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My Five Favorite Tips To Organize, Room By Room

Welcome to the 2018 My Five Favorites kickoff! If you’re new here, Shine Your Light is a DIY/home improvement and design blog, and MFF is an ever-changing monthly series I host alongside my blogging friends Pam of Simple Details, Jennifer of Dimples & Tangles and Kris of Driven By Decor. We try to come up with a new topic every month and share a bunch of ideas to inspire you.

This month we are so happy to welcome Jen of I Heart Organizing as our guest host!! Jen is the absolute master of all things organization, from keeping the house, to paper clutter, to family life. Her blog is so much fun to visit and read; be sure to pop over today!

Jen of I Heart Organizing guest hosts My Five Favorites

Thank you for joining us Jen!

Today we’re all sharing ideas to organize all the nooks and crannies of your house, room by room. I love tips and tricks – actionable ways to make a positive difference in the look and feel of your home. There is no doubt about it, an uncluttered home surely is more enjoyable for anyone, and knocking things off your to-do list always feels great. So without further ado, some ideas to get your year rolling in the right direction.

In The Family Room | Conquer the family photos

The best way to get something done is to begin.  -Author Unknown

I know – organizing photos can be so tremendously overwhelming that you just never start. And then the years go by and the next thing you know, you have a momentous occasion like a graduation or a wedding or the celebration of a treasured life – all events for my family this past year – and you ardently wish that you could find a special photo from 10 years ago. Is it in a box somewhere? On an old computer? Maybe that photo site that shut down?

When my kids were little, I could easily fill a 300 page album in a year – usually the year spilled over into the next album. Nowadays I could probably get away with one every couple years. I look for black bonded leather albums with acid-free pages on sale and use a gold Sharpie to mark the album spine with a date range.

If you’re catching up on albums (I’m at least 3-4 years behind and it’s on my 2018 to-do list!) start with the current year or the last year. You will be so happy when this is done, I promise you!

There have been many occasions where I have pulled photos from these albums for picture boards or slideshows, and I’m so glad I have a hard copy of them. I hope one day my kids will enjoy flipping through them the way that I love my mom’s old albums.

For a few fun ways to display photos en masse check out these posts:

How To Make A Floor To Ceiling Bulletin BoardHannah’s Instagram Bulletin Board


In The Living Room | A Game Box (the non-video-gaming kind!)

Make room for joy. – Lisa Scibilia 🙂

Playing cards. When they’re easily accessible, they are a catalyst for connecting with each other, and in today’s world where it’s so easy to bury your face in the phone or other electronics, I love some good old fashioned ways to actually be present with each other.

Cards have a permanent place here because I LOVE that having a bunch of games in our TV-less living room inspires a bored teenager (or adult!!) to do something besides turn to their phone for amusement.

Having a cool storage box for them, that you can use in decorating a room, is even better! Old wine and cigar boxes are great for stashing things around the house – to get the smell out of cigar boxes try sprinkling baking soda and letting it sit for a day or two, then putting a dryer sheet in it until the smell dissipates.

Your mom or grandma’s old musty silverware box would make a great makeover candidate for playing cards and small games too by the way!


In The Office | Stay on top of incoming bills

If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.  -Olin Miller

I think it’s important to note here that I don’t have a home office or even space for a desk, and so I have to get creative with a bill system and storage. I know many of you are in the same boat and organization is definitely key for us!

There are a million spreadsheets, systems and methods to manage your bills, from apps like Mint to Google Calendar to printables, and I’ve tried a good amount of them over the years; have you as well? If your current bill organization is just not working, consider something new.

A huge game changer for me staying on top of incoming bill due dates was when I started jotting down due dates of bills in my planner as I opened the mail. The good old fashioned planner, I always come back to it. I also have a spreadsheet in which I check off monthly recurring expenses like the mortgage and car payments, as well as keeping track of occasional bills. Since I pay the bills online all this information is available there too, but keeping a hardcopy checklist ensures that everything gets paid, and on time.

If you are a visual person like me, then try this:

When you bring mail into your house each day, sort it right then and there, recycling junk and opening bills.

Write down the due date for each bill in a monthly planner (I now use an inexpensive planner just for bills instead of recording this info in my work planner). I typically do this when I’m going through the mail (it literally takes 30 seconds to pull out the planner and jot down this info but doing it at least once a week is a good practice).

Include bills that are set up on auto-pay.

At least twice a month look at your calendar and determine what needs to get paid. I do this once a week and use my bank’s bill pay feature online to pay what needs to go out. It only takes a few minutes each time. Even if you have your monthly bills set to be due on the same date, other miscellaneous expenses might need your attention.

Save all those late fees for a tropical vacation!!!

Keeping these files right in our kitchen, inside the pantry door, means that these bills are never out of mind. File holders often have hanging holes on the back of them for this purpose.

Especially if it’s tucked inside a closet or cabinet door, this system doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty – function is the name of the game here! I file medical and dental, insurance, tax documents, bank statements and utilities so that I can easily find what I’m looking for if need be, and then everything else gets lumped together in a miscellaneous folder.

The calendar goes in one of the front pockets so it’s easily accessible when I bring the mail in. All the incoming bills go in one of these pockets too until the bill is paid and the statement gets filed or recycled. See this article on how long to keep statements before shredding.

Cute file folders in blue and metal file sorter.


In The Diningroom | Crystal & China Storage

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. – William Morris

Right before Thanksgiving I pulled our crystal out of the bar and most of the pieces were foggy from dust. Sometimes I don’t even bother using our good crystal if I have to clean it all first, and if I don’t ever use it then what’s the point of having it at all? I bought a wine glass storage box, and now I need about 5 more for my china and glassware we only use on occasion!

It’s not fancy – as you can see the dividers are made out of cardboard and the exterior is vinyl. The idea is to keep the glasses (or plates) dust free, not protect them for moving. I keep the box stored in our bar cabinet but these would be great to use in your dining room or to store special glasses and dishware in a utility space like your basement.

Now the glasses stay nice and clean between uses. I wish I had purchased this box sooner!


In The Kitchen | Rethink Your Spaces

Come here you big beautiful cup of coffee and lie to me about how much we’re going to get done today. – Anonymous

In the Fall Into The Holidays series this past October I showed you how I revamped a cabinet area in our kitchen to accommodate our everyday drinking glasses as well as coffee mugs, and then made a little coffee station. In addition, I cleaned out the bottom cabinets and now everything we need for starting the day is all right here – coffee and tea, sugar, my mom’s favorite Folgers.(Coffee canisters can be found here.)

It’s truly amazing how this one bit of organization in our kitchen – moving the coffee maker and all it’s accoutrements to this one corner actually makes such difference.

When we get around to re-doing the kitchen (a 2018 project? We’ll see) this is definitely something we’d like to replicate. Except for the baloney countertops, that is 🙂


I hope you enjoyed these small ways to bring order to your home. I can’t wait to see these bloggers’ smart tips for organizing the home room by room!

Thanks again to Jen for jumping in to guest host My Five Favorites today!

I Heart Organizing • Simple DetailsDimples & TanglesDriven By Decor


Have a wonderful day lovelies!


If you’re in organizing mode you may also enjoy this post!

Ideas for taking advantage of wall space in your garage

New Year, New Room Refresh Challenge | Week 2
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Stephanie @ Casa Watkins Living

Wednesday 24th of January 2018

So many wonderful ideas! I do the same thing with my playing cards too. So much easier to store in a single box than looking everywhere for a single lost uno card. LOL!


Wednesday 31st of January 2018

There's always a missing card even when there's a special spot for them! But I do love ways to hide our messes!


Monday 15th of January 2018

This post was just what the doctor ordered. Especially about the bill paying. I don't have a desk either. My dining room buffet is my desk. I am going to put these ideas into practice!!!! They are soo helpful.

Calypso in the Country

Sunday 14th of January 2018

I am pretty confident in stating that I will never have all my photos organized! ;) Great tips and the blog looks beautiful, Lisa! Shelley

[email protected] Charm

Thursday 11th of January 2018

Lisa!!! Girl, I feel like you were reading my mind about all of the places I need to organize! Love the game box and the idea to put upcoming bills in a planner.... genius!

Julie S

Thursday 11th of January 2018

Good tips! We moved right before Christmas (oh golly so not fun) and have been living happily with only the essentials for a while now as every thing else was/is packed. As I slowly repopulate our house with stuff I'm trying to take care with organizing. I did a wonderful coffee/tea corner thanks to your previous post :)