What Mike Holmes doesn’t know won’t hurt him

Have you been holding your breath waiting to hear the end of the story? Well, we’re finally finished, and it’s all thanks to my husband’s sudden burst of ambition during this summer’s “staycation.”

I began a series of blog posts last winter focused on the dire situation in my bedroom. (See “The best laid plans,” November 16, 2009.) I began using a local organizing company’s “Organizing the Bedroom” DVD (www.organizingconnection.com). Their six-step process was a supposed to help me transform “cluttered nightmares into sweet dreams.”  We got through steps one to four okay, but got stuck on five, “The Re-organization.”

It was a question of funding. Closet organizing systems were way out of our budget. We had figured a cost of about $350 per closet for a wood veneer, mid-quality closet system. And in the end, we didn’t feel these modular systems would fill the spatial potential of our closets anyway.

Custom cabinetry was the only solution, but we found that prospect even more expensive.

So we did nothing for five months. In that time, we still maintained our purge fairly well.

Suddenly, this July, my husband took four days out of his vacation to transform each closet using a table saw he got for Christmas. Christmas 2001, that is. It was left unopened until this project. We spent roughly $420 on plywood and materials to complete two closets and new built-in shelving for my home office.  We also replaced the overhead light fixture and installed a dimmer.

Each closet system is composed of one long shelf, six inches from the ceiling, four shelves below on the left, each one 20 inches deep, and two short rods stacked on the right.  We filled cracks and holes and covered the old, depressing mint green walls with primer and white paint. I didn’t bother to smooth the new second-grade plywood cubbies with putty and paint, although it would improve their looks…maybe before I sell the place.

Instead of a large, bulky dresser, the wall between our two closets is now taken up with built in shelving and a longer desk, fashioned from an old dining room table. My husband split the wood top in half with a skil saw and fastened it to the wall studs. We added a keyboard tray and fit a two-drawer filing cabinet underneath. Then, I painted the table legs and shelving to match the molding.

A few loose ends:

۰We need some art on the walls and a DVD caddy for that pile of movies overflowing in the basket.

۰A flat screen TV on the wall would be nice, rather than a clunky 27-inch desk model.

۰A second computer in the dining room for our children’s use would alleviate the computer “traffic” in our bedroom.

The Verdict?

۰I’m amazed at the power of vertical space. Our new closets hold everything we need, without seeming overstuffed. All of our clothes sit in attractive boxes on our shelves. There’s a place for everything.

۰The room feels large again, like when I saw it empty the day we moved in.

۰I feel like I’m sleeping in the den, rather than having an office in my bedroom.

۰There’s a place for everything. The room seems divided into zones. A place to work, a place to sleep, a place to relax.

۰I’m less stressed through the day. The room used to be as cluttered as my mind…now, I actually like to sit and work at the new desk, wrought from our old table. I’m happy we were able to recycle this piece of furniture rather than leaving it to languish in the basement.

۰I can walk all the way around the bed. This is of great importance when changing linens!

۰Though my husband is not a trained carpenter, I’m pleased and impressed with his completion of such an ambitious project. Perhaps it isn’t quite as pretty as it would be if we had the money to hire a professional and use higher quality materials, but finish boards and paint cover a multitude of sins. Long live the do-it-yourselfer!

My review of Organizing Connection’s “Organizing the Bedroom” DVD

I have indeed traded my cluttered nightmare for sweet dreams, but it wasn’t an easy transition. This venture requires intestinal fortitude, imagination, and a few bucks.

Purging your closet is one thing, imagining a real renovation is something else. I think the DVD and worksheets do a good job of taking you step by step through the process of deciding what you don’t need, cleaning it out, and organizing the stuff you keep.

There’s no fairy godmother of motivation, though. It’s easy to get stalled mid-way through if you are (or you’re married to) a packrat. I wonder how many people recognize the need for marriage counseling at this point in the process?

I appreciated the worksheets, and the recommendations for children’s bedrooms and general tips. These are ideas I will be sure to use as my kids grow and change.

But in this situation, we needed to visualize a lot more than a clean closet. We needed our room to function in three important ways without feeling cluttered. Step number one (“The Dream”) is a tall order if you’re a person who’s not very visual. Some people aren’t. They can’t really tell you what they want. They only know what they want when they see it. If you’re that kind of a person, then it might be worth paying for a professional consultation before you strike out on your own.

On the other hand, if you do know your own mind, and you’re prepared to do the work, I give this DVD a buy.


  • Charmaine on August 13, 2010

    Gotta see the finished product some time!! Great article (as always) R.H.!

  • Yolande on August 14, 2010

    I love the idea that Kent got out the saw for this project! A project we did is why we purchased ours.

    Vertical storage is key! And empty floors as far as the eye can see. My sister, Rachel, cleaned homes while she attended university and she learned quickly that uncluttered spaces look cleaner that cluttered ones.

    And I love that you used a piece of older furniture and brought it into your rooms’ decorating scheme. It isn’t that long ago that most people were handy at keeping their home in repair and fashioning what was needed. ‘Yay!’ for Kent for living the heritage of a pioneer!! I think that Mike Holmes would approve.

  • Elaine Shannon on August 16, 2010

    Hello Rhonda,
    I loved reading your post and the review of how the organizing Connection video helped with some of the issues you had. As one of the creators of this video I am grateful that firstly you attempted this yourself and that you were honest about what worked and what did not. In some situations this video can get you started and by hiring a professional you can tackle the remaining issues.
    Thanks again

  • Kim Eagles on August 16, 2010

    Way to go Bulmer Family, so happy you finally got it done. I know it can be a long and hard process but the end result is always worth the effort.

    Glad the DVD helped a little, I know it is not the same as having me push you in person but I know it helped at least learn the process. I am always available to nag a bit if you want 🙂

    Awesome work! Can’t wait to read what you create at that new work station!


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