Welcome to My Swym and a Few Things I've Figured Out Along the Way

When we moved to Kansas two years ago I doubted I'd ever want to sew again. My entire life had been surrounded by creativity but I thought that was all behind me. I was ready for a change.


The small room at the bottom of the stairs in our new home would make a wonderful sewing room but I had no desire for it to be anything other than the gym that the previous owners had designed it to be. So before we moved we sold my sewing room furniture and loaded up the treadmill. Goodbye California, hello a whole new life in Kansas City.

Umm...ya...well, not exactly.

Many of you know that my progressive idiopathic peripheral neuropathy is the reason we relocated to KC. Not knowing where this medical condition would lead, we felt it best to be near our son and his family. I am so thankful for that nudge. I'm sure Bill and I would still be working if it hadn't been for my health issues. I mention this only to explain the importance of that beast of a treadmill.


It has become an important part of my wellbeing. Although doctors can't tell us why I have neuropathy, I have figured out on my own that I feel better when I eat "clean" and move. I also have figured out that I truly enjoy the comforts that air conditioning and heat can bring, so the treadmill needs to stay right here, in the house.

One morning while walking on the treadmill I got to thinking that perhaps I could incorporate a sewing room into the gym, a "Swym", if you will. It wouldn't be perfect - there were no windows or natural light. There was carpet instead of my preferred hardwood floor and no storage in this oddly shaped, mirror lined room. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I could make it work. 


I started researching sewing cabinets but couldn't find anything that I thought would work. About that time I received a catalog from Ballard Designs. I knew their office furniture because I had used it in my office at Strawberry Patches.  I loved it because I could configure it however I wanted, they offered the corner unit that I was looking for, it came preassembled and it was all 25% off.


After running my ideas by Bill I ordered it and it arrived five days later.

Welcome to my swym...


The wooden Cathedral arches are from Kirkland's and helped break up the mirrored wall. 


Both of the inexpensive lamps are also from Kirkland's and help a lot with the lack of light.


My comfy adjustable chair is from Pottery Barn


and I found that cute Fall pillow at Kirkland's too.



There was a small closet in this room that housed a radon detector (?) and the electrical panels for the house. After relocating Bill's golf clubs I had room for a storage cart to hold most of my fabric boxes



and over the door storage units for my doodads - all from The Container Store.


Is it perfect?


But, you know what?

It's perfect for me, right now. It's organized, cozy and most of my stuff is right here at the ready.


One more thing I've figured out along the way. It's important for me to stay positive and to look to the future with excitement, enthusiasm and optimism.

As my sign says, nobody said it would be easy. I think sometimes what is easy is to sit back and wring our hands and say, "Why me"?

I prefer to ask, "Why me? - how did I get so stink'n blessed"? 

Now, except for that one hour a day on the treadmill I have all day to do what I have always loved to do in a fabulous redesigned space - 


Encourage one another,


 *Please feel free to ask questions about any of the items mentioned in this post. I was able to find discounts above the discounts advertised in the current Ballard Catalog and Kirkland's offers daily discounts through their app for regularly priced merchandise. Hey, all the more money to spend on new fabric. Right?


How I Store My Stuff

When we started shopping for a new home in Kansas we noticed something about the homes here that we weren't used to seeing in California.


Some homes had completely unfinished basements that were just big open areas, as big as the house above, with concrete walls and floors and exposed pipes and support beams. Others had beautifully finished basements with bedrooms, bathrooms, media rooms, fireplaces, gyms, game rooms, wet bars and wine cellars. Then others were a combination of both, partially finished but with large open unfinished areas for storage. The common thread was that all the houses we looked at had some kind of basement and some kind of a storage area.

The house we ended up purchasing was perfect for our needs; a finished basement with just the right amount of unfinished storage. My philosophy has always been that your stash should not exceed  your given storage space, so not having a huge storage room would hopefully help keep my stash in check.

I must add here that in our home in California, Bill and I shared the massive built-ins that lined the walls of the garage. I kept extra dishes and seasonal decorations out there along side his lawn chemicals, car wax and whatever else men think they need. Smiley
When we bought this house we agreed that Bill would take the little storage there was in the garage and I could have the small storage room in the basement. Knowing that I needed to be able to fit the entire contents of my previous sewing room plus overflow dishes and seasonal decor into that small space forced me to carefully evaluate what was making the move. I purged heavily before moving, bringing with me only the things I loved. Once we got moved in we purchased six industrial shelving units to line the walls of the storage room and I started organizing.

My hope with this blog post is that you might get an idea or two that will help simplify how you store the things that you don't use everyday. I am by no means an expert. This is just what has worked for me.

Just off the main media room in the basement is a door leading to my storage area. I kinda think of it as my girl cave because it's mostly mine although I do share it with two AC/heating units, a hot water heater, media equipment and a few fishing poles.


I love that it's tucked away behind the bar and under the stairwell because I can shut the door and nobody knows that it's there and that it sometimes looks like this (insert scary music here)


This is how it often looks after a party or major decorating spree - or both.

So the other day, while tackling this room I decided to snap a few photos and show you how I store my stuff.

Below is a photo of the wall to the left as you walk past the heating units and water heater. On this side I keep all my extra dishes and linen. Across the top shelf are clear storage bins with Christmas decorations.

Tip #1: Buy MATCHING CLEAR storage bins when possible. It looks neater. Although most of my bins are labeled, being able to see at a glance what's inside is so helpful.

Tip #2: Measure depth, height and width of your shelves and space before purchasing storage bins to maximize storage space.


My shelves are not arranged neatly but I do try and keep like things together.


Mason Vista dish collection


Valentines and Easter dishes


Place mats and table linens.

On the opposite wall I store my fabric, again in mostly matching, labeled bins.

Fabric wall

I put like fabrics together, stripes, solids, dots, etc and label each box.

Tip #3: Label the boxes


This really helps me keep organized and helps since I sew upstairs so it's easy to grab a box of fabric I think I might need and take it up to the machine.


Across the top of the sewing and craft supplies are more big bins with seasonal decor. More Christmas, fall, spring and patriotic. Since I tend not to decorate the same each year I don't label the bins for areas (mantel, kitchen island etc). I just label and store them for the season and recreate each year.

Here's a view of the area under the stairwell. I keep luggage and oversized items in here - small fully decorated trees, a couple of big Santas, my big tiered tray from the kitchen island. It's dark and the ceiling is low so big things that we don't use often go in there.


Yes, we have a skeleton in our closet. I'm pretty sure every family does.


Probably the best thing that I did was

Tip #4: Hang wreaths and garlands



I had Bill insert long screws into the studs so I can hang my wreaths and garlands - four deep. This keeps them from getting crushed, I can see what I have at a glance, and they are up out of the way. If I had to put them into tubs I never would have had enough room to store them all. Also because they are in the basement there is relatively little dust.

Looking back toward the way you walk in is my eight foot Christmas tree, seasonal door mats to the right and two more wreaths hanging up out of the way on the rafters. Yes, that's fishing gear above the sound system equipment - I'm a generous wife. Smileyface


It's certainly not pretty by any stretch of the imagination but it's functional and I know where everything is. I love that I don't have to bug Bill to get something down for me when I need it and I get my exercise running up and down the stairs. It's all good.

I hope you got an idea or two on organizing bigger storage areas. I'd love to hear about how you organize your stuff and what works for you.

Until next time - love you more than labeled matching clear boxes.

Encourage one another,






Jars, Jars and More Jars - But Not What You May Think


First of all I want to thank you all for your encouragement on my first blog post. It was so fun to read the comments and names of long time friends that gathered here. Your excitement and love makes me want to be better.HeartsThank you for that. 


Today I wanted to show you a little bit of my home here in Kansas and how I am attempting to organize my sewing and craft supplies now that I no longer have a dedicated sewing room. It's been challenging and at times frustrating not having everything together and in plain view. This week I purchased a simple organizing unit that I absolutely love and wanted to share it with you because I imagine that there are others out there without the space they wish they had.

One thing I had to give up when we downsized and moved to Kansas was my sewing room (have I mentioned that I lost my sewing room?) If you were a reader of my previous blog you probably remember some of these photos. Oh, how I loved that space. (Stop your whining Suzanne). 

Suzanne's sewing room2

A few years before we decided to move I did a major purge, getting rid of stuff I never used. Then I totally organized the space.

Suzanne's sewing room4

I bought dozens of jars in every size to store my trinkets and doodads and clear plastic bins to house fabric and bulkier items. 

Suzanne's sewing room3

Everything was labeled and in plain view and for the first time in my life I knew what I had and exactly where to find it. Being organized was surprisingly liberating and calming for me and I think it helped me feel more creative. If you've ever thought of doing a major purge, I highly recommend it.


I loved those jars so much that even though we sold almost all of our furniture and brought relatively little with us to Kansas the jars and most of their contents came with us. 


I have my priorities.


Although I lost a sewing room I gained an awesome pantry


so I just repurposed my bigger glass jars and filled them with beans instead of buttons,  flour instead of flowers. Now I have pretty much everything I need for those days when we get snowed in - I'm still waiting for a really big snow storm but when it comes, I'll be ready. We certainly won't starve in the mean time.


I love my jars no matter what's inside them.

So now the big jars had a new home and purpose but there were still about fifty of these little guys that needed to be better displayed for easier access.


This is where that new organizing unit that I was telling you about comes in. Last week while roaming the isles of The Container Store (I do that sometimes. Weird, I know.) I discovered this over the door Pantry Wall Rack from Elfa and thought, hum.....


The cool thing is that it doesn't require screws so it doesn't deface your door and because it doesn't need screws, I didn't need Bill to do the installation!

Helpful hint: Anytime you can keep your hubby from seeing how much stuff you have, the better! Somethings are just better kept to oneself, if you know what I mean. 


The center bracket just hooks over the top and bottom of the door and the shelves are customizable for your specific needs.


The whole thing cost me right at $200 with the additional shelves and those square containers on the bottom three shelves.



Over the Door Pantry unit $200, being able to see all my fun little embellishments in one place, priceless.


Just inside the closet is my Bisley eight drawer storage cabinet 


which houses my basic sewing supplies.


This tiny space is starting to make me feel very happy, I think it will suit my needs just fine.  

Later I'll take you down into our basement/tornado cellar (just kidding - sort of) to show you where the rest of my stuff is stored. Then next time I'll share more Oui yogurt jar ideas. I've received some awesome ideas from some of you so if you've done something creative with your empty jars be sure and share over on my Facebook page so I can share them with you all here.

               Stay tuned

More jar fun ahead!

Encourage one another,

SignatureAKA "The Jar Lady"

This post is not sponsored and opinions, ideas and photographs are my own. 

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