventually add a rug. The top drawer of that dresser is our junk drawer and looks accordingly inside.

    As you can see, our problem is not so much clutter (there is only so much one can acquire in a short amount of time) and luckily both, my husband and I, are pretty good at getting rid of things no longer cherished or needed. 

    However, what we really do need to work on is making this space our home. This will take a good amount of time, and as our funds allow, we will work on one space at a time. By no means we are planning to fill this place up to the rim, but we plan on making this homey.

    Lateron, I will publish my list of activities, so that you can follow along if you like.

    Take Care,


    Friday, January 4, 2013

    It´s been such a long time ....

    First up, Happy New Year to everyone!

    I know, that I have been gone for a very long time. When I last wrote, we were leaving the United States and moved back to Germany. We sold a lot of our personal belongings (except for about 6 suitcases) and boarded a plane.

    We stayed in my parent´s guest room for a few months (I still posted a couple of times then) and after a few more months, I accepted a new job 2 hours away from my hometime. And suddenly there was no time left for anything.

    Work, my family and getting settled took up quite some time and I needed a break from blogging.

    Well, the itch to write has returned and I have some great projects to share that will hopefully serve as an inspiration for others.
    This June we rented an apartment with good bones, but almost no furniture to fill it with. So here is finally a small tour of our apartment.

    First up, there is the entry way (looking out from the living room/dining room):

    This is the entry wall:

    Next up, we have the master bedroom:

           Here is our living room/dining room/office:

    This is a big space and there is quite a bit of potential hidden in here.

    Next, we have a relatively small kitchen (which is unfortunately speparate from the dining/living area.

    Then there is a small bathroom:

    On the way to the kid´s bedroom there is a small storage room:

    And finally, here is the smaller bedroom:

    As you can see from all the tilted ceilings, you might be able to recognize that we went with an apartment under the roof. 

    All of the pictures above are from the day we went to look at the space.

    Since then, we did purchase some furniture and have started to make this feel more like home. Writing about all of our purchases however would explode this post, and therefore I will show in between pictures at a later point.

    I also have to add an updated apartment tour to the top pages.

    We have spent 6 months here, and now that we have covered the basic furniture additions, I have decided to tackle our rooms one by one in smaller weekend projects.

    Last weekend I made a plan with all of the areas I intend to work on troughout the year, and I will share it as well sometime this weekend. 

    Take care,