My first victim client for the organizing side of the business was my mom and she had a laundry room that desperately needed to be tackled. The laundry room is what you see the minute you walk in their back door, which is how most people enter their house.
My mom graciously “volunteered” to be my first client. Honestly, my mom and dad could be my only client for an entire year. We might get their whole house organized and decluttered in that time. (Love you Mom and Dad!) My parents own a large 2 story, 5-bedroom house that they have lived in for over 40 years and raised 5 children. This means there is a LOT of stuff in that house. This is not at all surprising given that they have never moved since they were married.
While I hate every aspect of moving, it is good because it makes you look through your stuff to pack it up. I know that if my parents had ever moved they would have a lot less stuff. The other problem with not ever having moved is that their children were never forced to come and claim the items they left behind. Every one of us kids has been out of their house for over 11 years. I know there are still items in that house that belong to each one of us.
I want to be clear about something as we delve into this project with my parents. The state of their house is not unique, it is commonplace for families who have never moved. Add the fact that my parents may, possibly, be “pack rats” and you have a home organizers dream come true. There are endless projects.
In this house of so many projects you may ask yourself how we chose to start in the laundry room. For my mom the reason was that it was an eyesore the minute you walked into the house. I wholeheartedly agreed with her, but I had two other big reasons as well.
- The laundry room was a small space to tackle and I didn’t want to overwhelm my mom the first time we tackled an organizing project.
- I thought (incorrectly) that the laundry room would be the easiest because it wouldn’t be emotionally taxing. Typically, a laundry room holds cleaning products, some clothes, etc. The jury is still out – it may still prove to have been the easiest room, but nostalgia is everywhere in their big brick house.
Back in my post “Front Hall Closet Reorganization” I reviewed the 6 steps for organizing a closet or other similar project. The laundry room falls into the “other similar project” category, so I followed these steps with my mom.
We had a short two days to tackle this project. In addition to my mom, my sister volunteered to help us. Our plan of attack was to empty out the room on Friday and clean it. Then on Saturday we would sort through what was taken out. We would then put the room back together again, but much more clean and organized. It was tight on time, but we did finish most of the project. There were a few items that needed to be found or bought to complete the functionality of the room.
Three of the cupboards and what they looked like inside
Step 1: Remove all items
My parents like antiques and collectibles, which are fine, but everything is fine – in moderation. My tip for my mother was “If you really enjoy the item then you need to display it in a way that you and/or others can appreciate it.” If it is hidden in a cupboard or behind lots of others things, then you aren’t enjoying it. In that case you might as well get rid of it. Who knew a small laundry room could contain so many collectibles. It is definitely not the first place you would think to look for them.
Given my parents struggle with knee injuries/replacements, etc. they have been unable to dust on top of the cupboards in the laundry room.
Seriously, even if they didn’t have these ailments would they have dusted on top of their laundry room cupboards – would most people?
So I wasn’t surprised it was dusty up there, but oh my gosh was it dusty.
Let’s just say when I blew my nose the rest of the weekend it was not a natural color. We may have joked once or twice about the damage to our lungs. Several breathing breaks were necessary on the front porch. Lesson learned – add face masks to the budget for next time. Dusting the top of cupboards is one of the main reasons my kitchen cupboards go all the way to the ceiling. I’m not messing around with that nonsense.
So Friday we did manage to get everything out of the laundry room. We finished cleaning on Saturday morning.
Step 2: Sort all items into categories
This step was a little more challenging. We were running out of table space in the house. Plus 2 children were running around (my girls were there but being babysat) so we had to be sure things were out of reach of Amelia.
We sorted as best we could. The main piles were collectibles – or what I thought might be collectibles, first aid/medicine, cleaning products, Tupperware, rags/towels, and misc. I try not to have a miscellaneous pile because it inevitably creates more work, but it’s usually unavoidable.
*For this project we switched up step 3 (relocate items that don’t belong in the laundry room to where they do belong and step 4 (assess what is left into 3 piles). It made more sense to do so in this situation. Given that the laundry room has quite a bit of storage and is located so close to the backdoor it does store a variety of miscellaneous items.
Be sure to check out the conclusion of this project along with a funny story about my parents and their fondue pot(s).
**This post was written with approval of my mom. She had full editing abilities but graciously chose to let me air her dirty laundry (room) for the entire world to see. Thanks Mom!