Along with reactivating that gym membership, shedding a few pounds, eating more healthfully, and kicking the nicotine habit, getting organized is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions made annually — and probably broken, too! But who can blame the city dweller? The lack of sufficient closet and cabinet space is often a problem in apartments and older buildings, so creating storage solutions is a challenge familiar to many San Franciscans. Utilizing creative storage solutions can help to maximize your living space and give you a sense of organization. Then when you feel organized, the other resolutions will fall easier into place.
CONDUCT A SPACE SURVEY
Assess your living area by looking for storage potential that has escaped your notice. You probably won’t find hidden doors to undiscovered closets, but an objective look at spaces “between, behind, above, and below” can reveal possibilities for storage.
GET RID OF UNNEEDED STUFF
This might be easier said than done. How many of us are holding onto some favorite clothing that we might actually never wear again? But it’s a good time to go through the closets and cupboards and donate items that are gently worn or used to someone who can actually use them.
SHRED OLD DOCUMENTS
And don’t forget about those file cabinets. Invest in a sturdy shredder and shred old documents you don’t need. Many of our banking and financial statements are digital now, so you can probably minimize some of these documents. Invest in a fireproof, waterproof security box for your most valuable documents. Consider the size of the box so it is small enough to grab in case you need to evacuate your home.
MAXIMIZE YOUR AREA
Any empty area is a candidate for storage. Install shelf brackets and standards for adjustable shelves in a hallway for books and CDs. Take advantage of the high ceilings found in many older buildings. Use decorative wooden brackets to put shelves over doors and windows, or try a long run of shelving about 12 inches under the ceiling line to display collectibles — don’t forget Museum Wax to hold treasures in place. Organize stored items by making use of the many storage trays, bins, and boxes that are available.
KITCHEN AND BATH
Use hanging pot racks in the kitchen. Hanging wire baskets can be used for produce in the kitchen and for toiletries in the bathroom. Lazy Susans turn on a pedestal and make items in the back corners of cabinets and counters easily accessible. Mount under-cabinet glass holders to organize wine glasses.
Increase a closet’s hanging space by adding an extra rod. Short items such as jackets and skirts can be hung above and below. A hanging rod can be easily made: Cut a closet dowel to size, screw eyebolts into the ends and attach chains with S-hooks. Use large S-hooks on the other end of the chain to hang the dowel from the existing rod.
Shoe racks of some sort are a necessity, and they are available in myriad styles and sizes. Racks, shoe bags, and other storage accessories can be mounted on or hung over hinged doors.
Besides shoes, some of us might be a little obsessive with purses and tote bags. Hang a decorative drapery rod along a wall or inside a closet door as an easy way to organize all those fabulous purses.
FABRIC SINK SKIRTS
A sink skirt can combine style and function by covering the space under a wall-hung sink. Attach the skirt to the sink base with velcro, so it will be detachable and easily washable. Use plastic or wire baskets to store items under the sink. The look of a sink skirt might be a bit dated, but if you have an older apartment with a lot of character, exploit the kitsch factor by choosing a fun, wild fabric pattern.
Make the most of space that too often becomes the “black hole” in a home. There are many boxes, drawers, and wheeled containers designed especially to fit under beds. Some soft units have internal frames to hold them open for easy loading and a zipper to hold it shut. If necessary, you can raise your bed a few inches by using ready-made risers or with plumbing parts: a threaded base piece to sit on the floor and short threaded pipes that will hold the caster pin on the bed frame. (Note: Plan ahead and take into consideration that your bedspread or bedskirt will be readjusted up off of the floor.)
The less space you have, the more creative you need to be; but the more organized your living area, the more spacious it will feel — and having an organized space helps to create an organized, less stressful life.