Organizing My Mom’s Bedroom Built-Ins

Last month, I shared my mom’s bedroom refresh here on the blog. You guys loved it. I mean, how could you not? Her space is heavenly! At the time, I kinda thought, “Okay, we’re officially done with this room!” Well, not quite. I actually got multiple questions about my mom’s built-ins and what she stores in them. I shared the story of the bedroom built-ins back in this post a few years ago, but never actually shared the inside…

What’s Hiding Inside Those Built-Ins?

My best tips to organize built-ins

My assistant, Lindsey, even said that she really wanted a peek inside because they’re probably super organized and she could use some tips on how to organize things in her own home. When I told that to Jan, she laughed and then got a little panicked at the thought of showing off what’s actually behind those doors…

What's inside these built-ins?

Are they clean, perfect, and organized? Not one bit. Do they have potential? Heck yes! I told my mom I would help her get these looking good so she could gain some more storage, and Christmas pillows wouldn’t fly out at her whenever she opened the doors.

Jan's Christmas built-ins

Remember how my mom downsized from the suburbs? Well, she did an absolutely incredible job getting rid of items and purging. But there was no way she was going to get rid of all of her Christmas decor. Christmas is HER THING and you can see how she dresses her entire condo up from top to bottom over in this post. Since she doesn’t have extra storage in her city home, 75% of the the built-in space holds Christmas items.

Other than that, she has random toys for the grandkids, extra toiletries, and gift bags, oh so many gift bags – more on that later.

My Best Tips to Organize Built-Ins

My best tips to organize built-ins

I told my mom we would take an afternoon and take everything out of the built-ins and make a plan. Now, Jan is usually totally on board when I suggest crazy things like this. But this time around, she was a little uncertain and unsure if we could really organize the built-ins to make them better. I assured her I wouldn’t leave her with a terribly messy room while we figured out this project.

The Great Purge

Taking everything out of the built-ins is the best idea when you're organizing built-ins

Whenever you’re organizing, you’ve gotta take it all out to see what you’ve got. And yes, all of it. We took boxes and bins out of her bedroom built-ins and started piling them high, all around. As we went, my mom ended up getting rid of some stuff, including extra decor, blankets, pillows, some exercise equipment, and more. Just that was super helpful.

Jan, aka “The Gift Bag Addict”

Then, I came upon my mom’s gifting supplies. Now, as you may remember, my mom is the ultimate gift wrapper and she has shared both her bow-making tutorial and gift wrapping tips right here on the blog. I knew she had lots of wrapping paper, ribbons, and gift bags but I did not understand the extent of her supplies. Holy smokes, the woman could wrap a gift for every person in Chicago and still have supplies leftover.

Gift bags in my mom's bedroom

Her gift bag stash was especially impressive. I had her go through and get rid of any that had seen better days, but she really held strong and didn’t purge as much as I wanted her to. I told her that I will never ever buy a gift bag again and instead I will be heading her way when Christmas wrapping comes.

Vacuum Seal For the Win

All of the stuff in my mom's bedroom

Another issue we had to deal with was the multitude of Christmas pillows and blankets in the built-ins. Now, I wasn’t about to make Jan get rid of her precious Christmas decor, so purging was out of the question. But we still had at least 15 pillows, 5 blankets, and a huge red quilt to store in the built-ins.

How to vacuum seal items

Before, they were stuffed in big garbage bags and they’d tumble onto your head when you opened the doors. I decided to bring my “As Seen On TV” dreams to life and vacuum seal all of her Christmas textiles. Wow, it works so well! We used these bags in the jumbo size, along with my Dyson vacuum to suck out the air, and within about 20 minutes all of the pillows and blankets were neatly flattened into four vacuum-sealed bags.

Four vacuum sealed bags to hold pillows and blankets

Instead of taking up half of the closet space, these are now neatly arranged up high on one shelf. I’ll help my mom get them out when the holidays come and we’ll then seal them back up come January. I now want to vacuum seal allllll of the things in my house to save space!

New Matching Tubs

My best tips to organize built-ins

Once we purged, we slowly put items back in place and realized that we needed to buy a few containers. I always recommend waiting until the very end to buy containers because you’ll know exactly what you want to store in them. Also, be sure to measure the shelves so you can get containers that maximize the space.

Organizing toys in built-ins

We ended up buying four of these bins and two of these smaller ones from Target. They fit the bottom three shelves perfectly and corral all of the kids’ toys and their bath supplies. Now, the grandkids can open up this cabinet, without fear that something might fall down on them, and find all of their favorites within reach.

The Dresser

The dresser in my mom's room

I know people will ask about the dresser drawers in the middle of the cabinets. My mom did go through all of them and get them organized. In here, she stores her jewelry, underwear, shirts, shorts, and more. It acts as a traditional bedroom dresser. I know I share my underwear drawer here on the blog, but I told Jan she didn’t need to show you guys all of her secrets!

Jan’s New Organized Built-Ins

I’m so pleased with how these turned out, but Jan is even happier than I am! The entire right cabinet is Christmas Central, with decor, pillows, rugs, and wrapping paper.

My mom's new organized built-ins in her bedroom

My mom will rarely need to get into that cabinet for everyday items during most of the year, so it’s nice to have the little chair in front.

My mom's organized built-ins

Up top, in the wicker baskets, my mom now stores her ribbon and beloved gift bags! Those baskets were actually empty before, which was such a waste of useable space, so we did our best to use them.

On the left, we’ve got a bit more Christmas, wreaths all stacked nicely, and then the kids’ toys.

My mom's organized built-ins

Instead of buying all new containers, so they’d match perfectly, we just used what my mom already had. There is no need to spend tons of money to organize something no one even really sees, right?

Jan’s Bedroom Sources

My mom's bright bedroom makeover
Wall Color: Benjamin Moore “Gray Owl” // Bed // Art (local from The Painted Lady Chicago) // White Duvet // Blush Quilt // Blush Pillows  // Lumbar Pillow // Woven Shades // Gold Frames // Nightstands // Rug (Ink/Salmon Color) // Sconces // Wicker Tray // Flower Vase // Cream Vase // Faux Greenery // Ceiling Fan // Black & White Frames 
My best tips to organize built-ins

Built-In Information // Black Built-In Hardware  // Baskets (old from Michaels) // Vacuum Seal Bags // Blue Bins // Wrapping Paper Storage (similar)

So there you have it! The saga of my mom allowing me to organize her bedroom built-ins, even if it did get a little messy and chaotic for a minute. They’re now a heck of a lot more functional and I know she appreciates the storage.


Tour The Rest of Jan’s Home

A gray and gold bathroom reveal

I’ve featured every room in my mom’s home here on the blog.

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.