Organizational Systems Beyond the College Apartment

For years and years, Travis and I would transfer our old college furniture from apartment to apartment through graduate school, on to our first townhome, and finally into our current home. 

You know that look, right? Ikea cube storage units with small tables and chairs—and of course the quintessential Ikea uplight. OMG. I think everyone has owned a version of this lamp at one point, and while it might be a step up from fluorescents, it doesn’t exactly give off the warm and fuzzies.

Image Caption: Ikea

I swore to myself a few years ago, never again will I buy another floor . It immediately sends me into the dark days of school. And I mean literally dark, because this lamp was our sole source of light, only brightening up that one corner where it was placed.

Why I would promptly get a new one each time I moved is beyond me! Maybe it was the price point—or perhaps it was the lure of only having to buy one thing instead of having to spend on a lampshade, too. When faced with the choice between a lampshade and a 6-pack of beer, the average college student will inevitably pick the latter. 

Fast-forward 15 plus years and, boy, has Ikea changed their design game! While the quintessential uplight is still in-action, it’s their Storage Solutions that light me up. Today I’m going to share stylish organizational systems that go beyond the college look. 

 

Look ma, I’m an adult!

Ikea has been impressing me with their decor for a few years now. Their organizational design specifically is one category that has evolved my perception of Ikea from ‘budget basics’ to ‘scandinavian staples.’ From clever design innovations to thoughtful solutions for small spaces, they have totally changed the game!  

Image Caption: Ikea

Take this bathroom organizational system for example. I love it, and here’s why!

1. A la carte options: You can pick and choose which pieces fit your exact space so you don’t have to buy more than you need. 

2. Storage, storage, storage: As you can see, most of the items are rooted in creating more space. With under-sink shelving, ladders for towels, and areas for baskets/bins, this system is incredible at adding extra square footage where you might not have had it.

3. Light and bright: The bamboo material is a fantastic color for a bathroom! it pairs well with the whites and grays you typically find in this space, while still feeling fresh and natural. 

4. Playing out of its league: Potentially my favorite part about this system is that it looks great, functions even better, is good quality, AND it’s in budget!

Finding an organizational system where all pieces actually go together is a perfect way to upgrade a space with storage while also bringing maturity and style into the picture. Now that’s what I call a win-win! 

 

WFH Stylish Decor 

The bathroom isn’t the only place that needs a few quick and inexpensive solutions. With most of us temporarily working from home these days, it’s more important than ever to find space-conscious solutions to set yourself up for productive work.

Home Depot anitayokota.com

Image Credit: Home Depot

That likely means you need to add some functional pieces to create a semi-permanent work station, especially if that work station happens to perform a double-duty at other times during the day or night. This one is for you kitchen table workers!

Ikea has some great fixings for office space, too—but it’s worth remembering there’s no one-size-fits-all solution! And as always, we must start with an intentional choice about the space at hand. The Where and Why will inform your What! Here are a few organizational tips to consider while you are building out a WFH space:

 

DOs

  • Choose your location wisely. Be realistic. You need enough breathing room to be able to do your work well. 
  • Commit to a fluid mindset. It may take several tries before finding a successful WFH setup. This is especially true if there is more than one person working (or studying) at home.

 

DON’Ts

  • If you can help it, avoid working in a high traffic area like the kitchen table. There are too many distractions! Believe me, I’ve tried it for years. No go. 
  • Refrain from mixing it all the way up just because you’re bored. It’s one thing to rotate rooms after a few weeks for a change of pace, but your overall design structure should stay the same. Having a system that can move with you may be an important part of your WHY! 

I highly recommend finding a few of these organizational systems to help get the job done!

Image Credit: Pottery Barn Teen

Multi-Functional Storage: Do what you can to avoid anxiety and stress by keeping all of your office supplies in one easy-access spot! This could mean adding magnetic storage to a fridge or mounted dry-erase board, using intentional desktop accessories, and integrating cord management tools. 

Image Credit: The Container Store

If your work space needs to be portable, you can use an all-in-one keyboard organizer with designated slots for all your most-used office supplies. When you need to move your setup, you can simply pick up everything alongside your keyboard, rather than wrangling a bunch of loose post-its and paper clips. 

 

Laptop stand: Instantly turn any space into a standing desk! The beauty is these take up minimal room and can help your neck alignment, too. If you have a little more square footage to play with, Ikea has many narrow, waist-high cabinets that can be transformed into micro standing desks, and pack up nice and neat. 

Image Credit: The Container Store

 

WFH Tool Box: get a new bag to freshen up your work vibe. Put all your necessities inside so you can be mobile with your setup if you don’t have a dedicated space, or like to rotate spots around the house. This bag should be totally specific to work, and have all your necessities so there’s no confusion in looking for items that you forgot to pack. 

Image Credit: Filson

Likewise, if you’re limited on storage, or your “office” is a multi-purpose space, a travel mesh bag can house your mobile “office,” including laptop, work phone, notes, or yes, even physical files. Pack up your work for the day and put it out of sight to encourage you to shut off. This is perfect for apartment living—here’s looking at you NYC friends!

Image Credit: The Container Store

Rolling cart: Storing all of your work items in a rolling cart allows you to intentionally shut down for the day – kind of like leaving the office used to be. Store work phone, laptop, and any other work triggers here, store in a non visible spot, and you can touch it in the morning.

 

Image Credit: The Container Store

Organizational Systems at Every Level

Sometimes you don’t need another piece of furniture to deal with the little issues that inevitably pop up when trying to fit all our daily activities into one house. It might be more useful to find go-to spots for the clutter that gets shoved into kitchen drawers and under-sink cabinets. This is where Amazon really shines! 

Imagine knowing exactly where everything is in your home off the top of your head, whether it’s your spare car key, extra lip balm, or a stash of thumb tacks. What a time saver! This kind of organization can be achieved with the help of a few awesome tools—and two-day shipping. 

Undergarments

For starters, look at what I found! Underwear drawer organizer = game changer. How many of you have to rifle through a messy drawer to find your favorite pair of underwear? It seems like small garments unfold themselves instantly as soon as you start to fish around. Before you know it, your drawer just a mish-mash of sports bras and unmatched socks. 

anitayokota.com home organization

Image Credit: Amazon

These little compartments revolutionize a morning routine, showing you all the drawer’s contents at-a-glance for easy selection of what you need, when you need it. You won’t disturb anything else when removing the item you want! Plus, since they’re each separate components, you can set up a system that has all the right pockets for your unique lifestyle. 

Nail Polish

Organizing your nail polish seems like a secondary priority, but little clutter like this really makes for stress when it doesn’t have its own designated spot. I love telling my family that everything in the house has a HOME. 

So why not nail polish? Especially when there’s nothing worse than a leaking bottle of OPI’s “Princesses Rule” oozing into a dried puddle in your daughter’s bathroom drawer. (Ugh.) 

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Image Credit: Amazon

If nail polish isn’t your personal albatross, you can use these bad boys to sort countless other three-inch items! I got the idea after organizing Natalie’s infinite amount of Shopkins, Disney figurines, and lego toys. Parents, you feel me?

 

Wrapping Paper

Yet another organization idea that isn’t completely on your radar—but is probably begging for a home. For a while there, half a dozen rolls of paper fell out of the closet each time someone opened the door. But not any more once we implemented a wrapping paper organizer!

Image Credit: The Container Store

I’ll admit, not every method we’ve tried has been convenient. This soft tote has been the best solution we’ve tried yet since it’s easy-access, and soft  so you can easily squish it in a closet without damaging the paper. 

In the past, the hard tupperware vertical totes didn’t work because they were top heavy but made narrow on the top. So it would topple over all the time wherever I would put it. Very annoying! 

I’m all about using vertical space, so hanging anything is a win on my design book! You can even DIY this with an over-the-door hook for your coat or utility closet. This way, things won’t get smushed and you are using an extra space you couldn’t have before!

Image Credit: The Container Store

Jewelry Organization

If you don’t want to DIY a jewelry organizer like mine, then this is perfect for you. I highly recommend getting your jewelry organized, even if you aren’t a big accessory person. It makes actually wearing the jewelry you do have so much more likely!

In crazy times like these, feeling good about ourselves is essential. There is nothing wrong with putting on a little bling to feel pretty, even if it’s only to walk around the house! Starting the day by decorating ourselves is a big mood-booster, and helps set a confident tone to conquer what’s ahead.

My DIY hidden jewlery box not only uses vertical space but it is hidden! It is a great way to use an old medicine cabinet. Or you can frame it out like I did! Check out my previous blog post for the jewelry organizers I used from amazon! It’s been such a game changer.

Play Storage

Oh, toys. The one category of items that constantly give me reason to sigh, even after 14 years.  They are everywhere! Natalie is finally old enough to keep most of her toys contained in her room. But beware. Once you enter that room, it is a minefield of Friends Legos and Shopkins, Barbie toys and arts & crafts.

I am still trying to think up ways to add DIY storage units to the room. While I haven’t found the right configuration yet, I might consider investing in a toy organizational system. I have major hesitation because I have invested in systems many times over.

In hindsight, the downfall of those systems were that the clear bins weren’t accessible. Piling up 10-12 large and small plastic bins does nothing if you can’t easily get them. And because it’s not accessible. Kids aren’t inclined to clean up. 

Baskets are wonderful and always my go-to. However when you have a MILLION TINY PIECES OF LEGOS and POLLY POCKETS and SHOPKINS, it’s not necessarily organized. Truly enough to drive any parent crazy!

This Home Edit toy and craft storage solution caught my attention right away! If only my girls’ room could be rainbows and unicorns, but organized. We definitely have the rainbows and unicorns theme down! Which makes me think that if colors were visible, the girls would find a little joy in sorting their things into rainbows…

anitayokota.com home organization

Even if I can’t convince my kids that cleaning is fun, these bins could still work as great kitchen and bathroom organizers as well! Never let the title of “kid” or “play” storage deter you from adding it into your home organizational system. I have actually found that “children’s” home decor can provide the best solution for my adult clients! 

Now that we’ve looked at a few of my favorite organizational systems, I challenge you to take a look at your spaces and see which you can shape up with a few of these tools! You’ll be shocked at how amazing you can feel with just a few bins, baskets, and shelves. Best part, these all only take minutes for the makeover! 

Let me know how these ideas help you get and STAY organized! 

XO,

Anita

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