I’m a huge fan of decluttering before organizing, and I don’t believe in keeping things you don’t use. That said, I do believe that some things belong in storage containers. Some examples:
- Holiday decorations. I’ve seen people have 20 containers of Christmas decorations. I have about five along with a sixth pre-holiday container that contains all those things I need to pull out in early to mid-November to get started on a stress-free holiday. Like others, I also decorate and/or entertain for most of the major holidays, so I have two other containers containing decorations for fall/harvest, Thanksgiving, Easter, and July 4th. All of these are in containers.
- Smaller pools, pool toys, and life jackets. You need somewhere to put summer items in the winter months. When I was around 22, I ruined an above-ground pool by emptying it and not storing it properly. I would caution you against doing the same.
- Children’s clothing. If you have children, you may want to keep hand-me-down toys and clothes in storage containers until the next child is old enough for them. Or maybe you just buy clothes on sale before your child needs them and need to store them somewhere. As an example, I have a friend who keeps storage containers for each upcoming clothing size for each of her kids, and she buys everything on clearance or consignment. (Note: I buy ahead on sale, too, but I use dividers in my child’s closet to note sizes, and I go through them once every two months or so. I have reasons. But more on organizing kids’ clothes later.)
- Your clothing? Some people believe in storing their winter clothes in the summer and their summer clothes in the winter. I do not do so for my household for several reasons. First, I have a capsule wardrobe and can typically work most clothes into any season with layering. Second, I live in the South, so frequently it’s 60 degrees in the dead of winter. Third, I do not venture into our attic, so to exchange clothes for the season means I have to wait for my husband to have the time to enter the attic, and with his busy schedule, that could take a while. But your story is completely different from mine, and you may need to store your clothing by season.
As I’ve already said many times on this blog, you should do what works for you. Provided it isn’t truly clutter that you are never going to use again, I say store it if you’re not currently using it. But make sure you store it so that it isn’t ruined and so that you can easily find it again when you need it.
If you’ve decided that you need to store things (and what you need to store), the first consideration is how to store your items. If you’re just storing items in an extra bedroom or bonus room, feel free to store items in cardboard boxes with paper labels. But if you’re storing items in your attic or garage, you’re going to need something sturdier because of the heat and possibly even bugs or spiders.
I personally use Sterlite containers, partially because of their economical price. (I’ve also used Rubbermaid’s containers, and those have lids that close better, which may be a concern if you are storing clothing in your attic and want to avoid moth-eaten clothing.) I prefer the 18-gallon containers for smaller items, but I do use the larger containers when I need them for an exceptionally large item like a pool. I typically find the best deal on Sterlite containers at Walmart. I would recommend buying these in the store rather than having them shipped because I have had lids crack during shipment. And if you can wait, just about every store that carries storage containers has them on sale in January.
Then you need to label those boxes. When my husband and I bought our first house, I started by making printable Avery labels, but found that they rarely stick on their own, and given most of my items are either in my garage or in my attic, even covering them with the best shipping/packaging tape does not help them withstand the heat. Further, I would have to buy very large (read: expensive) labels for my husband to be able to see printed labels easily in the attic. And those wouldn’t stick either, right?
What works for me is to have my containers labeled with 651 (permanent) vinyl I have cut with my Silhouette Cameo. My labels are large–several inches tall. See?
What works for my household ~ This is how I organize and label items in my attic and garage: with Sterlite containers and 651 vinyl. The big letters are easy for my husband to see in the attic–and they stay on, unlike the paper labels we previously tried. (Note: The Sterlite label on the top container is there to remind me that this particular container is empty.) That font, by the way, is Arctic, which is readable, cute, and quirky enough to hide my alignment errors! 😆 (New blog post on this topic coming soon–maybe tonight!)
My husband loves these labels because the black vinyl is shiny and does not need a great deal of light to be seen in the attic. I like them because they actually stick and they are easily visible in the garage. (I’ll talk about how I organize my garage using Sterlite containers another day.) I’ve used a quirky font to make perfect placement less of a concern. Labeling these takes about five minutes each, but I don’t have to relabel the next day as I did previously with paper labels. (If you don’t have a Silhouette Cameo or Cricut and are looking to buy some labels like mine, contact me. I previously had a vinyl decal store on Etsy (I have all five-star reviews) and would be glad to cut some of these custom for you for a reasonable price.)
Or you could ignore all of my advice and do as my dad does: Have mismatched containers written on with Sharpie markers. 🙂
I’m adamant that while organizing, you should do what works for you. This picture shows how my dad stores and labels the items he doesn’t want to discard (that’s a story for another day!), but doesn’t want in his actual living space. I prefer a consistent set of Sterlite containers and 651 vinyl. Whatever works, right?!
They’re labeled, right? He can generally find what he’s looking for. His system works for him. And as I will continue to say, do what works for you!
Save time, save money, save your sanity! Having your storage items clearly marked can save you untold amounts of time looking for things in your garage or attic. Ask me how I know!
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