Monday, June 18, 2012

Eight Favorite Things That Help Us Stay Organized

Vintage enamelware and Fire King in the farmhouse pantry -
Vintage treasures on one of the industrial shelving units in the pantry.

BlogHer, my publishing network, has asked me to answer another Getting Organized question as part of its year-long Life Well Lived program:

What are your favorite resources to help you get organized?

One of our goals when we moved out of The Shack and into our new house last year—which Joe sometimes refers to as The Big Box because it is in fact a giant, metal-sided rectangle that visitors usually think is a barn—was to keep everything simple, clean, and organized.

It's light and airy and very pleasant in here, especially compared to living in a falling down shack (which was starting to get depressing and scary), and we don't want to clutter it up.

So far we're doing pretty well, partly because a lot of our belongings are still sitting over in The Shack, which is just across the farmyard, waiting for us to dust (or pressure wash) them off and let them move in over here with us—or throw them out. It's a slow, low priority process.

In the meantime, these are some of the best things we've found to help us control clutter, stay organized, and feel happier in our new home:

More below. . .

1. Industrial steel wire shelving units. (pictured above) We have 18 of these scattered around the house and garage/shop, including seven big ones (mostly on casters) in the pantry. When the custom shelving system I wanted for the bedroom closet added up to $625 at Lowe's, we bought a $3.00 wooden closet pole (that we cut in half and stacked at one end of the closet) and another one of these shelving units instead.

2. Plastic storage tote boxes. The Shack only has one small closet, so for years we've been using stackable totes to store everything from towels to videos. So handy. Tossing a bar or two of nice smelling soap (still wrapped in their paper label) into the ones with bedding and clothing keeps them from smelling musty. In the pantry they protect bags of things like raisins and chocolate chips from the mice.

3. Lock & Lock storage containers. Are you sensing a storage theme here? I love these containers, especially with our high humidity. They're airtight, watertight, BPA-free, food safe, freezer safe, and stackable. We have a bunch of different sizes and use them for storing everything from sugar in the pantry to sheep hoof trimmers in the barn.

4. Heavy duty laundry sorters. We splurged on three of these when we moved into the new house, and now I don't know how we got along without them. I love them almost as much as I love my outdoor clothesline.

5. Dry erase boards. I bought four of these a few months ago and put two in the kitchen and two in my office for lists and important notes. Oh boy, do they help. So much better than scribbled scraps of paper scattered everywhere (although I still have a lot of those too).

6. Velcro reusable ties. I came across these on amazon recently, and they work great for wires and cords. Some reviewers mentioned they had lots of other uses, too, and they were right. The other day I used them to attach chicken wire around a makeshift pen for Lulabelle and her chicks. This morning I saw some green ones in a garden catalog for tying up plants.

7. A library basket. One of those little things that made a big difference. We always have a whole bunch of books and audio books checked out from two different libraries, and a large basket in the living room helps keep them from getting misplaced.

8. Pinterest. There is so much inspiration to be found online. I have Pinterest boards devoted to Organizing & Display and Pantries & Kitchen Organizing. (You'll find all of my Farmgirl Fare Pinterest boards here.)

Need more organizing tips? Alicia offers 35 Resources to Help You Get Organized in her BlogHer Life Well Lived post, and other bloggers share their suggestions in the comments section. Come join the conversation!

You can also enter to win an iPod Touch and $50 iTunes gift certificate in this month's Life Well Lived Moments Sweepstakes.

©, where maybe someday things will be organized enough that you'll actually get to see the entire pantry—or even the entire house!


  1. I am a fan of open shelving and visible contents-we take cabinet and closet doors off when we start in a new place and go from there. I love your shelving.

    1. I like the idea of open shelves, but we live in the country...think dry dusty roads, with a bunch of dogs and cats, and I can't imagine having to clean everything inside the cupboards as well as outside!

  2. We have those chrome shelves on casters, too. It means we can store all the tools in bins (for all the parts) and they act like those rolling library shelves that let you store tons more stuff b/c you just create an aisle as needed. Those things rock!

    I will have to try putting bar of soap in with the linens, that's always bees a problem. Even line dried sheets get that musty smell, so annoying to wash sheets that you packed away clean.

  3. Everything on casters! We have a big wooden box on casters that Bubba just calls The Cube and that we use for all kinds of things in the garage and yard. It doesn't help us organize, but it's the most utilitarian tool/desk because of those casters. I'm going to go check out your organizing boards now so that I can nerd out.

  4. Jars are a great plastic-free way to store food and small items. If you don't want to waste canning jars on this, reuse food jars.

  5. I like your bedroom closet storage solution! ;-)
    Notes and lists help me stay organized, I'd be lost without them!


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