organized closet solutions…

Most of the closets in my home are slowly evolving into something other than a typical closet with a hanging bar and shelf at the top. My home is not very large so organized closet solutions play a big part in making a smaller space work for us. A closet might have a bar across it and a shelf on top but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a solution to make it work better for you! Over the course of five years I have turned some into a storage closet, others a better organized clothes storage closet or still others a cloffice. Empty closets translate to dumping grounds! It works better for me and in the end becomes more useful. Here is what I’ve worked on so far.


boy’s bedroom closet

My two son’s share a bedroom. I needed more floor space in that room and less closet space. I removed the sliding doors and inserted an IKEA Expedit. The closet in that room is so large that I’m able to hang clothes on either side of the IKEA Expedit. The bins act as drawers and hold clothes and toys. As they get older they only get bigger and so do their clothes. Two boys in one room means I need lots of drawers. This system works out great for this shared space. Filling up a closet in a child’s room has also worked for me in that they can’t create a mess in there!

Pre-tween Girls room - traditional - kids - boston - Christina Katos

former closet now a cloffice

My daughter had a large closet with sliding doors in her room as well. I removed the doors and gutted the closet and created a workspace for her with storage and a desk. Her cloffice is the perfect spot for everything from homework to manicures. This also freed up floor space in her room, which is about 10 feet by 10 feet.


broom closet converted to a pantry

When we moved in there was no pantry in the kitchen. There was a broom closet though. With the addition of some shelving I converted it into a mini pantry.


the wrapping paper closet

The guest room in our home has a funny little closet in it. It is about 3 or 4 feet tall so it is not even a legitimate closet. I could never figure out what to do with it until I realized it would make the perfect place to stash all my wrapping paper needs. And the wrapping paper closet was born.

front hall closet

front hall closet

The closet in our front hall was another domain of chaos before one simple purchase calmed it all down. I purged and put things in their place of course and then added a cubby unit and some bins. Weeks later and my closet still looks like the picture above. I swear!

the toy closet

toy closet

The toy closet in our basement was the latest to undergo a makeover. It helped that we had a flood and the toys were 100% purged on their own. Don’t tell my kids I said that.  A simple paint job and some “white, neutral and natural” containers of all materials and sizes brought this closet together.

So that is six closets in my home. I have six left to work on; the linen closet, the kid’s bathroom closet, the large pantry in the basement, the storage closet in the basement, the large walk in closet in the guest room and the master bedroom walk in closet. I have actually begun work on the master bedroom closet and I’m teaming up with Closet Maid to create a new space! Yesterday was demo day. Paint day is next!

toy closet sources…

The finished toy closet in our basement is being fully enjoyed on a daily basis. I promised that I would share my toy closet sources to show how easy a closet like this is to put together. The closet is versatile enough that the look could be used in an office, bedroom, craft room, pantry, bathroom or laundry room. I could easily keep the look of this closet but change the contents. I’m just assuming that my boys will eventually grow out of Lego’s. I think.

toy closet sources

For now it is just for toys so I wanted it to be durable and easy for my children to find what they need. I did not want a bunch of primary colored storage that would look childish or outdated quickly. I chose some pieces from IKEA, The Container Store, Target and HomeGoods to store everything. If I ever want to change anything around it is simple to do. If I want to add more storage I just stick to my “white, natural & neutral” theme and I’m all set. For example, the white Knodd bins from IKEA currently contain Lego’s, Playmobil sets, cars and animals. Years from now they were still be around (they are metal, they aren’t going anywhere) but I can see us using them for recycling or laundry or garbage in the garage since they are garbage cans!

Do you have a closet that feels all over the place. One simple coat of paint and some unifying storage was all it took to pull my closet together!

For some extra tips on kid’s spaces and how to decorate them go check out Redhead Baby Mama. You’ll find solutions and ideas for all age groups.

DIY mirrored secretary desk…

diy mirrored secretary desk

A couple of months ago I purchased the Hemnes secretary desk from IKEA as my workspace. I needed a desk, storage, a place for a printer and plenty of room for ideas. This desk handled all of it. I can easily work in the living room and then pack “my office” up by simply closing the doors. Plenty of shelves and space for all my needs. Since it is sitting in my living room I felt that it needed to be dressed up a bit. I looked around and started up a office desk Pinterest board to get all my ideas in one place. Since I kept pinning desks with fretwork and mirrors I knew that a DIY mirrored secretary desk was the direction I was headed. It has a timeless look to it without being “too much.” I just needed to figure out how to do it.

DIY mirrored secretary desk

The plan was to cut out the two top doors and leave the frames intact. I would then attach a mirror and some sort of fretwork. The mirrored part seemed easy enough since I had just stumbled upon acrylic sheets of mirror at the hardware store. The acrylic sheets are much lighter (and less expensive) than an actual mirror. I was concerned that a glass mirror would cause the whole door to come crashing off since the IKEA doors are pretty lightweight to begin with. I purchased one 24 inch by 48 inch panel which I was able to cut myself. I scored it a couple of times with a box cutter and then snapped it along the scored line. It cut perfectly. This one sheet was enough for both door panels and then some.

The tricky part was figuring out how to add the fretwork! This is where O’verlays came into the picture. They create lightweight decorative fretwork panels in all patterns and sizes. The panels are paintable and can easily be attached to any surface. They did not have the exact dimensions I needed but helped walk me through what sizes would best work for this project. O’verlays then created custom sized panels for me in the Khloe pattern. I went with the 1/2 inch thick panels that measured 11 5/8 wide by 28 3/8 tall. The panels arrived quickly, fit perfectly and I was able to get to work.

DIY mirrored secretary desk

The scariest part of this project was cutting out the center of the cabinet doors, since there was no going back. I first drilled a hole large enough for the jig saw blade to fit into. I then went as close to the inner edge of the frame as possible and cut out the entire center. This was a quick and easy step since the center of the cabinet is extremely thin. Once the inside panel was removed I sanded down any rough edges. All of this would be hidden by the fretwork so I wasn’t too concerned with how it would look. For an extra weight precaution I stabilized each corner with a l-bracket on the back side of the door.

DIY mirrored secretary desk

I then lined up my acrylic mirrors on the backside of each panel with the mirror facing the front of the panel. They attached pretty quickly using large washers. These will later get covered up with white spray paint to blend it. I probably added more washers than I needed to but I wanted this to be as solid as possible. These doors are opened and closed countless times during the day, and not always by adults!

DIY mirrored secretary desk

DIY mirrored secretary desk

The fretwork was then attached to the mirror using Liquid Nails. Best stuff ever. I applied the glue all around the inner edge of the frame, right on top of the mirror. The outer edge of the fretwork would hide the glue but I tried to keep a neat and straight line. I also applied glue dots all along the back of the fretwork. The fretwork was then slipped into place and I let both panels dry for about 24 in a well ventilated area. The next day I filled in any of the gaps between the fretwork and the cabinet frame with white paintable adhesive caulk. The paintable part is important since the next step is to touch up any bare marks on the wooden frame left behind when I sanded them down. There were a few spots that quickly disappeared with the help of some white acrylic paint.

DIY mirrored secretary desk

After the doors dried a bit I was able to reattach them to the desk. Some new hardware was added as well to lighten the whole look up. I chose glass knobs that wouldn’t distract the eye from the mirrored fretwork.

DIY mirrored secretary desk

DIY mirrored secretary desk

DIY mirrored secretary desk

The great thing about a project like this is that I could have gone with any style fretwork that O’verlays had to offer. They have option ranging from modern to traditional to everything in between. I chose something based on my decor and personal style. The desk itself is basic enough which allows more freedom on the DIY end! If you’d like to try a project out using O’verlays panels they have generously offered you 15% a discount. Enter the coupon code no29design15 to apply the discount to your purchase!

Thanks to O’verlays for supplying the fretwork panels for this project.

the toy closet

the toy closet

The finishing touches have finally been made on the toy closet downstairs in the basement and it is so nice to have a functioning toy closet once again. Since I painted my walls a dark blue (not too dark though) using Behr Paint’s Velvet Rope I wanted all my storage in the closet to be white or neutral. I’ll give you a source list soon. Today is purely show and tell.

the toy closet

I went back and forth on what to do for shelving. I considered building shelves and installing them with cleats. I already had the hanging system and just reusing it with new shelves would save a bit of money. I decided on the original hanging system, but painted the mounting strips to hide them a bit. This way you wouldn’t see strips of white breaking up the blue. I purchased new 18 inch deep melamine shelves and had them cut at Home Depot.

the toy closet

the toy closet

The deep blue is a nice surprise when you open the door. It is probably not the first choice for a some small spaces. As an accent color in this closet it works. The white and neutral storage containers balance the look. It helps keep the blue from being too dark. I’ve used a mix of storage containers in all types of styles and materials. Some are metal, some painted wood and others are simple cardboard. Keeping it all neutral and basic means I could mix and match to my heart’s content.

the toy closet

Even though this is a toy closet it could really work for any type of closet. I wanted it to be fun and unusual, as well as unfussy! Not that I’ve gotten a taste of customizing a closet I’m looking around the house at what other closets I can work on. Lucky for me I have at least four more closets to go!

cutting corners on the remodel budget…

Since this basement remodel was our second go-round at finishing the space I was really interested in cutting corners on the remodel budget. One of the ways I did that was by taking on some of the jobs that the contractor did last time. One example was putting together the IKEA pieces that comprised the built it. Last time the contractors team did it. This time me and my handy helpers did.

cutting corners on the remodel budget

Another way to cut some corners was in painting. Last time the contractor did all of it. This time I had him spray everything that was white, as in the trim, built-in, moldings and faux board and batten. I was left with the rest. This includes all the closet interiors, the space on the wall above the board and batten as well as the entire laundry room.

Needless to say I have not gotten around to most of it so although some of the basement looks finished and completed it really isn’t. So here is what is left…

1. unpainted walls above the board and batten

When the basement was sprayed the wall space above the board and batten was covered with painters tape. It now needs some touch ups, as you can see in the corner near the built in below. The reason I’m putting it off is because I’m toying with the idea of painting it all white, the same color as the built in and board and batten. I’d love to hear your opinion on that one!

cutting corners on the remodel budget

 2. laundry room

This room needs to have the bottom half of the walls repainted the light blue. Since our sheetrock was taken off halfway up the wall it was replaced and then replastered. This means I need to go back in with primer and paint. And then figure out a system for sorting my laundry.

cutting corners on the remodel budget

 2. closets

The basement has three closets. One is storage, one is the pantry and the last is the toy closet. One down, two to go! Here is a sneak peak of what I’ve finished so far…

cutting corners on the remodel budget

I thought I’d get around to more of this than I already have. The laundry room and pantry are next since they are used on a daily basis. We are still using the linen closet upstairs as a pantry and I really need my pantry back! Two tiny shelves are not enough. As far as the rest, it is not perfect but good enough for now!

flower garland on the front door…

After this long harsh winter here in the Boston area we are all desperately ready for spring. It is taking its’ own sweet time since it was snowing a bit this weekend. I’d like to think that was just an early April Fool’s Day joke. Regardless there is stil sporadic spots of snow on the ground that don’t feel very “spring-like” to me.

Little steps around the house always help at this time of year. Fresh flowers on the mantle, a new doormat outside the front door and of course something on the front door to welcome Spring. Since all my seasonal decorations were stored in the basement and lost in the flood I got to start over this year. Instead of the typical floral wreath on the door I went for something a bit out of the box, a flower garland on the front door.

flower garland for spring

I saw these paper garlands at Target a week or two ago, admired them and moved on. I was back at Target over the weekend and they called me like a homing beacon. Between the bright colors, the delicate flowers, the details and the great construction I knew they would be used over and over again. I picked up two to hang on the front door using indoor mounting squares. It is lightweight enough that the mounting squares hold them up while staying invisible. I placed one at each corner as well as the ends.

flower garland on door

flower garland on door

I also added a hanging chalkboard sign to write our very own greeting. It has already changed a couple times since we hung it up. We couldn’t decide between “hello”, “welcome” or “spring?????”. If the weather doesn’t change anytime soon I might have to go with the cheeky greeting.

flower garland on door

a sectional sofa in the family room…

So the sofa debate was finally settled and decided on and we chose a sectional sofa in the family room….

a sectional sofa in the family room

It is the Alex Sofa from Basset Furniture. At 93 inches by 90 inches it nestles right in between the pole and the wall. It is definitely a smaller scale sectional but for some reason the room feels bigger now! We had it upholstered in a woven polyester of dark gray/beige called Driftwood. It came out much more beige than gray but it hides everything and is easy to keep clean.

a sectional sofa in the family room

The sofa came with three accent pillows in the fabric of my choice. I went with a pattern called Tangerine. I then picked up some accent pillows at IKEA in teal and orange to add some more color. The striped fabric in the photo was used for the storage ottoman. Once it came home I decided it was too nice to hide down in the basement. It has found a new home in the living room.

There is no ottoman or coffee table in front of the sofa. It would actually get in the way since the floor space is used up by my kids when playing with the Wii. I’m not sure if I’ll get anything to put in that space. Or maybe something with wheels. I’ll know it when I see it!

a sectional sofa in the family room

The sofa is spacious and cozy. It holds up to 5 or 6 adults comfortably, two sleeping kids on either end, three kids and a dog (when watching a movie), etc. And yes, we have tried out all those options. I love that it anchors the room. It also divides the space up better than our last sofa, making it feel like a couple zones. There is the tv lounging area, the toy area, and the hallway. I’m very happy that we took the plunge and went with a sectional. They may not be for every room or layout but it is working out great in this one!

Lego storage…

Telling you that my home is overrun by Lego’s is an understatement. We have graduated from the random collection of primary colored Lego’s to the more intricate sets with smaller pieces and instruction booklets. Lego storage for all those little pieces has become a necessity. We are in trouble if one of those pieces go missing because according to an 8 year old and a 6 year old the whole thing can never be put together again. Just because mom went and searched the stash and found a similarly shaped pink piece where the light gray piece was supposed to go doesn’t mean it can be used.

So I came up with a way to corral those special pieces and keep them out in the open at the same time. A lot of the Lego action happens either at the kitchen table or the living room rug. I purchased some carton boxes at the Container Store which come in some great colors. I wanted something that could be out in the open in any room in the house so I opted for the cardboard beige version. For the larger more intricate pieces one box does the trick. The instruction booklet goes inside too for when some adjustments need to be made.


If it is a smaller car/plane/fighter jet/Jedi thingy I place them in separate ziplock bags within one box. Any time they want to rebuild or play they can find all the pieces they need. I even found this Lego font to make some labels with!



So far they are sticking to the plan and things are being cleaned up and put back in the boxes. The boxes are generic enough so that they can be used for almost anything should Lego’s ever get replaced by anything else. I don’t see that happening anytime soon though!

front hall closet organization…

I’ve always had a problem with closets as my mother reminded me this week. As a child one of my weekly chores was to clean out my closet. Weekly. I would just thrown things in there until I had created such chaos that I had no idea what was in there any more. A big empty space at the bottom of a closet is just another dumping ground for me.

Case in point is my front hall closet. It had recently taken on a life of its’ own, and not in a good way. It is used daily since this is where my kids put their backpacks. The vacuum cleaner is kept in there as well. Besides those items I can honesty say who knows what else is in there. It is full though since most days the door is pushed shut until it clicks. If it doesn’t click shut it stays slightly open from all the items on the floor.

This is going to include some before pictures that might hurt your eyes. I warned you though but don’t worry, it gets better. I’ll start off with the pretty packaging on the closet of horror.

front hall closet

front hall closet

It’s bad, I know. The poor vacuum isn’t even touching the floor. And most of the bags in the hooks are mine. I’ll put it out there that I adore bags. The first step was taking it all out and vacuuming the closet. All the items were sorted through and put where they belong. Purses in my closet, toys and games in the basement, etc.

front hall closet

 I left the IKEA hooks since I would still be using this closet for backpacks and these hooks hold a lot!

front hall closet

My plan was to purchase something to organize the floor space. I purchased a unit with 6 cubby spaces as well as some storage boxes to hold smaller items.

front hall closet

I ended up with four main areas. A spot for my vacuum on one side of the unit with room for a broom and dustpan on the other. The unit has four boxes with two empty cubbies on the bottom for cleaning supplies and craft related items. Last but not least are the hooks for the backpacks. My daughters’ heavier backpack (hello middle school) can rest on the unit itself.

front hall closet

I then added some labels to each box with these ceramic tags that I found at the Target doller section two years ago! I used a dry erase marker so I can change what is in each box if I ever feel like it.

IMG_2963 front hall closet

The top of the closet has two baskets which hold upcoming birthday party supplies and other random items. As long as the random items fit in that basket I’m ok.


So this is what my disaster of a closet looks like now…

front hall closet

One more closet under control!


the boys shared bedroom limbo…

The last time I showed any pictures of the my boys shared bedroom it looked like this…

boys shared bedroom

boys shared bedroom

boys shared bedroom


A year later and we have made some changes. Our bunk beds that my father made have the option of being two single twin beds or bunk beds. With the boys now being old enough to handle bunk beds we decided to do that. This actually happened at the end of the summer. Lots of discussing, rule making and reiterating that if anyone decided to jump off the beds we would be unbunking them. So far so good. The 8 year old has the top bunk and the 6 year old has the bottom bunk. He hasn’t even asked to be on the top bunk yet. Although I’d love to take a glamorous shot of the bunk beds I’d rather show you that I do have a guard rail. Any solutions for a prettier version would be kindly appreciated. The ones my father made were not tall enough for our mattresses!


In addition to bunking the beds I purchased two IKEA Ranarp lamps. I’m pretty sure I bought them just because of the striped cords. They clamp on to the beds and the boys can easily turn them on and off with the switch on the cord. It’s the perfect reading lamp for falling asleep.


IKEA Ranarp clamp spotlight

So with those changes made we now have some empty floor space which quickly filled up with some rearranging. But I’m in limbo.

I’d like to have a desk wide enough for both boys. It might be for coloring now and for homework in the future. I’m thinking something wall mounted with storage above. A cork board would be nice also. Obviously I will be building this. It will be big, I just am not sure how big. I could even make it L-shaped to wrap around the corner. Then again that might be too much desk.

The second item I need to take care of are the window treatments. I had created pelmet boxes for above the windows but one came down during the summer and guess where I stored it as I was waiting to fix it. Yup, the basement. You know the drill, basement flooded over the summer, threw everything out, blah, blah, blah. I don’t have any more of that fabric so I’ll need to redo the window treatments as well, or at least create a new pelment board and rewrap the existing one with new fabric.


So for now their room is in limbo. They could care less but eventually I will get around to this space and create something that can grow along with them. Check out my boy’s room Pinterest board for some more ideas.