Drawers & the closet organized: before and after photos

Whoosh. Did you hear that? That was the week flying by. How did that happen? One minute, it was Monday, announcing this week’s hotspot. Then I blinked and it was Thursday evening.

Drawers, countertops, and closets…. Why are these places such clutter magnets? My theory is that a lot of the things that end up here don’t really have true homes. We’re not sure where to put this mirror, so…. here. I’ll just put it here.

Not saying there’s anything wrong with a junk drawer. I think we just need to limit those drawers so that we have space available for things that truly do need a home. Like coats. And markers. And cutting boards for slicing and dicing dinner.

But these places are also a lot of fun to declutter, I find. A finite space to empty and refill with good stuff, tossing the leftovers. Here’s that sort of work I did this week.

 Craft cabinet

We call this blue dresser in our dining room the “craft cabinet,” I suppose because we used to have an actual cabinet in our home overseas. Now, no matter where we house our papers, pens, and googly eyes, it’s a cabinet.

The first photo above is the most-used drawer; it serves as our kids’ marker, pen, pencil, and crayon collection. It used to be organized. Not lately.

Kyle popped in a movie one night and had an absolute ball testing them all out.

Now they’re useful, useable, and easy to find.

Not bad, but it was a random hodge-podge of coloring books, stickers, and a few craft supplies.

Now the drawer is just spiral notebooks and coloring books.

This drawer housed our random collection of scrap paper that the kids were free to use whenever. Over time, they crammed other craft supplies here, too.

I tossed a good chunk of unusable paper in the recycling bin, put the plain white paper in a paper box top, and the rest of the paper to the right. Nothing fancy, but now the kids can find it.

Normally I store the kids’ drawings I want to keep in well-organized storage boxes, but I haven’t done much with them here in our temporary home. Naturally, this means they’ve been tossed into this drawer, along with a few other craft supplies.

I culled through the collection, kept what I wanted, and had plenty of room to house supplies for future craft ideas.

Again, another catch-all for coloring books and stickers. (On a side note, anyone else remember Music Machine?)

I corralled the stickers, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, and other fun-but-tends-to-multiply supplies into separate containers, and now they fit well.

The closet

Yep, the. We have one closet here. And honestly, it’s no problem, because we only had one overseas as well. We can fit our coats no problem, but our snow gear has been tossed in the closet’s floor all winter. Man, that stuff breeds on its own.

Ah. That’s better.

I love these cheap Ikea bags because they’re huge and they’re easy to grab and go. We often store picnic or sledding supplies in these bags, and then toss them in the car when we’re ready for an outing.

Now it’s your turn!

You’re welcome to focus on this hotspot at any time, of course, but if you’d like to be entered to win this week’s giveaway, you have until Saturday (tomorrow) at 11:59 p.m. PST to submit your before-and-after photos.

You absolutely don’t need to do as many photos as I have here—a simple before shot of a hotspot, followed by its after, is great.


One participant this week will win a NeatDesk! Yep, you heard me right—a desktop scanner that batch processes a ton of documents. It can handle tiny receipts and your tax statements all at once, and then its software knows how to extract all the right information.

It’ll spit out expense reports, PDF documents, contracts, and tax records, and it’s all searchable. Then, you can export it into Excel, Turbo Tax, and more. Nifty, no?

We’ve been using it to digitize our mortgage papers during our house-buying process. And I’m really excited to tackle the rest of our files! I really detest paper clutter, so this NeatDesk will help me get it out of my life. Eliminating paper frees up our living space and our mental stress.

I’m thrilled to give this to one of you! Simply share your before and after pics from your work in this week’s Project Simplify, and you’ll be entered to win.

Head here to share your photos and to see everyone else’s!

What did you get done this week?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I love the bags in the closet ides. We don’t really have closets in my house either. Well, if you can count a closet that can’t fit a hanger a closet…I love using the dresser as a craft space! What a great idea! We have a craft room, and I have a cheap stand alone closet from college that I put all the kids’ stuff in. And we have those same paints…still in a box…deep in the back of my armoire 🙂

  2. I just had to say, Yes! I remember Music Machine. I used to listen to it on the record player when I was little – and Psalty the Singing Songbook too. My mom still has the records, and a record player, so the kids listen to it when we go to visit them. They love it! What a classic!
    Oh, and about the organizing 🙂 I love that it looks like you used containers you already had to organize your stuff – like plastic boxes and the bags in the closet! Sometimes I think I have to get just the right organizing “thing” or container, before I can actually get organized, but the best way to do it is to use things you already have around the house! I’m hoping to tackle our dresser that we use as a craft cabinet this weekend, it is in desperate need of a purge! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. We don’t even have one closet so I understand you there!
    Man, I loved this post. It makes me want to organize everything!

  4. I didn’t grow up listening to the Music Machine, but my husband did… His sister got my kids a boxed 2 cd/1 dvd set for my kids and now I am familiar too! It can be ordered from Amazon… http://www.amazon.com/Music-Machine-Complete-3-CD-Set/dp/B000BO9P42

    All your organizing looks great! I agree with those areas becoming a catch all for those things that don’t have homes… my kitchen counter is the worst!!!

  5. I noticed the Music Machine book before I read your text about it. I loved MM as a child, and even as an adult! So many good messages delivered in a fun way!

    I’m going to go find you on pinterest (my newest addiction) – I pin as parentfurther and annsaylor. 🙂

  6. I reorganized the random kitchen catchall drawers. One had lots of papers in it and the other had lots of random thrown in kitchen utensils. I had a pretty large pile to donate by the time I was done and I finally moved everything sharp out of a drawer and into a cabinet so I don’t have to watch our two-year old quite so closely in the kitchen.

  7. Jennyroo says:

    Yeppers, we listened to the Music Machine all the time when we were kids. Have patience, have patience, don’t be in such a hurry. 🙂

    • When you get impatient, you only start to worry. Remember, remember that God is patient too, and think of all the times He’s had to wait on you!

      I had a cassette that my oldest daughter listened too. So long ago, she is 30 with 6 kids of her own! I ought to get it for her kids now!

  8. Grew up on Music Machine and loved it! My mom gave my kids the CDs a year ago, so another generation is growing up on it too.

    Random story, but true. We just discovered that a friend of ours is The Conductor’s daughter! My husband and hers are both youth pastors in our town, and somehow MM came up in conversation. Anyway, she asked her dad to record a special message for our girls, so now we have our very own customized MM intro. “Hi there, Naomi and Bethany, I’m the conductor here in Agape Land…” So cool.

  9. My goal this week was to tackle the closet in my daughter’s room. She is too young to use it, so we had just been throwing stuff in there. It was a complete mess! I’m at the point in the project where everything is out of the closet and on the floor. Today I decide what goes back in, and what goes in the trash and/or finds a new home. Project Simplify is such a big help 🙂

  10. Thank you so much! You are helping me stay accountable and inspired to get rid of the clutter all around! Simple and inexpensive ways to keep our house organized!

  11. I would love to win this!!! Amazing tool!! I loaded my blog post on the other page! Great work on your drawers this week!

  12. Judi Weinkauf says:

    I am away from my home during your decluttering time but am looking forward to doing it when I return. I am truly intrigued with the Neat Desk, what a great idea. Love all you do Tsh!!! Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Bummer! I just spent three hours re-arranging and decluttering our learning area (my mom’s dining room) last night! And, I took no pictures!!! Oh well, next time!
    We are currently “cozied in” at my mom’s. Hubby, buddy, sissy and I share her one other bedroom. Now that room gets cluttered really quick!!! But it has shown me how to live with less. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your pics, they’re motivating!

  14. Great post! Organizing craft supplies is the biggest challenge for me, mainly because most it is being stored in playroom and kids rooms but used in our living room. And it spreads all over the house. Need to find a space for “arts cabinet” in our living room 🙂 On another note, I would love it if you could share how you organize your kids drawings and complete art projects. I haven’t figured that out yet. Thank you!

  15. Tsh, I am always at a loss for how to organize the kid’s papers and markers and such! You have just inspired me to go out and get some colorful plastic drawers and dividers and finally make the playroom (somewhat) organized!

  16. We live in a small apartment, so I am with you on the closet space! I also keep a dresser for the art supplies. I think I might divide it more. It really helps to use bags instead of boxes/rubbermaids that way it only takes up the space needed for what you are storing…

  17. “It’s like no contraption that you’ve ever seen!” I got the cd for my kids too. I love the Patience, Peace and Self Control songs especially. I never knew there was a colouring book though! Very cool….

  18. Lucy Stuart Lestcott says:

    I love this post. I can never imagine my closet as organized as this. I feel like the need to get down to work.

    -Lucy Stuart

  19. One of my ‘junk’ drawers in the kitchen holds batteries, night light bulbs, super glue and such. Where do you store batteries (seeing that they are the biggest space hogs…various sizes, you know) ?

  20. I could really use a neat desk!! I have tons of medical documents and insurance information that just pollutes our office and house. Thanks for the chance to win!!

  21. Cassandra says:

    Nice work! I made to the closet and the desk. I did not however take on the junk drawer. Check out my before and afters.

  22. I was Nancy in our church’s grade school production of Music Machine. My Dad made the most awesome machine out of boxes, paper mache and recylced toys. Occasionally, I’ll hear someone say something about string and in my head I’ll start singing, “With a ball of white string, I can do anything…” Those songs are forever etched in my memory!

    To be honest, I’m still plodding my way through the kid’s stuff challenge. We just recently moved both boys to share a room and now we have a playroom with way too many toys and not enough organization. However, I’ve given away 2 bags of toys and our play kitchen within the last week! So I may be slow, but I’m making progress! I’m attempting to tackle the lego conundrum this weekend. Wish me luck!

  23. Stephanie says:

    I love music machine. I sing “Be Patient” to my kids all the time. They probably hate it 🙂

  24. I was just curious – I seem to have a lot of those “no home” things that you were talking about. As you declutter, do you get rid of? find a home? There is just a part of my brain that does not know what to do with the stuff we keep!

  25. I grew up with Music Machine. My mom found the Agapeland records on cd recently and got them for my son and his cousin for Christmas. My favorite is Nathaniel the Grublet.
    I started on my linen closet 2 weeks ago and I’ve only gotten 2 shelves done. I better get a move on.

  26. You did so much! Those little things make a big difference!

  27. Those drawers and closets make me say AHHHH!
    And YES we LOVE the Music Machine! My husband listened as a kid and we found a CD for our son. I love it when he asks for the “Have Patience” or “Self-Control” songs 🙂

  28. Those look great! I got started on counters, and moved to more, but never did the drawers…

  29. I used the upload option but after I click submit a page comes up asking “are you sure you want to do this” but there are no “yes” “no” buttons to click on. Not sure how to find out if my photos are therr or not.
    Thank you.

  30. Loved this post. Came home today after playing with the kids all day wanting to spring clean. Love the IKEA bag idea. I have one for all our pool gear. Makes heading to the pool so easy. Made a bag from the juice pouches for all the sand toys. Now I need a bag for my picnic supplies (table cloth, bungie cords to keep the table cloth on in windy weather, etc.)

    I have wanted a NeatDesk for almost a year now. I do all the bookkeeping for our personal finances and my husband’s consulting business so I have tons of paperwork. I was so overwhelmed with paperwork yesterday that I got some much needed shredding done.

    I will be tackling the coat closet tomorrow as I was just thinking I needed to pack away the winter coats. I am proud to say that I no longer have a junk drawer in my kitchen. I have no space in our current house. I do however need to do pantry clean out. Thank you for the daily/weekly encouragement.

  31. I shared and tweeted and uploaded directly to your site, I dont have an Iphone for using instagram but I hash tagged with pics and shared blog. Thanks 🙂

  32. Great Ideas!!!

  33. This is inspirational. We just got the downstairs closet cleaned out, and now we have a number of outgrown coats and jackets to donate. Next up, the kitchen drawers.

  34. I noticed in the picture that you had the coloring book for the music machine which is no longer in print. What is the chance of your selling it or copying pages for people who can no longer get a hold that book?

  35. We’re not sure where to put this mirror, so…. here. I’ll just put it here.

  36. my husband and his sisters loved music machine and have located cd’s for all of our kids. 🙂 enjoying your blog.

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