Create a Household Storage System

Conquer clutter by establishing a housekeeping system to sort through your possessions.

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For most of us, an efficient household storage system seems like an impossible dream. The answer? A household storage plan. Follow this battle plan to conquer storage clutter:

Banish and box
Corral and control

With a storage plan, you’ll find the kids’ summer clothes while it is yet summer. You’ll save money by using stored goods, instead of buying new (because you are able to find that box of sprinkler-system parts you bought last year). You’ll know what you have, where it is and how to find it.

Step 1: Assess

Grab a notepad and pen and start with List One: Storage. Walk the house from attic to cellar, and list every potential storage area, large or small. The hard-to-reach top shelves in children’s closet, the skinny space beneath the master bed, the attic, the storage shed in the back yard.

Now for the second part of your assessment: Stuff. Make a quick list of the items you need to retain. These will include: out-of-season clothing; seasonal decor; personal documents; keepsakes; tools and hardware; and original packaging for electronic equipment that is still under warranty.

The other half of your “stuff” list is stored clutter that may need to be banished. Good candidates for banishment include ugly knickknacks, unused small appliances and building and decorating leftovers. Look over your list and circle Banishment Candidates with a big red pen.

Within the Stuff List there’s another category: the “let’s negotiate” group. These are stored items that might appear to be worthy of banishment, but which belong to another family member. This tricky category includes: collections of LPs and a grown child’s childhood possessions; sentimental overload, such as every school paper ever brought home by each child; and unused tools and sewing and craft supplies.

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.

Step 2: Banish and Box

This is the working phase of setting up efficient household storage. Shelf-by-shelf, room-by-room, rout out your storage areas. One at a time, pull out currently stored stuff, sort it out, banish the rejects and box everything that belongs elsewhere. Only then put away the designated stored items. Banished items can be donated to charity, sold in a yard sale or hauled to the dump.

Step 3: Corral and Control

Now that your storage plan is largely in place, buy, scrounge or make storage containers necessary to corral what’s left. Last step? Take a brief inventory of your completed, corralled storage areas. As with your assessment lists, your Inventory Control list comes from a top-to-bottom walk through your home. This exercise should make you feel good and provide your family a road map to stored items.

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