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A major part of organizing your home is storage. Whether you are moving into a new home, merging households, or attempting to declutter and make your home more efficient and aesthetically pleasing, you will need to find effective ways of storing the things you decide to keep. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Evaluate Your Stuff

stuff to organizeDoing a quick evaluation of your belongings can help you make decisions about what to keep and what to discard. However, once you’ve made all the decisions about what to sell, donate, and trash, you need to give serious consideration to the things you chose to keep.

  • What items need to be displayed, such as collections, photos, artwork?
  • What items need to be easily accessible — small appliances, electronics, kitchen items, bath items?
  • What items need to be stored in dust-free environments like linens and clothing?
  • What items are seasonal and only need to be out part of the year?
  • What items require special storage, such as archival photos, temperature-sensitive or light-sensitive objects?
  • What things are you “saving” for sentimental or historical reasons and will not need to access except in special circumstances?

You should fully understand what type of storage you need for everything you’re keeping before you start considering where you want it to go.

Evaluate Your Storage

Next, you need to look at your existing storage capacity. This includes looking at all the closets, cabinets, and shelving in your home; include bookcases, bureaus and armoires, basement, attic, garage, and other outbuildings. If you have crawlspaces or dead spaces under stairs or eaves or a loft area in your garage, these can be prime storage spaces.

Go from room to room and make note not just of existing storage, but potential storage. Which walls can hold shelving or cabinets? Do you have closets that could be converted from clothes to other storage or where you could put in an entire storage system? Are there spaces over the doors and windows for shelves or a basket? Can you make use of over-the-door racks/hooks or simply hang things from the ceiling?

You may also want to consider purchasing new multi-use furniture or building something. A new coffee table that has drawers or cabinets is a great place to store remote controls, DVDs, board games, magazines or other entertainment-related items. A large window may be the ideal place to install a window seat that will take advantage of the view while providing storage for linens, nick-knacks, or even doubling as book cases.

Create & Implement Your Plan

books under window seatWith the information gathered in the first two steps of the process, you are now ready to create a storage plan for your home. Outline where each item will be stored and make a list of all things you need to purchase. The latter is very important as you can’t put things away if you don’t have the right tub, basket, shelf, etc. The purchase list should include any and all hardware you need such as brackets and wire for artwork, as well as things like wall hooks and magnets. If needed, you should go ahead and rent off-site storage or purchase large items such as a storage shed.

Once you have purchased all the items and installed new storage, it is time to start organizing. A good suggestion is to do one room at a time, but that may not be practical if you are moving or merging. If you have family or friends that you trust, assign them a room or specific project while you tackle something else to speed up the process.

The last thing you need to do is retrain yourself for the future. Every time you consider buying or acquiring something new, ask yourself “where will this object live?” before you bring it home. You may also want to consider an annual or seasonal check of all the things you have in deep storage, such as your attic, basement, or storage unit. This will help you keep a handle on household organization and keep you from ending up on one of those hoarding shows.

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