basement-afterHere’s a multiple choice question.  Fill in the blank with the best choice.
“Just put it away in the_______________.”
A.  Attic
B. Basement
C.  Closet
D.  All of the above.
Of course the correct answer is “D.”  Attics, basements, and closets are our storage friends.  All too often, however, they turn into forgotten wastelands.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Here are some ways to make these storage areas more user-friendly.


First and foremost, admit that this is a major category.  I see it in EVERY home we work in.  These are sentimental items that bring back special memories, but you have no intention of actually using or displaying. If they’re worth keeping, they’re worth keeping well.  Clear plastic boxes or drawers are the most user-friendly, but if you require 30 of them, they can get quite expensive, so do a focused sort and purge first.

Old files

I get it.  You need to keep these, just in case, but their location in your attic, basement, or closet should be as remote as the likelihood of retrieving them.


Luggage can take up a lot of room so it often ends up in the basement or attic.  This makes sense, but reserve a spot near the entrance, especially if you travel several times a year.


Holiday and other seasonal items belong somewhere between the old files and the luggage.  Don’t bury them too deeply, as their storage and retrieval may be required up to 6 times a year or so.

Kid’s stuff

Kid’s stuff is an all too general category, which I hear all too often. It requires some subcategorizing to organize in a user-friendly fashion.
1. The first subcategory is kid’s schoolwork and artwork. This can represent a huge amount of stuff.  I discuss how to control it in my children’s artwork post.

2. Next is the someday toys and equipment.  To me the idea of keeping old stuffed animals, Lego sets, bored games (misspelling intentional), baby cribs, and strollers for 20-30 years in the unlikely event that they will be genuinely appreciated, at the expense of some valuable storage space doesn’t make sense, but I’m not a mom, so I can accept that I “just don’t get it.”  I would, however, suggest stowing this stuff very remotely, perhaps under the attic eaves, behind the boxes of old files.

3. Finally, there’s outgrown clothes.  The key to sorting these out is to get clear on WHY you are keeping them, because odds are good there are several different reasons.  If they’re for the next baby be sure to keep them in moisture resistant boxes, clearly labeled by size. If they’re handmade or special in any other way, without the intention of being used, store them with the other keepsakes.  If your kids can’t wear them and you just can’t stand to waste them, then don’t.  Make a donation.


Speaking of donations, I recommend collecting these in your garage or near your home’s exit.  The closer to the exit your donations are, the better your odds are of actually donating them.

For tips on how to get the most out of your closet space, check out my series on closet storage.  For more on attics, check out Attic Attack.