When the team from IKEA’s Live Lagom project came to see my house, I knew they’d want to poke around a bit. That was fine with me; as an obsessive cleaner and tidier (it’s a control thing) my house is, 90% of the time, ready to receive the queen. Well, you never know, do you?
But there is one dark space I was worried they’d want to delve in to. A part of my home that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, ever gets to see. A space I purposefully hide from visitors, even my mum.
It’s The Monica Cupboard.
This is it pre-Xmas:
Then post-a small sort out:
My Monica cupboard was a true dumping ground. It’s where I stashed anything vaguely related to laundry, including the ironing… despite getting rid of my ironing board as it was too big (when ironing is inescapable I do it with my hair straighteners). It’s where outsized kitchen appliances like the bread maker lived, where you’d find random bits and pieces that hadn’t found a home after the last house move, where odd socks went to die. It was a place to stash objects that needed to be out of sight, and that desperately had to change.
It’s funny how one messy cupboard can stress me out like this. My house is a total haven for me, a calm space I retreat to when the going gets rough or relaxation is needed. I love the serenity of it, how it feels so warm and safe.
Yet every time I opened that cupboard I felt the opposite. Stressed out, angsty and highly strung. I started avoiding the cupboard, putting creased shirts back in the wardrobe so I wouldn’t have to look at them in there, skipping the recycling bin and putting the newspapers straight outside. I once didn’t use the tumble dryer for a month because there was so much crap in The Monica Cupboard I just couldn’t get to it.
I found relief in my Live LAGOM leaders who promised me faithfully that they’d seen many more than one Monica Cupboard on their rounds. It makes sense: in a world of chaos, of course we need a space that reflects how busy our lives are, and my Monica Cupboard was mine.
Only I wanted to stop my busy life affecting my need to tumble dry the kids’ school uniforms.
Soon after I’d moved in to this house my dad hung shelves in this cupboard so I could use it as a useful storage spot and it was a real shame that his hard work going to waste. So, as part of my Live LAGOM life improvement project, I decided enough was enough. My Monica Cupboard was going to get a makeover, once and for all.
This was a tricky project to get started. It turned out I quite liked having a space I allowed myself to be messy in, and the thought of taking that away actually made me feel slightly anxious. I worried that, without my Monica Cupboard, the rest of the house would somehow fall into disarray.
Obviously that was a ridiculous train of thought, but you know…
Step one in this process was to approach it unemotionally. There was crap in that cupboard that I’d had and not used for years, but simply by owning it that long I was inexplicably fond of it. Whatever, it had to go. As always with a big organization project I have three big bags on the go: charity, bin and recycling, and much of the old crap was either binned or destined for the British Heart Foundation shop. It hurt to throw out that Lyle’s Golden Syrup tin full of duplicate Allen Keys and stubby pencils but out they went…
Step two was to bring in the big organization guns. Once I’d got rid of the rubbish I wanted to organize the leftover bits and bobs in a way that would be easy to access and would leave minimal room for getting cluttered again. I bought some small boxes from IKEA for craft bits, laundry accoutrements and random things that needed to be stored near the printer and then looked at the big boxes. I chose four of the SORTERA as they’re stackable and really really handy: one is for recycling, one is to store the expensive supermarket bits I bulk buy on Amazon Prime (like nappies and Napisan), one is for the kids’ artwork that otherwise overruns the house and one is for larger toys that don’t fit in our toy boxes.
These boxes are brilliant because they’re so sturdy they can take the weight of other things on top. Like my Miele vacuum cleaner that I recently bought to replace my 7 year old Dyson which has changed my world (and my carpets) and my steam mop (GOD I love to clean).
In addition I bought a hanging table top ironing board, for those occasions when the GHDs just won’t cut it. My shirts have never looked sharper and it takes up about 10% of the old ironing board’s clunky space: I love it.
Step three was to make sure there was a place for everything. I really made a point to theme my boxes: we have a face painting box, a shoe polishing box, a cleaning box, a laundry box, a craft box… I didn’t want crap that didn’t belong in The Monica Cupboard being abandoned here. I’ve ordered a label maker to help with this portion of my anal personality ;)
The printer remains in here because it’s a great place to put it – easy to access (at least now anyway) yet hidden away. I’ve been using the Epson ET-4500 recently and it’s been amazing, it totally revolutionised my Tax Return (bah humbug) this year.
And there you have it. Monica cupboard complete: it’s now a space that actively makes me happy, all for less than £40.
I don’t miss having a ‘dumping’ space. Knowing I can pop something in the tumble dryer without facing an obstacle course of old rolls of wrapping paper and loo rolls to recycle is wonderful (yeah, I should probably get out more) and this storage just feels so clean and efficient.
Plus, I NOW IRON. And I love the new non-creased me!
Transformation into the perfect wife: complete. Come at me, boys!
Do you have a Monica cupboard? Bonus points for photos ;)