The 5 Golden Rules of Home Storage

  • 01 of 05

    The 5 Golden Rules of Home Storage

    Ikea heavy duty storage from Ikea
    Photo / Ikea

     When you’re moving, cleaning out what you’ve stored up over a lifetime, or thinking about getting more organized, one question you’ll face is “how do I store all of this?” These golden rules of storage will help to answer that, no matter which methods you choose.

    1. One in, one out.

    Start with this guideline: once you have decided to bring something into your home, you need to make room for it by taking something else out. Obviously there are situations where this rule does not apply, e.g. if...MORE you’re moving into your first apartment and starting with nothing, or relocating across the country or the world and bringing only what you can take on the plane.

    But if you have what you truly need, and you’re not starting with a very pared-down way of life, you should always consider whether you can store the objects you’re about to purchase or accept. In the case of things like t-shirts, shoes, or mugs, if you really want a new one, you probably have one to spare.

    If you’re thinking “But my jewelry!” or “I’m not getting rid of a book!” that’s okay. Collections are fine if 1) they have real meaning and use to you and were not acquired simply for the sake of acquiring stuff, and 2) you can create room to store them without becoming cluttered. But even collections should be evaluated periodically; sometimes you realize that a particular book or bauble would be more appreciated by someone else.

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  • 02 of 05

    Start with Storage Spaces

    Small home storage via Furniture Design Ideaz
    Photo / Furniture Design Ideaz

    2. Start with storage spaces.

    If you're organizing your entire home, start with your storage spaces, like your basement, attic, closets and garage. Beginning with your storage spaces means you can purge items you stored earlier no longer need, freeing up room to store more. If you live in a small apartment without traditional storage spaces, start with places you accumulate the most stuff: bins, drawers, cabinets, or other places where you tend to stash items you’re not using.

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  • 03 of 05

    You can buy storage, but you can’t buy organization

    Bathroom storage from Ikea
    Photo / Ikea

    3. You can buy storage, but you can’t buy organization.

    When most people think about decluttering their space or setting up a new, organized home, they go immediately to shelving units, boxes, built-ins, and the like. Walking through housewares stores or browsing catalogs, it can seem like purchasing the right storage products will lead to a picture-perfect, effortlessly organized life.

    Sadly, this isn’t any more realistic than the notion that buying a rowing machine will make you work out every...MORE day. Storage units can be great solutions, but they should be chosen very carefully - being mindful of the life and house you have, rather than the fantasy – and they can’t work miracles. Remember too that once you buy those shelves, you have to actually use them. Your stuff will not put itself away.

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  • 04 of 05

    Home storage is made simpler when you label everything

    How to organize your kitchen cabinets
    How to organize your kitchen cabinets. Photo / Cookin' Canuck

    4. Label, label, label.

    Storing all your belongings neatly and safely? Good. Having to open every box, bin, and bag to retrieve one scarf? Not good. Especially when dealing with longer-term storage, like off-season clothing under your bed or household items waiting in a storage unit until you move in a few years, take the time to label everything clearly.

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  • 05 of 05

    Digital storage tips

    Entryway form Pottery Barn
    Photo / Pottery Barn

    5. When you think “storage,” don’t forget the digital kind.

    If you’re over, say, 30, and you don’t work in tech, you probably still mostly think about storage as it pertains to items you can hold in your hands. But while you can’t scan sports equipment or winter coats, there are many items you probably grew up storing in boxes that you should now consider storing digitally. Of course, if you prefer the feel of a book or the experience of vinyl, you don’t need to switch to an e-reader and music in...MORE the cloud. But being aware of what new storage options are out there can free you of the literal weight of old tax documents and photographs you might prefer in your hard drive than on your shelves.

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