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Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts: #6

This is the sixth in a series of Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts. 6. DON’T store loose papers in shopping bags. The vast majority of paper I find in plastic shopping bags is garbage.  These bags tend to fall into the category I call “make-it-go-away” bags, which is not a good idea.  If, however, these bags are holding old archives and records you need to keep, it’s still not a good idea.  These bags can’t be quickly identified, if you actually do need to find some of the contents.  Also they are structureless, so the contents can’t be protected.  Finally, when things look like trash they tend to get treated that way. DO store archives in lidded boxes. If papers are worth archiving, make a modest effort to store them well.    First, empty those make-it-go-away bags and toss what you don’t need.  That might triple your storage space.  Second, don’t overorganize the old files you are hanging on to just-in-case, but do make a point of getting them into a lidded banker box and at least indicate the […]

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Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts: #5

This is the fifth in a series of Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts. 5. DON’T store regular small items in lidded boxes. Sometimes I’m in homes where there is no shortage of nice square, lidded, even clear boxes, but there is still a lack of organization.  What’s missing?  Accessibility.  Stackable boxes aren’t for everything.  They make the best use of space for seasonal, archival, and other lesser-used items, but if you need to get to items regularly, lids (and the boxes stacked on top of them) present discouraging barriers.  One of the unfortunate results is multiple purchases. DO store regular small items in drawers.  Picture this scenario.  It’s Sunday night, you’re having dinner in front of the TV, the game’s gone into extra innings, but 60 Minutes is on too.  Thank God for the remote control!   Only it’s at this very moment the batteries decide to give out on the remote.  Wouldn’t it be great to know that the problem will be remedied by a 15 second trip to your closet? You swing open the door and there it […]

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Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts: #4

This is the fourth entry in the series  Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts. 4. DON’T store ANYTHING in a rounded basket with a handle. I know how it goes.  A friend gives you a beautiful gift basket and when it’s emptied, you just can’t bear to part with it.  “Surely I can find SOMETHING to put in it.”  Any time you find yourself trying to match a need to a container, STOP.  That’s a sure fire recipe for clutter and disorganization.  My advice is to fill that basket with flowers, candy, or cheese and give it back to your friend.  A gift basket is just about the worst organizing container imaginable.   Useful items, particularly squared ones like compact disks, tend to fit terribly in these baskets.  Furthermore, they’re usually tapered at the bottom, designed to make the contents look more plentiful and overflowing.  This is not an optimal storage feature.  They tend to fit poorly ON the shelves and wastefully BETWEEN the shelves, because of those stupid handles (not that you could stack anything on top of that […]

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Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts: #3

This is the third in a series of Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts. 3. DON’T store items in opaque containers. Attractive boxes and baskets are intended for display-worthy spaces, not closets and other storage spaces. Colored plastic bins are good for hiding items, but not for organizing them. Under no circumstances should you store items of value in black trash bags. Trash bag contents tend to get mixed up with—well, trash. DO store items in clear boxes. I know that some might argue that there are greener choices than plastic containers. The clear plastic containers I recommend are #5 polypropylene. According to they “transmit no known chemicals, but you may have a more difficult time finding someone to recycle your #4 and #5 containers.” I would argue that there is significantly less reason to get rid of a clear plastic boxes than other organizing “solutions”. I believe accordion files and Easter baskets recycle just fine. Clear containers enable you to see what you have, increasing the likelihood that you will actually use the contents and decreasing the likelihood […]

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Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts: #2

This is the second in a series of Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts. 2. DON’T fill every last gap in your closet. Packing everything you can into your closet does not make you organized. I have maintained that it is wasteful not to take advantage of vertical space in your closet, but it is equally wasteful to compromise find-ability and accessibility, which is an inevitablility when it’s all crammed in. DO leave room for accessibility. If you are keeping something you don’t need to be able to find, access, or use, you probably don’t need it at all. Disposing or donating items that no longer serves you well may be the best answer to getting your closet back. Prioritize what you are keeping. Seasonal and archive materials should be kept on upper shelves or in the back of a closet. On the other hand, items you need all the time should be located at, or just below, eye level, in clear, labeled drawers, where appropriate. Items whose frequency is somewhere in between should be located somewhere in between. When […]

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Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts: #1

With more people working from home and more families needing to squeeze another year out of a home that’s too small, there is a growing need to maximize storage space.  This is the first in a series of Top 10 Closet Storage Do’s and Don’ts. 1. DON’T waste vertical space. When storage space is at a premium, it is wasteful not to take full advantage of your closet’s height. No shelves make this difficult but underused shelves are a missed opportunity as well. Wasting vertical space may include the floor. Of course you want the floor of the closet open so that you can access the shelves, but an open closet floor tends to invite piles of shoes and other items, which compromise access. This can present a dilemma. DO store vertically. If you don’t have closet shelves the easiest shelf system I have found to install is the Elfa system available at The Container Store. Save the more decorative boxes for more visible areas. To maximize shelf space, use clear stackable boxes for lesser-used items and clear plastic drawers […]

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