Get Organized

By Kate Riley January 6, 2010

I can’t be the only one to notice how many times the words “Get Organized” appear on the cover of a January magazine publication.

magazines copy

They’re onto us.

Or are we following them ?

No matter.

January is representative of a fresh start – which inevitably leads to so many of us in small or large ways to declutter our nests and “get organized”.

I’ve been hard at work getting my own home organized for over a week, and I’m making serious progress.  At last, the junk drawer, the pantry, the kitchen, the bedrooms and bathrooms are returned to order, with the help of a lot of baskets and colorful bins.

Aren’t baskets and bins simply the best tool for corralling just about anything ?  Magazines, blankets, towels, toys (what’s left of them after my decluttering spree) all have their own place to rest.  I think that is the real key to organization – actually having a place for everything.

Just a few more days tackling some problem areas, and I’ll be back to business as usual.  But first I have two zones I have yet to conquer – the mudroom/rear entry and the unsorted piles of paperwork.  I’ve got big plans for both.

bhg mudroom 5To me, nothing represents organization in the home more than a well designed mudroom or entry.

I think if you asked any busy Mom what’s the one room she couldn’t live without, or wish she had, it would be a mudroom.

See Exhibit A to the right, courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens.


How marvelous to have a dedicated dumping ground just beyond the entrance for hats, scarves, coats, boots, backpacks, sports gear, and all of those necessary items that come with having a family.

I collect images of well organized entryways.  They just make me very happy.

Below is our rear entry – the Before. Ooooh, a blank canvas.

Right now, it’s just one empty but freshly painted wall that leads to the garage.  I’m dreaming of shelving, and hooks, and art, all seamlessly blended together in one perfectly organized space.

blank wall mud room

Then there is the three foot niche around the corner.  I’ve already added this dresser I found on Craigslist that perfectly fits the space.  Shelves and key hooks are just the first step.  Here, I envision a giant memo board, a charging station, and more stylish tools for organization.  Opposite this niche is a great little closet which will soon be upgraded with hooks, bins, and racks for coats.

prime real estate mud room

Okay, so looking at someone’s ‘Before’ pictures is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

But speaking of paint, that’s BM’s ‘Camouflage’ that’s now covering the family room, dining room, and rear entry walls.  It’s a gorgeous tranquil soft gray green.  Love it!   Soon it will make its way into the kitchen.  Yes, I said it.  It’s true.  I’m repainting my kitchen later this month.  Woo hooo !

But I’m not allowed to even pick up a paintbrush until this little “Fresh Start” project is over . .

five days

What about you ?  Are you on this “get organized” kick too ?  Could you be one of the blessed few who has a well organized mudroom ?  Go on and brag, but I guarantee, I’ll be a little jealous.



  1. Yep! I am tidying the wardrobes out and being ruthless. BUT I wish I’d never started now. I did the “paperwork” folder yesterday and still going this morning. House looks like an explosion in a paper factory. It’s all for the greater good! Good luck!

  2. Hi! yes, I got this organize syndrom too! This year the focus was my Atelier! I should have photographed it ’cause by the end of this month it will be the natural and usual caos, lol!!! But we’ll always have next January:-)
    Big Hug from sunny and cold Portugal,

  3. I love organizing too! Especially in January. And I think the concept of a mudroom would be called (rough translation) the annex kitchen here. Old houses used to have this extra little kitchen that would be the back entrance to the house. It would have an extra sink and would be where you’d take of your boots and clean up before entering the house. I actually don’t know of any houses here that have that anymore. Now everybody just dumps coats and shoes in the hallway, Hallways are usually also a lot smaller here in the Netherlands then I see on a lot of US blogs. I guess we are a small country and most of our houses are smallish too.

  4. Those magazines make me laugh! I mean, if you want to start decluttering (and saving money) DON”T buy magazines! All they do is cost $$$ and clutter up a place! (but that doesn’t stop me from buying them).

    I’m working on decluttering. It’s going to take me longer than a week but I’ll make my way through the mess. Today I’m going to buy big plastic boxes to help.

  5. I’m on an organization kick too. I have to say, though, that looking at your “before” photos is really exciting to me. We live in a rented home, so I’m not able to redo any of my home although I certainly have dreams of being able to someday. Instead I live vicariously through other people’s before and after projects.

  6. I don’t have a mudroom, but I do have a closet in the front and a niche in the back where we hang the coats and drop the shoes.

    I go overboard on organization, when we had our house for sale, the realtor said it didn’t like anyone lived there, and we had to hire a stager to bring more things into the house. I can’t stand clutter. I sell/donate/throw almost too much. We moved so many times, I got tired of having 32 boxes just for the kitchen.

    Anyhoo, I have noticed people are moving toward a more simple life, thus organizing, so I think the mags are following the people.

  7. Well…I do have a mudroom, it’s in a very small space that connects the house to the garage, and it’s supposed to be the laundry room, but I wanted a mud room SO BAD, that we moved the laundry to the basement to get one. My problem is that I like CLEAN a lot, and mud rooms are naturally UNCLEAN. I actually got aggravated once because the mudroom was full of muddy, dirty shoes! Duh, isn’t that what its for? :)

  8. I don’t have a mudroom and am one of those moms who dream of one. I, too, collect mudroom ideas and have a couple of ideas in my head and would love to get you all to weigh in! We always enter our house through the garage which dumps us straight into the kitchen. Small kitchen. No place for cubbies and such here. There would be room in our dining room (which is used twice a year) off of the kitchen. But, do we really want coats, shoes, backpacks and the like in the dining room? Another thought is to put these things in the garage beside the entry. But, dirty? Probably. Hubby isn’t the best at keeping the garage spick and span. Finally, I was wondering about putting shelving, hooks, etc. in our foyer. Guests are the only ones who enter through our front door and would we want our stuff greeting them? Oh, the design dilemmas. But, who doesn’t love a design challenge! Ideas?

  9. We have a garage entrance that leads directly into our laundry/mud room. It is not at all large and I have been struggling to make it work better. Hubby and I have a good drawing in place for a diy makeover beginning this month. We are knocking out a hallway closet to make room for “lockers” for all the kids’ stuff. The remodel also includes a stackable HE washer/dryer, cabinets, new sink, counters, the works. I can’t wait!

  10. “Could you be one of the blessed few who has a well organized mudroom ? Go on and brag, but I guarantee, I’ll be a little jealous.”

    Well, just a little brag here, lol! We have the mudroom…well organized, definitely not! Living in NH, I’ve insisted on having a mudroom in our last 5 houses. Our mudroom has great potential though, very roomy and a long wall for great shelving & sitting like in the BHG picture. We have gotten the coat closet and broom closet finished, so there is some organizing going on. I think we’re going to include a sink and hopefully an extra refrigerator because we have lots of family & friends over for the summer & holidays. This will probably be the last room to get completely done because we still have our kitchen and master bath to finish.

  11. Yes I’ve noticed that about January magazines also, but I love it because they ALL go for clean, bright pictures with soothing colors. All the rest of the year they break off into their own styles, but nothing says “clean” like bright white, soft blues and fresh greens!

    I did my organization the week after Christmas— purging all the things I was pack-ratting away but never used, and I went from not having enough storage, to having empty baskets all around! (Which is only tempting me to fill them again this year ;)

  12. I have been bitten by the January organizational bug as well!! I’m constantly inventing reasons to go to the Dollar Store, only to pick up more bins and baskets! I love their selection at Dollar Tree. My husband and I are a bit of packrats, so sometimes is challenging to purge, but soooo worth it!

  13. My sister in law has the best mud room! I have a condo with no extra storage, so as it is near zero and more snow coming in today I will work on my closets this weekend! The garage when it warms up.

  14. Oh I am so on a get organized kick. However, I have to wait until my parents move out at the end of the month. Then? Then I am going to rock my house like a hurricane.

  15. No we don’t have a mudroom, but we have two lockers built in, in the hallway and just built another set in our laundry room and still they seem disorganized. They’re just not a priority right now otherwise they’d be getting ripped out this weekend for a re-do. We are definitely feeling the “get organized” bug though. Working on organizing/purging the basement to get ready for that remodel! Your before pictures make me jealous :) You have a beautiful home.

  16. I always dreamed of a mudroom. That would make my life soooo cleaner and easier. And I love bins! I am a bin freak actually. I did not even use a plastic bin until I had kids. But once there clothes and toys started to take over my house I realized very quickly that I needed them….BIG TIME. So I am working on mastering organization. I still have a long way to go!

  17. Oh, what a great little recessed area and hall to make use of! If I could add one thing to my house it would be a mudroom! I see where it could have been placed if only the builder had taken into consideration a family living in this house! Janell

  18. getting organized is a goal for me every week. find a new space to organize. although i have a new house and haven’t built up clutter yet but its always good to get prepared before it does. and every quarter of the year i go through my things to find to donate. if it hasn’t been used in a year. donate!

  19. Yes, I think they’re definitely onto us :). I finally broke down and am ready to tackle some organization projects of my own. In fact I just started a series on it….isn’t it soooo much easier when your blog holds you accountable? I can’t wait to see your projects.

    Hey – Are you going to Blissdom? I finally decided to take the plunge and attend (Friday and Saturday).

  20. I love the color!! The dresser is gorgeous!! I finished decluttering my house last night.. two boxes. Can’t believe how much I found that I don’t use anymore or just don’t care for anymore even with a can of spray paint. ;)

  21. I’d kill a small, feral animal for a mudroom. And a laundry room. Sigh.

    I love baskets and bins and all manner of tools to “corral” mess. I subscribe religiously to the PEEP philosophy (thanks Erin from Unclutterer): “a place for everything and everything in it’s place. Baskets, etc. give us those places.

    Can’t wait to see what you do with these two prime spaces!

  22. UGH! I totally know how you feel.
    I just got my WHOLE house and garage organized, and it took a WHOLE week! No joke.
    But now I’m focusing on redoing my laundry room, and it feels GREAT! I can actually decorate and DO projects, without thinking… “Ugh… I have to out and get something from that BLASTED messy garage”. lol.
    It SUCKS to actually DO the cleaning and organizing, but it’s SO worth it in the end!
    Good luck, girl!
    You can check out my “cleaning spree” on my blog! Have fun!

  23. Yes, despite already being fairly organized I can’t resist jumping on the January bandwagon and doing a bit more. I’m currently purging old files and paperwork…

    The photos you showed have wonderful potential and I know you’ll do something amazing with this space. It may be empty right now but it already has a quality look to it. Your ‘before’ pics are probably nicer than my ‘after’ pics will ever be!

  24. I too dream of a mudroom. Maybe some day, but I can’t see it fitting into our current house. I like when the magazines do their organization specials at the beginning of the year. I love organizing already, but it’s easier to get others on board (ahem, like husbands) if it’s framed in a new years resolution type way. :)

  25. If a strip of linoleum 2 feet by 2 feet by the front door counts as a mudroom, then yes, I do have one. ;) I have space in our back hallway for one, but I opted to put my craft desk/pretty stuff back there where the children are less likely to go and destroy things b/c it is darker back there. Dark=scared kids. Just my reasoning….

    I actually don’t mind “Before” photos b/c I like to think of the possibilities. And then what you come up with will be wildly better than what I imagined. ;)

    I am trying sooooo hard to get organized, but the toys are really killing me. Just trying to get them all “cataloged” so I can send thank you notes is tough b/c everywhere I look the kids have strewn them across the house.

    My home looks like a war zone. Really. The in-laws gave Michaela Byrd a large purple plastic sled for her bday (watch, now it will never snow again this season) and the kids have been using it to load up all their new toys and drag it around the house. Great. As soon as they are distracted, it’s going in the shed!! ;)

    PS. LOVE the “Prime Real Estate” shot. That made me smile. :)

  26. I’m still in the “looking for motivation” stage, then I have to work up the energy, then I’ll make a plan, but your blog is inspiring me today! :-)

  27. We had our big trash day, so our outdoor space is clean and raked and lovely. My daughter got new bedding for Christmas…so we spent an entire day taking everything out of her room, re-organizing, throwing away, and giving the space a new look. Time to head out with her this weekend to get drapes and a new rug. She’s 12 and this is BIG stuff! Haven’t decided what other tasks to tackle yet. Happy New Year!

  28. Just yesterday I added a peg board to my laundry / mudroom. I added 20 hooks in various sizes placed all over the board, so even my 3 year old could reach it to hang up his coat and hat. The kids could not reach the hanging bar and so they just threw their things down on the ground or on the washing machine. A-nnoying! This new systems allows for hooks for coats, keys, bags, scarves, etc. I put two shelves for shoes on the floor below the peg board. The best part is that it is very narrow since everything is essentially hanging on the wall. So the doors to and from the room – leading to the garage and into the house – are able to easily open and close. Ahhh, chaos controlled!

  29. Your “dumping spot” looks great! I wish I had one. We have a 1/2 bath & a coat closet right where we come in from the garage, and no wall for even hooks or a mirror! I’m thinking about taking the door off the coat closet and putting a bench, bins & hooks in there, like a little nook. The closet has everything BUT coats in it anyway!

  30. I’ve got the organizing bug here too! We just moved a few days before Christmas and have the perfect wall for a “mud room” type storage. I have begged my dad to build me a version of PB entry bench and shelf to go into this space for now I’ve got a over the door hook on the door for the coats and basket for shoes but those darn backpacks are driving me crazy… I am hoping my dad gets busy soon! :) Thanks for the motivation…..nothing like moving to get you organized though!

  31. Yes, they force us to think about this every January by putting all those tempting pics out in the magazines. So we HAVE to get organized. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. This time of year does get me moving in that direction, but I’m afraid I move like a turtle sometimes. I need to hit my closet next.

    Thanks for joining the party!!

  32. I think a lot of people feel the need of getting organized after the Xmas holiday; it feels natural, and it fits perfectly with the sense of a fresh new beginning. I’m working my way…

  33. I can’t wait to see what you come up with in this space. I’m dreaming of a mud room in our next home. Right now, I have a 10 inch deep space in our kitchen for hooks and a small container. Not dreamy, but we’ll make it work.

  34. No mudroom at my house. You step in from the garage right into the kitchen. The laundry room is just to the right, I have shelves and baskets in there…but, I think I’m going to start looking for some extremely cheap/frugal cabinets. I’m tired at looking at the dog food and laundry detergent.


  35. I am so ready to get organized,, I will have a pretty good start in the next week,, we are moving so that will help… Then I can get going to decorating and using some great storage units… Your mud room is going to be just wonderful, love the color..


  36. We have an entire mud-sunroom. An 18-foot by 30-foot sunroom that’s connected to our kitchen via sliding glass doors. It serves us well because while we don’t have kids, we have 4 greyhounds who love to zoom around our 2 fenced acres. We bring in from outside through the sunroom and if they’re dirty they get cleaned off before coming into the house – voila! My husband wants to remodel the sunroom so it serves as a 2nd family room, but I think that’s a silly idea. :)

  37. Guess it is all those subliminal messages on the covers of the grocery store magazines giving me this organizing urge too! LOVE your blog. You have terrific ideas!

  38. I am right there with you on the organizing kick. We have a quasi-mudroom….it is the laundry but it is a couple of steps from the back door in the opposite direction that you normally would walk to enter the house. So while it is organized, we struggle with using it to it’s potential.

  39. Oh, the mudroom! Mine is a 6×9 foot room that also houses my washer and dryer, AND is a pass-through to the garage :( I can’t even fit HE front loading machines in there (how sad I am!)

    And the magazines? It’s a collaboration between the mags and the stores to get you to buy baskets and bins and hooks and such every year :) I smell a conspiracy!

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