How to handle household storage? It's a battle!
You, the innocent home manager, want only to find holiday decorations or seasonal clothing.
Your nemesis? Bins and bags and boxes. Crammed cabinets, bursting basements, and inaccessible attics. The Garage from The Black Lagoon.
For most of us, an efficient household storage system seems like an impossible dream.
Squeezed by the storage shuffle, many home managers yearn for larger quarters. Let me burst the bubble (as one who knows): a bigger house is not the answer. Stored stuff has an amazing bread-dough quality--it rises to fill the space available, and then makes a sticky mess as it slops over the sides of the container. No matter how many closets, cupboards or square feet of attic space, surplus stuff will find a way to take over while your back is turned.
The answer? A household storage plan. Yes, it will take some work, but the principles involved are as easy as ABC:
- Box and Banish, and
- Corral and Control.
What's the payoff? Time, money and self-esteem.
With a storage plan, you'll find the kids' summer clothes while it is yet summer. You'll save money by using stored goods, instead of buying new (because you are able to find that box of sprinkler-system parts you bought last year).
There's the snug, smug feeling of being Mistress of Your Domain, Queen of the Stuff. You'll know what you have, where it is, and how to find it--and so will the other members of your household.
"A" is for Assessment
To start building a household storage plan, you have to know two things: what you have, and where you have to put it. To learn this, you'll make an assessment of your household's storage possibilities and your family's storage needs.
Grab a notebook or writing pad, a pen and an hour of time. Making an assessment simply means making two lists.
First, walk the house from attic to cellar, and list every potential storage area, large or small. The hard-to-reach top shelves in children's closets. The skinny space beneath the master bed. The attic. The storage shed out in the back yard. Shelving units in the garage.
That the attic is choked, the shed stuffed and you haven't seen the top shelves in years? Ignore that fact. You'll be dealing with the problem further down the road.
For now, focus on finding all the nooks, crannies, and cupboards available for household storage.
You've rounded the house, garage and garden and made the list of potential storage areas? Great!
You've also refreshed your memory about the nature and extent of the stuff overload living in your home.
Now it's time to sit down at a table to work on Assessment List Two: Stuff to be Stored.
Memory refreshed by your peek at existing storage, list the stuff you need to store. Some storage items are necessary and appropriate for almost every household.
Some items will always make the storage cut, and have a just and proper place in your storage plan:
- Clothing (out-of-season clothing, children's hand-me-down candidates, maternity clothes)
- Seasonal décor items (Christmas trees and decorations, Easter baskets, Halloween costumes)
- Household file archives (tax records, personal documents, family information and files)
- Sentimental and keepsake items (old yearbooks, children's' schoolwork and report cards, photos)
- Sporting goods (bicycles, skis and snowboards, skates, camping equipment, outdoor game sets)
- Children's storage (outgrown baby equipment, toys, children's keepsakes, boxes held for college-age or young adult children, grandma's toy chest items)
- Sewing, hobby and craft equipment and supplies (sewing machine, fabrics, hobby supplies)
- Party and hospitality supplies (coffee urn, paper goods, extra glasses, punch bowl, seasonal tablecloths, card tables, extra chairs, extra beds and bedding used for houseguests)
- Less-used cleaning equipment and supplies (carpet steam-cleaner, window cleaning poles and squeegees, automotive cleaning supplies)
- Tools and hardware (hand tools, power tools, hardware items, ladder, garden tools, auto repair tools and supplies)
- Original packaging for computer, audio and video components (keep boxes and packaging for newer components, as the manufacturer may condition warranty service on returning the item in original packaging; toss packaging for out-of-warranty items)