I am a Midwesterner. I was born and raised in Chicago, lived there until I was 29, and then moved to Michigan for five years. Family circumstances changed (read all about that here), and we packed up and moved to Florida! Sunshine here we come!
The first thing I noticed about living in Florida? People don't have snowblowers. The second? The houses here have no basements. What is a house without a basement? Where do people keep all their stuff? Living basement-free really made me rethink everything I knew about organization and storage. I've teamed up with The Shelving Store for their Spring Cleaning Week to share some tips and tricks to best utilize the storage space in your house.
The first thing I would recommend doing when optimizing the storage space in your house is take an inventory of all available storage space, and get creative here. Think garage, attic (find all entry points!), closets, mechanical room, pantry, under beds, laundry room cabinets, etc. Now think about each space and whether there's room in it for additional storage - you'd be surprised how many usable hidey-holes exist in your house! To get a sense of what should go where (generally speaking, at this point - no need to get specific yet), think about the following:
Is the space easily accessible? If no, store things that you only need once or twice a year in there, like your Christmas tree and decorations.
Is it shelving or open space? Open space is typically better suited for boxes and bins, whereas open shelving tends to be better for "loose" items.
What is this space near? If you're an avid coffee drinker, you don't want to store your coffee grounds in the attic. An overly simplistic example, but that type of thought-process is very helpful when determining where things should live.
The hidey-hole that The Shelving Store and I decided to focus on was a corner between our furnaces that was perfect for a wire shelving unit. Their add-on units are designed for corners, so there's no awkward overlap or poles in inconvenient places. I also utilized the shelf liners, which are actually STURDY, so nothing falls through the shelves, a wire utility basket that's perfect for keeping supplies within reach of their materials, and shelf dividers to keep everything in its assigned place. It is the PERFECT storage solution for this overlooked corner of our house!
To get you thinking about optimal storage, here's a few examples of what I have stored in this space and why:
Extra paint and painting supplies - normally I would immediately say "garage!" for paint, but seeing as we have a two car garage and two cars, a golf cart, two kids, and two kids' worth of bikes and outdoor toys, garage space isn't abundant for us. Furthermore, paint is typically used inside, so I should probably store it inside, no?
Decorative accessories that I'm not currently using - I obviously don't use these every day, but I don't use them infrequently enough that they warrant going into a bin in the attic. I also like to be able to see what all I have when re-styling a space, so digging through bins full of stuff isn't going to be terribly efficient here.
Wrapping paper and ribbon - again, things I don't need every day but aren't used infrequently enough that they warrant going into a bin in the attic.
Non-holiday specific wreaths - hanging wreaths high up on a wall is a great way to utilize vertical space.
Once you've found your storage spaces, keep in mind the following when you start to fill them:
Play a fierce game of Keep, Toss, Donate, Upcycle. Reorganizing spaces is the perfect time to evaluate what you have - what do you truly love and want to keep? Is there anything that's broken and should be tossed? Those old t-shirts will be better off going to a good cause than spending another three years shoved under your bed. And now for upcycle...I'm an avid DIYer and love bringing new life to old items that no longer suit my style. If you're not a DIYer, skip the Upcycle option; don't convince yourself that you're going to take up upholstery to recover the hideous chair that Aunt Sally willed you. Before my game of KTDU:
Group like things together. When you go to grab some paint, you're more than likely going to also want a paint brush so those should be stored together. However, remember that different things can be alike in different ways. For example, is a Christmas wreath a wreath or a Christmas decoration? My knee-jerk reaction would be that a wreath is a wreath, but you're only going to reach for a Christmas wreath at Christmas so should actually be grouped with your Christmas decorations!
Don't neglect your vertical space. If you have high ceilings, put that high up space to use! It might not be easily accessible, so you don't want to store everyday items nine feet in the air, but that hard-to-reach space in your pantry is perfect for your spare champagne glasses. Unless you drink champagne every day, in which case - can we be friends? The top shelf is also great for taller items, like rolls of wrapping paper. Another great way to fully utilize vertical space is to put smaller items in stackable drawers on shelves, as to not waste the space that would have otherwise been above a basket.
Never underestimate the power of a label because you're totally NOT going to remember what all you put in that bin six months ago. As an added bonus, your family members have one less excuse to put things back in the wrong place!
Now that every thing has its place and every place has its thing, you'll just need to do some periodic maintenance to keep it that way. Some tips and tricks to keeping everything shipshape:
The frequency in which a space will need some reorganizing or tidying is directly correlated to how often its contents are used. Storage rooms will likely only need an overhaul every couple years, while with a pantry, you're probably looking at weekly maintenance.
Where appropriate, designate a basket for "go-backs" for stuff that needs a home and then periodically clean out the basket. As an added bonus, this can cut down on the amount that you hear the "I don't know where this goes!" excuse. I have a basket in my pantry where my husband and kids can stick things that aren't going to be put away immediately to cut down on the boxes of raisins stuck in with the granola bars and to avoid general clutter.
Whenever possible, keep whatever you need to maintain your space in the space itself. For example, if you have high shelves in a storage room, keeping a step ladder in there will make accessing those shelves easier and more efficient. I personally can be a little lazy and have been known to leave something to be "put away later" when I don't have a step ladder at my immediate disposal. Spoiler alert: it doesn't get put away later. If you're a labeler, keeping your labeling materials handy (even just masking tape and a Sharpie can do the trick) will keep you up to date with your labeling.
Hopefully that helps y'all with all of your spring cleaning organization projects. Be sure to check out The Shelving Store for all your storage and organization needs. They have something for every space in your house! From 4/12/21-4/19/21, you can score 13% off select storage products with code SCW13 to kickstart your spring cleaning project.