Tag Archives: Storage

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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Garage organizing

Dear Kathi,

We are moving across country and will have a new three-car garage. We swear we won’t clutter it up this time, but I am already worried. What tips can you give me to break our garage dumping ground habit?

Ren, Business Owner


Plan ahead and make a list of the items that you need to store in your new garage. Items that are normally kept in garages include lawn equipment, holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools and excess household supplies bought in bulk. Do you have any additional items to store? Determine how many cabinets and shelves are currently in your new garage. Before you move in, use this time to build additional storage in your garage. Efficient garages feature a row of cabinets that line an entire wall, floor to ceiling. Open shelves on the wall closest to your home entrance will conveniently store household supplies bought in bulk. Holiday decorations should be grouped together and stored high and out of the way. Sports equipment should be low and easily accessible. To avoid future garage clutter follow this rule; items that no longer work or fit inside your home do not go to your garage. Do not pass go and take your excess furniture and old light fixtures directly to your favorite charity. If the item is too big for you to haul, call the charity and schedule a pick-up. The evening before the truck arrives, place the items in front of your house. Don’t put anything “temporarily” in your garage and you will be on your way to consistently parking cars in your new garage.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Colored Tubs for Holiday Decor – Get Them Now

This is the time to get your colored holiday tubs. They come in red and green, and it’s a perfect way to store your Christmas decor. The great things about tub is they are an agreement with yourself about how much holiday stuff you really need. So if you decide that you’re going to have 4 tubs, 4 tubs is what you get for holiday decorations.


Tubs also make it easy for your helper elf to pull them down every year when it is time. You and your helper elf (who might not be able to see the forest through the trees at times, just saying!) can easily see which tubs you need when they are red and green and will probably pull the right ones down for you with this extra help.

Notice I said pull them ‘down’? The best place to store holiday decor that you use once a year is up high and out of the way. Preferably in the garage, attic or basement. This way, it is literally not in your way for the 11 months that you don’t need them!

As an aside, if you are like me and LOVE to decorate, it pays to buy colored tubs for each holiday. They are typically in stock and in stores 2-3 weeks before each holiday and then they disappear, so grab them when you can!

I have orange and black tubs to store my fall decor, which hold both Haloween and Thanksgiving. I store these holidays together and it makes an easy transition since the dates fall so closely together.

I also have pink and purple bins for my spring decor. I store Easter and St Pats day decorations in these.

With this bin strategy, I only have to pull bins 3 times a year, spring, fall and winter. It works really well for me.

If you already have bins but they are not color coded, you can always use tape. Buy tape that has the proper colors or images for each season and run the tape all of the way around each bin so that it is visible on all sides. Again, you can buy seasonal tape during each season. I did this for a few years for my spring collection until I found the perfect bins!

Do you have any other holiday decor tips that you use that you can share with us? If so, please submit your ideas, tips and strategies in the comment box below!

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Book and Paper Clutter Can Cause Overwhelm and Make You Miss Opportunities



Hello, Thank you for all the wonderful information that you share. My story, is all about books and papers, I have always been a book person and also have kept many things hoping to share them with others. I have books mainly on health, natural healing, gardening, self help , astrology, Metaphysical, cooking, As I have always been interested in healing and cooking.

I am now 73 years old and really want to do something about all the books and papers I have around me I know that I have a lot of wonderful things to share that could help others but I have not find a way to do it, yet.

I would love to open a cooking school to teach food body connection and herbs and gardening but do not have the money to do it. I am trying to find a way to decide if I have to let all these books and papers go or what, I would appreciate you letting me know what you think about this.

Thanks, Janette


Hi Janette,

I am so glad that you took the time to post this question in the comments section under the article about paper clutter. Books and papers are a challenge for many of us, including my family. You are not alone!Papers and books can cause quite a havoc on your environment. I can relate to your dilemma as I am an avid reader and love the printed page in whatever form it is given to me!It sounds like you have been collecting articles and books for quite some time.

My advice would be to look around your home and determine how many you can comfortably fit without feeling overwhelmed. It helps to keep all of your books etc into one area of your home to avoid the cluttered feeling and atmosphere.So, take for instance, I decided to keep all of our books in the guest room. Once I decided this, it became easy to see how many bookshelves I could fit/use in that room. My family also has issues around cookbooks. My husband has never met a cookbook that he does not like!

So, that being said, once I determined where our books would live, I bought 3 Billy book shelves from Ikea to line one of the walls. I use the Billy shelf frequently because they are 72″ tall and use the vertical space in each room efficiently.The space on those 3 shelves determined how many books we could keep. This containment system made us decide which books were the most important and which were not. We got rid of every book that did not fit into that pre-determined space. Since it was difficult task, we filled up every inch. This was not the best method because then every time we got a new book, we had to let one go.

The better idea is to purge enough books so that there is room to grow without having to urge more after each new purchase. One in, one out, so to speak continues the process. We eventually were able to create enough space on the shelves to add a few photos, vases and artwork so the shelves were not so crowded and more visually appealing.

So, the moral to the story is that you need to make an agreement with yourself how many books and papers make sense in your environment. Once that is decided, storing them all into one area of the house will eliminate the cluttered feeling. If you truly want to start leading classes and share your years of knowledge, why don’t you explore who else does this in your area and give them some of your books? You never know, this gift might lead to forging an alliance and allow you to offer a few classes at their venue! Even if this does not happen, you will feel lighter and your home less cluttered when you let go of your excess.

Regarding your loose papers and files, you need to ask yourself if you could find them easier, quicker and more up to date when, and if, you need them later with an online google search. Typically, you can find information on any topic x 10,000 you need much more quickly on Google than trying to find files on the same topic within your home or office later.

If you would like more tips on how to organize the papers that you decide to keep, click on this link. Thanks so much for your question. I hope this response helps!



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Another Shoe Organizing Idea

I came across this idea on Pinterest and love it! I thought I had seen every possible shoe organizing solution until this ‘do it yourself’ idea. I think I might try it in a few of my client’s closets!

This is what the pinner said about her solution: I am in the midst of reorganizing our master closet and am drowning in shoes. I have a few shoe organizers but none that are working well for me. I came across this ingenious idea for organizing your high heels using decorative crown molding!

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Organizing a Shared Bathroom ~ 14 Tips to Keep Your Bathroom Chaos Free

If several household members are sharing a bathroom, follow these 14 tips to help organize it.

Tip #1

  • Clean out every drawer and shelf in the bathroom. Get rid of anything that isn’t being used.

Tip #2

  • Move your medicines to the kitchen. The heat and steam in the bath can ruin them.

Tip #3

  • Give each household member a different colored basket to fill with toiletries. No sharing. Make sure everyone has their own toothpaste, eye drops, cosmetics and grooming supplies. Each person will keep the basket in his or her bedroom.

Tip #4

  • Evaluate your storage. You will need places for: towels, nail care, extra paper, feminine hygiene products, hair care and back-up supplies of soap and shampoo. Nothing else belongs in the bathroom.

Tip .#5

  • Use a shower/bath caddy for shampoo and soap. They hang on the wall of your shower and keep the clutter out of your shower area. They are relatively inexpensive and available in many different styles.



Tip #6

  • Set up a drip-dry container for bath toys if you have small children.
  • Corner to corner suction cup hammocks work well

Tip #7

  • Make space for a small, lidless hamper or laundry basket. Otherwise, have a system for depositing used towels in the laundry room.

Tip #8

  • Use hooks instead of towel racks for kids. They’ll be more likely to use them. Have as many hooks and/or towel racks as you have persons using the bathroom.

Tip #9

  • Make a checklist of all products in your bathroom as well as those used by each individual. Review your list weekly before shopping.

Tip #10

  • Explore the variety of storage options you can use in the bath.
  • Small countertop drawers can organize cotton balls and Q-Tips.
  • Use cutlery trays in drawers, plastic shelves under the sink and caddies which attach to doors.
  • Rolling carts can all contain the clutter that frequently accumulates in this much-used room. To keep things organized, each person can have one basket on the cart.

Tip #11

  • If pressed for space when storing towels, consider a space-saving towel rack that clips right over the back of the bathroom door.

Tip #12

  • Transform the dead space over your toilet by adding a stacked cabinet to store some of those items that have been kept under the sink.

Tip #13

  • Consider installing a shower dispenser right on the wall to dispense liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner and eliminate all of that clutter

Tip #14

  • Use organizational cosmetic containers or even small boxes to organize each person’s cosmetics individually.
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Tips for Decluttering Your Life and Your Home

I recently received a question from an addSpace follower. I am certain that many of you also have a similar concern so I wanted to go into detail and provide practical steps to help you declutter your life. This is what she asked:

What questions can I ask myself as I sort through boxes of “stuff” in order to get rid of most of it?

The answer:

For starters, if these boxes have been packed and loaded for a long period of time (over 3 months), before you open them you need to ask yourself – “what exactly is in there?

If you don’t have a (more…)

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A Multipurpose Home Business, Crafts and Laundry Room


This room needed to function as a laundry room, crafts and storage area as well as the production area for a home-based business. Although the home is beautiful, it is small craftsman built back when closets and all rooms were very small.


My client has a popular line of gorgeous baby accessories including burp towels and bibs but does not have a lot of room to create and sew as the orders come in.


We divided and conquered this room by first determining which activities were most important within this space. After deciding that the home-based business needed as much space as possible, we re-contained and moved every unrelated item up and off the counter and into the side cabinets. We decided which shelves should hold which craft based on the frequency they were needed. The more frequent gift wrapping and card-making supplies were stored in the shelves at eye level.

Once the counter was clear, we were able to sort and organize all fabrics and place them within the sewing zone to the right and under the counter.

As you can see in the photo below, we still have an area for miscellaneous projects and tools in the side cabinet.

The one thing I love about craftsman cottages is that once you can organize and look beyond their small size, they often have exceptional built-in storage areas!

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A Little Bathroom Drawer Organization Can Go a Long Way

Are your bathroom drawers a jumble of disorganized chaos?

Never fear. With a little love and proper organization within, your drawers can help you get ready in the morning instead of hampering your progress to get out the door and off to work on time!


As you might notice, there were many items in this drawer that were not part of a man’s daily ‘off to work’ routine.


We moved everything out that did not help in the morning and brought in everything that was part of the early routine. With everything he needs organized into one drawer, my client is now less frustrated, off and out to work on time.

All of the wife’s items are now in her own drawer and she is also organized!

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Plastic Food Storage Container Lid Battle

rubbermaid review image

I recently tried out the new Rubbermaid ALL in ONE container system. I love it! There are only two sizes of lids with multiple sizes of containers. The beauty is this: you can pair any lid with almost every container. This helps to end the constant search of finding the proper lid when you are putting away leftovers. Simple and brilliant. Finally, an end to having more lids than containers or more containers than lids!

The lids come in 4 varieties and are designed for (more…)

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