Revolution Organization and Consulting

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How to File Without a Filing Cabinet

No, I do not mean throwing all your important papers randomly into a cardboard box like the chick-baker in Stranger Than Fiction. But since tax time has come and gone, here are a few suggestions to keep your papers handy for next year with and without a filing cabinet.

1. Filing cabinets

Available as vertical (tall) or horizontal (low and wide), filing cabinets come in different finishes, sizes, and prices. Depending on your budget and space, you can get ones that look like wood instead of metal, plastic ones, or traditional metal ones in various colors. You could even paint or wallpaper them. You can get short, 2-drawer ones, tall five-drawer ones, or horizontal ones you can stack. There are traditional, deep, square-drawers, as well as newer skinny (shallow) drawers available.

You can store your filing cabinet in your office, in a closet, or even a garage as long as it is weather-proof. You can incorporate your file cabinet into your room design by using two short ones as desk legs, using several short to medium-sized ones as a craft table (and where better to store your craft supplies!), using your filing cabinet as a side table, or simply tucking it away in a corner.

And filing cabinets do not have to be just for files and papers. They can be used to store blankets or clothes (just make sure they are not rusty on the inside!), books, craft supplies, electronics, and more. This person turned their old filing cabinet into handy garage storage, and this person used theirs as a tiny kitchen island. Yet I digress. If you don’t have a need or room for a filing cabinet, you can still organize your papers with…

IMG_08012. File boxes

Up until a few years ago, I had no idea these existed. Remember my closet office? Those black cabinets are filled with these handy boxes which I have labeled “Utilities”, “School”, “Medical”, “Taxes”, etc. I love that the boxes have handles, and take up “depth-space” which this particular closet has, instead of width. I also like being able to pull out just the file box I need at the time, much like this vintage file cabinet.

But there are again, a wide variety of file boxes. You can get cardboard storage boxes, plastic ones with lids, crates with dividers, slim ones with handles so you can take your files with you (presumably for mobile businesses; I don’t suppose you feel like you can’t leave home without your water bill), and “open top” boxes like I have. These all accommodate hanging files, but you could also use…

3. Magazine holders

4. Paper Boxes

As you can see, there are plenty of options for getting your papers in order. The choice on what to use mostly boils down to your style, budget, and space.

Send me a line if you would like assistance customizing and implementing your perfect paper-storage solution at:



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Turning a Closet Into an Office Space

I’ve mentioned before that our house is old and quirky. In a previous article, I discussed our quirky pantry area. Now I will discuss our quirky closet, which just so happens to be on the opposite side of said quirky pantry.

A Tale of Two Closets

Our living room has two closets. One traditional-sized one for coats by the front door, and a rather large, awkward one for reasons we have yet to figure out. When we moved in, the previous owner had doors, and a long shelf installed for this closet. For several years I didn’t quite know what to do with it, then our second was born, effectively ousting me from the third bedroom which had been an office. After browsing a Martha Stewart magazine one day, I came across the idea for a “closet office“, and instantly knew what to do with my awkward space (Thanks, Martha!).

Measure Twice…

I busted out the measuring tape and sketch book, and writing down everything I wanted to be in this space. I may have mentioned elsewhere that I love books, so I had to have shelves. My husband is a computer tech, so I had to try and make room for two computers, as well as all our filing, computer paper, and various other sundry, office-related supplies. But all this had to be cheap too…err, I mean “within a budget”. I edited my plan at least a dozen times, went over it with hubby at least a dozen times more, and then it was time to put down the plans and make it happen.

Cut Once

Off to Lowe’s hubby and I went. We bought some lumber, black paint, and hardware for very simplistic, home-made cabinets. We also bought basic, black laminate boards and basic, black metal brackets for my open book shelving, and finally we purchased a piece of black counter top (on sale!), cut to fit. We decided to leave doors off, since this closet is between a doorway and wall, but I’ve toyed with the idea of adding some flat panel curtains like these from Ikea. After much sawing, hammering, painting, and drilling, this was the result:



I’m very pleased and proud that we were able to make this space so much more efficient. However, if I could do it over again I would extend the open shelving to the walls (for more books!), make the cabinets a hair shorter for true desk-height, and while I love the texturing of the counter top, I would opt for one with a smooth surface to make writing easier.

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Fear Not the Mess!

My reactions upon seeing my daughter’s bedroom quickly went from shock, to anger, to dismay with a twinge of fear. How could an eight-year-old’s room be so cluttered?

Had we not organized it just one month ago? Did I not purge then and make sure there was a place for everything, and everything was in it’s place? Did I not lecture and make sure that she knew how things were going to be from now on?

I asked myself these questions as I lay full-length under her bed, fishing out used tissues, hair bands, and a stray stuffed animal-all covered in dust. “Are you stuck?” asked my Dad, watching. “I can pull you out by your feet.” “No, I’m not stuck”, I sighed, “There is just too much junk under here!”

There is something I tell my students when I tutor, “Attitude is everything”. It’s true for most things in life, including dirty bedrooms. At the end of the day when you are tired from all the things you’ve been doing, or at the beginning of the day, when you have all the things you must do on your mind, and you walk into that bedroom to retrieve one thing (such as a sleeping child), and you are accosted by unhealthy clutter, just remember that “attitude is everything”.

Don’t fear the mess. Don’t let it defeat you. Tell yourself, invisible or play sword in hand, “I will take this challenge, and I will clean!!”

Then make a doable plan. Sketch out your ideal room, write down what you want to see happen, and break things down into bite-sized pieces. If this is a child’s room, have them help you clean it or at least certain parts, to teach them responsibility, clean habits, and organization skills. I may have fished out old tissues, but my daughter redid her clothes.

And if you feel like you need a trusty sidekick, email me. I’ll bring my cape.

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Organizing Doesn’t Have to be Expensive



We’ve all seen them. Those gorgeous custom-made closets to die for that probably cost over a thousand dollars. I cannot deny that I would LOVE for this to be my closet, but alas, I have small children to feed. If you can afford to do this (even with small children), I encourage you to do so! It will certainly save space, making your closet efficient and organized, and less frustrating to find things.

But if you can’t afford it, never fear! There is hope yet for the cluttered closet. The key is to take the principals of design featured in these photos, and use less-expensive items or even things around the house to organize. Your closet won’t look as snazzy as the expensive designs, but it can be functional for far less.

Though it might sound counter-intuitive to put more in a small closet, having plenty of drawers and especially shelves can really improve your closet’s capacity. Likewise baskets, bins, and boxes all help to sort and contain items that might otherwise fall all over the place. Just don’t forget to label them!

For example, do you have a bookshelf, set of plastic drawers, or leftover wire shelves for kitchen cupboards? Could you splurge on a low-height, inexpensive shelf or sideboard likeĀ this one from Ikea? That would be awesome for storing shoes or blankets in baskets underneath or on top, clothes in the cabinet, and small things like jewelry, ties, or underthings in the narrow drawers. Even an old desk would work, as long as it fits your closet’s dimensions.

Raising your closet’s hanging bar by just a few inches might enable you to hang a second clothes bar underneath like this one from Home Depot, or at least give you space for those drawers, boxes, or baskets. And don’t forget to take advantage of corners.

If you have a deep closet, or closet doors which open like a typical room door, are you in luck! Hang a mirror, shoe rack, purse rack, or make that space into your jewelry station with a pegboard or old tie rack!

If all this overwhelms you, just send me a line and I’ll help you design your perfect space for less!

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Organizing the Kitchen Pantry

Cabinets are nice, but bulky.Now that autumn is upon us, I cannot rest until SOMETHING in my house has been reorganized. This year it appears the “clean-my-kitchen” itch has won. My house is an older, 1950’s model with little quirks throughout.

One of them is my pantry.

It currently has a set of cabinets and counter tops crammed in a tight space, and while I appreciate the idea, the space could be used much more efficiently. We have a small house, and storage is always at a premium so…

I researched, I looked online, I measured with my (read: husband’s) heavy-duty measuring tape which made me feel very professional, and I sketched.

Here’s my plan:

  1. Tear out the old cabinets and both counter tops (I’m waffling on the right-side counter, though).
  2. Replace with open shelving that wraps around the corner and matches the right side shelving. I think I could easily fit 5 shelves top to bottom and still have space for bulk items like water bottles on the floor.
  3. Fill with flea market/Goodwill glass or plastic food-safe containers, baskets, and bins, all labeled of course.

Replacing these cabinets which are dark and don’t match the rest of our kitchen anyway, with open shelving will more than double my current storage capacity, and give me a lot more room (about 1.5 ft) to move about. I’m betting I could even make a small laundry space under the right-side shelves, and still have plenty of storage for crafts, party decor, and my fancy dishes.