Thursday, June 18, 2015

Organizing the Dresser

 I finally solved my dresser dilemma and improved my daily regimen after struggling to keep my makeup and jewelry organized.

Just like how a nice robe can be the start and end of one's daily ensemble, the dressing table is the piece of furniture that is faced daily with the task of getting its owner ready for the day and ready for bed at night. Perhaps the hardest-working piece of furniture in the bedroom (second only to the bed), a dresser is where people without the luxury of a vanity or walk-in closet begin to get dressed in the morning, then undressed at night. For a long time my dresser showed signs of struggle with this burden: it was messy, cluttered, chaotic, and disorganized. Just looking at it made me feel overwhelmed. See?

Before: The cluttered dresser. (After photo to follow! I'm saving the best for last.)

So how did I finally get this situation under control? Believe it or not, it was easier than I thought!

My husband and I have a tiny bedroom, so this dresser is the only drawer and counter space that I have in this room. On its surface I kept nearly everything that I needed for my daily toilette: lotions, moisturizer, deodorant, assorted hair products, makeup, hairbrushes, hot rollers, contact solution, contact cases, jewelry, watches, bobby pins, etc. Additionally, this counter space became a designated landing spot for other clothing that wasn't ready to be laundered, but that wasn't freshly cleaned or ready to be put away just yet: the lounge clothes that I would change into after work, a top that I had worn once and intended to wear again soon, a bra that needed some time to air or regain its shape before being put away, things of that nature. (I try to make my clothes last a little longer by not over-laundering.) Furthermore, as this dresser is the only drawer space that I have, all six medium-sized drawers are filled with my lingerie, socks, running clothes, lounge clothes, pajamas, hosiery, and anything else that I can't hang in my closet. Thus, storing things from the counter in the top drawers wasn't an option.

Because all of the items stashed on this dressing table were things that I used daily, I really wasn't sure how to organize it so that it would stay clean. I would put something away, only to need it again a few hours later, so the endless cycle of taking something out, leaving it, then putting it away, then taking it back out again resulted in perpetual chaos. Every time I cleared this space off, it went back the way it was after a few days. In an attempt to solve this problem, I had even bought a tall storage cabinet to keep next to my dresser, but this, too, quickly became just as disorganized as the dresser itself. After yet another failed storage attempt, I really felt stuck. Was it just that my house and my bedroom were too small? Was the only solution to buy a bigger house and more storage units? Mais non. Part of my mantra for living chic is making the best of what one has, no matter the circumstance. I was confident that there was another way to make things work.

Fortunately, I recently read Marie Kondo's book, The Art of Tidying. One of the best takeaways I got from this book is to store like items with like. I began organizing by grouping together all like items and separating them from other products: lotions with lotions, makeup with makeup, hair products with hair products, etc. However, most glam ladies (I will avoid the term high-maintenance!) know that certain products or tools are used daily while others are reserved for special occasions. Likewise, I even categorized my jewelry; fine quality jewelry, like gold and gemstones, went together, while costume jewelry was sorted into its types: bracelets, necklaces, earrings. I needed to find a way to conveniently group and store those special-occasion items while making my everyday products readily accessible. Having no system to organize or differentiate between these two kinds of things was one of the reasons why my dresser space had become so overwhelmed in the first place.
After: The cleared dresser! 

The added challenge of this project was to not spend any additional money on so-called storage solutions. I wanted to make the most of and best utilize things that I already had, rather than bringing more stuff into my already-crowded bedroom. Not very long ago, I bought a set of cute storage boxes with lids. (Essentially, they are like fancy shoe boxes.) I used the lid of one of these boxes as a tray to store only the things that I use every day-- every day makeup, lotion, deodorant and perfume. I have a small glass jar holding my makeup brushes and pencils, and a zippered pouch keeps my everyday makeup products. (For my tips on keeping your makeup tools clean, check out this post.) All of my hair products are stored in another fancy little box on the left corner of my dresser. I use different hair products daily, depending on the style, but they're all tucked away in the box. My set of hot rollers, which I use several times a week, is kept on top of the box. Hair brushes and comb are laid out neatly in front.

My dresser now contains only my everyday beauty "essentials." I did have to break the habit of letting clothes pile up on top-- after a day, anything that is left there is either put in the laundry or put away. I now have a separate space in the closet for those "gently worn" items. One of the best changes that this project inspired me to make was to finally mount my mirror to the wall. It was propped up against the wall on my dresser for the longest time. When we first moved in (five years ago!), the walls here were painted orange and yellow (our bedroom used to be the nursery), so I never mounted it because I knew we still had to paint. But, by the time I got around to painting (2-3 years ago), I was already so used to having my mirror just leaning against the wall! So, mounting it finally freed up the extra surface space. I even had room to display a small, framed photograph and candle.

As to my "special occasion" or rarely used products, as well as my jewelry (both costume and fine jewelry), I was able to designate the entire cabinet unit that I had bought months ago to their storage. In this white cabinet to the left, I have another tall storage box that I use to keep all of my other lotions, like extra scented lotions or skincare products that I don't use every day. The second shelf has makeup pouches and a small jewelry box for my watches and costume bracelets. The bottom shelf has my nice jewelry box with my valuable rings, necklaces and earrings. Finally, I was able to use the base of a box (the lid of which is being used as a tray on my dresser) on top of the cabinet (under the straw hat) to hold my sunglasses, as well as any wooden or costume jewelry that I don't wear quite as often in boxes and/or mesh bags. In the hidden shelf spaces in the bottom cabinet, I keep my extra beauty products (spare cleansers, sunblock, contact solution, and extra deodorants), my extra makeup (glittery or special occasion or seasonal stuff like bronzer), and storage for extra bags or spare makeup kits for travelling.

Although it took me a little while to come up with a set system, instead of using my dresser as a catch-all space,  I'm so glad I created system and place for all of my different beauty products. I hated that feeling of defeat when I saw the scattered piles of clutter that was the top of my dresser, nor did I like waking up to see that cluttered mess first thing in the morning. By grouping like items with like, and distinguishing between what I use daily, and what I don't, I was able to find a place for everything, and keep everything in its place, without having to spend any additional money on storage tools. I am now more confident in my ability to keep things organized, and three months after tackling this project, I am happy to report that my dressing table is staying clear. Getting ready in the morning and getting ready for bed at night is now a much more relaxing process, and the entire vibe in my bedroom now feels far more inviting and peaceful. Tres chic!

Not sure what the difference is between a dresser or dressing table, or a chest of drawers, or an armoire? I found this fun explanation here while researching* this post!

*(Yes, I do try to do some research so that I can bring you the best quality writing on chic living!)

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