Organizing in our Philippine house


In this house we have two closets. They have plenty of shelves, but the section to hang clothes is very small, compared to American standards. Also, the Boy is using one of the closets, leaving three of us to divvy up the single closet remaining.  We do not have any dressers because we didn’t want to spend money on them, and there are shelves in the closet.

I packed over the door hangers, like this one and this one. I prefer metal because in a pinch, if it doesn’t fit over the door perfectly you can use pliers to adjust a bit. I try and put the Cherub’s outfits all together (shirt, jumper or shorts, leggings, undershirt if required) on one hanger, and it goes on a hanger over her door. My clothes mostly go over the multihanger hanging on our bedroom door.

To keep things organized on the shelves in the closet, I just use the boxes from the things we bought when we moved in, plus a couple of collapsible canvas storage cubes I slipped into my suitcases at the last minute, and I am very thankful I did.  For a while I used one of our suitcases, but that was for my husband’s clothes (he has the side of the closet where it fits, and he didn’t like it.


There is not a towel rack in the bathroom, and towels wouldn’t dry there well if there was, because a bathroom in all the parts of Asia I know of is essentially a wetroom, plus it’s so humid that the bathroom feels like a sauna most of the day. We have two solutions for this. We have an acrylic over the door hanger sort of like this one, and it goes over one of the cupboard doors in our room and I hang my towel on it- the hanger, made for purses, is wider so the towels have time to dry.
My husband bought a tension curtain rod, and put it up in the bathroom from wall to wall, above the door and as far from the shower as possible.  He hangs his towels up there. I find it difficult to get mine over the rod in a way that still allows me to shut the bathroom door.  His towel is high enough that it usually does dry by evening.

In the kitchen to save space we have a tall set of shelves with various shallow trays, and then a variety of containers. Again, I primarily used the boxes that things we needed for the house came in (the rice cooker box, the box for the iron, the box for the tea kettle….). But to make it look more uniform and satisfactory to me, I bought some pretty wrapping paper, tape, and glue and now my boxes and canisters match each other. Wrapping paper is shockingly cheap here- I think I paid less than a dollar for all the paper I needed to wrap the boxes and containers.  I don’t have an oven.  I have a very small toaster oven I keep out on the counter next to the rice cooker. My stove is a two burner gas cooktop on a small table between the counter and the fridge.  I also have a electric kettle for two reasons.  One is that electric is cooler than the gas- it heats up faster without heating the kitchen area the same way the gas flame does on my cooktop.  The other is so I can have hot water for dish washing or rinsing quickly when I want it.


We have one blanket for the Cherub, and the Boy brought his own. I did not bring one for us because I thought we’d be too hot. The HM doesn’t want a blanket. He does not even always want a sheet, but I sometimes do get too cool at night- I get downright cold if he turns on the aircon, but sometimes I just get too cool from the fan and open windows. Instead of a blanket, I use an extra sheet and a beach towel and this has been quite adequate except the one night I had fever and chills all night and couldn’t get warm at all.  For storing extra sheets (we don’t have that many), the Cherub’s bed has drawers underneath it, and I have a set of shelves in the hall where odds and ends and extra towels go.

For a laptop tray, I use a battered old metal pan, the kind that went in somebody’s oven, a shallow tray for catching spills. It’s got about an inch lip all the way around it. I balance it on a throw pillow on my lap.

Instead of a silverware tray, because I do not have enough drawers for that, I keep all our silverware in a jar at the back of a shelf over the kitchen counter. My knives and vegetable peelers also go in a jar on a shelf.

We’re still without curtains in all the rooms but ours- I brought those curtains with us because they were adjustable length and I found them on major mark-down. Amazon has something similar, but except for not being insulated, I like mine far better. They don’t tie up, they have a pleated/fold thing with eyelets and you bring the ties through and it looks better, and you don’t keep adjusting up or down, because they are curtains, not shades. The rod we have in our room is one I bought used from a missionary who moved. The rings I brought from home, again, marked down on clearance. I will never use another kind of curtain ring, though- I love the ones with clips. I brought extras, so if we can pick up some other curtain rods and curtains cheaply, I’ll be adding curtains to the living room/dining room area. The windows are frosted, so privacy isn’t really an issue, but the windows are louvered slats that don’t seal- there is an actual gap at the top of most of them at least 1/8 of an inch, which means the air con is not as efficient as it could be/should be.

Or, if I can come up with enough cardboard pieces big enough, I could cover cardboard with my wrapping paper and set those in the windows when we want to run the air con.

We packed light and we don’t have a lot of things with us. I am proving to myself daily what I already knew – half the battle in keeping a tidy house is reducing the clutter and excess stuff. Part of the battle is also the right amount of space and storage, but mainly, I can just about manage to keep up with the housework when all my worldly goods would fit in 3 or 4 household trunks.   It’s pathetic, really.

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  1. Amelia
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like you are making the most of things! After our first term there, I brought back a flannel sheet to use as a blanket. It was just about right, though you are right about the air con sometimes making it too cold. Our solution for the perpetually humid bathroom was to install a wall fan in the bathroom that we ran 24/7. Rainy season in coming and it can be very hard to get anything dry. If your towels should develop an odor during rainy season, I found that adding the “country fresh” Lysol really helped. Don’t try this trick with underwear though. Seriously, just don’t. Blessings!

    • Headmistress
      Posted April 11, 2017 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the tips, all of them!

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