DIY Sarah

Craft, Decor, Art, Garden, and Dessert

Keeping it together – How I’m organizing our DIY remodel

You can ask my mother and she’ll tell you, I am not a neat person.  It’s true.  My laundry is all over the floor in my bedroom, tools are strewn all over the house.  I’m sure you’ve seen the chaos and mess in my pictures.  I’m just not neat.  I am, however, an organizer.  I like to know where my things are.  I don’t mind if that place is the bedroom floor or in the pile of stuff on the kitchen table but I do like to have an organized chaos.  The remodel project is no exception.  I had to come up with a system that worked not only for myself but also for my husband.  Here’s what I’ve come up with.  I hope it gives you some inspiration for realistic ways to keep yourself in a state of semi-organized chaos.

1 – The receipts

Home Depot takes almost everything back but they cannot refund tax if you don’t have a receipt.  When you purchase as much as we do, keeping track of the receipts is not only an important money-saver but also a huge challenge.  We mostly purchase from Home Depot but we go to several different Home Depots in the area and we use gift cards frequently so the store cannot use our credit card to look up the transaction.  When you are going to the ol’ HD two to three times a week, you can imagine the receipts start to pile up pretty quickly.

The solution I have is a bulletin board.

There are several stacks of receipts, one for each store. This makes it easier to find the receipt you are looking for. If you can remember which store we were at when we purchased the item, you can narrow down the search.

2) The Returns Box

The other tool is the box. I will never go shopping at Home Depot without a box again. Why on earth do they use those dinky plastic bags when every item in the store has sharp edges and has significant mass? A box makes much more sense. We generally have a returns box going in the front entry way. We toss any items to go back in the box along with the corresponding receipt. We just grab it on the way out the door, return our items, and use the box to haul that days provisions from the store.

3) Lists

I am a list maker. I make lists for everything. I prioritize every day in a list and I am utterly lost and confused without one. Here is today’s list literally to the left of my computer. Along with other necessities…

One important page of this list is the schedule. Here I have jotted down what should be done each weekend and in what order. Lots of the things we are doing have a distinct order to them. For instance. We can’t get the drywall done until we install the windows and have all the plumbing and electric done in the room. Something I’ve had to learn the hard way is that the dates on the left-hand column are tentative. We are in no rush to get the job done and I’ve been stressing myself out way too much trying to stay on schedule. I have to force myself to thing of this as an ordered list of things to do, not a day by day schedule.

I tried getting a picture of the schedule but no luck, my handwriting is not nearly legible. Here I have it typed out for you.

July 7/8 – Kitchen Windows, Insulation, closet Drain-gas-electric, Order windows
July 14/15 – Kitchen drywall, backerbaord, cabinets
July 16 – Cabinets
July 17- Stefan work, errands: rug, walmart, fabric store
July 18 – Antiquing – Sinks, rugs, bed, secretary, dining room table (changed to Thurs)
July 19 – Stefan work, sewing curtains, clean basement, plan 2nd floor drain
July 20 – Kitchen Cabinets
July 21/22 – Pull up bath floor, lay out drain
July 28/29 – 2nd floor drain, pex supply
Aug. 4/5 – build 1/2 wall in bath, electric to bath, closet, master
Aug. 11/12 – windows, finish up plumbing and electric
Aug 16 – (Zims here) 1/2 bath floor
Aug 17 – (Zims here) bath floor heat
Aug 18/19 – (Zims here) grouting, tile, shower floor
Aug 25/26 – more tile
Sept 1/2 – toilets sinks etc
Sept 8/9 – Paint and closet
Sept 15/16 – Housewarming/birthday party

As you can see, I plan more than a weekends worth of work for each weekend. It’s no wonder I’ve been going crazy trying to get everything done! We are taking the weekend of July 21/22 off and we are probably going to need another full weekend of work on the kitchen. We’re 2 weeks “behind” but it’s not about being behind. This list is meant to give us an idea of the order of things not to make us stress out!

4) Organizing trick number 4 – big zipper envelopes. We have been innundated with paperwork for everything. Contracts, owners manuals, shipping orders, etc. If I was a hyper organized, neat person I would have a spot for every type of document…I’m not. I tried and failed and decided to just keep a place where “house papers” should go where they wouldn’t get covered in Spackle or paint or caulk or glue. I discovered these document holders at Target. They are really hard to find so I buy them when I find them. I’ve got 3 now and they are awesome. I just stuff everything “important” into them and when we need something, there is a place to look.


One of my husband’s big problems with organizing is that the systems he puts in place are so hyper-organized that they just don’t work. I bought him a pegboard for Christmas when we were just starting to date in college. Strange gift but it was perfect. At first he wanted to draw out a place for each of his tools. I immediately said NO. When you make it that difficult to put things away, everything just stays in a pile of chaos on the floor. You’re much better just throwing up hooks and hanging your tools wherever you happen to find room. Then at least they will be visible, up off the floor, and ready to be found the next time you are looking. This document organization system operates in much the same way..just put that stuff somewhere safe and don’t worry about being hyper-organized. You have to find a system that is going to work for you, not one that you have to work for.

The pegboard is still going strong, keeping tools off the ground and out of my way!

5) Shelves

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these shelves from Target. You can’t beat the price and they are so sturdy and well-made.

This is the wide one but I have several of the standard width ones and a couple of the short 3 shelf ones. I keep the plastic tool cases as well as the tool buckets on this shelf when they aren’t out being used.

That brings me to my final bit of organization.

6) Tool Buckets

We have several of these tool buckets. Think of them as mobile pegboards. THey keep everything visible and at arms length. Ideally, we’d have one for each type of work but unfortunately we’re doing so many projects right now, the dividing line gets kind of blurred. We should eventually have a bucket for construction (hammer, crowbar, drill bits, screw assortment), electrical (pliers, long spade bits, boxes, outlets, switches, breakers), painting (caulk, caulk gun, brushes, stirrer, sandpaper, spackle), etc. But for now we are working on all of these things simultaneously so we just have one very full, very heavy bucket!

And that’s kind of my system for keeping myself organized. I also keep my design ideas organized but I’ve started using Pinterest A LOT for that. I used to keep a notebook with magazine and print-out clippings but Pinterest has been much more effective. Take a peak at my boards to see what I mean.

http://pinterest.com/sarahmzim/

Let me know how you keep your projects organized? Any tips?

Sarah