The Easiest Sustainable Way to Get Rid of Unwanted Things at Home

The Easiest Sustainable Way to Get Rid of Unwanted Things at Home

I wrote a blog post last year with a list of unique ways to donate a bunch of things when you’re decluttering. Things like dingy towels, toiletries, cleaning products, paint samples, light bulbs, eyeglasses, houseplants, and so so much more. Check it out even if you read it last year because I added a few more tips, and we can always use a refresher.

I mentioned the Buy Nothing Project in that post but I want to give it a big shout out and profess my love for this group. I mean LOVE. I’m in this group’s page literally every day and I’ve decluttered a bunch of hard-to-get rid of items (read my trash - I’ll explain later), plus I’ve saved oodles of money in the group, too. What is it, you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya.

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How to Fold Clothes the Marie Kondo Way - And My Take On It

How to Fold Clothes the Marie Kondo Way - And My Take On It

With Netflix’s Marie Kondo special all the rage and her book selling like hot cakes, I wanted to chime in with my experience folding clothes and purging clutter the KonMari way. You may remember that a year ago my pal Natasha Habermann helped me clean out my closet using Marie Kondo’s method. Well, I started folding my clothes in the KonMari way and I’m smitten, so I’m here to show you how, too!

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Gift Guide for Organizers, Tidiers, and Cleaners

Gift Guide for Organizers, Tidiers, and Cleaners

I guess I’ve made it known that I’m a type-a neat-freak that likes cleaning, sorting, and organizing because I got a bunch of requests for an organizer gift guide. I’m not surprised because I admitted the other day that one of my hobbies is oiling my wooden utensils. Anyway, I’m a proud neat-freak, so here’s a collection of goodies for your tidying loving friend.

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Cutting the Cord (Literally) on the Landline Phone For Improved Curb Appeal

Cutting the Cord (Literally) on the Landline Phone For Improved Curb Appeal

Over the years, our house gained a few additions in the technology department. It has always had electricity, but then it got a phone line, and then a cable line, then another phone line, then satellite, then another cable line to route to another room, and so on. By her 100th birthday, our house had wires, conduit, and cables on every side of her. Naturally, I wanted all of this visual clutter gone. Here’s what I did!

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KonMari Style Closet Organizing with Natasha Habermann + A Video!

I thought my wardrobe was on the slim side until my dear blogger friend Natasha Habermann schooled me on getting rid of the clothes I don't love. And, she knows best, so I have no regrets about purging over half of my wardrobe.

KonMari Style closet organizing

Natasha and I went live on Instagram Stories so she could help me sort through all my clothes and answer your questions about the organization. Did you tune in? If not, that's okay! At the bottom of the post is a video of the key points!

Inspired by the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, Natasha has transformed her home (and her life!) using the KonMari method, which, in summary, is owning only the things that bring you joy. Learn more about how Natasha keeps her bedroom organized and how she folds her clothes.

Psst! If you're in an RSS reader, you'll have to  click through  to see the fun before and after animation.

Psst! If you're in an RSS reader, you'll have to click through to see the fun before and after animation.

I started with a pretty packed closet with mismatched hangers and overly-stacked shelves. But now my wardrobe is a true representation of me. Look at how much more refined my color palette is! I can't believe I owned so many jewel tones even though I know I gravitate towards dark cool colors and neutrals.

KonMari style closet wardrobe organizing

I purged so many pieces that don't bring me joy, and I don't miss them at all. In fact, I have so much more joy knowing that someone else will get to wear each of those garments. Goodwill is definitely my friend, but I like to donate particular items to specific places.

To see how Natasha and I did it, check out the video below. It's a slimmed down version of our live chat plus a time lapse - and who doesn't love those? If you look closely, you'll see a cat taking a bath in the backyard during my purge, and, more importantly, if you listen to Natasha, you'll certainly learn a lot.

See any garments in my closet that you like? You can shop my favorite pieces below. I've been literally living in that grey mock turtleneck for weeks - and I never use the word "literally" lightly.

Check out Natasha's post recapping the process, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and happy organizing!

Where to Donate Items After Cleaning House

January is often when I get the bug to purge the house. Holiday decor starts to get claustrophobic towards the end of December, and winter travel to tidy hotels rooms (like Rivertown Lodge pictured below) gets me excited about minimal living.

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There are more options than your local donation drop-off center to take your unwanted items, so I'm listing my favorite places that put things to the best use. Please share your favorite alternatives in the comments!

Linens/Towels

I give our unwanted sheets, blankets, and dingy towels to animal rescue centers. They use them to pad the beds for our critter friends during recovery or while they wait for forever homes. In San Diego, I donate to Project Wildlife or the Humane Society.

House Parts and Tools

Habitat for Humanity is my go-to for anything house related. Items from furniture to doors and paint to light fixtures are sold at their ReStore centers and the proceeds support affordable housing projects. Psst! It's also a great place to shop for house parts.

Toiletries/Makeup

San Diego has the largest K-12 school for kids experiencing homelessness. They have an extensive wishlist including school supplies and kids' clothes. Since I don't have either of those at home to give away, I donate toiletries and unwanted makeup.

Cleaning Products

A reader recommended the Buy Nothing Project Facebook group where neighbors can post things to give away. I posted a collection of cleaning supplies that I no longer needed and someone that runs a local nonprofit picked them up to clean her community center. Consider joining a similar giveaway group, or think of a favorite nonprofit when cleaning out the cleaning cabinet.

Electronics

When I upgraded computers last year, I donated my old iMac to a favorite local nonprofit, Include Autism, but many community centers, nonprofits, or schools would be more than happy to receive old computers, iPads, and electronic toys.

Books

Local libraries will take your used books, but you can also take subject-specific ones to places that will read them more. Consider kids' books for a local YMCA and coffee table books for a retirement home. Also, your neighborhood may have a Little Free Library where you can drop off a book and pick up another one in exchange.

Magazines

Glossy pages filled with colorful images are great for collage art projects. Consider taking a stack of catalogs, magazines, maps, and scrapbook paper to a children's museum, art center, after-school program, or school.

Art Supplies & Paint Samples

Schools, art museums, and youth programs can put unwanted paints, brushes, and craft paper to use. Before dropping it off, check to be sure they can use what you want to give - oil paints are toxic and won't be put to good use with young kids, so gift them to older artists.

Furniture

Salvation Army will pick up big furniture items that you'd normally have to pay someone to move, so it's a win-win. Smaller furniture items can go to Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, or your local donation center. If it's too small to have Salvation Army pick up, but too big to fit in the car, I put it on the curb with a free sign and post it on Craigslist. It's often gone in an hour.

Light Bulbs

Do you have any of those pesky incandescent bulbs laying around but don’t have a need for them because you switched everything to LED? My local animal wildlife rehabilitation center, Project Wildlife, uses them in incubators for baby animals without their parents. Consider finding a similar organization near you!

Office Supplies

If you ended up with too many Sharpies (guilty) or you're changing out your office chair, consider giving to your favorite community organization. You may be used to donating dog food to the animal shelter, but the administrative staff that support the pups could benefit from your extra office accessories.

Eyeglasses

There are thousands of people without access to vision care so giving your old glasses can help someone have the ability to read for the first time. When I upgrade to new frames, I mail in my old ones to Lion's Club where they redistribute them.

Food

Feeding America will accept unopened non-perishable food items at their distribution centers. It's a great place to give when you do a major pantry clean out, but when I have a couple of items we don't need, I keep them in my car and pass out to folks on the street that are hungry.

Clothes and Housewares

Goodwill centers are great for dropping off clothes and housewares, but your community likely has organizations that can give directly to folks in need. Refugee families can benefit from clothes and basic housewares as they settle into a new country. Women's shelters are in need of child and adult clothing in addition to basic home items as they transition housing. Consider donating old suits and business attire to an organization offering job training for underserved individuals. If your clothes are so worn that they can’t be reused (think a sock with a hole in the toe or very worn undergarments) take them to a textile recycler - H&M happens to be a drop-off center for textile recyling.

Houseplants

I haven't done this one myself, but I'm sure any retirement home would appreciate houseplants that no longer fit your space, or those you need to give up when you move.

Kids Toys and Clothes

If you receive kid toys or clothes for your little ones that you don't want, you can donate them to children's hospitals. Gently used toys and clothes can help kids at a shelter where they may be displaced due to housing, domestic violence, behavioral challenges, and more.

Camping Gear

That tent you never use can be put to great use for someone living on the street. You can walk up to someone that is struggling with housing and hand it to them directly or work with a local organization that serves folks that are displaced.

Gift Cards

I've received $5 gift cards to places I don't frequent then they end up in a pile, or clogging my wallet. Many nonprofits will use these to give to their volunteers as gifts. Local children's centers will use them when they go on outings with kids that are living on the center's campus.

Pet Food

When we changed Mabel's diet, we ended up with a bunch of open bags of treats and kibble. I found an organization that takes these snacks to animals in Tijuana. Unopened items can go to your local animal shelter.

Save the Wishlists of Your Community Organizations

Many nonprofits share wishlists on their website. Some are like Monarch School's list of needs and others are shop-able Amazon wishlists like the Humane Society where you can purchase items online to be mailed directly to the center. The wishlists can often inspire cleaning you didn't even think of (I now know to take the wrong-sized batteries I accidentally bought to the Humane Society). I also like to keep my local non-profits in mind when I see BOGO deals at the store. I can buy a tube of toothpaste for myself, and drop off the free one at Monarch School. Also, many organizations will take your recycling off your hands, too - our local children's museum is always looking for toilet paper tubes.

The list above is just what I do in my city with links to San Diego organizations, but here is a list of national organizations to support. Please share the ways you clean out your house for a good cause!

P.S. This Sunday, I'm diving into a major closet clean-out and I'm doing it with my friend Natasha on Instagram Stories LIVE. She's a Konmari expert and she's going to give tips on letting go of the garments that don't spark joy. Mark your calendars for the morning of Sunday the 21st - you can ask her questions, too!

One Room Challenge Week 6 - IKEA Hack for Custom Office Storage

It's week six of the One Room Challenge! Today would be the day that you'd see the full reveal. However! You have to wait another seven days since the design challenge has been extended by another week.

modern office storage reveal

If you're jumping in now, I'm Ashley and I'm transforming my home office of our 1915 craftsman bungalow in San Diego. Take a look at the plans which include a new layout, storage, lighting, furniture, and most importantly, a dramatic mural! Catch up on the last five weeks of progress here.

I'm still actively working on the mural, but this week I'm sharing how we customized storage for our home office needs.

If you recall, the only storage we had in our previous office was a hutch.

Office storage before

It was a mid-century beauty but it wasn't designed for keeping files, electronics, or office necessities. So, I added a filing cabinet to the mix, but still had nowhere for camera gear or odds and ends. Everything we didn't use was on display and everything necessary for the office didn't have a home and was just strewn about on top of the desk or throughout the house.

Have you ever tried looking for attractive filing cabinets with combined storage and drawers? It's nearly impossible. I first started looking at office furniture but the options are pretty limited to exclusively filing cabinets without any other storage for odds and ends. So then I looked at credenzas and media cabinets. They were the best option, but if they had doors, I wanted drawers, and if they had drawers, I'd wish they were deep enough to fit hanging files. Gah!

Additionally, I wanted a low cabinet that wouldn't obstruct the view out the window, and something long enough to fill most of the wall. It just simply doesn't exist out there! Then, I came across this beauty that can be customized to the depth, height, and length as well as drawer and cabinet features. It was exactly what I wanted. I was in love. BUT because it was custom made, it wouldn't have arrived in time for the One Room Challenge. 

So I went back to square one and searched high and low for something premade that fit the bill. Then, decided an IKEA hack was the way to go. 

custom IKEA office storage

I started off with one of the BESTA units in the 47x15x29" size with four drawers. Then, got another of the same size, but with three drawers and one cabinet with doors. We also added a few legs and shelves to the mix along with some of the BESTA storage options. A full shopping list is at the bottom of this post.

IKEA has a bad rap, but I genuinely enjoy assembling their furniture. Call me up the next time you don't want to assemble your cabinet. I'll bring my "helpful" assistant along with me to support. 

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We dressed up the plain white cabinets with the most beautiful handles.

It's no surprise that I went with a pretty brass finish. These are the 8" Blake Drawer Pulls from Rejuvenation and me oh my are they dreamy!

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What's great about the IKEA drawer fronts is that you can install any kind of hardware in any spot on the cabinet because it doesn't have any pre-drilled holes. I could have done knobs, narrower handles, or installed them at any height. The unlimited design options are great, yet I was plagued with indecision when it came to placing the handles. 

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The beauty of the customization is how it holds all my things. Shall we take a look at what's inside?

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The most officey drawer is the one with the everyday office gear. It also houses everyday home improvement tools so I don't need to run to the garage whenever I need to hammer something. This collection of tools is veeeery minimal at the moment. I'm sure this will become a junk drawer in no time, but I'm going to try to resist putting the reciprocating saw in here. 

To corral everything, I used the BESTA box and these Amac boxes from the Container Store.

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I'm prone to losing my shutter release remote for the camera, so I am sure glad to have a spot to keep the camera gear. Obviously not pictured is the camera and the tripod, both of which fit in the drawer.

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The drawers aren't designed for file storage, but they are just the right size for a standalone hanging file unit which keeps paperwork nicely filed, and also some space for who knows what!

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We recently cleaned out our electronics junk and narrowed it down to a few keepers. The IKEA drawer divider seems like it was perfectly designed for our Doxie scanner. The felt liner is so handy because it prevents everything from sliding around when we open and close drawers.

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While six out of the eight cubbies are drawers, two of the cabinets have doors with shelves. This way, I can hide things that actually do better on a shelf - like the printer. One of those bins (which is actually a shoe box) stores art supplies so I can pull it out and take the whole lot to a table. The other easy-to-move around bin is filled with greeting cards so I can catch up on my correspondence.

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Retrofitting the cabinet for the printer was as easy as cutting a hole in the back for the power supply. The back panels are a thick cardboard, so a sharp exacto is all that's needed to run cables through.

If you wanna get the scoop on how I hide all of my electronics and cables throughout the house, click here!

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Two of the drawers are empty! I'm sure I'll find a use for them soon, but for now, it feels so refreshing to have empty space.

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Can we take a moment to admire the original painting by Mary Sinner? Swoon.

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Mabel appreciates the storage unit being the perfect height to survey her queendom.

Be sure to check out my blog post all about organizing cables, wires, and electronics throughout the entire house here!

Get The Look

Come back next week for the room reveal! I've withheld showing you the most dramatic part of the room for the past few weeks, so be sure to come back and get the whole lay of the land.

If you're tuning in via the One Room Challenge and want to stay up to date on all of my home's transformations, subscribe to my blog via email or Bloglovin'! Also, follow along on Instagram for daily updates.

Be sure to check out the featured designers here and guest participants here, too!