Jillian Strauss felt overwhelmed and frustrated trying to keep
her medium-sized family room tidy. Because it serves as a playroom,
a sewing room and a home office, her challenges really felt more
The first challenge was that Strauss wanted her daughter to have her toys in the room, but out of the reach of the baby. But the most difficult challenge: Strauss and her husband wanted to be able to work in the room so they could watch their kids but not have the playtime be distracting. They also wanted to eliminate the paper clutter.
My goal was to help this family get organized and stay that way easily after I left.
We tackled the home office area first. All papers were removed from the desk and drawers and divided by categories of "to keep," "to do" and "recycle." The papers that needed immediate attention were made easily accessible, while the papers to be kept were placed in a filing system.
When it came to Jillian's sewing, we concluded it did not make sense for the room. Much of the sewing supplies were unsafe for the kids and really would not give Jillian the freedom to enjoy her hobby without worrying about the kids getting into the sewing materials.
This decision actually freed up a lot of space. I then suggested the newly opened space be used to store their older child's toys. Since Jillian moved a lot of her daughter's toys into this room, she had more options in her home for where to move her sewing things.
Next, we started sorting the toys. After taking Jillian's thoughts on which toys to keep and donate, we put them in different storage baskets and bins. I suggested using colored mesh laundry baskets or clear bins.
Finally, after moving some bins back and forth and rearranging, we printed out pictures to label what belonged in each container to help the kids find what they are looking for and help put toys away.
In the end, the room was left decluttered, with several bags of donated items (all tax-deductible) and storage systems that made perfect sense for this family.
The kids were given their own space. And now when they see their parents use their home office organizing systems and put things away, they will try to do the same with their toys.
Pooja Gugnani is founder of Organizing With You Inc.