Thursday, 10 January 2013

Storage Solutions

Good storage is key when decluttering. Take note of that first word. Good storage.

Our house has lots of storage but very little serves it's purpose and isn't easy to work with. We fell into the classic trap (usually hits half way around Ikea for most people) where we were seduced by pretty little boxes, in lovely colours. The trouble is they weren't the right size for what we wanted and in the end of got so overstuffed they buckled and now the lids don't fit.

Our storage actually makes our clutter problem worse because it is so unfit for purpose.

One key lesson I have well.. learnt so far on this journey is that you must declutter first, then buy storage.

Sounds so simple, so why do so many of us get it wrong?

We are sold so many storage solutions by stealth and also because we wish our home to look nice as well as practical. Why use a plastic container when you can have a leatherette one with little silver studs? (Yes those were the Ikea ones we got, I can see one now on top of the fish tank mocking me, although that one is actually useful as it holds all the fish food etc, the fact we don't have any fish anymore is not the point---) So we over buy (always) and find that what we have bought can't be used and so we end up tatty cardboard boxes littering the place in the stead of proper storage.

So now (drum roll please) my top key storage tips:
  • Declutter first. I cannot stress this enough, until you can see the space you are working with you cannot know what or how much storage you will need.  As an example, I was being wooed by a toy storage solution for our daughter's room. However having decluttered I now realise it would have been woefully inadequate for the type of toys we need storing (bulky Happyland toys). So now I am focusing on a less pretty but much more suitable solution involving big plastic drawers (similar to those used in childcare settings, they use them for a reason!) 

  • Make use of hidden storage. We have countless places in our home that are crying out for use as storage if we engage our imaginations. Just remember that storage must be fit for purpose and not just a dumping ground! Most bedrooms have space on the top of the wardrobe, space that could hold items that are used infrequently but not so infrequently that loft/attic storage is more appropriate. Now here nice looking boxes are essential, when lying in bed of an evening you do not want to be staring at untidy boxes, it will lower your mood.  
    On the top of my wardrobe currently is my wedding dress, boxed up in a beautiful box with gorgeous ribbon, most dry cleaning places now offer a wedding dress clean and presentation service. It is expensive but worth it in my opinion. It stays on top of the wardrobe as I don't want to consign it to the loft, it is a reminder of a very happy day and I like to look at the dress now and again. Also on the wardrobe are my collection of evening bags and scarfs that i wear occasionally to a big night out so can be put on the top out of the way.       

    • Easy access storage is a must in high traffic areas such as the hallway. Shoes, coats and bags are a major issue in these areas so having easy to use, easy to access storage will make things quicker and easier in the mornings and reduce stress. Go through all the shoes currently in your high traffic area. How many do you actually wear in the working week? The ones you need to find in the morning in the rush to get out of the door. On average British women have 20 pairs of shoes (some men may be disagreeing with this, my husband included but let's remember it's an average so some women will have more some less). Now 20 sounds a manageable number but consider are there more people in your house? My daughter has several different types of shoe and boot depending on the weather and my husband is King of the Trainers. Our hallway and porch are full to bursting with shoes and we find we are wearing the same ones day in and day out so why are the rest there?! 
    Here's what to do, take note of which shoes you actually wear on the most regular basis. These shoes need to be easy to access so will stay in the hallway/high traffic area in or on storage. A shoe rack might seem depressingly middle aged but they work! Assign each member of the household a space on the rack(s) and stick to it, if the shoes can't fit then that extra pair go elsewhere. The bottom of the wardrobe is a great place to store extra pairs of shoes but not all jumbled together. Pair shoes and box them, if you still have the original boxes then use those otherwise invest in some clear plastic show boxes so you can easily see at a glance which ones are which. 

    • Large pieces of furniture can be used to streamline your home. No seriously hear me out! Having large fixed pieces of furniture means that items don't move which is vital for knowing where everything is. Part of our redecorating plans include a lot of large pieces of furniture. Namely bookcases (I know we donated all our books last week but we have plans for the shelves!) and, thus proving I really am entering middle age early, a sideboard. Yes we are getting a sideboard for our hallway. Since the kitchen refit my husband has lost his man drawer so this will help that. He is having one so he can still have a bit of clutter in his life. It will also double up as a filing area for important documents. Which leads me nicely to...

    • Ignore my first key tip for paperwork. <a collective groan> I know but when it comes to paperwork you must be prepared. That is not to say you go silly and buy unsuitable storage but you must have a filing system ready to use. Filing systems can be great, they allow us to access information quickly and effectively. If they work. Cross referencing everything by your Aunt's favourite cats is not going to help. 

    There are key areas you must have files for:
      • Big financial areas such as mortgage information and bank statements.
      • Insurances, house, life, cat etc
      • Bills
      • School/childcare information (do check their bags regularly <blush>)
    Try to deal with paperwork as it comes through the door (I am terrible for this, everything gets dropped on the rickety hall table at the moment and invariably forgotten about) and file important letters straight away.

    Hopefully I will stick to my own tips!                                                                                                      


    1. so this afternoon i read your entry and it gave me the motivation to get off my bum and sort the porch out, so now on my shoe rack (im so retro) i have 6 pairs of shoes total :D also they arent all mine! only 3 ;) i also put a few of my many gadgets away from my kitchen worktop and cleaned out my handbag, small rainforest and pen shop sorted, i now only have 4 pens in there, well i might never find one and thus add more to them! so thanks for the inspiration and motivation!

      1. Glad I have inspired you, keep up the good work!