How a Bedtime Story Inspired Me to Get Organized

by James Florence


One of the best ways to increase comfort and functionality in the home is to implement organizational measures. Photo: PremierGarage (2014)

Have you ever been partway through a book or movie and suddenly found yourself staring at a reflection of your own life? Maybe you identified with a particular character’s loss, struggle or triumph, or chuckled at a comical situation similar to one you’ve personally experienced. After all, isn’t relatability one of the primary features that cause stories to resonate with us?

Sometimes this narrative resonance comes from an unexpected source. For me, it was a bedtime story I was reading to my kids recently. Midway through “The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room,” I recognized a striking parallel between the Bear family’s titular dilemma and my own. The “dust-catching, helter-skelter, wall-to-wall mess” in Brother and Sister Bears’ bedroom appeared as a caricature of our living room, which at that moment resembled a minefield of toys and clothing. Then there was the Bears’ bedroom closet, which, when opened, triggered an avalanche of miscellaneous articles. While not as dramatic, I was reminded that my own closet wasn’t exactly “orderly.”

By the story’s end, the Bears find a bipartite resolution that consists of a conscious change in habits and the instigation of a few organizational improvements, including a toy box and peg board that Papa Bear constructs in his wood shop. While I had personally made strides to correct some of my untidy habits, the book made me realize that I’d largely disregarded the latter aspect. Admittedly, organization isn’t my strong suit. A lot of the items in our house didn’t have a designated place, and even those that did didn’t always fit well or appear neat.

As it happened to be on the cusp of a new year, I determined right then and there to make an effort to get more organized. Only one problem: I didn’t know where to begin. Not only did I not have a woodshop (much less any carpentry skills), I didn’t possess an iota of organizational know-how. Fortunately, as a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer, what I did have was access to a wealth of resources, including first-person contributions from business owners and field experts. Here are a few things I learned from my research:


When it comes to keeping your child’s room tidy, a little organization can go a long way. Photo: PremierGarage (2014)

Organization is a creative art.
Apparently, Sara Hunt Malone, owner of Sara Hunt Malone Design in San Rafael, has also read “The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room,” because her advice echoes the book’s situation perfectly. Her primary piece of advice: when it comes to organization, get creative. “When you have too much stuff and not enough storage space, you need creative ways to efficiently use the space you do have,” she says. “Whether that means setting up designated ‘stations’ for your kids’ playtime and bathroom routines or using bins, baskets and other organizational tools to keep your spaces orderly, creative organization can greatly improve aesthetics, efficiency and functionality in your home.”


An organized kitchen will enable you to work with greater efficiency. Photo: PremierGarage (2014)

You don’t need new cabinets to have an organized kitchen.
Even if you have a lot of cabinet space in your kitchen, if it isn’t configured in a practical way, the result can be disarray. That’s why organization has become one of the focal points of today’s cabinet industry, with cabinetmakers devising innumerable ways to utilize every inch of usable space. If buying new kitchen cabinets is outside of your budget, there’s good news: you can modify your existing ones to incorporate modern organizational innovations. The addition of features like pull-out baskets, lazy Susans, and sliding drawers can make your existing cabinets much more orderly and functional.

In addition to having more functional storage spaces, Ms. Hunt Malone recommends applying the aforementioned station method to the kitchen as well. “Think about what you typically do in your kitchen and keep things centrally located in those specific areas,” she suggests. “For example, keep baking pans and ingredients in the same area so when you’re baking, you’re only working in one spot of your kitchen. This makes the entire process smoother and keeps the kitchen cleaner and more organized.”

A reach-in closet has a lot more potential than you’d think.
Many people wish they had a large, walk-in closet to accommodate their storage needs. However, according to Uri Rosenberg, owner of Closet Factory in San Carlos, few people realize that even a typical reach-in closet can be reconfigured to dramatically enhance its usefulness. “The average reach-in closet has a single hanging rod and shelf above it, but by efficiently utilizing its height, you can literally double its storage capacity,” he says.

One of the simplest ways to maximize space in a reach-in closet is to install double hanging rods, which gives you twice the hanging space while leaving the top shelf for storing shoes and other non-hanging items. Additionally, home improvement stores sell do-it-yourself closet kits, many of which offer adjustable shelves and poles. However, if you don’t feel comfortable going the DIY route, a top rated closet organizer can help you make the most of your limited space.


Proactive organizational improvements can transform your garage from a chaotic catch-all to a fully functional space. Photo: PremierGarage (2014)

Your garage doesn’t have to be a no man’s land.
While often reduced to a chaotic catch-all for items that don’t have a place in the living area, there are several ways to create and maximize organizational space in a garage. One is to take full advantage of wall and ceiling space by installing additional shelving and hooks from which to hang bicycles and sports equipment. It’s also smart to store similar items together in designated areas, although, as Gary Martin of Custom Garages Inc. in Pacheco explains, this should be approached pragmatically. “When storing items in your garage, it’s important to consider visibility and accessibility. Items that you use often should be stored at or below eye level, and seasonal items like Christmas ornaments should be stored on higher shelves.”

Find a home organization company in your area