Thinking outside the box

Live With Less organizing a family room

One of my favorite parts of being a professional organizer is brainstorming with my clients to come up with innovative ways to create order, redevelop an organizing system, or discover a different way of using an item. Instead of running out to the store to buy a new product, which can get costly very quickly, I think about ways to repurpose a piece of furniture or how to use a container in a creative way.

My clients, a married couple with two school-aged children, were frustrated by the lack of organization in their family room. The family room served many purposes, including a place to watch television, play games, do homework, read, put together puzzles, practice their instruments and spend time with friends. Furniture included a large sectional sofa, two chairs, coffee table, small bookshelf and a table to hold their television. Because the room included minimal storage, the space was littered with music books, science experiment kits, puzzles, notepads, board games, school books, pencils, DVDs, toys, paper, laptops and so on.

First, we gathered like items together so my clients could assess what the family still uses and loves versus items that could be donated to others. Several of the board games, puzzles and toys were geared toward younger children, so they went into a bag to give to the children’s younger cousins. Some of the music books were written for beginners, and since the children were more advanced, they gave the beginner books back to their music teacher.

Then we determined that the small table currently holding their television could be utilized as a homework station, so we set up the table and two chairs in one of the corners of the room and placed the laptops on the table. The small bookshelf was placed nearby to serve as the place for the children’s school books, notepads, pencils, and paper. We used magazine organizers to separate each child’s school books, notepads, and music books, and grabbed a plastic cup from the kitchen to corral the pencils.

During a previous visit, my client had mentioned the possibility of getting rid of one of their dressers because she felt they had too much furniture in their small master bedroom. Instead of donating the piece, we rescued their six-drawer dresser to serve as the television stand, and each of the drawers was designated for a different purpose.

The dresser proved to be the perfect piece of furniture for the space and function. Board games went into two of the drawers, puzzles were designated for a third drawer, DVDs and other movies went into one of the top drawers, science and other educational kits into another drawer and toys into the remaining drawer. We then labeled the edge of each drawer so all of the family members would know to which drawer to return items.

A family room tends to serve many functions, so it’s important to ensure one has a designated home for all of the stuff or the space can easily turn into a chaotic mess. By utilizing and repurposing furniture my clients already owned, they saved money and created a space for all of the activities that occur in their family room. My clients now have a functional, organized space that serves their family’s needs.

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