Bakersfield Magazine: Storage That Works

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We put a lot of thought in the design of our homes and offices, and great care in selecting the finishes, lighting, furniture and artwork. Storage capacity should also be addressed during the design phase to ensure every item has a permanent place. Areas like kitchen counters, pantries, closets, laundry rooms, drawers and workstations require constant up-keep since they are the most prone to clutter. Even the most organized people admit that it can be an overwhelming task to maintain a clutter-free environment. But there are many rewards to an organized space:

  1. It saves you time: by knowing where every item goes, you don’t spend valuable time searching for things.
  2. It improves your efficiency: when things are placed at a close proximity to where you use them, fewer steps will be needed to achieve the same results. Think lean design.
  3. It facilitates cleaning and maintenance: It is easier to put things back after using them when they have a permanent storage location.
  4. It is easier to make inventory: making a list of the supplies needed is harder when you can’t see what you already have.
  5. It improves your productivity: Clutter can affect your brain negatively and alter the way you function and by having a clean work space, you get a clearer mind.
  6. It helps you maintain good credit: according to credit card companies, people are late on paying their bills because they either lose them or forget to pay them.
  7. It saves you money: seeing all the shoes you already own in your closet “might” convince you that you don’t need new ones.
  8. It simply looks good: even if the finishes and furnishings are not what you desire your home to be, a clean space gives it a fresh look.

Storage solutions will vary depending on your lifestyle, size of the space and your budget. Most people are not sure where or how to start, but the key is to take it one area at a time:

  1. Set your goal or vision: Watch your habits and observe how you work, cook, relax, etc.
  1. Set a budget and timeline: you can get organized on any budget, but more time and money are required if you decide to build a cedar closet rather than purchase a do-it-yourself kit.
  1. Set your priorities: Which areas should you start with? It makes sense to start with the areas that you spend the most time in.
  1. Sort through your items: Remove anything that is no longer needed and donate them. Keep only the items that serve a purpose. It is difficult to part with things that we have an emotional attachment to, but think how happy you’ll make someone else feel with your donation.
  1. Place items in the rooms where you will use them.
  2. Keep frequently used items at a close proximity and easy to reach location.  The least used it is, the farther away it can go.
  3. Organize your house in sections: put a plan to your organizing process, and when you start, do not move on to another room until you are done. Do not get discouraged if it is taking a long time.
  4. Do not get stuck in one place when you can spread out: For example, if your closet is full and you have space in your bedroom, adding a chest of drawers can minimize the crowding in the closet.
  5. Instead of having the laundry bin in the laundry room, place one in every closet and to minimize overstocking the linen closet, place spare sheet sets in the bedrooms and store additional towels in each bathroom.
  6. Use space wisely: section large drawers and separate items by type. If you don’t need all the hanging space in your closet consider adding shelves.
  7. Think outside the box: if you’re short on space, build vertical rather than horizontal. Consider areas like under the stairs or around the mantel. Build shelving around the perimeter of the room to create soffits. You might also use shelving units to partition a large room.
  8. Just because it is called medicine cabinet does not mean it should only store medicine. In fact, since medicine should be stored in a dry and cool environment, the bathroom is subject to humidity and heat which makes it an unfavorable spot.
  9. Don’t procrastinate: Store things back right after you use them.
  10. Schedule periodical deep cleaning for cabinets and closets. Sort through items every time and repeat the process.

Getting organized can take a few attempts before finding the system that works for you. Changes in your lifestyle, for example,having a newborn baby, your children leaving to college, or starting a new job that alters your daily schedule, requires you to re-assess your space.  Organizing is not a one-time task; it is an on-going process that requires periodical up-keep. Remember, the more things you own, the more storage space you need.