Home & Garden

Reclaim your living space in the new year

Find space for what you want, get rid of what you don’t want or need.

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. Getting organized is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions — and one that doesn’t require a trip to the gym! If it seems daunting, start room by room, and before you know it, you’ll be done.


Do you need it? Accumulated possessions not in active use are clogging up your life. Make sure you have a legitimate justification for hanging on to those possessions you don’t often use. If not, purge them.

If you have trouble letting go of stuff, think of purging as “passing it on.” You may have friends who would love to take these items off your hands. Or donate them to charity. If you need the money and have time, sort out items of particular value and take them to a consignment shop. Do the sorting when you are in a discriminating mood. Get rid of pass-it-on items as soon as you identify them so you can get them out of your sight before you change your mind.

Reduce clutter. Every home has at least one place where clutter accumulates, like the items you set down when you come into the room — keys, mail, coat, umbrella, backpack, etc. And then there are the miscellaneous things, which may end up in a miscellaneous drawer — if you are lucky. Design an organizing system for these things where they naturally accumulate. A well-placed coat rack, shelf, hanging basket, mail pocket, key hook, or bulletin board can make all the difference in locating these items when you next need them.

Cull as you go — and recycle. If you don’t need stuff, get rid of it as soon as you can. Locate a recycle box and mail pocket right inside the front door, and do a quick sort of mail as soon as you bring it into the house. Keep an empty donation bag in your closet, and drop clothing and other items into it as soon as you recognize you’ve “had it” with them. And donate often!


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.

Is it where you need it to be? Think systems, big picture. Consider how you use and move through your living space. Do you currently have things in the most convenient places? If not, where would you like them to be? Even if there isn’t a storage system in that spot now, you may be able to create one. There are many organizing and storage products on the market, including flexible shelving systems, storage totes, baskets, clear boxes and drawers, hooks, and much more.

Maximize your area. Any empty area is a candidate for storage. Take advantage of the high ceilings found in many older buildings. Use decorative wooden brackets to put shelves over doors and windows, or under the ceiling line to display collectibles (use Museum Wax to hold treasures in place).

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 pedestals and make items in the back corners of cabinets and counters easily accessible. Wire slide-out baskets pull out on sliding tracks, come in a large variety of sizes, and are not difficult to mount inside cabinets.

Closets. Increase a closet’s hanging space by adding an extra rod. Short items like 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. Multitiered hangers save space by allowing several garments to be hung per hanger. Shoe racks are a necessity and are available in myriad styles and sizes. Racks, shoe bags, and other storage accessories can be mounted on or hung over hinged doors.

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Julia Strzesieski is the marketing coordinator at Cole Hardware and can be reached at [email protected].