Project Simplify 2012

12 Mar

I need this so badly, you have no idea.  We live in managable chaos, especially in the kids’ rooms.  I am not an organizer.  I am more of a ‘if-you-can’t-see-it-then-it’s-not-there’ kind of girl.  I appreciate cabinets and closets for that very reason.  And as the book says, life is too short to fold fitted sheets (or make your closet neat).  However, I am inspired by this ‘Project Simplify 2012’ brought to you by Simple Mom.

Plus, all the mid-century modern homes I lust over have super minimal clean uncluttered spaces and that is what I want!  Of course, I know myself well enough to know that it won’t last long, but I am going to make the effort nonetheless.  Below is an overview of the challenge as well as the first week (which I have already missed, of course!) about organizing kids’ stuff.

What is your hot spot in your house?  Are you able to keep clean, minimalist lines in your home?  Or do you subscribe to the maxim that a clean and organized house is a sign of an unhappy family?

From Simple Mom:

Project: Simplify 2012!

Post image for Project: Simplify 2012!

So I was thinking of skipping the spring cleaning series we’ve done around here the past three years. I passively asked you all on Facebook whether you’d still be interested in it, honestly thinking there’d only be a few raised hands.

Well, that goes to show how much I know, because well over 300 of you shouted with a resounding YES! So… let’s spring clean together, shall we?

This year’s is going to be a little different, but all in good ways. The changes are partly for my own sanity, but also because I want this series to springboard us into action for other parts of our life. I don’t want it to drain us—I want it to get us excited for the spring, and to help us see our home for what it is—a gift.

Here’s how it’s going to work.

Project: Simplify—March 5-30, 2012

For four Mondays, I’ll say “go,” and we’ll all tackle a specific hot spot in our homes. Then on Friday, I’ll share my own progress with before and after photos—and you will, too. You can share on your own blog and then link to it on my post.

(If you don’t have a blog, we’ll have a way for you to upload your before and after pics. I’m still working on that part—last year we made a Flickr pool, but this year I’d like to make it even easier for you. One way will be on Instagram, if you’re there—you can simply upload your photos and include that week’s tag. More on that soon…)

Everyone who participates that week will be entered to win a little prize. But heck, even if you don’t win, you still get a cleaner, more decluttered home. Who wouldn’t want that?

I cover a ten-step process of decluttering, cleaning, and organizing your home in my book Organized Simplicity. Lots of people used it during Project: Simplify last year for encouragement and inspiration. You don’t have to, of course, but you know, if you wanted to, that’d be fine by me.

A few differences this year…

We’re tackling four hot spots this year, not five.

I’ll leave each week’s link-up open through Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Lots of you worked on your hot spots on the weekends, which makes total sense. So now, when I reveal my before and afters on Friday, you’re free to share your results anytime between Friday morning and Sunday night. I won’t draw for a winner until Monday morning. Huzzah!

I’m revealing the hot spots in advance. It was fun to pull back the curtain each Monday last year, but there were so many comments that resonated with a, “Nuts! I just tackled that area two weeks ago!” that I figured I’d spill the beans ahead of time, so that you can plan.

This year’s hot spots

I asked you all on Facebook which areas you’d like to tackle most. Without further adieu, here’s this year’s to-do list:

  • Week of March 5: Kids’ stuff—toys, clothes, and the like
  • Week of March 12: Kitchen and/or pantry
  • Week of March 19: Closets, countertops, and drawers (oh my)
  • Week of March 26: Choose your own adventure—you pick your most-needed hot spot

Kids’ stuff organized: before and after photos

Post image for Kids’ stuff organized: before and after photosYou should know that I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to. I tell you this because I have a feeling some of you might be feeling the same way. Perhaps you haven’t even started yet; you’re waiting until today, the start of the weekend, to do what you need to do.That’s okay! Such is life. Do what you can with this week’s hotspot, and give yourself a pat on the back when you cross it off the list. (My back-patting will look like skiing on Saturday.)

I’ll waste no more time, so here you go—my before and after shots. And at the end, I’ll explain how you can share your own photos.


You can see the normal state of the kids’ books above. Not bad, but it’s a pain to trip over them as they tumble to the floor, seeing as they’re all in our living room. Pulling books off the shelves is Finn’s current favorite hobby.

There. At least they’re mostly reshelved (but from the looks of this photo, there’s still some scattered about on kids’ beds). We love all our books, and go out of our way to make sure they’re mostly twaddle-free. So, no donating of books this time around.

And because I get asked all the time—this is an Expedit bookshelf from Ikea.

My family will tell you I like our books alphabetized—even the kids’ ones. They would be correct. It’s not to be all uptight (really, I promise); it’s because it’s really SO much easier to find When You Give a Moose a Muffin under “N” for Numeroff than it is to search every single shelf.

It’s not easy to keep kids’ books in the right order, but Tate’s now old enough to understand alphabetical order. For now, I’m okay with general alphabetizing with the first letter. I won’t pitch a fit if Flack is reshelved before Falconer.

I sound like a lot of fun at cocktail parties, don’t I?

I made simple dividers from foam board and letter stickers. I know they won’t last forever, and that’s okay—they’ll be cheap to replace. This way, they won’t hurt when they’re used as swords.

Games & Puzzles

Our current home is temporary and very, very small. We don’t have the space (or inclination) to build long-term storage, so for the past year, kids’ games and puzzles have been stored in an old bench.

This works well. Unless you have a toddler who also enjoys emptying out the game and puzzle pieces in his spare time.

Once I reassigned all the pieces to the right box, I culled the ones we never play with. Their new home is our local thrift store.  But I was still left with a number of loved puzzles and games with stepped-on, crunched boxes.

I cut the box top of the puzzles and tossed them in a zippered pouch with the pieces.

There. Better.


We don’t really have an issue with too many toys, either, because I like doing smaller purges every few months or so. We just needed a sprucing up.

We use the Expedit shelves here, too, along with the Trofast buckets. Great for open-ended toys.

I wanted more permanent labels that were easier to read. So, I used the same stickers as with the book dividers… which meant I ran out of letters.

So I’m going to the store this weekend to buy more letters. In the meantime, just trust me that we don’t have “car _racks,” “_inco_ _ _ogs,” “ne_f gun_,” or “ma_ble_.”


This was the department where we needed to whittle down. I knew from pant cuffs that everyone was growing, so it was time to pass down and move on.

We love using buckets for our boys’ clothes—they’re easier to pull out and shove back for little hands. These are the Closetmaid Fabric Drawers from Target.

I ended with about half a grocery bag of clothes to donate, some of Reed’s went to storage to wait for Finn, and the rest just needed to be reshelved.

A few months ago I made drawer labels out of Shrinky Dinks… I finally put them on this week.

Just so you know, we mostly just shove our boys’ clothes into the buckets—minimal folding involved, except when fresh out of the dryer. It’s all cotton anyway.

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 room, followed by its after, is great. And as a reminder, if you don’t have kids at home, you’re welcome to do your own personal belongings.


7 Responses to “Project Simplify 2012”

  1. katpolkadot March 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I’m in! I have been going through big declutter challenges this past December and January. February to now, I haven’t been doing as much…but still working. I wrote about the challenges on my blog, Ex-scapes,

    My story was written about on the blog “Be More With Less” too. I still keep a flickr album with my progress. I know these projects can be so difficult, but it’s really worth it. I’ve also found that space attracts space, meaning all this becomes easier when you start getting into it. My motivation also comes when I look at photos of all these mid-century simple homes!

    • Brandy March 12, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

      Hi there! Thanks for the comment and for sharing your blog. I try to be more with less, but sometimes I really like to be more with more and that is my downfall. I tried the first week challenge today, which was to clean out the food space. I didn’t get all the way through the cupboards, but I did get the fridge organized. I am however at this moment sitting in the family room surrounded by kids and their projects. (or Maeve and her projects rather) and am realizing that sometimes there is a lot of creativity in chaos and I don’t want to squash that at all.


      • katpolkadot March 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

        Sometimes we do think we can be more with more! I have learned that I can be more with less since I’m able to put forth my energy into specific things instead of allowing my energy to be sucked into everything, and going un-noticed and unappreciated! and that’s frustrating.Having less also keeps the things I really love around, things that really portray me.

        I also agree that there is creativity in chaos too. There are certain things in our lives to make priority, and sounds like allowing your kids this freedom is one of them! This may mean that other things get simplified in order for this chaos to happen and allowed to flourish! If this is what’s important to you, then it’s a must!

  2. Andy March 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    I love getting rid of stuff! If it’s not used after 366 days, it’s gone… unless the item has some historical or sentimental value, it’s freaking gone.

    After that, I tend to organize based on usage and utilize basic usability patterns when planning the organization solution. Linen closet for example, towels are used more frequently, they’re given plenty of space and are front and center. Blankets for out of town stoners who crash on your floor? They’re hidden away on the top shelf. The first test for any organization method is: Can I get to this thing in a hurry? And can I put it away in a hurry, without having to think about it.

    It all starts with getting rid of stuff first though. Man, I get off on getting rid of stuff. 🙂

    • Brandy March 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

      Word. Use it or lose it. I just can’t get Ainsley on board with that. She is one episode away from Hoarders, I tell you.


  3. Dana@Mid2Mod March 12, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Passed the clothes storage idea along to my daughter, who has two boys. I love the Shrinky Dink labels!

    • Brandy March 12, 2012 at 11:26 am #

      So hard to keep kids rooms organized! Especially when you have a pack-rat like my Ainsley. She never wants to throw ANYTHING away ever. Tell your daughter good luck!


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