If you thought this article was going to be one long list of links to perfectly matched and labeled clear containers or suggestions to decant everything from laundry pods to color-coordinated candies, then you would be wrong.
While matching bins, label makers, and visual clutter corralling can make your heart go pitter-pat, instead a better approach is to think in terms of efficiency, space, and your end goal.
For most homeowners who have lived in their homes for any length of time, storage is at a minimum. Whether your home is large or small, new or old, a general complaint is that there is more stuff than there are places to put it. Even in homes that boast extra space in unfinished basements, large attics, or multi-bay garages, as Americans we are notorious for filling every square inch, nook, and cranny with stuff, stuff, and more stuff.
The obvious follow-up to the problem of having so much stuff is finding ways to store it. Below are six solutions for improving your storage situation around the house.
1. The first step is admitting you have a problem.
No, seriously. Look around and take a true inventory of what you have in your home. Is it all serving you? Is anything there out of habit? Laziness? For sentimental reasons? Or because you simply haven’t had the time, energy, or courage to address the mess? While going out to buy more baskets or decorative organization items may feel good or productive in the moment, that isn’t actually a first (or even second or third) step in this storage solution process. Look at what you have. Make some tough decisions about what you are hoping to do with what you have and then make a plan.
2. Declutter. And Then, Declutter Again.
For most people, it may take more than one pass through the house, a room, or even a drawer or cabinet to really declutter effectively. It is important to have a system in place for your decluttering. For example, make several piles for things to be thrown away, donated to a charity, passed along to someone you know could or would use the items, and one for “decide later.” Items with significant emotional attachment may need to be revisited so give yourself permission to remove the item from its current space into a bin or special place where you can think about what to do with it. If you aren’t ultimately ready to part with something, set it aside but don’t return it to the place where you are decluttering. Otherwise, be ruthless. This process can be lengthy and often feels like more of a mess than before you began. (Deep breath!)
3. Put Items in Their Places of Permanence
As you inventory your home and declutter unused or unnecessary items, rethink where you are currently keeping or storing each thing. Is the item safe and protected from the elements of a too-hot attic, or a too-damp basement? Do you have something currently in the kitchen that would work better in the utility cabinet? Would your book collection stand out by putting all books on one specific bookshelf in a common area as opposed to scattered piles around the house? This part of the storage solution process may lead you to moving furniture and assessing for an optimal arrangement.
4. Wipe Down and Clean
Now that you have admitted it’s time to deal with your storage solutions, decluttering, and moving items to their permanent home, there is one final step: cleaning. Whether it is vacuuming out a drawer, wiping down plastic storage bins, or dusting off your items with a damp cloth, don’t skip this step. You want to ensure that before you put items away or place them into appropriate bins, baskets, or tubs, that each item is clean and in good condition. Cleaning is an extra layer of attention to avoid storing something that isn’t in good shape.
5. Get Creative and Use What You Have (First)
It can feel tempting to have all matching organizational items but the truth is, most people likely already have plenty of items around the house for sorting and storing collections. Besides that, some items that aren’t even specifically storage items can often do the job just fine. For example, an over-the-door shoe holder can be used to store spices or small kitchen items. All of your travel bags and duffles can likely fit into your largest suitcase. Linens can be folded and stored inside a pillowcase. Store sports equipment in an unused laundry basket making it easy to access or move to and from the car. Use a spare muffin tin inside your junk drawer to easily separate tiny items into categories.
6. Create and Stick To A System
Now that your home is in order, the best storage solution is to simply stick to the system you have created. Keeping your collections tidy and put away does require some attention and frequent upkeep. However, once you have done the hard work of decluttering, cleaning, and creating spaces, your new system should serve you well. And if you think a nice set of clear bins with lids, stackable 18- or 27-gallon totes, or a color-themed wall of decanted pantry items will help you stay organized, then go for it. The best solution is the one that works for you!