Before and After: Catch-all Cupboard

We all have a convenient spot where we stash stuff that otherwise doesn’t have a home, or where we put clutter when we’re quickly tidying up.  For this homeowner, it was a built in credenza in her family room.


Whenever she had an item she knew she wanted to keep, but wasn’t sure what to do with, she stuck it in there.  When company was coming over and the family room was a mess, she stuffed what she could in the credenza – and in many cases, she then forgot about it.  It had gotten to the point where she avoided opening the doors at all costs.  Even if she did open them, she most likely wouldn’t have been able to find what she was looking for.


After putting off tackling this project for a few of our visits, she finally decided to dive in and get it organized.


Our first step: We pulled everything out of the cupboard and sorted it into piles of like items.  As we came across trash, we tossed it out.  There were essentially 6 groups of things stashed in there:

  1. schoolwork and artwork from her children
  2. gift wrapping supplies and stationery
  3. candles, batteries and light bulbs
  4. desk supplies
  5. photographs
  6. craft supplies

Also in there were lots of things that were no longer needed: junk mail, magazines, unfinished projects, toys and library books.


The second step, was to sort through each category.  When we did this, we figured out what was important to keep and what was unnecessary.  Plus my client got to see just how many multiples  she’d amassed because she kept buying more when she couldn’t find items she already owned.


For the important items in each category, we decided on a permanent home for them.  In most of the categories, there were already storage places for them elsewhere in the house – a trunk for gift wrapping and stationery, a storage tub for lightbulbs, another for batteries.  Candles lived in a cabinet in the living room.


This whole process made a heck of a mess and really stressed my client – which is understandable. Her family room looked like a bomb went off while we were sifting through all the stuff from the credenza.   I assured her if we just kept our heads down and dealt with one item at a time we’d get through it – and we did. Here’s the cabinet when we were done with it!

When we were finished with the project, both sections of the cabinet looked like the photo above (sorry, forgot to snap a photo of the other side, but looked about as empty).  Now her children know right where to go for homework and craft supplies and she isn’t afraid to open the cabinet doors!  This whole process took us just over an hour and a half.


Small steps like this one go a long way in boosting your mood and energy when you’re embarking on an organizing project – whether it’s a whole house, one room, one closet or just a desk top.