With fall around the corner and the new school season upon us, we have plenty of projects we’re wanting to tackle. If you’re like me, most of those projects concern reorganizing and redesigning areas in my home. I’ve learned that it’s best to pause and ask a few questions before I dive right in, which helps me make the most of my space and my budget. Read on, and see how these questions helped me create a command center that works!
It’s easy for me to get to that “I HATE IT ALL!” point, so I make myself start here. What’s working? What do I like? What’s been a good idea? This can be anything from a piece of furniture to a picture on the wall to an organizing strategy.
The Command Center Case Study: I had tried making a command center near my garage door entryway, which happens to be my laundry room. There was a lot not working, but I had a couple of things going for me. First, the concept of the space was a good one. Second, I had already tackled the paper problem by creating a filing system in a different room, so that was working.
Question 2: What’s wasted?
There are two main things I consider when looking at waste: storage and space. As for storage, sometimes I have items that could work if I only gave them a clear purpose. Shelves, baskets, containers…all of these need a reason to live! Space often needs to be re-thought, as well: Can the furniture be moved to open things up? Am I taking advantage of vertical space? Can something be hung instead of sitting on the main level?
The Command Center Case Study: So much space was wasted! I was hardly using my walls at all, which can be great for organizing. The magnetic chalkboard was doing very little, although it could have been useful. The small numbered containers had nothing in them because I never gave them a purpose.
Question 3: What should go?
Once I know what’s working (and what could work), I can then part with the things that aren’t. In my book, there are three places these can go: the trash, a donation drop-off, or another place in in my home (which may include a closet for a later repurposed DIY, though I’m a lot pickier now with what I keep).
The Command Center Case Study: The red shelf had to go. All it was really doing was serving as a too-large key holder and shelving random items. I moved it to the “one day I’ll paint it” spot in the closet. The red file organizer didn’t work, either, and always looked messy. As the saying goes, Mess breeds mess! This counter was proof!
Question 4: What do I need?
The answer to this question often comes from the mess that you have. Are there piles of paper? Then you need some type of filing system. Are there mountains of shoes? Then you need a place for the shoes to go. (I know…pretty obvious.) The answer also comes from what you want out of the space. If you want it to be a homework center, then you need hooks for backpacks, plenty of supplies, and perhaps motivating tools.
The Command Center Case Study: Sorting through my pile of mess helped me see what I needed: a place for receipts, coupons, basic office supplies, keys, and cords. Luckily, I had a few baskets already on hand, and a metal wall-organizer (a $10 clearance find!) finished the main storage. I downsized my key holder to a simple white one and added a wooden clipboard to hold important memos and mail. Since I wanted this to serve as a hub for our life, I hung a large calendar. Finally, because this is the last thing we see as we walk out the door, I put that wasted chalkboard to use by writing a favorite lyric.
Question 5: What’s the dream?
This question serves as the companion to the first question. Just like we take a practical look at what we have, we also need to have some room to dream. What would be ideal for this space, even if there isn’t the budget for it now? Sometimes you may find you want to scale down what you do and put your money and energy into that bigger project; sometimes you may find you can do more than what you originally thought!
The Command Center Case Study: Since this is part of my laundry room, the dream is to make the space above my washer and dryer usable and pretty. Right now, the shelves are too short to hold what I would expect it to hold (like laundry detergent…), and there is a high ledge that is completely wasted. One part of the dream I did embrace was a feature wall! For less than ten dollars, I was able to anchor the space with cool gray and white stripes.