Organizing My Storage Or Utility Area
Organizing My Storage Or Utility Area
Mary Astadourian (Professional Organizer) gives expert video advice on: What constitutes a good storage or utility area?; How can I maximize the potential of a storage space?; What kinds of things should I keep in my storage area? and more...
What constitutes a good storage or utility area?
Well depending on where you live, there is a number of spaces that are great storage or utility areas. If you are living on the East coast, you might have a great basement or a great attic area. On the West coast, you are limited when it comes to space in that you might have an attic but basements aren't that big. But all around, I think garages are great areas for storage and utility. They tend to be big, they tend to have three walls that you can utilize to put built-ins, they are generally, believe it or not, can be very clean once they're organized if they're cleaned out and properly organized. They just really have lots and lots of space that you can use, and you can have space going across and up and down which is always a nice way to go. I love setting up garages, because I can put shelves in from wall to wall and really create areas where things can be stored. You can have the area where all the sports equipment is or the area where all the tools are and the area where you are keeping all the bulk items that are not necessarily perishable and you can keep them out there. It might be a little trickier to keep things like that on the East coast if things get very cold, but it's just such a great space to keep all these things that you're not really sure what to do with them but you need to keep them and you actually do use them, but there is no room inside your house to keep them. So, I think garages are fantastic for that and I always encourage people to invest in some good solid shelving in garages, and maybe even sometimes if they are really beat up investing in some drywall in there, or even treating the floor so it's finished a little better because, in the end, it becomes this whole area you never realized that you had that you can utilize so well.
What kinds of things should I keep in my storage area?
Other than the standard things that you might find, you can store in a garage like tools and sports equipment and cars. There are some unexpected things that you can store in there. Garages are a great place to store your luggage. Luggage is bulky and big and if you have a lot of kids, you can have a lot of luggage. And people generally never know where to put it. They are always trying to shove it in a closet somewhere, or put it inside one another and it just does not work. Well garages can be a great place to store them. I generally would tell my clients, get large plastic bags and put the luggage actually in it, and tie it up and then you can just put it in your garage and it is fine. It will not get dusty, it will be great, and when you are travelling you can just take it out and use it. Another thing that I think you can keep in a garage are those items that you want to keep for when you are entertaining, but you do not have room in your house. The leaves to your dining room table; extra chairs that you might have, folding chairs that you might have. If you have shelving in your garage, it is a great space to keep vases, and candles and items like that that you use only when you are entertaining, but you do not have any space to keep. Another thing that I think you can keep in your garage is your bulk items and a lot of times people might use their pantry for something like this. But you can utilize your pantry for other storage items. Keep all your extra toilet paper, your paper towels, your canned goods, your cleaning supplies. All these things can be kept in the garage and it is great and it is right there at your fingertips. Garages are also great spaces if you have the proper containers to keep children's toys. Toys that they may play with seasonally like sand toys, or toys for the snow. These are things that you are not going to store them in a storage unit. You want to have them in your house, but you may not have space in their bedroom to keep these things. So it is great to put it in a bin, put it in the garage, label it. And then when summer comes you can pull out all the sand toys or the pool toys or anything like that and it is right there.
What is the best way to organize my sports equipment?
If you have the ability to utilize wall space, it would be great to organize your sports equipment that way. I love hanging bikes on walls, I love putting racks in to hang surfboards, I love being able to hook up skateboards and bikes, and all sorts of, you know, various sports equipment like that. I also like having big, open containers that you can throw equipment in, baseball bats and mitts, and things like that or helmets, I mean there are lots of options. I think that you want to try and utilize as much wall space as you can when you're dealing with sports equipment because it is very bulky and awkward, and it really hangs better than it does sitting on a floor. So if you can do that it's terrific. Otherwise, if you can't, you can get a bike rack you can put on the floor for surfboards and things like that. I still recommend getting bins to, you know, one bin for bats and gloves, do another bin for helmets, and another one for bats of all kinds. There are lots of ways to organize sports equipment if you can.
What is the best way to organize my tools?
A lot of times I try to stay away from organizing tools, because men tend to like to organize their own tools and they have a little bit of a possessive thing that goes on with that. But when I have organized tools, I think the best way is to take a designated area in the garage and really bring in a table that you can utilize as a workspace, first of all. If you're going to have all those tools somewhere, you want to have a place where you can actually use them. So it's nice to have a work table there. Then maybe underneath that, put in some drawers. There are lots of already, ready made, great metal drawers that you can buy that are made for tools, and they'll slide right under a table. There are so many things out there for organizing tools, that it makes it so easy. You can put in hooks on the wall in front of this workspace to just hang things. I think the biggest thing about tools is that you want to try to make it as accessible as possible, and as visible as possible. If you're going to use the drawers, label them so that you know where all the screwdrivers are, this is where the drill is, this is where the saw is, or whatever else you might have. Because tools are, they're so small, and there's so many of them, that it's very easy to forget what you have, and I think the clearer that you can make it, the better off you'll be. TIP: If you have power tools, consider the location of your outlets when choosing the spot for your workbench.
What is the best way to organize seasonal items?
Even though you're using seasonal items seasonally its still very important to organize them. In fact its more important because you're only using them once a yea, lets say, and so you need to have them really efficiently organized and put away so that you know where they are and you have a good idea of what you've got there. When it comes to seasonal clothing, I always recommend putting them into nice plastic or if you can afford Cedar lined containers or if not put Cedar balls in there. Label the outside of the container, if it's ski clothes – if you have a lot of equipment like that maybe break it down to each member of your family and each person gets a bin so when you're ready to go on a ski trip, everyone can go into their on bin a figure out what their going to pack and what they are going to take with them. That's also a really good way to know when your children are outgrowing their clothes, you can go through it and say “Oh, we're going to need to get new long-Johns this year. We're going to need to change this out”. When it comes to Holiday items there are lots and lots of choices of how to pack-up your Holiday items. I do think it's important to label the outside of these boxes so you know which ones are the ornaments, which one is the lights, which one has all the miscellaneous toys or the various things you might have for your Holiday. And when you're storing these things in your attic, or your basement, store them in groups – store all the Christmas things in one area, all the Halloween things in one area or next to it but all together. The Easter things, the Valentine things – what ever things you have, you want tot make sure that its all grouped together that when you do go to get it, you're not searching all over your basement searching all over for you're Holiday stuff you know where all the Christmas stuff is. A lot of times when I'm done organizing an attic or basement or garage I actually make a little drawing, a little map of the space and it's not just good for whoever my client is, it's actually good for you to do for yourself because you will forget what's down there and where it is – you're not going their everyday so its very easy to forget that. Its good for you to know, “Okay, here's where all my Holiday items are” and you can keep that right at the door of your basement or right at the entry of the garage so that you can walk in and there's the map and you know exactly where everything is and it doesn't have to be elaborate, it can be very, very simple. So really think about what you're storing, what's the right container for it and think about where you're putting it.