Before & After, Janery, Storage & Organization

Re-Imagining Our Space to Create Product Storage

Hey all! As I mentioned late last night, there’s been a slight technical delay getting my shop website up and running, so we’re going to have to wait until Tuesday to kick off the Janery Launch Party, a 5 day extravaganza of giveaways and other awesomeness.

In the mean time, I’ll show you how I created a “stock room” for storing my products  – for  zero dollars.  All it took was some clever re-imagining of the space in my home – which is one of my favorite things to do!  It’s a bit long-winded, but if you’re someone who’s stumped by “where to start” when simplifying or re-organizing a space, maybe you’ll find it useful.

When you decide to run a handmade product business out of your home, a key ingredient you must have is the ability to store your products.  Whether you rent or own, there’s always a way to make this happen in your home – and I think it’s best to figure it out before you get knee-deep in inventory.

Case in point:  Last week, after the craft fair, I was faced with a mess.  I had no storage plan in place:

Pretty rough, huh?  But in the interest of keeping it real, that’s exactly how our living room looked until . . . well, for most of last week.  I had to figure out where I was going to store everything in the long run, so I didn’t want to do a half-assed job of shoving things here and there. I wanted to create a solution that would stick.    And I took my time, because after a few crazy weeks of working nonstop I needed to slow down last week, go to bed early, and definitely spend more time just hanging out with Ryan.

So on to the stock-room solution:  I thought through several options before settling on one that I was satisfied with.

Option #1:  Build storage in the basement

I have two spare dressers in the basement that can be used to store smaller items, but there’s no way the pillows would fit in them.  I thought about buying new shelving and placing it in the work room, but then I’d also have to buy plastic tubs to keep the items covered,  because that’s the furnace room / tool room, and it can get dusty.  So that would cost a pretty penny. . . and then I’d also have to walk down there and open plastic tubs to get to anything or look at what I had on hand.

Option #2: Create storage by re-imagining our 5 closets

I looked at the potential storage spaces on the main floor.  We have three bedrooms – a bedroom for us to sleep in, and then an office for each of us.  We have 5 closets – one in each bedroom, a coat closet, and a linen closet.  My clothes live in my office closet, and Ryan’s live in his.  And even though we decorated the master bedroom last summer, its closet was a dirty, messy little secret.

5 closets for 2 people?  I realized there had to be a way that I could commandeer one of those closets for my “stock room.”

The coat closet is perfectly organized, with room to spare if needed,  but not for shop products.  The master bedroom closet was the least utilized, but the hanging bar and only two high shelves made it a less than ideal option for my products. The 5-foot-wide  linen closet, with four deep shelves running the entire length, had to be the answer.  The only issue?  It was chock-full of linens, etc.

I looked at the linen closet and thought “How on earth can two humans fill 4 long shelves with linens??  Do we really *need* all this stuff in here?”   The answer?  Of course we didn’t need all that stuff.

Operation “Simplify Linens”

I forgot to get a “before” shot.  I tore into it with a vengeance, suddenly needing to clear out the clutter and reorganize after the hectic month I’d had.  I find organizing and cleaning and purging SO relaxing.

Everything came out of the closet and onto my tables in my office.  Here’s what happened to stuff:

  • A ton of items, including mismatched pillowcases and old throw pillows, went in the “donate” box
  • “Dog towels”  went down to the laundry nook with the other rags
  • Cleaning rags went in a cute bin in the coat closet
  • Kitchen linens (place mats and tablecloths) went into a box which now lives in the coat closet, much closer to the kitchen area
  • Sheets were simplified:  One cotton set for summer, and one flannel set for winter.
  • Guest towels went into the guest room
  • Medications and first aid kits were already organized  in clear plastic bins, and were ready to move to their new home
  • Old pillows that were too lumpy to use got set aside to recycle into a dog bed for our pups
  • Bath towels got paired down to a total of 4 – two towels for each of us, so we’ll always have one clean one handy

Suddenly, we didn’t have 4-shelves worth of linens anymore. Perfect.  Now it was time to turn  the messy master bedroom closet into the linen closet.

Here’s the messy “before”:

Master Bedroom Closet before, left side

It turns out that a ton of my winter wool sooks were hiding in that cardboard box. . . totally random. Wish I’d found that this past winter!  That green box was holding shop supplies.  My formal gowns weren’t even in a dress bag.  This is just embarrassing, people.

Master Bedroom Closet before, right side

Do you see the waterfall of wire dry cleaner hangers tumbling out of the closet?  Silly, just silly.  But I quickly kicked this closet’s butt.

Here’s the much-more-efficient “after”:

Master Bedroom Closet after, left side


Master Bedroom Closet after, right side

My white wicker baskets (from Target,via my mom, circa 2004) came in handy.  Our new “linen closet” fit perfectly on the top two shelves of the master bedroom closet.

The space below now holds assorted storage:

  • Ryan’s suits (rarely worn) hang on the left
  • My sweaters hang on the right, along with my formal gowns (now protected in a gown bag)
  • My boots and other winter clothes are in two plastic bins on the floor of the closet
  • My serger (for sewing) is under my winter clothes

Did you notice my “Guest with Pets Kit” on the floor of the closet? When my best friend comes to visit with her 4 dogs, I have a special set of linens now devoted to high-pet use.  A quilt, a washable duvet cover, and a set of sheets, all sealed up in a large quilt bag.   This way it keeps things separate from my pet-free guest linens, which I use in the official pet-free guest room.  (This is because my mom and Ryan’s mom are both very allergic.)  And now, when my friends come visit with their pets, I’ll have everything ready to go and will know where to find it!

With the “new” linen closet squared away, I had a big, wide, empty closet to set up shop in.  Isn’t she bee-utiful?

The closet is right outside my sewing studio / office, and it provides perfect closed product storage.  No worries about stray pet hairs or anything like that.    Even better, it’s not overflowing yet, so I have room to grow.

I will admit that I love to open it up and just look at my pillows and other goodies all lined up. 🙂

Each of the pillows and cat beds has a tag with an inventory number written on it.  Those numbers correspond with a spreadsheet, where I keep track of what materials were used to make each item, what the price is, and if it’s sold or not.  I may be working too hard to track this, but I’d love to have clear records of everything that’s created and listed for sale.  Especially since I’m working with fabrics of all price ranges, I need to keep things straight for pricing purposes.

I love how this project ended up having so many benefits, like a 3-for-1 deal.  Not only do I have a lovely stock room set up for my Janery products, I also got a clean & organized master bedroom closet out of the deal, as well as a sweetly simplified linen closet with only the bare essentials.

If you’re in the mood to simplify your linens, but find that you have a ton of worn out sheets or towels, here’s some ideas for how they can be recycled rather than tossed in the trash:

  • Old sheets make great dropcloths for painting, as long as there’s no holes
  • Old sheets or towels can be torn into smaller pieces and used as rags
  • Old towels and blankets can be donated to animal shelters or vet hospitals – take it from a girl who’s put in serious time cleaning kennels 😉 they can ALWAYS use them!
  • Old towels, blankets, pillows,  and sheets in good shape can be donated to homeless shelters

Speaking of simple linen closets, do you keep things easy with just one or two towels and sheet sets, or does your linen closet runneth over?

I shared this with Thrifty Decor Chick’s Before and After Party!

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  • Reply Jenn @ peas and crayons at 2:45 pm

    Man they are gorgeous! You were totally on top of that speedy organization girl! I’m so impressed — I need to be more like you =) 

    and good call on the dog towels being with rags in the laundry room — i need to do that for ferret and kitty blankees as well =) They don’t belong in the linen close right now — too much pet fur! haha

    xoXOxoJenn @ Peas & Crayons

  • Reply Sarah at 3:24 pm

    Jane, I love what you have done.  I love all things organizing, so now you have given me a lot of ideas.  My linen closet used to be a total wreck, meaning stuff came tumbling out when I opened it.  So, like you, I am all about the wicker baskets.  I also roll my towels and store them upright (like a hotel) because they look all nice and stay together instead of coming undone.  Great job, and I cannot wait to see your shop website!

  • Reply mikalah at 3:47 pm

    Oh my gosh, just seeing all those fabrics/pillows together with your lovely tag, soooo exciting! I bet it feels that much more real now! I love the way you reorganized your spaces to fit the products, it seems like everything fits perfectly! As for our linen closet, we do have a couple extra sheet sets than we need, I think, and I keep them in 2 large baskets in our laundry closet. So yes, our linen closet definitely runneth over! Guess some Summer organizing is in order… =)

  • Reply Julia at 3:51 pm

    Love this post! We don’t have linens running over anymore. Our rental has tons of kitchen cabinetry that is waaaay too deep. I’d lose everything if I stored things back there. Our extra towels got shoved in the back of the two foot deep cabinets leaving me half the space for my pantry items. I gave away all the mismatched green towels to a friend whose bathroom was green. I kept white and blue. When my son is older I plan on having a color assigned for each member of the family – same with sheets but by pattern – solids for queen sets, stripes for full, patterns for twin, etc. We have two sets of sheets…. except my son has about ten sheets… babies have a lot of junk, my friend.

    Anyway posts like this rock! I love simple and achievable projects.

  • Reply Jenn at 6:46 pm

    This is so impressive — great job re-imagining your  space and working with what you have. Even though I’m not looking for business storage, this is completely inspirational anyway. Our linen storage runneth over from closets, to dressers, to open bookshelves, to boxes. It’s a mess :).

  • Reply JoDi at 10:23 pm

    Really enjoyed your closet makeovers! It’s been so cool to see your business developing over the past few posts. I went looking for you new site last night after reading the craft fair post and was disappointed it wasn’t up yet! I’ll be checking in again tonight.
    Love all the products you made for the fair. I recently bought that Bella Porte fabric in charcoal and made curtains for our bedroom so I especially love your pillows in navy and yellow in the same pattern!

  • Reply Ashley @ at 10:48 pm

    I just wante to RAID your Janery pillows!!!  Closets look great!

  • Reply Leigh at 12:45 am

    I would totally stare inside that awesome closet all the time.  I love looking at pretty fabrics….which would explain why I have so much I buy “just because”

  • Reply AlexisAnnee at 11:41 am

    I honestly JUST did the same project.  Turns out that I had a linen closet full of junk too. I moved towels to the bathrooms or laundry room, extra blankets and pillows underneath beds…threw a bunch of stuff away and created an entire empty closet for myself!  Your pillows are gorgous by the way!!!

  • Reply dittocoe at 1:58 pm

    Oh… I’d love standing and looking at that treasure trove closet, too!  The pillows look just gorgeous.

    I have a lot of bath towels and washcloths.  With 3 people in our household, I’d be doing laundry daily if we didn’t have extras.  I also keep 2 sets of sheets per bed, so that I can put fresh ones on and then wash the others.  That cuts down on wear, as well as giving me a spare set in case of an accident or something.   

  • Reply Anonymous at 10:57 pm

    I have 3 beds – two queen and a twin. The twin has one cotton and one flannel. I have two cotton and two flannels for the queens (total) which has always worked fine. I currently have 5 (down from 6, somebody lost one on a ski trip) towels for the two of us – one to use, one to sit in the wash, and one on the shelf. My husband thinks we need more towels, though. His family always had a TON of towels (something like 5 or 6 for each person!) but I don’t know why he thinks we need that many – it’s not like we’ve ever been without clean towels. And we don’t have anywhere to put more towels, either. I have a flimsy ‘towel shelf’ thing like you see in hotels, but it can’t handle more than 4. I’m not about to rearrange everything else just to make room for towels we don’t need!

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