getting organized and and a request for ideas

January seems to be the time of year that everyone has organization on the brain. We've packed away the Christmas boxes and with no major holidays on the horizon, we focus on bettering ourselves, our homes, and our families.

I mentioned a while back that I am finally getting control over the chaos that has been my life since the summer of 2007 when we tore the back room of our house down and began the biggest DIY project imaginable.

A couple months ago I finally decided I had had enough of the mess in the bathroom linen closet. This closet stores all of the bathroom towels, beach towels, sheets, and most of the medicines. I keep a couple of extra towels and bottles of medicine in the master bathroom but this closet is the main "supply room" of the house. As you can see in the picture, things were quite unorganized. Every time I bought a new package of pull-ups or diapers, i just shoved it in the bottom. When someone got a cold, I dug the humidifier out of the mess. Then I shoved it back in. The sheets and towels were loosely organized but a mess. All of our shampoos, soaps, and toothpaste were just thrown in wherever they would fit. It was getting to the point that I was buying more toothpaste, deodorant, and razors because I couldn't find what I had stored in that black hole. I was putting the new bottles of shampoo on the shelves in front of the sheets and towels, and every time I changed someone's sheets, I either had to move the bottles, or they all came crashing down when I pulled something out.

the bottom half of the closet
before--the bathroom linen closet bottom half

the top half of the closet
before--the bathroom linen closet top half

I found a modular Sterilite organizer at Target for $30 and gladly forked over the cash. It fit under the shelves with about 8 inches to spare on one side. I pulled everything out of the closet and as I put things back in, I used my label maker to label the drawers and shelves. The shelves in the closet are really deep, which is one of the problems with the closet, so rather than trying to have two stacks, I re-folded the sheets and towels to fit the depth of the shelves. This also made the stacks shorter so I could fit them in better.

I put my least-used items (this included my girly crib bedding and table linens) and things I wasn't quite ready to toss or donate at the top of the closet. I put all the medicines in three different plastic shoe boxes according to type (more on this later). Since taking this photo, I refolded all the beach towels since the rolled towels fell over any time I took out the medicine boxes. The rolled-towel idea is a great one, because it lets you grab a specific towel without disturbing a big stack. But it doesn't work on this shelf, or really very well with these deep shelves in general.

top of the closet
top of the closet

I sorted sheets according to bed size (we actually have every size of bed in our household, hence many sizes of sheets) and labeled the shelves. All of the shampoo bottles and such are on the floor next to the organizer. I am still not satisfied with that solution, but it is better than before.

middle shelves
refolded sheets and towels

In the drawers of the organizer, I put the extra toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, lotion, deodorant, travel-sized items, and our hair clippers. The big drawer on the bottom holds pull-ups and disposable diapers.

bottom of the closet
bottom of the closet

Here is a close-up of the medicine boxes. And here is my request. I want a better way to store these supplies. Right now, I usually have to pull out only one box when I need something. I like having them clearly organized. But I would also like everything to be in one place, and be portable, so when we go on a trip, I can bring it all with me. It avoids late-night trips in unfamiliar towns to drugstores and the dreaded Wal-mart (seriously, I haven't shopped there for 7 years except for two stops while on trips for medicine or things I could have had with me if better organized). My mother has all her first-aid supplies and medicines in a fishing tackle box that has deep drawers. I have yet to come across such a box in my shopping. I would like drawers or compartments deep enough that the largest items will fit. Can anyone offer me a different idea or point me to such a box? What do you do when you take a trip and need to have all your first-aid supplies and medicines for your kids? Because with kids, you know you will need your thermometer or some pain killer or at least, a band-aid.

I also would like to be able to know what I have on hand at quick glance, so I know what I need to re-stock.

Thanks in advance for your ideas!

medicine boxes
medicine boxes