I’m a reformed messy person. Being in a cluttered space has always made me twitchy, but I’m also fundamentally pretty lazy – I would get bursts of energy and sort out everything!!, and then let it slide to the point of being disgusting again. Then it would feel like a huge amount of work to get it back to being nice, and that would feel overwhelming, and so I would live in mess (hating myself for being messy) until another burst of energy came along. This meant that 95% of time I was unhappy in my surroundings. The day or two after a cleaning and organising binge was lovely, but then the rest of the time, not so much.
So I’ve learned to set things up to make them as easy as possible to maintain.
Through trial and error, I’ve found that there are three main rules of storage organisation – whether it’s in a wardrobe, a kitchen, a garage, anywhere.
- What do you need often/quickly? This is the stuff that needs to be easily accessible. The Christmas decorations do not need to be at the front of your cupboard. (The corollary to this is: what jobs will you be more willing to do if you organise your space to make them easier? My Hoover and mop are now JUST inside the door of my cupboard, so getting them out isn’t a big deal.
- What tends to pile up? It’s okay if you have a box that’s “random crap that doesn’t go anywhere else.” But why not make it a nice-looking box, in a place that looks like it belongs, instead of a pile on a table or a cardboard box or ugly plastic bag?
- What do you need the minute you come home? For me, I need: a place to put down my handbag, a place to shove that day’s post, and a place to change into pyjamas. If these are all over the shop, you’re going to inevitably slide in your habits and mess will pile up. So make it easy for yourself. So figure out the coming-home routine that you instinctively find yourself doing, and design storage around that, as much as is possible.
The problem, if you live in London, is that you often have very little built-in storage. Everything is on display. So if you can, create a little cupboard somewhere – in a corner, under stairs, in a hall – just to get the ugly stuff, like Hoovers and fans and paint tins, out of sight. I may do another post somewhere on the various creative storage options available to renters, who can’t make structural changes.
I run a small online toy business from home, so I have a lot of stock that needs to go somewhere. I also have the standard cleaning/DIY stuff, coats, seasonal decorations, random junk, etc. Here’s what I’ve done so far:
Trip to IKEA for storage units! Somehow, they fit inside my TINY car! Then I had to assemble them – and Algie helped:
I put some nails in the front of the units to hang rolls of tape off of. Paint is on the bottom shelf so it’s easy to reach for touch-ups if needed, and the white box contains stuff that’s stacking up to be taken to the charity shop.
This is just inside the door. Mop, hoover, coats, etc. are easy to reach. There’s a small drawer unit with some of the more popular stock from my toy business, labelled. Items I don’t sell many of can be buried near the back. My handbag lives on top of the unit – right by the door.
The biscuit tin contains chargers, wires, plug adaptors for travel, and other electrical bits and bobs. Individual tools have nails on the wall. Scarves, gloves, and hats are in the patchwork bag. (On the back of the door I have a bag full of tote bags – again, following the “what do you need often/quickly – make that accessible” rule.)
However, I’m nowhere near done. I may want to paint the walls at some point, and, well, the rest of the room still looks like this …
Also, the previous owners left an old door in the storage room – I moved it to get access to the wall to hang things, and, well, it didn’t fit under the rails on the other side of the room. So now I have a door lying on my living room floor. Along with an inflatable alien. Don’t ask.
Stay tuned for the rest of this project …