Store It! Create A Household 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:

  • Ugly knick-knacks and frou-frou (figurines, decorative objects, old floral containers and gifts from your mother-in-law)
  • Unused small appliances (sandwich squashers, fondue pots, beat-em-up shiatsu massage wands or any small appliance that's been used less than 5 times in 2 years)
  • Excess kitchen equipment (novelty cake pans, give-away mugs and water bottles, Jell-O molds in the shape of the USA)
  • Non-working anything (burned-out lamps, broken stereo turntables, televisions with no picture, tools without handles)
  • Unusable clothing (worn-out children's clothes, two-sizes-too-small women's clothing, men's clothing from the 1970's)
  • Construction leftovers and debris (scraps of flooring or carpet, surplus tiles from tile jobs, replaced sinks, plumbing supplies and light fixtures, wallpaper roll ends, empty paint cans)
  • Excess furniture (the yard-sale table you're going to refinish someday, broken bed frames, bumpy mattresses, legless sofas)
  • Just Plain Junk (anything dead, missing, incomplete, unusable or just taking up space)

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:

  • Collections (boxes of LPs, college textbooks, a grown child's childhood possessions)
  • Unused heirlooms (Grandmother's souvenir spoons, mismatched china cups, ugly pictures that hung in a parent's home)
  • Sentimental overload (boxes of every school paper ever brought home by each child, complete baby wardrobes to age two including stained diapers, a box of mixed and crumbled high school corsages)
  • Tool-o-holic indulgences (unused tools, unused or excessive sewing and craft supplies, unfinished sweaters, quilts, or birdhouses)

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.