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Store It, Create A Household Storage Plan
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:
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.
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:
Necessary stored items get first claim on a home. Match tools and hardware with the garage shelf and toolbox.
Assign seasonal decorations to an each-to-reach area in the attic. Luggage may live under beds or in a guestroom closet.
Using the list of available storage areas, give each worthwhile item a good home.
You're smiling! There are lots of these items on your list. Good! Now you have the energy to deal with the other half of your "stuff" list: stored clutter that may need to be banished.
Are you giving house room to items like these? Good candidates for banishment include:
In phase two, these items will be Banished. Methods include donation to charity, holding a yard sale, or hauling them all to the dump, but the goal is the same: get them out of your limited storage space to make room for the legitimate stored items.
Look over your list and circle Banishment Candidates with a big red pen. Resolve to move them out, finally and forever. No pity, no mercy. It's your storage space (and sanity!) at stake.
Then, there's the "let's negotiate" category. These are stored items that might appear to be worthy of banishment, but someone in the family has an interest in them. This tricky category includes items like:
For "let's negotiate" items, a confab is in order with the interested party. Goal: eliminate, reduce or accept the necessity of storing each class of item.
Can the adult child collect some or all of his things? Will the sew-a-holic agree to purge and sort her stash to a more manageable level? Perhaps one spouse will have to accept the other's devotion to those warped LPs, and find a ground-level storage solution for all those heavy boxes. However you resolve it, work out ways to turf (or accept) these negotiable items.
The goal: a clear storage plan. Know what you must store and where you will store it. Write it down, and get ready for step B!
B is for Banish and Box
You know what storage space is available. You know which belongings should be stored there.
So what? Every closet, shelf and cupboard is groaning with out-of-place stuff.
Time to Banish and Box--the working phase of setting up efficient household storage.
Shelf-by-shelf, room-by-room, you're going to rout out your storage areas.
Working one area at a time, you'll pull out currently stored stuff, sort it out, banish the rejects, and box everything that belongs elsewhere. Only then do you put away the designated stored items.
Yes, this process takes some time and effort, but there are ways to make the change-over easier.
Here are the best tips for sorting existing storage areas and putting your plan into place:
Whew! It took a few weeks, but you've turn out your household storage and you feel great! Light. Organized. Efficient. What a wonderful feeling . . . but there are a few loose ends left to tie down.
Perhaps your plan worked fine except for the clothing storage--not enough space on the shelf, too many clothes in the pile. Maybe you assigned a sewing magazine collection to a cabinet, but the issues topple each time the door is closed. Most of all, you want to make sure that all this work doesn't go to waste: that you and your family know where to find and replace stored items.
What's next? The final steps to a household storage plan: Corral and Control. Now that your storage plan is largely in place, you're going to do what is necessary to keep it that way. Now you will buy, scrounge or make storage containers necessary to Corral what's left.
To keep Control, you'll make a final Inventory Control list--your guide for the future.
Wait until after you've assessed, boxed and banished your storage before trying to corral it into containers. Only after you've sorted the keepers will you have a true idea of what storage helpers you need. Now you may shop for storage containers. Here are a few Corral pointers:
Last step? Take a brief inventory of your completed, corralled storage areas. This exercise should make you feel good--and provide your family a road map to stored items.
As with your assessment list, your Inventory Control list comes from a top-to-bottom walk through your home. Note storage areas and what they contain.
Input the list into a computer and print a copy for reference. Come July 4th, check the list to remind yourself where you stored the beach towels, BBQ tools and air mattresses. At summer's end, Inventory Control reminds you where to return those items.
Winning the storage shuffle! It takes work, but nothing beats a storage plan for ease, convenience, and just plain efficiency in running an organized home.
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