By James Adams
Anyone who looks around their home sees too much stuff staring back at them. While adding additional storage places can help to resolve the cluttered look of any home, there are some basic steps that must be taken prior to adding more storage room. Follow these ten steps to optimize the existing storage in the house and strategically enhance it without spending a fortune.
1. De-clutter – Prior to renting a storage unit or moving items into the attic, systematically work through each area of the house to selectively de-clutter every closet and drawer. Place some boxes in the car for the items that will be donated without looking at them again. If the garage is stacked with stuff, start there and eliminate as many unused items as possible. More boxes added in front of the existing ones will not help the overall effort to store what must be kept.
2. Evaluate current storage – Keep a written list of ways storage space in each room could be improved. Write down every storage area that is built in and ways that changes could increase the storage capacity. If shelves could be added to a child’s closet because hanging clothes are not filling the entire span of the hanging rod, put that idea on the list. Familiarise yourself with new ways to use the existing space through research online and in catalogs and magazines, but restrain yourself from purchasing anything until each area has been de-cluttered.
3. Determine where additional space is needed – If the spare bedroom has become a very large closet, determine where most of the items actually belong. When items that have been outgrown are stowed somewhere, they can be given to friends with younger children or donated to any number of reputable organizations. Small appliances tend to migrate to nearly every closet because of limited kitchen space. Look closely at all the items that are misplaced, and move them back to the room where they belong. Once everything is in the right room, decide how to store those items in the right area of the house and add the solution to the new storage plan.
4. Purchase furniture that serves two purposes – By this time, the house is thoroughly cluttered in a different way, and time has come to purchase a piece of furniture to solve the storage issue in at least one room. Prioritize the most important room to tackle and implement the storage plan. A coffee table with a storage compartment behind doors or with drawers that can be accessed easily can store magazines, games, puzzles, and pillows in the living room. An entertainment center with shelves and a closed cabinet can organize the electronics, DVDs, CDs, and video games while keeping them available for daily use. When you visit the furniture store, talk with a salesperson that can show you items that can be ordered to fit your need. Pay a little more for high-quality furniture that will last for years.
5. Add built-in shelves and benches – Books seem to multiply without our knowledge, and one of the best storage solutions might be a bookshelf. When children are in the home, anchor free-standing bookshelves to the wall or have built-in shelves installed. Another option in the kid’s rooms is to have a bench built in under a window that has lid that can be opened to expose storage space for toys and games. The child can determine what is stored in that special place.
6. Use storage tubs – When clothes must be stored for the seasons when they are not being worn, use storage tubs that will seal out moisture and insects. Ensure that anything that is placed in a storage tub is not going to be there for years to come. Store needed items in the storage tubs. If rarely used items are going to be kept and stored in the garage or attic, use cardboard boxes.
7. Arrange closets to use floor space – Place all dresses and long coats on one end of the hanging rod in the closet. All the shirts and blouses can hang together and leave a space where a small dresser can be placed on the floor of the closet to hold undergarments and socks. When the smaller items are removed from the large dresser in the bedroom, more space is available for clothes that have been purchased recently. Whenever more clothes are purchased, look closely at the items that you no longer wear and donate them to someone who needs them.
8. Use peg racks – Hang jackets and sports equipment on peg racks in hallways and behind doors. This is another great solution for a child’s room because they can decide what they want to hang in full view.
9. Add armoire and dresser – When physical changes to the permanent room are not possible, you can add a free-standing armoire and dresser to the bedroom to hold belongings.
10. De-clutter every six months – Most people dread the season changes because of the reminder that more stuff has been acquired and must be cleaned out to win the battle over the stuff. Put the de-clutter effort on the calendar and work together to remove as many unnecessary items as possible from the house.
Everyone loves to buy new things, but the importance of managing our belongings cannot be overstated. People within our immediate circle of friends and family can use much of what is sitting in the garage and attic. Another great way to remove the unnecessary clutter is to sell some of the items and use the money for the family vacation. Follow these suggestions and see if the house feels larger because of your efforts.