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Weston’s closet upgrade

Like any AMAZING blogger, I like to do whole projects and then not ever post them or tell anyone about them. Recipe for blogging success!

If I don’t tell you ANYTHING about what I’ve done or what I’m doing, then you’ll just always be thinking “man, I bet there’s some amazing stuff going on over there. Like, probably some whole house renovations for $10 or less!” And then your imagination can just create better projects than I would really ever do, but I still get credit for doing the stuff in your head. It all works out.

So that’s why I’m not going to tell you about Weston’s little closet makeover that we did like 6 months ago. I think at some point I did show you this great tragedy:
closet before
That’s what we were dealing with: books everywhere, no organization or place for toys, and not even any closet doors to hide all that mess away so you can pretend like it’s not real.

So if I were telling you about this project, which I’m not, I’d show you how we cleared it out and unscrewed the old closet system.
Then we basically just took a ton of measurements and spent like 12 hours standing in Ikea, furiously scratching out math problems on paper, brainstorming, smoke coming out our ears, and then BUYING ALL THE THINGS! and hoping it would all work out when we got home.

It did.
We just used Ikea’s Algot closet storage system, but the real genius was Andy’s brilliant idea to use their Sortera recycling storage bins for toy storage!
Let me just tell you: LIFE CHANGING. These bins fit perfectly within the depth of the closet and hold ALL the awkwardly shaped toys you swore you’d never own before you had kids:

  • giant Buzz Lightyear figurines
  • Legos that would otherwise be embedding themselves firmly in the soft tissue of your foot
  • tiny plastic things in shapes of animals that your kids are oddly emotionally attached to, and magically NEVER lose, despite the fact that they can’t even find their own shoes when you’re running late and their shoes are LITERALLY right on the floor in front of their face, and you’re impatiently standing there saying “They’re RIGHT THERE! No, RIGHT ON THE FLOOR. IN FRONT OF YOU.” While your kid looks confusedly up at the ceiling, where no shoe has ever, ever been found.

We used this opportunity to buy a label-maker (OMG.) and Weston had a great time being “in charge” of typing and printing out labels for each bin:
We had bins for legos, bins for costumes and dress-up clothes, bins for play kitchen toys, bins for stuffed animals, BINS FOR ALL THE BINS! It was amazing!

…for like a few months, and then we moved.

But seriously, I felt kind of like an awful mom, because I realized that all Weston needed to keep his room clean was a *system* and the tools. Once we created a system he could follow, he really got behind it and felt empowered in his room. Kinda like how I was with my closet makeover: once you have a system, it’s amazing how neat you can become. Should’ve done that YEARS ago – for BOTH of us.

Also can we talk about label-makers for a sec? Can we just give ourselves a moment to admit how having a label-maker in your hand transforms the messiest of us (me) into Sudden Organizing Fiends, who can find an excuse to label and organize EVERYTHING, kids included? It’s MY PRECIOUS – the One Ring to Rule Them All – and it turns me into Gollum, wanting to Label Everything In Sight, with no self-control. I have to leave mine stored out of sight or things start to get weird.

I have this one, if you’re looking for one. It’s legit – you can change the font and font style, add borders; it prints out in this smooth, satisfying way… Just thinking about it right now is making me get twitchy.

Anyway. The closet:
We made over the whole rest of his room too – that’s where all the other junk went. I’ll show you that, promise.

The moral of the story for us: don’t wait until a couple months before you’re going to move (even if you don’t know it’s coming) to finally figure out how to live in your house right. And: it’s amazing how much neater your kids will be if you actually give them somewhere to put their stuff, instead of just walking into their room, sighing helplessly and leaving.

Anyone else find good storage options for toys? Our toys seem to reproduce behind closed doors… I try not to ask questions.

Let's connect


  1. I think it comes from my years of childcare, but I have been about you organization from the beginning. Right now, the play kitchen has scrapbook paper cutouts taped down to show where the things in there go and there’s a bookshelf filled with boxes that have picture labels in the box to show what goes in it and on the shelf to show where each box goes. I need to redo it because toys have changed a lot recently but it’s still working for the most part. My son is 2 and still needs a lot of help but is pretty good at cleaning up. I grab one box and we pick up all of that thing and keep going till it’s done. Since his toys are in our living room and pretty much in the entry way (because there’s no better way to do it in this house), we clean up every evening if not 2 or 3 times a day. I hate cleaning but need order, so it works. And he’s less stressed when things aren’t everywhere.

    • Toy, not “you” organization. Oops!

      • Great idea to use picture labels for the littlest ones that can’t read yet! I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out toy organization. This mom thing… I tell ya.

        • I’ve found it to be very helpful that I’ve practiced with other people’s children before. ???????????? Not that this mom thing isn’t hard, it toally is. Whole new ball game. But a few things have come in handy!

  2. Don’t forget not to show us pictures and projects of the new house! 😉

  3. Can I tell you that I was trying not to laugh out loud at the shoe finding bit. My problem is finding the right system, since we rent, I’m not able to make physical changes to the house. I did find these amazing bookcases at target and promptly bought all of the ones that they had (3). My daughter has one with labeled fabric bins and I have two to store my fabric and notions, although, I probably need 4 or 5.

  4. Courtney Estes says:

    Ahh! Kelly I have been waiting for you to do a post like this. Until recently I had Middle Sister sharing a SMALL closet with Baby Brother and pretty soon her fluffy dresses just would not share nicely anymore. So now Big and Baby Brothers are sharing the larger closet in Big and Middle’s room. Ahh. So much back and forth. Seriously seeing the merits of one giant closet for them all. We don’t really need a dining room, do we?

  5. TucsonPatty says:

    I could have used this with my now 25-year-old daughter. I have never gotten the hang of organizing. Wait, that’s wrong. I can organize, I just can’t put the things back after I use them. : /

  6. I have a 5 month old and I’m already overwhelmed at the number of toys to keep organized. (Any hints for helping grandparents actually see the size of his room and closet?!? I feel like this is the first step to organization. Also, how early is too early to give away a giant stuffed dog? Giant, ugly, slightly disturbing stuffed dog.) I’ve designated one bin – just one – that is toys he actually uses. If it doesn’t fit, too bad. He is five months old. He thinks his feet are the best toys ever. I did manage to mount a cloth diaper drying rack in his closet. So when I remove a dirty diaper only to find there are no clean ones in the drawer, I only have to carry a diaper-less child two feet, instead downstairs to the laundry room to get a diaper.

    • Heather, I feel your pain. We have 3 boys ages 1, 7, and 12. That adds up to TWENTY Christmases and birthdays so far. Start standing your ground NOW while you still have a fighting chance. Have a conversation about space and stuff with the grandparents and be kind, but firm. Set clear expectations and try to communicate your heart behind not wanting a cluttered house. If they understand, things will go much better in the years to come. If they fight you on it, just keep being kind and remind them that your child will love them for being there and loving him, and that has nothing to do with stuff. Get rid of things as you see fit, and don’t let yourself feel guilty about it. Also, get rid of that giant dog now before your baby knows the difference! 🙂

      • So true! We tried to outline our goals and emphasize our space restrictions very early on. Toys that were too big or what we call “annoy-a-toys” go straight to Grandma’s house if she bought them. Our favorite line is “Great! That toy can live at your house!” Also don’t be afraid to purge. 😉

  7. Hahahaha!! Alls I can say is – it is so good to have you back!!! It almost doesn’t matter what you’re doing as long as it’s funny!! And it always is, okay it’s also usually informative and a great idea, I’ll give you that! Guess I said a lot more than I thought I was going to! ????????

  8. Missed you! Great post to come back with! One suggestion: can you please put the title of your post in the subject line? I tend to keep some blog posts for future reference, and it helps if the title is in the subject line. Thanks!

  9. I love posts like this, because my very favorite Berenstain Bears book ever is The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room. I spent hours as a kid mesmerized by the picture at the end, where Brother and Sister Bears’ closet is all neat and organized, with bins and bins of toys neatly lined up and organized. You would never suspect I had this early fixation on organization by looking at my closets (or anything in my house, really) today, though, sadly….

  10. Your line about kids looking at the ceiling when trying to find their shoes really cracked me up! So true! 🙂

  11. well, great post, its normally have done in over houses we can not put the thing in there place such as you show every thing is mix-up here. great lesson we should control and clean our house every thing has its on place such cloths, books, shows etc we shouldn’t put on other area of the house.

  12. The Ikea storage units really caught my attention. I am going to look into getting some of those for my own children’s toy stuff. You did a splendid job with giving Weston’s closet a face lift. It looks so much nicer and neater – so organized and labeled! Obviously it has rejuvenated your son to keep his things where they belong.

  13. we have all been there with our little ones and yes it is important to have organisation. fingers crossed out kids end up the same. love the idea of the labels as pictures.

  14. This Ikea storage units are really useful, i have a lot of similar for my children toys. Labeling are the great idea!

  15. You have done a great job there, i know how hard it is to make the kids put their things away, the idea of the pictures as labels will possibly encourage them to be more organised

  16. Your closet really has a big change, it looks neater. Ikea storage units are useful, It can hold many items, especially toys.

  17. What an incredible transformation!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. What a great upgrade. I’ve been postponing my own closet organization but after seeing yours, I’m super pumped to do mine. It’s incredible what storage bins can make to your organization! They’re so versatile! Love the end result on yours. I’m super inspired now =)

  19. Love the organisation! Some great ideas here, it looks so tidy!

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