Thursday, July 30, 2015

8 UHeart Organizing: Taking Command of the School Year

Command center addicts, this post is for you!  And for me!  Do they have support groups for people like us?  I mean seriously, no matter which way you slice 'em, command centers make the organizational world go round.

And what better time to put together your own command center, than back-to-school time?  Once kids become school aged, it is homework, lessons, parties, events.... so much to manage and remember.  Command centers are really wonderful for keeping life in a single family "hot spot".

The best part is that there is no right or wrong way to create a family command center zone.  They can be customized to fit in just about any space and for any style preference.  The incredibly talented Jennifer from The House of Wood blog, is here today to share how she built a menu board, calendar and wall pockets to create the ultimate organized zone.  She is sure to take command of the school year with her new wall-of-awesomeness!

Hi friends! Welp. It's almost that time again. Are you getting ready to do the Back-To-School scramble? Before you know it, you'll be drowning in book reports, school projects and extra-curricular activities, and there will be no rest for the weary. For all you Type A personalities, it's GO TIME!

I've been meaning to set up a family command center for awhile, but now that our firstborn will be entering Kindergarten (*sob*), this task just moved to the top of my priority list. BTW... do they write book reports in Kindergarten? #newbie

While I doubt my little Kindergartner will have much homework to bring home, I love having a dedicated space where she'll be able to have an after-school snack as she tackles school projects when the time comes. Here's how our family command center turned out:

It puts the 'fun' in 'functional,' doesn't it? The chalkboards, cubby shelf, and time zone clocks are all DIY projects that are super easy and inexpensive to do!

To make the chalkboards, I purchased half a sheet (48"x48") of underlayment from the home improvement store. I knew I wanted to make a separate calendar and menu board, so I sent the underlayment through my table saw and cut it into two pieces. Then I rolled on a few coats of chalkboard paint. Don't you just love this navy color? I had it tinted at the paint desk but sadly, after the paint dried, it turned out looking more black than navy. Womp womp.

Oh, and here's a quick tip: if you line the paint tray with aluminum foil, cleanup will be quick and easy. Just roll up the foil when you're done and toss it!

To frame out the chalkboard, I set my miter saw to a 45º angle and crosscut the trim. To get the most precise measurements, I recommend skipping the tape measure and just holding the trim in place, marking it with a pencil, and cutting it to fit.

Then I squeezed some wood glue onto the back of the trim and placed it onto the chalkboard. I used clamps to hold the frame in place while the glue dried. No need for nails or screws here; the glue will be plenty strong to keep that trim on.

Next, I used a Sharpie paint pen to draw the lines for the calendar, using a yardstick as a straight edge. An oil-based paint pen works best because it's permanent and won't wipe away so I won't have to re-draw the calendar every month.

Here’s my calendar grid all drawn out:

I used my Silhouette Cameo to make vinyl decals for the days of the week. I also like to sharpen my chalk with a pencil sharpener to make it easier to write with. It's the little things, right?

Finally, I used a French cleat to hang the chalkboard up on the wall. With a calendar this large, you'd think my husband would know when my parents are coming to town.

Aren't those time zone clocks fun? The tutorial for that can be found here.

The hardest part about cooking is figuring out what to cook - amiright? This menu board makes it simple to create weekly meal plans, stay organized, and just say NO to takeout!

I am in love with this adorable #nomnomnom decal. I made it with my Silhouette Cameo - the font is called 'Imperfect.'

We store mail and other miscellaneous paperwork in this DIY wall cubby. I built it out of scrap wood (read: FREE!) and posted the plans and tutorial here on my blog. It's a quick and easy project that requires minimal power tools so if you’d like to get into building, it would be the perfect piece to start with.

Isn't this striped metal tote oh so stylish? I snagged it at Target (#happyplace!) and loaded it up with school supplies. Am I the only one who gets giddy about buying school supplies? Oh, don't mind me, I'm just hangin' out in the back-to-school section smelling the erasers. #creeper

Then I stash the whole kit and caboodle in a pretty basket and tuck it all away neatly.

So are you ready for the Back-To-School scramble? Do you have a command center that keeps your family organized?


Hello friends! I’m Jen Woodhouse, the author of The House of Wood blog, my creative outlet for all things DIY and design. By trade, I am a performing songwriter based in Nashville, TN - I’ve released three albums, toured the world, and licensed my music to national television shows and films - but more recently, I've added ‘DIY Blogger’ to my eclectic resume. The House of Wood is where I document my adventures in woodworking, interior design, and life as a musician, military wife, and mother of two unbearably adorable babies. When I’m not writing, recording, or touring, you’ll usually find me in the garage building furniture! I’m pretty freakin’ excited to join the iHeart Organizing team and I can’t wait to share a few organizing DIY projects with y’all!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

46 Wardrobe Organization Using Stylebook

A couple of weeks ago I completed a major closet purging session and went through every last piece of clothing that I owned.  I typically keep a "donate" bag inside of my closet, so I have been pretty good about maintaining a "one in" and "one out" policy.  And being that our personal closets are not all that big to begin with, I really didn't think I would find myself getting rid of too many pieces of clothing.

I still ended up removing 114 pieces of clothing/shoes from my wardrobe!  That was almost half of what I owned and left me feeling a) astonished and b) amazing.  Suddenly, I felt free from my daily "what should I wear" battles.  I shared in this post how I tucked everything back into place, and today I am going to share a little more about the new system I have been trying out ever since. 

I am going to preface this post with a few points right off of the bat:
  • This post is not at all sponsored by Stylebook.  In fact, they were a long time blog sponsor (which is how I learned about them), but they are no longer advertising on iHeart Organizing.  I decided to purchase the app on my own to help me make better use of the clothing that I own.
  • Stylebook is an app that I use on my iPad and iPhone.  Just like many organizational apps, this app can be utilized down to an incredible depth of detail.  I am using it at a higher level and know that I am not fully taking advantage of every last feature that the app offers.
  • Some of you asked that I share a few examples of the outfits that I decided to keep.  Knowing I am far from a fashionista, I was a bit apprehensive, but further down I do share how I put together a week's worth of outfits using the inspiration I gathered and stored in the Stylebook app.  Not a trendsetter, totally a follower.

The first step for me was to completely empty out my closet and my drawers.  I dumped every last piece of clothing onto my bed to prepare myself for a major sorting session.

As I began to work through my jumbo pile, I started to realize a few things.
  • Many items hadn't been touched in over a year.  I would let myself believe that I would find a way to wear it or make it work to avoid letting go of something I thought I loved and splurged on.  This time I was ruthless and was OK letting go of things regardless of the cost or intention.
  • I made sure to pay attention to the brands of the clothing I was purging the most.  There were a few brands that hadn't held up well to frequent washings and wearings.
  • Many of the clothing items I was putting in my donate pile, were items that I purchased either impulsively or to create a single outfit.
  • Having too many pieces of clothing to select from can create an overwhelming feeling in the morning and can also mean that the clothes that are being invested in, are not being worn often enough.
  • Having too many clothes costs more than just dollars, it costs sanity and space.
  • I had a lot of items that were quite similar in shape, size and style.  Below is an example of two dresses that I owned, and when I put them together I had to ask myself, "why"?

With each item of clothing I touched during the sorting process, I asked myself quite a few questions.  Do I really love it?  Like, really, really love it?  How often do I wear the item?  And more importantly, how many different outfit combinations can I make with the specific item?

Last week I shared my tips for making the most of your home decor, and I shared my new rule of three.  The rule is that any home decor item that I purchase should work within at least three different areas of our home.  I also tried to apply a similar rule with my clothing.  Was I able to create at least three different looks/outfits with each piece I was keeping?  And more importantly, did I enjoy the piece of clothing enough to even try?

I think the overall goal was to make the most of my closet and the items I own.  I want to spend less and achieve more.  To make the most of the amount of storage I have available instead of going out to purchase more as my inventory grows/changes.

Because I am not a blogger known for creating creative outfits, and because I also do better with visuals, I thought I would utilize Stylebook to manage my current clothing inventory.  Previously, I had pin boards on my closet door that I would use as outfit inspiration each morning...

The concept worked well but required me to print and pin up the photos, and truthfully I started to fall behind.  The same outfits stayed on the board to the point of not being useful any longer.  In fact, one board fell down completely a few months ago and I didn't even miss it.

Where did those outfit ideas come from?  Bloggers.  And where did I find those ideas and store many of them?  Pinterest.

As much as I fight it at times, technology can make our lives easier and is much more instant than the process of printing, cutting and pinning.  After my sorting session, I had reduced my clothing inventory to only key pieces that I truly enjoyed.  Now it was time to digitally catalog each of those special pieces.

Wowza!  This was not a quick process.  Fairly easy, but it did take a few different time slotted sessions to get everything added in.  And for those with walk-in closets and rows of clothing, this may not be the best solution for you.

Using a combination of Google Images, Online Shopping Sites and the "Shop" feature in the application, I loaded in an image of each of the items of clothing that I decided to keep (or images that closely resemble my clothing items). 

Once each item of clothing is saved, you can take things a step further and create outfit combinations with each of the clothing images.  Those combinations can also be saved within specific outfit categories, such as "day", "evening", "formal", etc...

If you are at all like me, you like someone else to tell you how to dress.  I typically will utilize Pinterest to search for specific outfit combinations based on the item I would like to wear.  For example, if I would like to wear a coral skirt, I will search for "Coral Skirt" on Pinterest.

I will then scroll through the images until I find outfits I can make with the items I own (or outfits that look similar or can be used as inspiration).  I save each of those items to my inspiration files in Stylebook.


And that is as much as I have personally done with the app.  I have saved quite the variety of outfit ideas based on the clothing that I already owned, and finding at least three ways to wear each piece.  Now, each morning I am able to flip through the categories in my Inspiration file and based on what my day holds, I can easily plan my attire.  And because the application is on my iPad, I can do this from bed the evening before or right away each morning.  Heck, I can even plan an entire week's worth of outfits in a jiff!

I also loved that many of the clothing items left in my closet really reflected my personality and my favorite colors (the same ones I use in my decor, printables and day-to-day life).  That was a VERY good sign.

P.S.  Major props to the fashion bloggers putting together outfits effortlessly each day.  Even laying out pieces to photograph is not as easy as one would think! 

A few more notes about my Stylebook experience:
  • I can easily sync and share my items between my iPhone & iPad, however, I wish it was automatic based on my profile and not something that I have to do manually.

  • This app will prevent me from purchasing duplicate items and help me become much more intentional about my clothing shopping.
  • Once I got over the major time suck of the initial setup, maintaining the app is easy breezy.  If I purchase a new piece of clothing, I just have to track it down on the clothing's website and save it to my Stylebook app right away. 
  • I have been utilizing the app for a couple weeks now and it definitely has helped me make better use out of the items I am storing in my closet.  I am actually excited to pull together outfits each day because it is easy and I know I won't be wearing the same things week after week.  No more clothing ruts!
  • One of the biggest wins for me is that although my closet is organized (even by clothing type and color), I can gaze at everything hanging there and nothing jumps out at me.  Looking at a full closet becomes visually overwhelming to me.  This app allows me to see my inventory right with the push of a button and also provides me with a variety of compatible outfits at any time, from anywhere.
  • Stylebook offers a calendar that allows you to schedule your specific outfits out in advance.  I haven't done that yet, but I did want to mention that for any of you long term outfit planners.
  • Stylebook also offers the ability to photograph your clothing, I opted to utilize stock images for a cleaner look.

Overall, the app is pretty user friendly, however, I did run into some questions along the way and realized I was making things a bit harder than necessary.  I found this website extremely helpful when it came to troubleshooting my questions

Anyone else a fan of the Stylebook app?  Or any other apps that help you manage your wardrobe?  I would also love to know where y'all find your clothing inspiration.
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