Texas Living

Feel More Ordered, Less Like a Pack Rat

By Jessica Jones 1.24.14

Stuff. We all have it, and probably too much of it. And what do we do with that stuff when it’s not in use? We store it in our homes, cramming it into whatever spare nooks and crannies we can find. Taking the time to organize your storage can help you feel more ordered and help you find your things more easily. Here’s a step-by-step guide to tackling your clutter.

1. Do inventory. Go through the things you have socked away, decide how crucial each is, and purge anything you don’t truly need. For housewares, if you haven’t used them in two years or longer, it’s safe to get rid of. Clothes: one year. Paperwork: Most can be tossed after three years. (Important documents, like social security cards, mortgage documents, vehicle titles, etc., should be kept forever in a fireproof box.)

2. Assess your space. The amount of space you have will determine how much stuff you can keep. Think creatively: Is there room under your bed to hide some non-essentials? Are you so averse to cooking that your kitchen cupboards are bare? No space is off-limits. If you don’t have much, create some with a decorative armoire or trunk.

3. Assign homes to your stuff. The things you use most often should be in the most easily accessible places, and vice versa. Prioritize your pieces and decide where you’ll best be able to reach them.

4. Make the most of your space. Maximize vertical space by installing shelves or tiered organizers. Install pullout drawers, lazy Susans, or graduated racks in deep cabinets so you can access everything. By using hooks or rails, walls and ceilings are fair game, too.

5. Contain yourself. When buying storage containers, consider the size, shape, and make of the items you’re storing, as well as where they’ll be stored. Items going in the attic should go in sealable bins or bags to stave off pests. Clothing — particularly nice materials like leather, suede, and silk — is best stored in breathable garment bags to prevent mildew. Stackable bins and boxes make it easy to pile high, while vacuum-sealed storage bags can reduce the size of bulky comforters, pillows, and linens.