Storing Scarves and Wraps

Quick organizing post for today!

Although I try to live simply by not accumulating too much stuff, I must admit that I have a fairly large collection of pashmina-style wraps.  What can I say?  I love how versatile they are!  In the winter their extra wide size means more chills stay off my neck.  In the summer they are the perfect thing to grab for once the sun goes down and things get chilly.  They are also the perfect travel accessory–a great layer to add or shed based on unpredictable weather.  For these reasons I don’t really consider my collection of scarves/wraps/pashminas (or whatever you want to call them!) to clutter in our tiny space since I really do wear all of them with some regularity.  

That said, over the years I’ve struggled with how best to store them.  I’ve tried several different ways of storing them so that they’d be easily accessible and not tangled.  I tried twisting them up like you see in store displays, putting them in a basket, and hanging them from hangers and hooks of all shapes and sizes.  Nothing worked well enough for me to keep the system up–most were too arduous to maintain.

Then one day during one of my very motivated closet purging sessions I came across some extra towel rod/kitchen organizers we had purchased from IKEA but hadn’t used since we had remodeled our kitchen.  I came up with a solution to my scarf woes and I’ve never looked back.  I LOVE this system!  It was super easy to install and has made keeping track of all my scarves so simple.

All I did was install two towel rods on the back of the front hall closet door.  Yep, that’s it!  Here’s what I mean!



The scarves hang from the top towel rod, and the lower rod keeps them from swinging around too much when we open and close the door (which we do about a million times a day!)

scarf storage

Anyone else got a pashmina wrap addiction?  Or other great ways to store your collection of winter neckwear? 



Jewelry storage

One thing I’ve been meaning to share on my blog for some time now is how I store my jewelry.  I have a fair amount of it, but it definitely gets used.  I love necklaces and with dressing up for work everyday, I’ve needed a way to keep all my baubles accessible and tangle-free.

Most of the necklaces and earrings that I wear often I have hanging from pearl top pins on fabric-covered cork boards, an idea that I saw a very long time ago in an issue of Real Simple (see what I mean here).  I created two boards, each of which is two corkboard squares long.  You can see them both in this  picture:

I created a little dressing nook by placing the boards on the sides of our PAX wardrobes using 3M picture hanging strips, which come off clean and have great hold.  I probably had to use a fair amount of them (maybe six per board?) but so far after 5 years neither one has budged!  The great thing about this method of storing jewelry is that it is in plain sight so I can easily see everything.  It also keeps necklaces from getting tangled, and makes putting things back a snap.  In order to keep the look streamlined, I divided each board by color–silver on the right:

and gold on the left:

Of course, not everything fits within this neat color scheme.  I also have a jewelry box on the dresser that I keep other pieces in that are either hard to store on the boards or are a bit much to keep on display all the time:

As you can see in the above pic, I also have a lovely jewelry “tree” that my husband bought me for Christmas a few years back that is a great place to showcase some of my favorite earrings, and also has a little well on the bottom to hold my watch and rings at the end of each day.  You can also see the mason jar I use for my collection of faux pearls, and the antique glass bowl from my mother that I use as a catch-all in an attempt to keep the top of the dresser tidy.  (The other, shorter, box you see on the right is DH’s “valet” which I guess is a man’s jewelry box.  He keeps his watches, tie pin, wallet, and glasses in it.)

Finally, I have some chunky and/or heave necklaces that wouldn’t work on the jewelry boards at all, and are also a bit difficult to store in the jewelry box.  Those I keep hanging in the closet on a jewelry display piece specially designed for use with slatwall (read more about the slatwall in the closet here).

Again, this keeps them easy to see and tangle-free.

What are your favorite jewelry-storage solutions?



Wardrobe quick-change

One of the things DH and I did right away when we moved into our place was buy  each of us a full-size PAX wardrobe from IKEA.  We’ve loved them so much over the last 5 years and we’ve been very happy with their performance (do I sound like an ad for IKEA??).  They each fit our things perfectly and this way we each have our own space for our clothes, which is really nice since real his and hers closets may never be a reality for us.

The only thing after 5 years that was bugging me what that I no longer was loving the “look” of the wardrobes:

For some reason I was starting to feel like the grilles on the glass doors was just to busy and cluttered-looking.  So, I decided one night recently that it was time to say “goodbye” to all the grilles  and give the wardrobes and sleeker, cleaner look.  I was a bit nervous, especially since as I was removing them it was pretty clear that I wouldn’t be able to salvage them and put them back in if I wanted to, but I love the way the look now!

I especially like how they pick up on the similar style of closet doors we had installed when we re-did our master closet:

Just a mini update, but such a huge impact—and it was free!  Love that.

Have you made any mini or free updates recently?



Master Bedroom Closet re-do

When you live in a small space every inch counts. That’s why when we moved into our tiny 2bedroom condo, I found the master bedroom closet to be quite perplexing.  The closet itself was a decent size, but  a bit strangely shaped.  However, the perplexing thing was the size of the closet door which was very tiny in comparison to the closet.  Tackling this closet was actually a fairly quick project but it has made a HUGE difference both in terms of the overall look of the room and especially in terms of the functionality of the space.

For reference, here’s the “footprint” of the closet (from above):

As you can see part of the closet is standard depth, but there’s a part of it that is very narrow (this is because there’s a large but shallow built-in cabinet in the bathroom (which shares a wall with the closet( that takes up the rest of the depth.  You can also see in the diagram the placement of the tiny door (please forgive the blurry image!):

I never understood this itty-bitty door, or its placement all the way in the corner.  Most of the closet was almost impossible to get to.  We made it work for a while, but it was so hard to put anything away so (not surprisingly) things often ended up on the floor instead.

Enter my closet solution: elfa (from the Container Store) plus slatwall plus new, bigger, sliding doors.  The sliding doors allowed us to have a nice big opening for the closet so we could reach the whole thing without taking up any of the space of the bedroom since they don’t open into the room.  Here’s a shot of the new space where you can see what a difference just putting in the new doors made!

Most of the functionality of the new closet came with adding a customized Elfa closet solution (walnut décor and platinum shelves, if you’re interested).  The nice thing was how customizable it was—I now have space for dresses, shirts, and skirts at the perfect height for my things.  Plus, because the closet is not very big, it wasn’t super expensive, even with the “upgrade” to the nicer shelves. Here you can see the different “zones” I created – one for shirts and skirts on the right:

And one for dresses and other longer items on the left:

As much space as I think I gained by adding the Elfa, I knew I could eke a bit more space on the side wall, and especially in the weird not-very-deep part of the closet.  That’s when it occurred to me to try using slatwall for shoes and accessories, an idea which had been brewing for some time after seeing this stuff all over in store displays.  You can see the slatwall in both of the pictures above, but here is a closer-up pic in case you’re not sure what the heck slatwall is (it is what my shoes are attached to):

The slatwall was actually somewhat hard to track down.  Apparently it is usually sold in large quantities to stores, and not in single sheets for residential applications.   However, I did finally find out that the Menard’s near us sells single sheets of white slatwall, which is exactly what I needed.  Unfortunately it wouldn’t fit in our car (not even close!), but we were able to have our contractor pick it up for us in his truck as part of the install cost.  It was a quick job, but well worth it.  I then ordered from a from an online supplier of retail furnishing the interior fittings I wanted—slanted shoe shelves, hooks, belt holder, necklace display, and some shallow shelves.  I use some clear acrylic shelves to use the tiny bit of still-unreachable space in the narrow part of the closet to store large purses!

Just to help visualize the change, here’s what he new layout looks like (from above):

I’ve been very pleased with this combination and definitely recommend it if you have a non-traditional or narrow closet space.  I found that with all the many interior fittings that are available to use with slatwall that this is a great use of space for any non-standard size closet.

What do you think?  What have you done to find extra space in your closet?   Has anyone else tried slatwall in a closet?  I’d love to see pictures!



Finding space: our closet laundry room

One of the joys of living in the city is that you often miss out on in-unit laundry.  Although newer rehabs are making sure to include laundry, but our building was last rehabbed in 1980, before in-unit laundry was considered essential.   In-unit laundry was on our “must have” list when we were condo shopping, but this was before the housing marked imploded and there weren’t many options out there that fit our needs.  So we settled on a unit that was billed as “laundry on-site, in-unit laundry easily installed.”   Since we loved most things about the condo, we decided that as long as installing laundry was an option, then we were happy.

We were accustomed to hauling loads of laundry down to a communal laundry room when we were renting when we were first married and living in Minneapolis. So we didn’t mind continuing that tradition for a time.  But what we didn’t realize is that the laundry room in our building isn’t accessible unless you go outside.  Seriously.  Maybe not such a huge deal in the summer but come winter, that meant hauling huge laundry baskets of clothing up and down two very steep, often snowy or icy, flights of stairs, walking across a snowy courtyard, and down into the basement laundry room.  It wasn’t fun.  Especially for DH, who did about 90% of the laundry (despite that it is one chore I actually enjoy) just because he was home during the day and if we waited until evening or the weekend, the machines were always in use.

So when we started thinking and talking about having a baby, we realized that our laundry needs would be greatly increased–especially since we wanted to do cloth diapers.  We decided this meant it was time to figure out how easily installed in-unit laundry would really be.  Okay, so this back story is getting pretty long and probably you just want to know what we did and see pictures, so here’s the Cliff’s Notes version.  I had always envisioned a traditional stacked washer and dryer.  However, on consultation with our contractor, we realized that because the only closet that had the right access to the pipes was not on an outside wall, we’d have some major work to do to properly vent the dryer.  He suggested we consider the European-style washer/dryer combo, which doesn’t require venting.  I was very skeptical as I had seen these in several of the condos we had looked at, but our realtor had said she hadn’t heard anything good about them so we assumed they were horrible.  But I did more searching online and learned that when used properly, there were actually some advantages to them over traditional washer/dryers (they are gentler on your clothes, for example).  I knew that it would take much longer than a traditional gas dryer to dry a load of laundry, but I already was air drying lots of laundry so that didn’t seem that huge of a deal.  Plus, with the alternative being way more expensive (and potentially more risky) we decided to go for it and just get one with good online reviews and hope for the best.  We purchased an LG.  She’s pretty.

While we were waiting for the washer/dryer to be delivered, we went to work planning the rest of the space.  There was actually minimal work for our contractor in the actual closet, but he did have to open up the wall in the bathroom in order to get all the pipes properly hooked up.  Luckily we were planning to install a new sink at the same time, so we did it all together and it worked out great.  More about that another time.  The closet that we were going to put the laundry room in was j-u-s-t big enough to house the unit, which is roughly the size of a standard dishwasher (apparently in Europe many people have their laundry in the kitchen!).  When we started the closet was laid out like this (sorry for no before pic–this was pre-2BB days!):

In addition to actually installing the washing machine, we had our contractor remove some of the shelves, and adjust a few others.  The main difference now is that we installed a hanging rod, which is perfect for hanging laundry to dry since we only use the dryer setting for about half our laundry.  The new layout looks like this:

We used paint left over from painting the living room to make it feel like an actual room that was part of our house instead of just a closet.   Here’s what it looks like on a non-laundry day:

Of course, I’ve added a few finishing touches, like:

  • the mini hooks in the far (great for hanging stain remover and lingerie bags)
  • two nesting laundry baskets (which is also where we collect cleaning rags and kitchen towels that need to be washed)
  • a variety of different hangers for air-drying
  • a great multi-hook hanger from the Container Store (which is perfect for air drying anything small like trouser socks and diaper covers)
  • our ironing board
  • old towels for line-dry items
  • a sign that says “laundry” that I painted a long time ago

Here’s pic of this hard-working “room” on a laundry day:

And here were are, two years later, and we couldn’t be happier with our decision.  I can’t even begin to explain how much more convenient this is.  The room is centrally located in our home so it is very easy to check on the laundry.  Throwing in a load takes almost no time at all since it is close to both bedrooms.  At first we were concerned that hanging stuff to dry in the closet would cause mildew, but we haven’t had an issue with this at all for two reasons.  First, we usually will run a load with a dry cycle while there is wet laundry hanging up, and the closet gets nice and toasty and dry, thus also speeding the drying time of the hanging items.  Second, if were not planning to run a dry cycle, we just leave the door open a bit to help keep air circulating.  The other great thing about a combo washing machine/dryer is that you can set the entire cycle up front–no transerring the load from the washer to the dryer.  I often will run a load with a dry cycle (which can take 4 hours) overnight.  I just put everything in, add the soap, select the washing and drying settings, and by morning I have clean, dry laundry waiting for me!

What do you think?  Have you installed one of these all-in-one units in your home?  Are you thinking about it?  Do you have any questions?  Please share!