Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dining Room Disaster

I cleaned my dining room! It took me three days, mainly because I sprained my ankle and it hurt too much to work on it steadily. Here's a before picture:
And here's the after! What a transformation!
Ok, so I don't have an actual before picture, but just trust me when I say that it was awful. When a dining room is actually used for homeschooling, sewing, crafting, coloring, playing, reading - oh, and you know, eating - it can get out of hand pretty quickly. I always want everything right at my fingertips, so I'd tried to cram way too much into the bookshelves, which actually meant that nothing was right at my fingertips when I needed it, and our school days were incredibly frustrating.

I tried to solve the problem with workboxes. It worked! I was thrilled with them. Only one MAJOR problem: I got sick and tired of loading 36 boxes every day. Then I tried loading them once a week, and putting notes in each box for what each child needed to do. Then I got sick and tired of loading 36 boxes every week. It just wasn't working out. Plus, I hated how the space between the bookshelves was completely full with those ugly stacks of boxes.

So? Wanna come along and see what our new system is like? You'll see that I put all those drawers to good use! This bookshelf is now almost completely school-related. The top shelf has my teacher's manuals, baby books, miscellaneous school-related books, and a drawer with various types of papers that we use on a daily basis.

The second shelf has mason jars filled with colored pencils, markers and pencils, and an old tin that my grandparents used to keep around for us. When we were little it contained crayons, but now it holds scissors and things like that. It's just not something I want the kids handling a lot since it's so old and special to me. Next to that is another drawer with one for each child. As I write up the kids' lesson plans, I will put anything the kids will need for the week in their drawers - coloring pages, worksheets I print, things like that. In the next drawer over, there are stickers (the kids get to use these on their journals each day), crayons and school supplies like glue sticks, tape etc.

Next shelf down there are hardback school books and then two drawers. I put all the kids' paperback workbooks and things in the drawers so it's easy to find what we need without stacks of things falling over. Malachi was using his drawers in another room so his are missing.
Looking down, we have reference books as well as books we all use together, and then our kazillion binders.

On the bottom shelf are all the photo albums, drawers with coloring supplies and a basket with math blocks.

And this other shelf? Was really bad before. I would get out a sewing project, work on it a bit, then shove it onto one of these shelves. I'd put papers here, shipping supplies, stuff I wanted to sell on eBay - you name it, I shoved it into this poor bookshelf. Let's see what we have now!

Top shelf - cookbooks and other miscellaneous books that I read fairly regularly, and the kids' finance department - their containers for tithe and savings.

The next shelf is my eBay merchandise shelf.

I used serious, serious discipline on the next shelf down. This is the only shelf I allowed myself for sewing supplies. (Serious pit in my stomach over this!) Everything else I moved to the hall closet. It takes me approximately 17 seconds to walk from the table to the hall closet, and to maintain order in my dining room, I will use even more discipline and put most of my sewing stuff in there. Of course that doesn't include fabric, which is taking up a significant amount of space in my garage and in my laundry room. Ahem.

The next shelf has a spot for educational games and then a drawer for shipping supplies, which I use several times a week.

The bottom shelf is all Canaan. There's not much there right now but I am going to make 3 or 4 school-time bins with things he will use mostly during school time - playdough, puzzles, certain books, coloring books, art supplies, just special stuff that he can use when I need some quiet one on one time with one of the older kids. He's really good at entertaining himself but I'd like for him to have some special things to do too.
So in place of workboxes, I made the kids these clipboards. I'll go over these more another day, but for now just see how cute they are hanging out of the way on the side of our bookshelf there. One is missing since Malachi was using his when I took the picture.
So - yay, we really enjoyed eating dinner in our nice clean dining room tonight! It's certainly a multi-purpose room but it's lovely to have it organized.


  1. Sorry the workboxes didn't work out. With 5, I just knew I wouldn't be able to pull it off longer than a week or two! But you used them for quite awhile! Isn't it a great feeling, though, to realize something isn't working, and it's OK to change it all up? I've done that quite a bit! :) Your shelves look great!

  2. love those shelves! i need to get some shelves for lots of stuff that i have laying around here. everything looks great!

  3. Those really look great! Love how you have each shelf designated and in general, I just LOVE the way those look on either side of your window. That is definitely my next project, tackling what's in our media center- it's kind of the catch ALL.

  4. Hooray! I love the transformation.

    Makes me wish my kitchen wasn't my dining room, nature room, school room, computer room...but not much I can do about that.

    I don't use workboxes in the same way that others do. Too much stinkin' work and my days don't change up all that much. The boxes are pretty much just a way of organizing their books (like you've used them for workbooks). I only have two children & wonder how much fun it would be to organize for more. Hee hee. I love labels and storage containers and...LOL.

    Anyway, those dark shelves are beautiful and I love your large window! What a nice work atmosphere.

  5. Oh, it looks awesome, Emily! Doesn't it feel good when things organized? (Even if it doesn't last and has to be done again?!) I wondered about the workbox system for that reason myself. Can't wait to hear about your clipboards! I saw someone else do that, and thought it sounded simple and flexible!

  6. Great job, friend! I am so impressed!

  7. WOW! That looks amazing and like you put so much thought into it. I just got rid of BAGS of sewing stuff too. It felt good...and bad. We also have dining room chairs of...eclectic background, so I was glad to see that bit of reality too!! Very awesome endeavor. I will expect a full tutorial when my kids are all homeschooling age.

  8. ok, seriously thisis my first visit here and I so want you to come on overto my house and fix me up! I love how nice everything looks!!!

  9. Anonymous11:10 PM

    Emily, this looks great :)