The Monica Cupboard

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:

the monica cupboard


Then post-a small sort out:

the monica cupboard the monica cupboard

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.

the monica cupboard the monica cupboard

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…

the monica cupboard

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.

the monica cupboard

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.

the monica cupboard

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 ;)

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  1. Fiona wrote:

    You iron, this is so fancy, I never iron, apart from nursery uniforms. I love that you have a Monica cupboard! I have three. For shame! The under the stairs cupboard in our house is A PILE of camping stuff and toys I’ve hidden from Ebony. There is a wardrobe in our room FULL TO THE BRIM with old clothes and toys that need sorting and putting in the loft (who has the time for such frivolity?). And, we have a downstairs bathroom that currently doesn’t work and has become a crazy tool room. We are getting the bathroom sorted this month though, so I really need to start sorting all the crap out. I love how organised your Monica cupboard looks now, this shall be my inspiration! x

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Ahh you are good ironing nursery uniforms, that’s one thing I definitely don’t iron and I know my mum disapproves!!

      Hah, I also hide toys from my children. This was actually a good thing recently when E went to a birthday party and I totally forgot to buy a present. Luckily we had a cupboard-full of brand new toys :)

      Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  2. Adele wrote:

    Oh my goodness, I have more than a Monica cupboard if I’m honest! I really need to do a whole-house clearout! Approaching it unemotionally, as you say, is definitely the way to go.

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Absolutely – I think that’s the key when de-cluttering!

      Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  3. Lia wrote:

    If you ever saw MY Monica cupboard, you would cry into your steam-mop. It’s horrific, and in 6 weeks, i’m expected to find new homes for all the crap that’s in there, as it’s going to become a little office nook. Aaaaaagh! Maybe one day i’ll get drunk & take a picture of it!

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Ahh how exciting though – an office nook! I vote for getting pissed, taking a photo then throwing everything away.

      Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  4. Mel Wiggins wrote:

    I am actually so pathetically happy for you to have this all neat and tidy because I, too, am a control-freak-tidier. I seriously can’t contemplate leaving dishes lying about willy nilly (!) and not making the bed and weird shit like that that other people are just so fancy free and chilled about. Well freaking done. xo

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Ahh I love to meet fellow control freak tidiers! I’m the same, I can’t leave the house with an unmade bed and can’t go up at night if there are dishes out – everything must be away. I always get comments on Instagram asking me how long it took to tidy the house for the photo but I’m like, nope, I am just this neat all the time.
      The Monica cupboard was the absolute last stage. I am HAPPY! x

      Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  5. Polly wrote:

    argh!! you did a great job! I cleaned my monica cupboard out just after Christmas and i can actually FIND ALL THE THINGS now!

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Ahh isn’t it brilliant! Just wait til my label maker arrives tomorrow – a whole new level of organization ;)

      Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  6. Lori wrote:

    Haha you can’t even open my Monica cupboard and I swear we only delve in there once a year to get camping equipment out! Your’s is looking super tidy now! Great job x

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  7. Fritha wrote:

    I so so wish I were like you, mess does make me feel stressed out & yet I can always find something more important to do than clean. Having someone help weekly with our kitchen & bathroom was a game changer & I’m slowly embracing tidying a bit more. I do love me a good gadget though & have a steam mob & dyson that help make it a bit smoother. x

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  8. Lauranne wrote:

    I don’t suppose you fancy a new challenge and want to come and do my house? When I first moved in everything was going to be in it’s place but two brushes with cancer later (my grandad and my dad) the house has ground to a halt and I feel I should have a well deserved lie down just for cleaning the bath!

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  9. Kathryn wrote:

    I’ve never seen that Friends episode and so never realised that it was called the Monica Cupboard. Ours is under the stairs and is filled with plastic bags, old paint pots, random vases I don’t need and loads of cobwebby crap I daren’t delve into anymore. Seriously, it’s where you’d choose to hide a dead body should the need ever arise.

    Your cupboard is amazing, apart from the organisation and cleanliness I have serious domestic appliance envy!! xx

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
    • Alison, Not Another Mummy Blog wrote:

      Wow! I’m GENUINELY impressed. I, too, have a Monica cupboard and one of the things on my MUST DO in 2016 list is sorting it out. We need to get a handyman in to build some shelving but loving the look of those stackable things!!

      Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  10. laura redburn wrote:

    we have two of these and sadly they’re a lot worse! one is almost bursting, ha. yours looks ace now and is making me want to sort ours!

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  11. Gwen wrote:

    I am envious of your Monica cupboard now… I got half way through sorting out my spare room over Christmas and I swear it looks worse than when I started!

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  12. 76sunflowers wrote:

    Under the stairs!! I hate it; shoes, vacuum cleaner, school bags, suitcases, three tents, ironing board, boiler, shopping bags, kitchen roll, bags of work stuff, half used tins of paint – just in case we need to do a touch up job, feather duster, torches, cobwebs, spiders and a damp patch…all on top of other random detritus that is homeless elsewhere in the house! I really should sort it out.

    Posted 2.1.16 Reply
  13. Amanda wrote:

    Oh I’m like you, I need order in my home. My Monica Cupboard is HUGE though, its the double garage. I run from it screaming whenever I place something that’s the next to die in there.

    Posted 2.2.16 Reply
  14. Simone wrote:

    That looks so good! I recently moved into a tiny two bedroom apartment in Copenhagen, and storage is really a challenge!

    I’ve noticed that you’re quite into scandinavian interior, you should really check out In my opinion it’s the best Danish interior design blog out there!

    Posted 2.4.16 Reply