Getting organized is a common New Year’s resolution. 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. 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.
DO YOU NEED IT?
If you have trouble letting go of stuff, think of it 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 to a consignment shop. Do the sorting when you are in a discriminating mood. If you don’t have the time or room to sort stuff out, get rid of “pass it on” items as soon as you identify them. The advantage of this is getting these items out of your sight before you change your mind.
IS IT WHERE YOU NEED IT TO BE?
Think systems, big picture. Consider how you use and move through your living space. Do you have things in the most convenient places now? If not, where would you like them to be? Even if there isn’t a storage system in that spot now, you might be able to create one.
IS IT CONVENIENT TO GET TO?
Don’t organize piecemeal. If it’s a closet you need to organize, start by pulling everything out. Sort, purge, and then take a long look at what you are left with, and assess the space. The idea is to retrofit the existing storage space to make it easy to access your possessions. There are a range of organizing and storage products, including flexible shelving systems, storage totes, baskets, clear boxes and drawers, hooks, and much more. If you are so inclined, you can custom build your own shelving, and hang rods, hooks, nets, baskets, and so forth, right where you need them.
Every home has at least one place where clutter accumulates — items you set down when you come into the room — keys, mail, coat, umbrella, backpack, and whatever else you’ve carried through the door. 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, key hook, or bulletin board can make all the difference in locating 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!
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 try a long run of shelving about 12″ under the ceiling line to display collectibles (don’t forget to secure these treasures). Organize stored items by making use of the many available storage trays, bins, boxes, baskets, and more.
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.
Make the most of space that too often becomes the black hole in a home. Many boxes, drawers and wheeled containers are designed specifically to fit under beds. 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.