Hiding in Full View: Storage and Home Organisation for our 4-Room Flat

[Andrew: I was telling Dear that this blog post title is one of the geekiest ever – resembling almost one of this journal articles I would read!]

Jasmine: Nesting instinct –or that time in the pregnancy when you just suddenly want to declutter, pack and get everything neat and tidy for baby’s arrival– has really kicked in. [Andrew: Okay, I generally approve of this instinct – it’s better than your ‘craving’ instincts which get me out of the house at 10 p.m. to buy Magnum.]

Many of these ideas date back to when we first moved in or when I was expecting Dylan, and since they have served us well, I thought it might be worth devoting an entire geeky post to. I’m not the most organized person around (just ask my mum!) [Andrew: Or ask me – Dearie’s definitely not the neatest person around, but she’s more organized than me, especially when it comes to the house. She’s been bugging me for ages to get my bed-side table organized, and even offered to buy organizer for that – but I don’t see the point!], but ever since moving into a place of my own, I’ve tried to be neater. One thing that helps me is having a storage system, so that all I need to do is buy the storage and put it there, and put things back in the same place every time!

Kitchen

We try to keep our kitchen neat by keeping counters clutter-free. This is only possible by maximizing our storage space. Here, we take a leaf from HDB and… go vertical!

This three-tiered stand makes it easy to see and reach for sauce/ spice bottles at the back of the cabinet.

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These Daiso shelves can be used alone for smaller plates…

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Or stacked. I spent a happy hour today while Dyl was napping, packing all the milk bottles we used last round for freezing expressed milk.

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Another completely underused area for storage is cabinet doors. Yep, doors! I got these stick-on towel grabbers from Amazon years ago. You can just drape a dishtowel on it without it needing a loop, and of course, sticking this behind a door removes more clutter from your counter-tops.

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This Daiso plate stand also doubles as a chopping board holder… can’t believe I got this idea from Buzzfeed of all places!

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An under-sink storage system (a splurge at $36, which I had been eyeing for over a year, and finally got from Howard’s Storage World when it finally went on sale!) also doubles storage in a tricky space by working around the plumbing. To make way for the plumbing, simply shift or remove one of the white shelf parts. The shelving is also extendable and height-adjustable, so I raised the lower level high enough to fit pot lids and flatter pans underneath.

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My buying philosophy is pragmatic: most value for money (rather than cheapest) wins. If i can get it from Daiso/Ikea/Amazon cheaper and it does the job just as well, I will. But in some cases, Howard’s has cornered the market with some unique offerings that can’t be bought anywhere else, such as this under-sink storage system, so the best is to wait impatiently and snap it up when it goes on sale.

A final goodie from Daiso… a mini whiteboard for my helper to write down items we are running low on, so that I can factor them in when planning groceries for the week. Please do not be as mean as Andrew and laugh at her spelling. That being said, we should probably try to value-add to her during her time with us, by helping her with English! [Andrew: To be fair, I was laughing not at her spelling, but at the fact that you chose to put up a picture of this – which strictly isn’t even a storage solution! Note that this post has been pared down – Dear even wanted to put in photos of our shoeracks and key holders.]

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Close the cupboard doors, and this is what our kitchen looks like. Do excuse the poor-quality iPhone photos, I hastily snapped them to show how our countertops look by the end of the night.

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Bedrooms

One of our niftiest hacks was to Velcro fabric panels under our bookshelves. One panel is for Dilly to play hide-and-seek, but the other is for keeping large but infrequently-used items out of sight, like Mum’s overnight bag, birdcages and fan.

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Release the curtain and the mess disappears. Haha.

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For all the bric-a-brac that a home inevitably accumulates, we bought these Ikea boxes and labeled them with their contents e.g. red packets, pens and markers. It’s been two years since we got them, and we’ve managed to keep the right things in the right boxes… Mostly!

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For small items, we –attempt- to keep things organized by using all sorts of drawer dividers.

This “picket fence” one is customizable, just measure out how much you want and break off the excess. It’s that simple. We got ours from Howard’s at $8 (enough to use for this whole sock drawer) but after realising that Daiso sells them too, we’ve switched allegiances. [Andrew: Okay, I’ll have to admit that this was pretty useful or else my socks would just be strewn all around in a disorganised manner. I should make it even more organised by designating certain compartments for exercise socks, work socks, outing socks etc.]

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This is my makeup drawer. While I’ve used a variety of containers to corral my stuff, I’d really like to point out the round holder for lipsticks and makeup brushes. At only $2 from Daiso, I’ve had it for many years and it is arguably my best storage buy ever. In comparison, Howard’s sells it for $14 so you know where to go:p

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On top of the dresser, we’ve got two more containers from Howard’s, which i haven’t seen in any other store. I love acrylic because it’s stylish, takes up little visual space and allows you to see everything that you have at one glance. Since becoming a mum, I officially have no time to blowdry my hair anymore, so my roomy hairdryer organizer now stashes all my skincare.

This other concentric container for cotton buds in the centre and cotton wool in the periphery is genius. I first saw this when we were staying at De Brett Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand, and was so happy to chance upon it at Howard’s. I like that it keeps the two kinds of items separate, yet next to each other, since you use both when removing makeup anyways.

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More dividers, this time from King and King Wong, a furniture store at Nex which has since sadly closed down. These are in the nursery, and for only $3 apiece, they’ve certainly been value for money. They can hold so many baby clothes rolled up! Just count how many pieces have been stuffed in! Oh yes, and my jetsetting fashionista friends would already know that rolling and folding clothes takes up much less space than hanging them.

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Another container from Boon, which is slanted for easier access and visibility. We use it for baby’s medicines and grooming products. [Andrew: Actually this Boon container is originally intended for wall-mounting, you can take whatever you need conveniently.] Next to it is a practical life tray (actually a Cathay Pacific freebie for his in-flight baby food) that I’m thinking of starting for Dilly that will consist of his hairbrush and toothbrush. In the future, I imagine that we will repurpose the Boon container for art or school supplies- it can also be wall-mounted at that point.

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Storeroom and toilets

What would we do without the storeroom? We were contemplating hacking it to enlarge the nursery, but my mum persuaded us to keep it, and I’m SO glad we did. Even if we had supersized storage, it would not be as convenient as having a room to chuck all the ugly, bulky stuff in!

Andrew assembled our floor-to-ceiling shelves himself (his pet project, which he is still very proud of- it’s his major contribution to our home heheh), but what I want to show you is how we utilized the remaining wall and door space…

[Andrew: Yes, the shelves were amazing because they almost doubled/tripled the amount of storage space we had there. I went to buy one, but I saw that our storeroom could do with another, so I drove all the way back to get another one. Never regretted these shelves! We got them directly from the supplier – Jin Yu Trading – at a significantly better price than Howard’s, who sells the same shelves, but obviously marked up significantly!]

An over-the-door iron organizer, again from Howard’s for $15. I generally veer away from over-the-door hanging caddies, as you can see the edge of the caddy over the door, but I figured that as this was in my entryway which people walk right through anyway, no one would notice.

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And a vacuum/ broom wall organizer from Howard’s for $19. This is the only item featured in this post which had to be drilled into the wall. Thankfully our trusty contractor Mr Poh helped us install it for free!

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Finally, a caddy from King and King Wong, which we use for toilet cleaning supplies. I was inspired when I saw housekeeping services in hotels carting all their supplies around! My domestic helper brings this downsized version from room to room when she is cleaning our bathroom, so I guess it comes in useful?

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The house is not perfect by any means, of course, and I can only imagine it getting messier with baby girl’s arrival! I still need to re-organise our guest bathroom and Andrew’s bedside table, which is the stuff of nightmares! [Andrew: You won’t give up – will you! and indeed she doesn’t – as you will see in the next post.]

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