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Question
We moved into this house 2 months ago and my husband and I have been trying to figure out what to do with the breakfast area that is part of the kitchen.  The space is about 105 inches square with the countertop bar area on the left side a blank wall on the right and a double door that only opens on the right in front of you.  We have a formal dining room so my husband says he doesn't want to put a table in this space because you would have to walk around it to get to the back door so we've been thinking about building a big wall syatem for the blank wall on the right.  We'd like it to help us organize papers, a workspace for the kids' homework and so on but I don't know where to see something similar to what I'm talking about and I want to make sure it doesn't look weird.  The wall is 106 inches wide and 96 inches tall but it's only 16 inches wide where it meets with the wall where the door opens so at least that part of the wall system couldn't be very wide.  Sorry so long but any thoughts?  We want to do something with the space that looks good and is functional.  Thank you!!

Answer
Hi, I hope you got my answer. If not here it is again (it looks like it might not have been delivered)

Thanks for asking...sounds like a fun project with lots of possibilities.

Do you need more informal seating for eating/art projects/homework?

If so you might consider a fold down table, I've seen that work well.

I really like the idea of a command central station for papers- excellent thought.

Do you use the door to enter the home? If so then do you need space for jackets and backpacks?

It seems like a space that would allow you to sort papers and store commonly used papers would make sense.

I've attached the directions for a no fail paper solution, that sits on the countertop.

Maybe something like that with a large calendar, white board and or chalkboard might be nice?

You can have "mail boxes" for family members.

Try making a list of all the activities you might do in the space or nearby that you need storage for.

Then go from there.

I invite you to join the discussion group on my website, the ladies have great ideas.

Also once a month I offer a live call where you can ask me anything- you can sing up on my website at the end of this week.

Good luck- this will be fun for you.

PS Keep in mind your family will grow so make it a solution that works for years to come.

Here are the no fail paper directions, they are long and the format might be hard to read, you can email me at Jamie@JamieNovak.com and I can send them in a document.

NO FAIL PAPER SOLUTION
    This is a foolproof system for dealing with all the pending papers in your life. This is the exact one I’ve used for years, and the one I set my clients up with. So this is the real McCoy, don’t be fooled by imitations.
    What this system is good for is all the pending papers in your life. You know, the ones that sit in a pile on your tables and countertops waiting for you to do something with them. The trick is to keep them out an accessible with out having them scattered every which way from Tuesday. How you are going to do this is by using a desktop file box. This desktop box will most likely sit on the kitchen countertop since you want to have the papers on hand.  
    This type of box has no lid and accommodates about twenty, letter size hanging folders. The boxes come in a wide variety of styles and colors and are available at office stores and most home goods stores. They range in price, but most are under twenty dollars. You’ll want to find one that blends with your décor, since it will be sitting out.
Here’s what you’re going to need to whip your paper piles into shape:
·   A desktop file box
·   Set of hanging folders (any color)
·   Pad of 2” x 2” sticky notes  
·   Pen
·   Calendar
To deal with any backlog of papers that may be sitting around:
1.   Set your kitchen timer for eighteen minutes and jump in. No you will not finish, but you’ll make a serious dent.
2.   Gather up all your pending paperwork from the countertops and tables
3.   Sit down and separate it into piles of like papers for example: all the bills, all the items to read, photos, coupons, receipts, and so on.
4.   As you sort into piles toss the no brainer stuff like expired coupons. But do not get caught in decision making about the papers. This is not the time to decide to keep it or toss it. It is also not the time to think about if you do or do not want to go to the party you’ve been invited to. Instead, toss the invitation in the invitations pile and move on.
5.   Once you have the large pile sorted into smaller piles with specific categories you are almost done.
6.   Next, grab a hanging folder and put all of a kind paper in the file.
7.   Use a post it note to label the file. Do this by sticking the sticky part of the note to the file and leave the rest sticking up as the label. There are no perfect label names, just write something that will help you remember what is inside. Important, pending, this week and urgent are not the best choices, since so many of the papers potentially fall in those categories. Instead use names like, sports schedules, social invitations, scouts and so on. A more complete list is below.
8.   The final step in the process is to note anything that needs your attention on the calendar. Since you are not going to want to have to sift through each file every day to see what needs you attention, you want to be prompted. So let’s say for example you need to sign your child up for swim lessons by the 20th of the month. On the calendar write in a box about a week earlier ‘swim sign up- paper in swim folder.’ When you look at your calendar that day you’ll be reminded not only to sign up, but where the paper is. And since it will be about a week before the deadline, there will not be a last minute rush.
    Here is an example of how a paper might flow through your new system.
    The mail comes in today and you receive a community school brochure that you’d like to flip through. You may or may not register for a class; you need to read the brochure first. Open the brochure to the registration page to see what the date is to register by. Go to your calendar and write in a note about a week before the deadline to remind yourself to read the brochure and that it will be in the community school folder. Then take a sticky note and write community school on it. Put the label in the file, put the brochure inside, and tuck it away. When the date rolls around you will see the note on the calendar reminding you that you need to read the brochure. At that point, carry the brochure with you so you can glance at it in your spare time. If nothing catches your eye then toss the brochure. If you see something you want to register for then either fill out the form and send the check in. Or if you have enough time put it in the bill file to be paid next bill paying session. Write the date of the class on the calendar. Then, place the brochure back in the community school file, since you’ll want to have it on hand to refer to the day of the class so you have all the pertinent information. Done!
     These files live here a short time, the summer camp files stays only until you register for summer camp or camp is ended. But no longer. Other files, like bill and receipts stay but the contents only stay a little while. That is why you use the post it notes instead of the plastic tabs. Since the file is temporary, no sense wasting time making a file tab. Although for the files that are long term categories, like ‘bills’ and ‘receipts’, you may choose to use the tabs, since the post it notes will eventually fall off.
    Here are some examples of what belongs in which basic folder:   
§   Household: warranties and instruction manuals
§   To Read: magazine articles, newsletters
§   Receipts: receipts
§   Recipes: recipes
§   Pay stubs: pay stubs or direct deposit statements
§   Travel: brochures, other ideas
§   Entertainment: tickets to events and newspaper clippings of upcoming ideas
§   Bills: bills to be paid
§   To File: select papers that will be moved to a permanent file
§   Taxes: items needed for the upcoming tax filing
§   Contacts: business cards and scraps of paper with names and numbers
§   Photos: to be put into an album
§   Family Meeting: topics to be discussed
§   Babysitter: things your babysitter needs to know
§   Schedules: sports schedules, recycling calendars, event calendars
§   Health: kids medical records, prescriptions, physician referrals
§   Directions: either printed off line or written down
§   Social Engagements: party invitations, directions to the events
§   Restaurants: restaurants you want to try and reviews
§   Coupons: coupons and gift certificates
§   Grocery Shopping: sales flyers, shopping list, food store coupons
§   Discussion: things to ask your spouse about
§   Day Trips: brochures and ideas of day trips to take
§   Books to Read: lists of books you’d like to read one day and book reviews
§   Movies to See: a list of movies you’d like to see and reviews of them
§   Gifts: ideas of gifts to buy for others or a wish list for yourself, pictures clipped from catalogs stapled to the order information
§   Instructions: clippings of a craft pattern, decorating a cake or other directions
§   Take Out Menus: menus for the local restaurants and corresponding coupons
§   Banking: deposit and withdrawal receipts, monthly statement to be reconciled
§   Clippings: newspaper or magazine clippings that do not fit another category but would be good to refer to at some point
§   Online: websites that have been recommended to you or that you would like to check out one day
§   Investments: brokerage house statements
§   School: lunch tickets, school work in progress, school calendar
§   Spiritual: schedules of events
§   Memory Box: artwork and other items to be saved in a treasure box
§   A file for each family member
§   “hairstyle ideas,” “places to visit,” “landscaping,” “PTA,” “Cub Scouts,” “Bake Sale,” “Kitchen Remodel,” “Birthday Party,” “Halloween Costumes,” “Holiday Card Writing,” “Getting Organized” and so on.
§   Give each family member their own file
    Remember however, your box will be personalized since every person has different papers. You may have some or all of these categories and others like hairstyles, places to visit, landscaping, and so on.  

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Jamie Novak

Expertise

Disorganization at home, work or home based businesses and time managemetn. Area include but not limited to: paper bills mail toys closets kitchen garages spouses children to do lists laundry pantry chores errands drawers meal planning house cleaning and much more

Experience

Best selling author Jamie Novak, Organizing Specialist and Motivational Speaker has been seen on HGTV and QVC and most recently she served as a home blogger for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living and the resident organizer for NBC’s iVillage. Jamie’s tips have been seen in national magazines such as Woman’s World and Family Circle. Her approach is both easy and motivating. She is a natural and her passion for organizing shines through. Jamie promises not to try to reinvent you - instead she helps you find your style and work with it! Jamie's goal is to share real ideas the really work for real life! Visit her website for free resources - http://www.jamienovak.com

Education/Credentials
Best selling author Jamie Novak, Organizing Specialist and Motivational Speaker has been seen on HGTV and QVC and most recently she served as a home blogger for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living and the resident organizer for NBC’s iVillage. Jamie’s tips have been seen in national magazines such as Woman’s World and Family Circle. Her approach is both easy and motivating. She is a natural and her passion for organizing shines through. Jamie promises not to try to reinvent you - instead she helps you find your style and work with it! Jamie's goal is to share real ideas the really work for real life! Visit her website for free resources - http://www.jamienovak.com

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