Franki Durbin Whips It Into Shape!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Joining us for another edition of the “Whip It Into Shape!” series is Franki Durbin of Life In a Venti Cup and its sister site, Life In a Sippy Cup. An interior designer, Franki possesses a seriously sharp eye for spotting well, most anything fabulous. If it’s interesting, noteworthy, exceptionally beautiful or thought-provoking, Franki will know about it, and will happily pass it on to you.

Today, Franki takes on the task of whipping her daughter’s activity closet into shape, and she does it all with the trained eye of someone who understands the fundamentals of space, the importance of uniformity in appearance, and a take-no-prisoners-approach to clutter. Behold, absorb:

The space: Art & activity closet. The foundation of what I jokingly refer to as my mommasorri school 😉

This is actually a series of shelves in a room behind the laundry room. It’s not Candi Spelling’s gift wrapping room or one of Martha’s incredible craft rooms… but it serves as storage area for my 4 year old’s art supplies, games and activities.

The issue: accumulation & lack of “a system”

I’m a neat freak by nature. But when it comes to small spaces and windowless rooms, I’m always in a rush to find the nearest exit. As a result, our ever growing stash of art supplies and learning toys slowly began to take on a less than inspiring appearance.

Christmas & birthdays behind us, my daughter’s bounty of markers, books and creative tools began to overflow on these shelves. Beyond that, there were redundancies: Crayons here, and there, and – oh, a few more over there.

What began as mild disorder quickly became chaos. Contrary to what you might think, disorganization is the silent killer of creativity. What good is a closet full of art supplies if it doesn’t inspire greatness and artistic freedom?

Solution: divide & conquer

Items like these accumulate slowly. Gifts are received and put away without really being incorporated into the “whole.” Over time, the result is a mishmash of coloring kits & books with little logic to the storage.

Remember the issue of redundancy? I’m a big fan of “chunking” and streamlining. The key is to group similar together to create more efficiency – like a silverware drawer where all spoons are together. Then map out the desired flow of a space and think of ways the form can better serve those functions.

My first step- gathering: crayons in one bin, paint in another and so on. Marking each container makes play time that much easier.

Next step- edit: We tossed or recycled most of the individual packaging. This gives us a unified look and more importantly: better flow. All “like” items are together. This also allowed us to label the little containers.

For function we added a paper dispenser, child-friendly bins (with handles) and stacked the lower shelves with items my daughter regularly uses on her own.

The result: order!

Even my daughter is thrilled with the results. She can pop in, easily pick out what she’d like to do next and feel a sense of ownership over the space. I love that it’s easy to use and a cinch to maintain & makes playtime even more fun.

We use this closet daily, so it’s fantastic having it look and operate more beautifully.

Thanks for letting us whip it into shape with you!

* * *

Here’s why I love this project: Franki’s activity closet is the perfect example of a space that may not appear all that cluttered at first glance. I’ll bet that when some of you saw the before you were a little let down. You wanted something truly horrifying, admit it. As you read Franki’s explanation and process, it becomes more and more obvious that although everything was placed somewhere on a shelf, the closet space wasn’t being used effectively.

Here’s what I love about what Franki did: It’s so important that function be the first priority here, given that her daughter is the person who primarily uses it. When you organize for children you have to be doubly aware of accessibility, cause, you know, children are little people. By making the right things easily accessible for her daughter, Franki has ensured that the closet can really serve its purpose. Beyond that- the bins? The labels? Hello! Gold star. Shiny one. Keeping everything contained in like categories is important, and labeling them for easy recognition is essential.

That’s going to wrap it up for today gum drops! If you have an area, big or small, that you want to whip into shape and have featured here, send me a note at

One thought on “Franki Durbin Whips It Into Shape!

  1. Dawn {The Alternative Wife}

    It’s perfect!!! Seeing it so organized like that actually gets me excited. I’m such a freak about some things. Now if only I would make the time to do these projects in my apartment. 🙂

    Hope you’re having a good start to the week and hope you had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend! xoxo


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