Tag Archives: Storage

Have a hodgepodge of collections throughout your house?

Sunglasses Storage

Solution: Store with style. Create or buy attractive storage containers suited for your specific items, whether it is old photos, CDs or your sunglass collection.

For CDs consider using a three ring binder with drop-in pockets. Discard the jewel cases and place the cover and CD inside the pocket.

For trophy collections, Stagger ledge shelves over one wall and place all trophies on these shelves, up and out of the way!

Comment with your solutions for storing collectables. I am sure you have figured out a creative solution or tow!

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Do you have a jumble of loose photographs?


Solution: Find the photos that you really love & frame them. For the others, ruthlessly toss the blurry, red eyed, duplicate & boring photos. After all, do you really need 2 photos of Uncle Ted on his houseboat? For the remaining photos, store them in a keepsake box that you can pull out & look into from time to time.

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Too many things to read? Organize Your reading Material


Solution: Create temporary storage for the items that come & go in your life, such as magazines & newspapers. A bin or basket by your bed or favorite reading chair will keep these items h & allow you to sit down & read without having a scavenger hunt. Once you read the article, discard in the recycle bin. Note: don’t feel obligated to read yesterdays news, if you miss a day, toss it out when you throw in today’s newspaper. This bin also makes a great place for those mail order catalog’s & interesting articles that you want to read later.

Bonus Tip: If you find an article that you wish to read but don’t have the time when you first see it, tear it out & drop it in your to read bin, Don’t save the entire publication, you will forget what you wanted to read. Once it’s torn out, it reminds you to read it when you look into your bin for something to read.

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Organize backyard garden shed

Garden Shed

As summer arrives and the yard and garden beckon, the problem of the jumbled storage shed becomes apparent. Fortunately, a few easy tips can help you make your shed an asset instead of a hindrance.

The key is organization. Four walls and a roof will protect your tools from the elements, but finding what you want when you want it may be a chore. Often sheds are used as extra storage space for items which, upon reflection, are not really needed at all. Cleaning out your shed and adding some built in organizers can make all the difference.

The first step to a better organized shed is to clear out the rubbish. Items that you really need to keep may be better stored in your house. Anything you haven’t used in over a year may be unnecessary to your life! Consider carefully each item and its use to you. Does it pull its weight in exchange for the space it occupies?

Sentiment often makes us hold on to belongings that would be better off finding new homes. Consider donating items you simply cannot bring yourself to throw away; some-one else may be grateful to have them and you can enjoy the thought that they still have value. Check with your local charities, or see if your community has a trade off recycling program.

Any items that remain to be stored can be put in identically sized bins with lids, and filed away for future reference. Any shelving you install can be easily customized so that the bins will fit neatly. This makes retrieval a snap! Label the visible sides, and post a list inside the door that will help you remember which bin holds what.

Once you have narrowed down the items you need to store, you can begin to plan your new shelving system. Wall to wall and ceiling to floor shelves yield the maximum storage space. Depending on the size and shape of your shed, your best bet may be to install this type of shelving on the back wall as well as along one side.

Long-handled tools such as rakes, spades and shovels should hang on the remaining wall. A pegboard can be installed for smaller tools. A garden caddy can hold miscellaneous items: gloves, seed packets, and even a tube of sunscreen or a hat.

If you do a lot of gardening, you may wish to customize your shed a little. Adding a small potting bench or table can make a corner into a handy workstation. Add shelves above to store pots, and bins below for soil and fertilizer.

If your shed is too small for such project, consider building one on the exterior against one of the walls. Mount a piece of lattice to hang your tools, or add hooks to the sides of the bench itself. A waterproof bin can be utilized for soil and additives.

Once you have organized your shed, every lawn and garden chore will be that much easier. By utilizing your space to its highest potential, you avoid wasted time and frustration. The hours saved by not having to dig through the shed for an elusive tool can be spent on that special gardening project instead!

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Organizing baby clothes

Trunk with Baby Clothes

A reader asks:


I have an old leather trunk with a shelf inside, all covered in cloth. I’d like to store baby clothes in this. We live in a low humidity area. I’m wondering what else I can do to preserve the clothes.

Thank you very much for your service!



Start by cleaning each item of clothing that you wish to store. Moths and carpet beetles are attracted to organic stains in fibers especially natural fibers like wool and cotton so make sure these items are free of stains and odors.

For long-term storage, I would consider using an insecticide within the trunk to ward off silverfish and kill anything that happens to be living there now.

There is a new variety of insecticide made with Para-Dichlorobenzene rather than the naphthalene found in old-fashioned mothballs. Para-Dichlorobene takes ¼ of the vapors to work and also leaves no stain or odor on your clothes like mothballs. If you choose to use this alternative, place it high within the trunk, under the top of the lid, if possible, as the vapors will drift downward.

Place your clothing into plastic bins with lids or vacuum seal them into space bags. Add some cedar, which will give off an aromatic scent that will repel adult moths and carpet beetles. As the years progress and the cedar scent fades, simply sandpaper each piece to renew the potency. Use enough cedar to smell it when you open the lid, if you can’t smell it, the pests won’t mind it. This should keep your clothes well preserved for years to come.

Thanks for your question.
Kathi is a Professional Organizer, image Consultant based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing garages

Messy Garage

Dear Kathi,

We have a two car garage and cannot fit one car into it. This is the year that we have vowed to turn our storage area back into a garage. I know that there has to be other ways to store my stuff and still have a garage that is useful. How do you handle a garage full of everything but the car?



Don’t despair, there are plenty of people in Southern California with the same dilemna who have solved their problem. Begin by emptying everything out of your garage. As you pick up each item to move it out, determine if it is to keep, donate, recycle or toss into the trash.

If you feel that an item is a keeper, this means only one of three things: you will move it into your home and out of the garage, it lives in the garage and is regularly used (ie lawnmower, holiday decorations, Costco overstock etc), 0r it will be re-purposed or passed on to someone who needs it. An item should only be kept because you know that it has a purpose or you want to see it on a daily basis.

For the other items that don’t really seem to belong in your life any longer, do yourself a favor. Get rid of them and do not put them back into your garage for the next time you clean out. Do not save anything that you have not used in the past two years ( and that is being liberal) and especially if you haven’t yet used it but have it saved a for a rainy day.

We live in Southern California, which is a desert after all! If you have a load of momentos, do yourself a favor and put them all in one pile. Go through them one by one and try to downsize to only one plastic bin per family member. Your children will not want most of their keepsakes and certainly will not want to sort through yours at a later date. Do it now during this process. Set these items aside and do not let them back into your garage until they have been downsized and refitted into plastic tubs. If they are worth keeping, you do not want to store them in cardboard boxes.

A note about cardboard: Boxes are not a great medium to store anything in. The gum in the adhesive attracts bugs and they will move in over time to feast on the glue. Use plastic bins for long term storage. These bins also keep water damage at bay. As you move items back into your garage, think about creating zones for different categories of items. One wall could be sports equipment like golf clubs, bicycles etc. Another wall could be the tool zone.

Keep your once a year decor along with your memento bins up and out of the way. They do not need to take up valuable floor space and are the perfect candidates for high in the rafters or on the top shelf.

By the time you are done with this exercise, you will probably have all of your trash cans filled plus a few more bags. Plan your garage project the day before the trash pickup. Also, be sure to call your favorite charity to schedule a pick up of your donation items at the end of the day you are working on the garage and you will have the satisfaction of being clean and clear of all of your discards.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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A garage gets organized

Before 1

Situation: This client has a 3 car garage with no room left for her car. She has lived in this home for 6 years and her car has never once seen the inside of the garage.

Before 2   Before 3

Challenge: This client grew up in a family without much money, and was taught to buy at sales, stock up and to save everything. She has a hard time letting go of things that may be useful some day, or things that she spent money on. “If the item has value, one can’t just throw it away,” she said.

After 1   After 2

Solution: We eliminated the stuff she wasn’t using. While going through what she could get rid of, she realized that these things were not serving her at all, so she was ready to let go of them and pass the on to someone who can use them. Her holiday decor and supplies are organized and easy to find, and her long term storage is safely stored away in plastic bins, with empty ones left over for future storage. We donated all of her unwanted items to her favorite charity.

After 3   After 4

The garage now has the car inside with storage against the walls. Her significant other said that the garage is “like night and day”, and this client can’t wait for her friends to see her organized garage.


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Organizing baggage

Baggage Sign

Dear Kathi,

I have a three-bedroom home with a two-car garage. I recently took on a new roommate who agreed to bring in only a TV and his clothes. He would put the rest of his possessions into storage because the room he rents is completely furnished. This is the problem: he has moved many of his belongings into my garage. I don’t want to be difficult and would like to try to accommodate his items. Right now, however, he is blocking my gaming area where I have several pinball machines. What can I do to optimize my space more efficiently and fit more storage into this space?

James, San Diego


I appreciate your wishing to accommodate a roommate who has overstepped his agreement. Putting one’s things in storage usually means one’s own storage, not someone else’s! In most difficult situations there is a middle ground. In this case it sounds like your roommate has gone over your invisible (to him) boundary line. You might negotiate him storing some of his things in your garage, perhaps only to the extent that he not impinge on your gaming space, or whichever limits you choose to impose. That way you could create a win-win situation: helping him out while still retaining the essential garage space you need for yourself.

It is hard to give specific organizing advice without seeing exactly what is in your garage. The standard organizing process would be to take inventory of the all the loose items and the larger immovable items, like your pinball machines, washing machine, etc.

I’m not sure if you have a laundry section within your garage or if you park your car there. Let’s assume you do laundry, play pinball and keep storage items in your garage, without trying to accommodate an automobile. If this is the case, you basically have three zones within this space. Knowing this, you will want to group all items related to each activity within their appropriate zone.

Storage items, like your new roommate’s boxes are best stored floor to ceiling on shelving units against a long sidewall. One swift way to reduce the clutter of storage items is to buy large plastic bins. Fill these bins, label and stack them together. Rectangular bins save space and fit nicely onto shelves. If you decide to allow your roommate to keep his items in the garage, you can at least insist that he repack his belongings into plastic bins. They save space and are the best way to protect against water and dust damage.

Consider hanging cupboards above the washer and dryer to hold extra cleaning supplies. If you have room, a small roller unit that fits between or on one side of the washer and dryer can hold the laundry soap, spot remover, bleach, dryer sheets, etc. If you use an ironing board, consider buying a unit that installs into the wall or one that hangs directly from the wall and tucks away when not in use. This will optimize floor space.

One of my favorite laundry tools to save space and time is the professional grade clothes steamer. I haven’t used an iron since I received my steamer as a gift over ten years ago! This unit, which requires only one foot of floor space, steams wrinkles out of clothes more quickly than any iron. If you are not familiar with this handy tool, you can find it online by searching ‘garment steamer’ or ‘clothes steamer.’ A wonderful space and time saving device! Make sure to buy the floor model on wheels for the most effortless steaming.

If this column hasn’t completely addressed your dilemma, please email me with more specifics about your garage predicament and I will do my best to advise.
Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Finding storage in small spaces

May is National Moving Month and also, ironically, National Mental Health Month. Use this fabulous month to de-stress and de-clutter even it you aren’t moving!

Dear Kathi,

I currently reside in a 2Br/2Ba Apt with my husband. Our second bedroom is a MESS. It’s a computer room, ironing room, guest room and storage room. I really need some organization in there. With such limited space, I just don’t have the ideas that a professional would. I am to the point now of frustration and I need to clean up. I do have a garage to store items also, but I am nervous about what to store there due to mold, etc…

Lisa, San Diego


Think about the many activities that take place in your spare room and decide which activities take priority. Can some activities be delegated to other areas within your home? Gather a few plastic bins, empty boxes and trash bags.

After determining which activities will take place in your second bedroom, take inventory of the contents in this room. Are there items there that don’t belong with these activities? For instance, if this is a computer/ironing/guest room, can the hundreds of DVDs and video games find a new home in the living room by your television? Can you store your winter clothes under the bed in your master bedroom?

You will be best served by moving your storage items to the garage. Before you begin moving these boxes, empty them and decide if you still have a good reason to keep every item. Many times, we decide to keep things and years later, if we think about it, we will decide that we don’t need them anymore. If we don’t think about it, items have the tendency to remain in storage for the duration of our lives never to see the light of day again.

If you have boxes of books, which many of us do, consider whether you could find them later at a library or online if you decided to actually read them again. Donate extra books to your local library. Books are better read than stored. The library will resale them to raise money for future book purchases.

Once you decide which storage items must go back into storage, move these out of your spare room and into containers. Plastic tubs with tight fitting lids function well in garage areas.

If you are concerned about mildew, buy “Damp-Rid” packets to absorb the excess moisture. Remember to empty the water collection units regularly. Store your bins off the floor on wood or concrete blocks if your garage is prone to flooding.

After moving things to the garage, box or bag your trash and donations and take them to the dumpster or your car for transport to your favorite charity.

Use the closet in your multi-purpose room to supplement the planned activities. Find new homes for the items that don’t suit the intended purpose of your guestroom. Make certain that the items in your spare bedroom are compatible with your planned activities. Create separate zones for each task within the room, whether it is ironing or working on the computer.

Once these steps are completed, you will have a functional space and feel less overwhelmed. With any luck, your guests will also have an empty spot in the closet to hang their clothes. Good luck!

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Stash Before You Trash with Semi-Permanent Storage Solutions

Although you may want to devote a single weekend to performing a complete cleanse of your closets or storage spaces, a more practical approach might be to take it one step at a time.

For one thing, if you are not using the assistance of a professional organizer, you could find yourself paralyzed by the overwhelming enormity of clearing out years of accumulated stuff in two days’ time and end up not getting rid of anything as a result. Alternatively, you might eradicate everything for which you see no immediate need and a month down the road, find yourself having to buy things you just tossed.

No, when it comes to clearing out tons of clutter, if you are not using the help of a professional organizer, taking baby steps may be a better tactic. Instead of trying to go from closet to curb by Sunday night, aim for organizing everything into labeled boxes that you can place into a semi-permanent storage space. In essence, you can give yourself some time to test out the absence of your designated ‘don’t keep’ items before you part with them permanently.

And if you do decide they belong with you for good, the items are already neatly packed away in boxes that you can relocate to a separate storage unit or leave in their new spot at the back of an unobtrusive closet, out of sight and out of your way (but never really out of reach).

Here are some tips to help you jumpstart your semi-permanent storage trial run and some best practices for cleaning up the clutter now and maintaining a clutter-free environment moving forward.

Create a manageable plan that includes realistically attainable goals.
Much of the battle against a bulging closet is won or lost before you even attack. Embrace the ‘baby steps’ philosophy by breaking the entire project up into easily digestible portions:

  • Separate entire portions of the home into rooms: ‘Organize the upstairs’ becomes ‘Organize master bedroom’ and ‘Organize office’ and so forth
  • Separate entire rooms into single spaces: ‘Organize master bedroom’ becomes ‘Clean out dresser’ and ‘organize master closet,’ etc.
  • Separate single spaces into individual tasks: ‘Organize master closet’ becomes ‘Straighten shoes’ and ‘Swap out seasonal clothes’ and so on

From here, you can use the individual tasks as opportunities to streamline your items, remove the excess, and straighten up the space in general.

For example, the task ‘Swap out seasonal clothes’ allows you to pull aside all of your winter clothes and replace them with your spring and summer wardrobe. During the transition, eliminate from both categories as you go and divide the items into boxes that you’ve pre-labeled Keep, Donate, Recycle, and Trash.

  • Keep everything that you are likely to wear next year like currently-fitting jeans, sweaters, pants, shirts, etc. If they don’t fit or you don’t want them when next year rolls around, conduct another elimination round at that time, but you are allowing yourself room to change your mind in the meantime.
  • Donate everything that is still in good condition but that you are unlikely to wear again – because it doesn’t fit, it’s no longer your style, or it’s no longer age-appropriate. This is the box of transitional items that you can place in the back of the newly-de-cluttered closet and hold onto for another six months to see if circumstances are still the same. If you need to take any items out of the box or add to it, you can do it then and deliver the box at the appropriate (in season) time to the designated charity.
  • Recycle and Trash are more applicable with papers, documents, and broken or damaged items (toys, ripped clothes, etc.) that can be discarded immediately – no waiting period required.

But maybe ‘current clothes’ aren’t the source of your clutter. Perhaps you’ve accumulated a plethora of miscellaneous items over the years that you need to tame. For those, here are some questions to help you decide what stays for re-discovery down the road and what needs to go immediately:

Does it have important sentimental value?
You might find sentimental value in every pint-sized pair of socks and shoes from when your kids were little, but unless you’re only keeping the truly memorable pieces, the collection of clothes can get out of hand in a hurry.

Select some of the most important items like their Christening gown, their first pair of shoes, and even a few of the more subjective items (like the monogrammed dress that she wore in your favorite Christmas card from 15 years ago) that you want to preserve and do that – have them professionally preserved or properly packed away in a place wherein they’re out of the way but are protected until you pull them out again in a few years.

Other items that fall into this category might include:

  • Yearbooks
  • Photo albums
  • Cards announcing births, engagements, weddings, and other important milestones for those most dear to you (sorry, second cousins you haven’t seen in a decade don’t count)
  • Wedding items (a gown, shoes, jewelry, etc.)

Does it have important functional value?
You love the stack of magazines you’ve accumulated over the years, but when they grow to the point that they need their own storage unit, it’s time to pare them down. Go through them and pull out important articles or recipes or inspirational photos – whatever you’ve kept the magazines for – and create a single scrapbook or photo album with those and recycle the rest.

To take your organization a step further, scan the clippings and create an electronic copy of them and recycle the originals with the rest of the stack.

Moving forward, only buy items that you need and try to buy them only when you need them. And by keeping an eye on your clutter before it grows, you can avoid these semi-permanent storage solutions entirely.

Until then, what other items have you placed in semi-permanent storage and what did you end up keeping at the end of the trial period? You will find that there was hardly anything that was kept out of sight was missed or needed when your trial run was over.
You will discover it much easier to let go in the moment after you go through one of these trial storage solutions!

About the Author: Garret Stembridge is part of the team at www.extraspace.com, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about storage and organization topics for homes and for businesses.

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