Most of us have a storage space in our house, be it an empty closet, under the stairs, or even a room dedicated to this purpose. During the winter months, we tend to shove stuff in there, knowing we’ll have to deal with it eventually.
These spaces are the most exciting for me as a professional organizer. I really get to know and understand a person when we go through these spaces. Knowing YOURSELF is good place to start when you tackle a storage area.
In most cases, I suggest emptying an entire space before starting to organize. This doesn’t always work with a storage space. If it is manageable, then I suggest doing it, especially if it is unsafe to move around. However, there are probably some things that will always have a home in your storage area, and it might not be necessary to move them. Here are some of those items:
If you haven’t already, it really is a good idea to get paper photos and old videos into a digital format. There are may companies that will do this completely through the mail, or you may find a local source. Digital memories are longer lasting and compact, and easily stored in a safe deposit box or safe. If you haven’t done this, consider at least getting all important personal memories such as these in plastic bins with tight-fitting lids. It will help keep moisture at bay, and a good bet against water damage and critters.
Some people really enjoy looking back on childhood memories, toys, notes and letters, maybe even a trophy or two. If they are clean and tidy, store them in plastic bins with appropriate lids, again labelling the outside of the box. These may be a neat treasure for generations to come, and you want to ensure you are doing your best to preserve them.
Experts used to suggest wrapping china and other dishes in newsprint to protect them. It has been found that the ink from newspapers can permanently leach into porcelain. Better alternatives exist, and a quick visit to a local packaging store (UPS) or a search on the internet can give you access to better alternatives. Generations before us used to keep these items in a china cabinet to be used only for special occasions. Might I offer a suggestions? Take those pieces out, and use them once in a while! They have little financial value, but seeing Grandma’s favorite dish set on your table might spark a conversation about her to share with your family now.
We don’t have enough closet space in our house to store all of our “off season” clothing. Instead, we use large totes to store snow pants, coats, mittens, sweaters, etc. Nothing goes into a bin that isn’t clean, and I make sure to label the bin to avoid confusion later.
We store all home-related items under our stairs, since that spot isn’t usable for much else. This is where we keep extra trim pieces, paint, and stain, for example. Always make sure lids are tightly sealed, and you don’t keep dirty rags nearby. Consider purchasing small paint containers specifically for storing a bit of touch up paint for each color in your house. This comes in SO handy!
Lightbulbs, electrical cords, and backup supplies such as tissue and toilet paper are stored on shelves in the same area as our furnace. Each has it’s own spot (it is easy to see when we are running low and need to add this item to our shopping list), and we are always sure to keep toxic items sealed correctly and away from the furnace and water heater.
If you have other items cluttering your storage space, now is the time to utilize the FOUR BIN RULE. Here is a recap:
BIN ONE Items placed in this container are to DONATE
BIN TWO Items placed in this container are to SELL
BIN THREE Items placed in this container are to PASS ALONG
BIN FOUR Items placed in this container are to MARINATE (a decision has yet to be
Here again is where the Marie Kondo method of touching each and every item and determining it’s value, or ability to “spark joy," is helpful. Items that you are choosing to keep should be clean and placed with “like” items, labelled clearly.
Always consider using shelving to keep items off the floor, and avoid long term storage in cardboard, which is susceptible to mold and mildew. There are so many practical and affordable storage solutions available, and this is a wise investment for use in storing your belongings.
Hope this piece has helped you tackle your home storage areas. Next up-Garage!