Organizational diarrhea, it can be painful

Organizational diarrhea it so painful!  Do you have the clutter runs?

So  I got a call from my brother-in-law and he says to me “Laura help I’m in organizational distress!”.  Actually I do believe his exacts words were “Laura help I’ve got organizational diarrhea!” but I so didn’t want to gross you out by using the word diarrhea so I totally wasn’t going to bring it up.  Except it looks like I just did.  Well it’s definitely fitting though don’t you think to compare clutter to diarrhea?  After all diarrhea is gross and explosive and messy just like clutter so maybe it is totally appropriate after all.

Do you have the clutter runs? (sorry I couldn’t resist)

My brother-in-law apparently does, he told me so himself.  So next week I’m flying to Ontario to help him with his clutter digestion problems.  Okay okay so maybe I’m not flying there for that reason alone (although I am going to tell him that so he thinks I’m the best sister-in-law in the whole wide world!) since it does also happen to be my Granny’s 95th birthday while I’m there.  NINETY-FIVE years young, crazy!!

So where were we?  Oh yes, diarrhea.  How many times do you think I can say that word in one post anyway?  My sister and brother-in-law live in a tiny tiny house.  Well they live in a big house but are kindly sharing the basement portion with my parents which only leaves them with the top floor to work with.  When they first moved in and for the first couple of years (pre-kids) their living room space consisted of both a living room at one end and a formal dining room at the other.  However once my darling nieces arrived the living room exploded with toys.  They were everywhere, it was messy (just like diarrhea!).  So they decided to turf the formal dining room table (seriously brilliant maneuver on their part, who needs two dining areas anyway?) and created a play space where the dining room used to be.  The couch acts as a divider between the two rooms.  I promise to show you all pictures when I get there.

So do you see where this is going?  They’ve carved out the space for the toys but now need to maximize the potential of the space.  And that’s where I come in!  Even more exciting is my brother-in-law is giving me $500.00 to spend on the project, whoot!  I love spending other people’s money and he apparently is ready to cure his runs once and for all.  Poor guy, I don’t blame him, clutter runs can be so painful.

So in anticipation of all the fun we are going to have cleaning up their explosiveness, I started to do my homework ahead of time.  To Dr. Google I went and sadly I got no assistance after typing in “what to do about organizational diarrhea?” and I’m pretty sure Pepto Bismal’s not going to fix this one.

So what we need here is a way to house some of the toys out of sight so a toy rotation can be put into place, store craft supplies which are currently taking up valuable kitchen space and in my brother-in-law’s words “make it look nice”.   I can do that and after spending a bit of time on various websites I think I have found the perfect solution.  Normally I’d recommend cubbies but they wanted it to look a little more grown up and wanted to keep little fingers out (they don’t want the girls just helping themselves.  They do have another small organizer for the “toys in rotation”).   Of course I haven’t even shared these ideas with them yet but they’ll read this post and tell me whether or not I need to continue to drink the pink stuff because I’m way off from curing any digestion instability.

I initially thought an armoire of some kind would be nice but since they already have a computer armoire in their living room I thought another piece of large and tall furniture would be too much.  Remember the space isn’t that big.  So I’m leaning towards a dresser of some kind although I have learned from experience that this can be a controversial topic.  When I put a dresser in my old living room and posted about it, you people had some serious opinions in the no department.  So I’m not going to call it a dresser this time, I’m going to call it a buffet.  That sounds nice and totally appropriate for a dining room turned playroom don’t you think? :)

Here’s what I have in mind from Ikea.  This Hemnes 8-drawer dresser comes in a variety of colors and is $299.00.  On the wall above it I’d like to put some floating shelves with some pretty baskets for additional storage.

Here is what I’m using for inspiration:

source: i heart organizing


Isn’t that pretty?  Then underneath the bottom shelf, I would love to add a curtain rod like this one below (also from Ikea) to hang the girl’s artwork.

So there you have it.  Let’s review the cost:

Buffet: $299.00


2 Shelves: $40.00

Equals:  $339.00

I’ll need a few dollars for accessories and baskets but should have plenty of  money left over.  That way they can buy me a bigger Christmas present!  Just kidding, my brother-in-law is a chef so I actually get paid in delicious and pretty plated food while I’m there.  Yum!  I can’t wait to see what they think of my suggestions.  I’ll keep you posted on the outcome and whether or not it cures their organizational runs.

In the meantime you know I have to ask, do you suffer with your own organizational diarrhea?  If so, please START HERE for help!

PS:  will you ever forgive me for mentioning the word diarrhea 10 times in one post?

Part two can be found here.

Related posts:

Organizing my sister’s kitchen
Organizing my sister’s nursery
Organizing my sister’s coat closet

Filed under: Clutter Control, Containerizing


26 Responses to Organizational diarrhea, it can be painful

  1. 1
    FishMama says

    You are going to have so much fun!

    A word on the Hemnes… We own almost the entire collection (tv table, sofa table, desk, book shelves, and SEVEN 3-drawer dressers. (Yes, really.) We do NOT own the 8-drawer because it is too wide to support the weight of the drawers. (Hubs is a contractor and has built furniture.) My sister bought it and agrees that it is too big.

    I really hate to burst the bubble, BUT I don’t want you to be sad later. Even the 3-drawers sag if loaded too heavily. Hubs had to do some reinforcements so that I can use a drawer for DVDs.

    Anywho, there’s my two cents. Have a great time!

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      That is soooo good to know, thank you! I’ll keep looking for something similar for around the same price point.

      • FishMama says

        Check the price of the three drawers. We got ours for $149. So, you could get two. :) That would also give them more flexibility later to break up the set.

      • Sara says

        I also own that dresser, and I love it and haven’t had any problems with it. But, we’ve only had it a year and use it, as I think it was intended, for clothes, so that might make a difference (vs toys/heavier things)

      • Sarah says

        I have a similar (discontinued) dresser from IKEA that has a very large drawer on the bottom. When fully loaded (who am I kidding-overloaded!) it started sagging. I went to a home improvement store and had some 1×4 pieces of wood cut. I drilled holes in the sides under the drawer bottom and attached the 1x4s. It’s all out of sight, but hubs can now load the drawer with jeans, sweaters etc and it’s held up for years.

    • 1.2
      Lee-ann says

      That dresser is a fantastic size. I agree that you’ll have to reinforce the drawers and glue them when you put them together. For some reason this one has more issues than my older Hemnes tall boy even though the drawer width is identical. Consider switching the included cardboard/hardboard drawer bottoms with real plywood for extra stability.

  2. 2
    Vonnie says

    I’m a stay at home homeschooling mom who just moved in with her mother-in-law. (Economy. Thank the heavens for family taking us in.) I have three small girls, ages 2, 4 and 6, and a son on the way (a little over 6 months pregnant.) I have a little less than half the house to work with that the family can currently call their own until we have our own place again. My bedroom is in the process of incoming baby as I co-sleep. It is also my office for my in-home business, as well as a temporary storage for my husband’s electronic things that can’t be left in a storage unit due to extreme heat/cold (computers, video games, etc). Not to mention that I am also keeping our art supplies in here as well as my children’s clothes since they all share a room and had to downsize; their dresser no longer fits in their room. Currently, the three rooms we occupy have orginazational diarrhea. I don’t know which way is up, down, or to the side. The only thing I happened to organize well was our bathroom. Organizational diarrhea’s incredibly frustrating…..

  3. 3
    Sabrina says

    So funny! Needed a good laugh. I love shallow cabinets with doors for organizing kid’s toys. Bins with lids are what my clients request all the time. IKEA offers the string and clips for kids artwork and it is really affordable. Thanks for sharing.

  4. 4
    Heidi says

    I’m a fan of shelving systems with baskets for toy organization. They look nice when they are put away and make picking up super easy. Also, I’ve taught (well, drilled into) my son that he can’t take out a new basket or bin until the old one is picked up and put away. Makes it easy for toy rotation too. Just dump a bin into a bag and open another bag and dump into the bin.

  5. 5
    Rebecca says

    Hahahaha I bet you’ll get some interesting searches that lead people here. I can see someone looking to ‘cure diarrhea’ and see a post about dressers and toys. :P

    Can’t wait to see the finished result!

  6. 6
    Living the Balanced Life says

    Absolutely hilarious Laura! That is probably a record for using the word diarrhea in one post that isn’t on a medical site!
    I love the idea you have. We used a “sideboard” that we had in our kitchen for years, and is now in out living room as an entryway piece. It has held cassette tapes (that shows how long we’ve had it!) craft supplies, games, encyclopedia set, and now it is mainly for looks!
    Thanks for sharing your brother’s woes with us!
    25 ways to wear a scarf

  7. 7
    Not My Mother says

    I definitely have organisational diarrhea, but also I have that dresser! It’s in our bedroom (how conventional) and I love it, but if we ever move anywhere that doesn’t have a long enough wall in the bedroom I’ll be moving it to a living area instead. Or my craft room! (heck if we’re dream-moving, I want a craft room, and also the ability to craft to go with it as well).

    i’ve not had any issues with the drawers but they are only holding clothes. And I think this one dresser looks much better than two of the 3-drawer ones, but I suppose the sizeof it is a consideration.

  8. 8
    Food on the Table says

    Love the curtain rod for the girls’ artwork! That is genius, I’ve never seen it before, and a Great way to get those masterpieces in a place of honor. love it.

  9. 10
    Sinea Pies says

    Love the use of the buffet. Classy and functional.

  10. 11
    Jenny says

    Don’t let those dresser naysayers sway you. I put one, IKEA as well, in my front all and gave everyone their own drawer for stuff when they come in. It doesn’t keep everything neat and perfect, but it sure cuts down on the front door clutter! Plus I always know where I put my keys.

  11. 12
    Jenne says

    I finally cured some of my diarrhea this year when I created a backpack station. I bought 3 bookcases (I have 3 kids) and only used the bottom 2 shelves, very bottom shelf has a basket for their shoes and the other shelf has a basket for their socks (want another basket for the gloves,hats,etc.). On the top, my husband screwed some hooks for jackets and such and then reinforced them together with a piece of plywood on the back. I LOVE IT!!! It was very inexpensive and each of my kids now have their own “locker.” I would love to show you a picture but don’t know how to post pics. Thanks so much for all your ideas. I love the idea of using a dresser for a buffet. Awesome!

  12. 13
    Julie from Australia says

    As far as displaying artwork etc we have used the small clear 3m hooks with fishing wire in-between. Pretty pegs hold the art, but they look like they ‘float’ across our wall! Just some more ideas for you!

  13. 14
    raven says

    We own a *lot* of IKEA stuff. I have a few words of warning.

    With one exception – which they no longer sell – I will never buy a dresser from there again. The drawer bottoms are all either cardboard (low end pieces) or wood that is so thin it won’t support weight (higher end). And with kids involved who might stand IN a drawer… no.

    I also got the LACKE (I think) floating shelves and I hate them. DH has monkeyed with the installation several times, and they still sag forward. I’m assured they will not fall, but they do not LOOK safe, and they hold less than you think especially in terms of weight. Ours just has stuffed animals on it and it barely supports them.

    I can kind of see the vision you’re having for this space, but you didn’t mention the ages of the children involved. I’ve seen you post much love for the EXPEDIT and the TROFAST systems – are they older where this isn’t as much of a concern?

    For concealed storage, the BILLY bookcases – the shorter ones – have doors available if you want something smooth. They are the push-to-open, push-to-close type. We love them in our library and they would easily adapt for most toy storage. If you’ve ever “hacked” IKEA pieces, you might be familiar with this, or not – the BILLY 3 shelf is the exact width of the MALM dresser and the six drawer dresser with 2 Billy’s on top would be a hefty piece of furniture but have a HUGE amount of storage – this is what we currently have in our living room. We did anchor the shelves to the wall, and my DH replaced the cardboard of the dresser drawers with something else (I’m not sure if it was plywood or MDF) using the cardboard as a template. If you anchor it well to the wall, you can leave off the backing of the BILLY and it will appear more open and less of a “omg, huge piece of wall furniture” effect. Or paint the backboard before nailing it on to match the wall color.

    so can I go really off the wall? Check out their local craigslist for true buffets – 2 or 3 deep drawers in the middle, and 1 DOOR on either side (or some are drawers on the side and a door in the middle). You’ll likely be able to get solid hardwood construction that will last forever for the same price as IKEA, and the door areas hold oddly sized toys great while the drawers are awesome for organizing. Baskets slide under well, too and I know how much you love baskets ;)

  14. 15
    Irulan says

    I’m seconding some of raven’s concerns. How old are these kids? Small kids love to “climb” dressers, especially their own. If you do get this dresser (or a backless item, like “Billy”), then make sure to anchor the item to the wall so that climbing doesn’t end in collapsing.

    • 15.1
      Laura says

      No worries, since I published this post the plan has completely changed. Will share soon!

  15. 16
    Magda says

    Oh, while you are in Ontario, please, please, please stop at my house to help with my overwhelming clutter diarrhea. I will feed you. It may not be as pretty as your brother-in-law’s food, but I will feed you. :) Of course, to rid my house of clutter diarrhea, it would take a month or two. Perhaps, you are not willing to give it that much time. Hmm. Guess I better go and declutter on my own. (Hangs head in dejection, then lifts head and puts on a brave smile with tears trickling from the corners of her eyes).

    Seriously, I love your blog and love that you are inspiring others to declutter.

    I hope you have a wonderful time and I hope the weather warms up before you get here. In Ottawa, it is -5 degrees Celsius today. Brrr.

    • 16.1
      Laura says

      Unfortunately I think my brother in law is going to have me pretty busy lol. Here in Northern Alberta the temps are around -23 Celcius so I’m looking forward to balmy -5 temps :)

      • Magda says

        OK. You win! -23 is definitely worse. You poor thing.

  16. 17
    Loni says

    May I suggest Craigslist if you’re looking for a dresser (er, buffet) for the playroom? You can find something seriously sturdy for less than $100. Slap some paint on it and you’re golden. Then you have more $$$ to spend on pretties!


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