There are shelves lining the walls. On the shelves are bins with labels announcing what is inside.
You want to get a binder and some paper for a project you’re working on. You go right to the bin labeled office supplies. It takes just seconds to locate.
This article describes how to set up an organized storage system that will serve you for years.
Last month’s article, 5 Steps to Clearing the Clutter from your Storage Space described in great detail how to de-clutter a storage space. If you are looking at a cluttered tangled mess in your storage area should read that article first.
One more weeding before the fun begins.
The process that I described yielded several boxes of items for you to keep in your space. Those boxes contain several categories.
There is a huge benefit to going through the tedious de-cluttering process that I described. You can see all that you have in a specific category. Look at one category at a time. Now that you can see what you have, can you release a few more items?
Do you have duplicates?
I find that most people have duplicates of tools and office supplies. The reason? When the space was cluttered it was easier to purchase new items rather than to look for what you had.
Look at the condition, quality and ease of use of your duplicated items. Ask yourself “Where do I use this item”? If you use it in multiple places, consider keeping some duplicates. Take them out of storage and store them near where you use them. Keep the best and release the others.
Are you keeping things that need repairs?
Consider the value of the item. Many times the cost of a repair will be close to the cost of replacing the item.
But, you may say, “I can fix this myself.” Consider the value of your time. After all, this item has been waiting to be fixed for years. Maybe you’re not a fixer.
Donate your item to a charity such as Goodwill, where unsellable items are recycled rather than added to a land fill. Read about Goodwill’s recycling program in this interview.
Are you keeping old electronics that are now obsolete?
Our technology moves faster than most of us can keep up with.
I find that some people keep the old equipment as a back-up in case the new one breaks. Believe me; you will not go back to using an obsolete electronic device. You will move on to something brighter and shinier.
Release those relics and allow them to be recycled.
Are you holding onto supplies for hobbies that you have outgrown?
We outgrow our hobbies just like children outgrow toys. Are you really going to take up needle point, macramé or leather stamping again? Release those supplies.
Focus on one category at a time and challenge yourself to remove as much as possible. If you are struggling with a decision; keep the item.
Do not combine categories.
It is okay to have a half box of something. Really it is! You will choose your permanent containers based on volume.
Plan your space
Decide how you want to use your space. Is it going to be exclusively for storage or would you like to use the center of the room for an activity?
Consider how frequently you need access to the category. The various holiday categories are used annually. Place those in the back of your space. You may find yourself needing access to home décor or floral every few months. Keep that category closer to the entry.
Do not block access to closets. The door needs to open without having to move things out of the way. Add shelving to the closet or use it for large items.
Shelving will transform your storage space
Shelving is available for every budget. You can have shelving built or you can use freestanding shelving units. Elfa shelving from The Container Store attaches to the wall. Lowes sells Rubbermaid fast-track which is a similar product. Elfa free-standing shelving is available too. These products are customizable and adjustable.
You can line shelving around the perimeter of the room and leave some space in the center for larger items. Be sure that you leave a clear path in front of your shelving. I recommend at least two feet.
Choose containers that will fit on your shelves.
Pick a type of container that is easily obtainable and fits within your budget. Measure your shelves. Write down 3 measurements. Choose containers based on these measurements.
- Height between shelves
- Width of unit
- Depth of shelf.
Plastic come in various styles. There are flip top totes, and clear or opaque containers with lids. Many of my clients who consider themselves “visual” prefer the clear containers. Others who like a cleaner look prefer opaque containers.
Cardboard Bankers Boxes are inexpensive containers for storage spaces. They will discolor over the years if left as is. They can be spray painted or covered with fabric. Doing so will add some visual interest to your storage space.
The shelving unit in the photo is in my basement storage room. I had a collection of old, dirty, and discolored Bankers Boxes.
I transformed them with aqua and black spray paint and some burlap fabric scraps. This project took some time, but I wanted a great image for this post.
Thank-you in advance for sharing the photo on Pinterest.
Pick one or two styles of containers for your space. This will add uniformity and visual interest to your space.
You will have some items that are too large for containers. Place oversized items on a shelf or on the floor.
Label, label, label
Make sure that you label all your boxes – even the clear ones. Labeling has three benefits.
- It serves as a rule. You will be less likely to put a random home décor item in a box labeled family photos.
- Labeling makes it easy to find the box that you need
- Labeling helps other members of your household find things and put things away.
There are some beautiful label options. I love these stick on chalk board labels.
Maintain your space
Put your items away after you use them. With this system it only takes seconds to return an item to its proper container or shelf.
Resist the urge to leave a box in the open walk area. You may think you, “I’ll put it here for now and later I will put it where it goes.” The words for now and later can wreck your system
Once a year or so evaluate your space. Are you keeping some catagories that you no longer need?
Follow these guidelines and you will create a storage area that will serve you for years.