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.
- 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?!
- 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
- School/childcare information (do check their bags regularly <blush>)
Hopefully I will stick to my own tips!