As we near the end of 2021, we are looking back on our favorite projects of the year. With the opening of the new Container Store at Westfield Annapolis mall in May, came many opportunities to partner with the company on projects to give back to the local community. In total, we completed four special projects: storage rooms at the Lighthouse shelter in Annapolis, a Mother/Baby Pantry at Discoveries the Library at the Mall, and a storage closet at Tyler Heights Elementary.
Our final project of the year with the very generous team at The Container Store was very special to my team – a room makeover for a very deserving veteran couple. See the story on YouTube (below; captured by the very talented Ryan at Naptown Scoop) and keep reading for all the details – and some amazing before and after photos.
Together with Westfield Annapolis Mall and The Container Store, we hosted a room makeover contest in October 2021. The community nominated active duty military families and veterans to receive a complete room makeover in time for Veteran’s Day.
Laura and Bill Swick were nominated by FOUR different people in the community. Laura served as a Navy Nurse for four years active duty and four years in the reserves. She now homeschools the family’s five youngest kids (their oldest attends USNA). Bill served for 24 years in the Navy as a SWO officer, then METOC (meteorology and oceanography), and then as a PMP (Permanent Military Professor) at the Naval Academy. Two and a half years ago, Bill had surgery on a rare spinal cord condition resulting from an accident from his time in the Navy, and was expected to fully recover within a week. Instead, the surgery left him paralyzed from the waist down. These past few years have been a huge transition for Laura and Bill and their kids. Bill is currently a high school math teacher in Baltimore at a Catholic all-girls school. Bill continues to coach cross-country and volunteers with their church. They are still in the process of modifying their home for his needs. They were hoping to renovate their closet so that Bill could be more self-reliant and independent in getting dressed.
Our ultimate goal was to have Laura & Bill’s bedroom and closet feel like a sanctuary and an escape from the struggles they face on a daily basis. We wanted to create an accessible, yet calm and serene space that would enable Bill to be more self-reliant.
Problem: Laura and Bill’s closet was filled with backstock of medical equipment and infrequently used items they needed to keep, but didn’t need to access often.
Solution: We moved all the medical equipment out of the closet and stored it in their bedroom armoire, using OUR plastic shoe boxes. We put the frequently used items in low drawers that Bill can reach using clear drawer organizers, and stored the less frequently used items in higher drawers and cabinets. The medical equipment is now out of sight, yet very accessible to Bill when he needs it.
We created a dual medical station for Bill, making it easier for him to have all the supplies he needs in both locations. One is in his bedroom near his chair, and the other inside the closet in an Elfa drawer.
Problem: Bill’s clothes were being stored in an armoire in their bedroom and were too high for him to reach without assistance. Laura would need to assist him in getting his dress shirts, jackets, and socks.
Solution: With the new Elfa Decor closet design and addition of a chair in their closet, Bill can now sit and reach all of his clothes. The physical therapists at Stay at Home Safely helped find the right chair for Bill’s needs. His hanging clothes are to the right of the chair and all of his folded shirts and shorts are in the Elfa drawers to his left. We used the 32 compartment organizer to store his socks, making them easy to see and grab, and Elfa mesh drawer dividers to separate categories.
Problem: Laura & Bill’s closet was a catch-all for kids winter gear, luggage, keepsakes, and other items that didn’t need to be taking up valuable real estate in their closet. They also had a big variety of different-size bins holding their keepsakes scattered around their closet. This took up more room than was needed on the lower shelves (prime real estate!).
Solution: We found better homes for the luggage, winter gear, and other items in their basement closet. This means Laura and Bill’s kids won’t always need to be running into their closet for their winter clothes.
It also enabled us to move Laura’s clothes from her dresser into the main closet. Her clothes were crammed into small dresser drawers and it was hard for her to see what she had. Now all of her clothes are neatly folded in the Elfa drawers and hung on linen non-slip velvet hangers, making it easier for her to see her clothes and get dressed. For Bill’s clothes, we used wood hangers with grip.
We added white Montauk small cubes for miscellaneous categories like their clothes steamer, shoe care, and seasonal accessories.
We also used uniform Bigso light gray boxes with leather handles to store all their special keepsake items on the top shelf. We added Bigso document boxes to store their photo albums. Now they have a dedicated space for their special keepsakes and mementos up high, which is always the best spot for infrequently used items. Save the prime real estate for the things you use daily!
Problem: With six kids and frequent guests, there are a LOT of beds in the Swicks’ house. Their previous setup made it difficult to identify the size of the sheets and the sheer quantity of sheets and towels made it difficult to keep them stacked neatly on the shelf.
Solution: First we grouped the flat and fitted sheets together inside the matching pillowcases, so the sheet sets stay neat and organized. Secondly, we put each size sheet in a corresponding white Montauk basket with a birch bin clip and vinyl label. We also used extra large PEVA bags to contain the pillows to keep them contained and dust-free. We also used white medium Montauk baskets to hold washcloths and hand towels. Containing smaller items within a larger basket keeps them organized and it’s easier to maintain. Now their kids can easily find the sheets they need to make their bed without help from Laura.
Problem: Laura’s jewelry was stored in a dresser drawer and was tangled and disorganized.
Solution: We used two jewelry stackers to divide and organize her jewelry. We put infrequently used heirloom jewelry items in a Bigso box at the top of her closet and kept more frequently worn items in her jewelry stackers.
The Swicks were thrilled with their closet makeover! They now have a calm retreat within their bedroom. Laura has started sitting in the chair each morning with her cup of coffee and enjoys the quiet before her busy day begins. Bill is happy to be more self-reliant and have everything he needs within arms reach. This was a wonderful opportunity to give back to a family who has given so much to the local community and our nation. Thanks again to our partners at Westfield Annapolis Mall and the Container Store for helping make this dream project a reality!
Before & After
As with any space, when you create clear zones, use the right size containers, and label everything, you’ll have a beautifully organized space that will be easy to maintain over time.
Professional Photos by Rick Brady.
Special thanks to Kate Slayton Lettering for the quote featured above the chair.
Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…