Monday, November 7, 2011

Cut the Clutter: Vintage Paper Trays and Organizing the Kids' Art

One of the most often asked questions I get about my house is how I keep it clutter free.
Let me tell you, it's a battle.
Part of it stems from my own neurosis.
I am kind of a freak about clutter.
Or, according to my mom, I am a total freak about clutter.
But she's a freak about crumbs on the floor, so we all have our own issues.
For me, keeping the clutter to a minimum is one of the ways that helps me happily spend my days in a small house with 4 other people.
We're all here together, all. the. time.
There just isn't room for clutter.
I subscribe to the theory that everything has a place and I try really, really hard to put things back right away. (95% of the problem is not putting things away.)
I encourage (sometimes it sounds more like nagging, but, whatever) my kids to do the same thing.
And my husband.
But, keep in mind that all of my drawers, cupboards and closets are not clean.
I do try to keep them that way.
It's just that there are a couple drawers and closets that are like black holes. 
No matter how hard I try, they are always a freakish mess.  
I try to pretend they don't exist.
And, if the rest of the house is pretty clutter free, I can handle a messy closet here and there.
Kind of.

So, since I get so many questions about clutter, I thought I'd share some of my cutting clutter ideas.
Here's the first one.
I've been trying for a while to come up with a workable solution for organizing the piles of drawings my boys produce on a daily basis. 
I think I finally figured it out.
Best part?
It involves vintage!
Read on.
I have a soft spot in my heart for vintage office supplies.
I've shared this shop with you before.
It's just a little bit of vintage office supply heaven over there.
I could spend 100s of dollars.
But I don't have 100s of dollars to spend on vintage office supplies.
That's why I was giddy when I found these 3 beauties at a rummage sale for $2.

A sturdy, well worn stapler, a solid metal 3 hole punch and a perfect paper tray.
True, they aren't fabulous colors ( i dream of finding an orange or red one that isn't priced at a small fortune) and as I said, they're worn.
But you can't even get a crap, plastic stapler from Target for $2, and the one you do buy will break almost immediately.
So, this stapler might be worn, but it will last.
And besides, it has character.
Anyway, as stated, I was giddy.

I brought them home and put them in the office/schoolroom.
And will I use that paper tray?

I looked at the boys' side of the desk and inspiration hit.
A place for their art.
Have I mentioned that I hate clutter?
It is my nemesis.
Clutter makes me tense.
Call it a disease if you will, but a clutter free house is balm to my soul.
So looking at this pile of papers every day drives me mad.

My boys draw constantly.
Their desk is always covered with a pile of their drawings.
Every so often I go through it, save a few treasures and toss the rest.
I can't keep it all.
Nor do I want to, because, let's be honest, some of the drawings are not very good.
But I don't want to sort through the pile every day, and sometimes not even every week.
So the pile grows and grows, until it takes over the whole desk, and I get all panicky and frazzled and go through the papers acting like a crazy woman.
Am I the only one who does this?
Please say no.

Enter the vintage paper tray solution.
Each boy gets a tray.
At the end of the day, they sort their own papers, deciding which to keep and which to toss.
At the end of the week, or whenever I get to it, I sort through the keepers, decide which ones we are really keeping, and put those away in a binder.
The desk top is clutter free.
And my sanity is restored.

All that for less than $2.
You gotta love a good rummage sale.
Now I just have to find a try for Lilly and Davy.
Keep your eyes peeled for me.
Love from,
PS Just to clarify, no one else's clutter bothers me.  
Just my own.  
I don't live with your clutter, and probably would not even notice it when I was at your house.  
So don't get all freaky on me and say, "I could never have Greta over--she'll judge me for my clutter."
I wouldn't.
Although, I did think it was fun to clean my best friend's room when we were little.  
I doubt she thought it was fun.  
But I was cleaning her room for her, so she got something out of it.
I liked organizing things.
What can I say--I've always been abnormal.


Unknown said...

Very inspiring! I, too, live in a small space and therefore understand the importance of keeping the space we DO have clutter free. Otherwise I would go insane... But that's just what living in London is like, not a lot of personal space. My boys are avid drawers and budding artists also so I'm very interested to read how you handle this. I like the throwing out option. A lot. :)

Betsi* said...

You wanna come over and organize my pantry? Hehe. Ok, how bout you just come over and play!
PS stop getting me all in love with new things to collect, like vintage office supplies! My husband just doesn't understand. ;)

hennymats said...

nice solution! No artists around here unfortunately, but plenty of other general and mostly kid clutter.

Baskets work for us, those Ikea wicker ones that fit into the Expedit. Even the boys can clean that up...

And no, you're not the only one that goes crazy over stuff all over the house! First thing I do when I come home is put things away. Even before I make tea or anything I start getting rid of clutter in sight...

Oh too bad we can't clean closets together, that would be so much fun and we could do the really bad ones, too ;)

Gwen @ The Bold Abode said...

Holy Crap. I saw your home tour over at Life Made Lovely and I am in love...

Cailan said...

I would have been tickled about that chippy stapler too. You created such a happy work area for your family - hope to do the same someday Soon!

Laura said...

You are such an inspiration! I'm not only in LOVE with your house, but as a fellow neat fanatic, I love how clutter free everything is!

And no, you're not the only one who goes crazy about clutter & papers & things - we have a small house & it makes my head hurt when it's cluttery. (is that even a word?)

Hope you're having a good weekend!