I bet you’ve NEVER thought of this organizing strategy! Creating “Empty Storage Spaces” will help you avoid total clutter melt-downs and keep you staying organized! Find a spot in your house, whether it’s a drawer, a cabinet, a closet, or a room to put those ongoing projects and more!
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Get ready to take your organizing to the next level with this idea! This is Part 2 in our four-part series “The Ultimate Guide to Staying Organized: Must-Read Solutions!” I’m looking forward to sharing this week’s creative storage solution, because it is definitely one that I had NEVER thought of, and you probably didn’t either! Don’t be offended, but you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want a teeny tiny organization refresher!
If you are just tuning in for our four-part series, I teamed up with a friend of mine who is a home organizer and a very effective and creative one at that! Part 1 was all about the paper clutter in your house and how to tame it! Yes, even though we live in a digital world, we still end up with tons of paper! You can click HERE to read Part 1, but be sure to come back here for Jenna’s fabulous organizing idea this week!
I love Jenna’s style! She’s an inspiration to those of us who are interested in staying organized! And on top of that, her house is filled with unique and beautiful home decor! Because of that (and because we all LOVE snooping inside other people’s homes) I’m sharing some pictures of her home with you during each post!
Did I mention that Jenna sews also!? Yep, she has drapes and pillows, among other things that she has made throughout her house!
I ALWAYS have a piles in my house! Some piles are small and other’s are large. Whether it’s a DIY project for the blog, planning a birthday party for one of my kids, or something else-everything else, I can’t seem to figure out what to do with my piles! My projects usually end up on the kitchen island or the dining room table. I know it kills my husband, and honestly it bothers me also!
Where do your projects end up!? The kitchen, the dining room, your bedroom, the mudroom?
Don’t worry, because Jenna is here to solve your clutter problem! Today she is talking about how to create empty spaces, small or large, to keep your clutter from piling up!
The Ultimate Guide to Staying Organized: Must-Read Solutions Part 2
“Empty” Storage Space
by Jenna (Home Organizing Solutions)
Part 2: “Empty” Storage Space
Clutter makes me crazy. I despise it! But who doesn’t? We spend so much time and effort figuring out where we will keep everything in our homes, such as books, coats, dishes, linens, craft supplies, tax returns, board games, DVDs, sports equipment, beach towels (you get the picture), that we completely forget to create designated spaces for the stuff of our daily lives…the stuff we get bombarded with that becomes CLUTTER!
It took me years of being a stay-at-home mom of two to figure this one out. Even if you don’t have kids, but especially if you do, we all see how much STUFF enters our homes and how quickly that stuff just piles up.
I have created 8 of these “empty” storage spaces in our home, and I’ve found that they all help to drastically reduce our house from looking cluttered. The idea here is to figure out exactly what categories your clutter falls into, then create a space for it (that’s not the middle of your kitchen island!). You can use a basket, crate, or bin….and if you really want to step it up, clear out a drawer, a shelf in a closet, or space in a cabinet. It might sound counter-productive to actually create spaces for clutter, but the reality is, some clutter needs a holding space before it leaves your home, and not all clutter is stuff that needs to be thrown away. (If you are wondering why I call these spaces “empty”, it’s because, at times, these spaces may actually be EMPTY! Here’s my list…
We have a wooden crate right next to our front door for outgoing items that do not belong to us. These items include library books, items we’ve borrowed that need to be returned (such as DVDs), and items that were left at our house (such as casserole dishes, Tupperware, or a sweater that was left behind). Since it’s conveniently located by the door and has an open top, it’s easy to see what we need to grab on our way out. Our kids have learned that when they bring library books home, they stay in the “returns” crate (this helps to keep from losing them, too!), and they know exactly where they are on library day. If you are fortunate enough to have a coat closet, you could create a space in there.
Designate a space in your home specifically for items to be donated. We keep a large basket in a closet, and the whole family knows what it’s for. My 7-year-old son recently had a whole week where every day, the pants he put on for school were too short! He knew to throw the pants into the “donate” basket on his own. This basket gets filled up at least once a month, sometimes more, and once that happens, I throw it in my car and drop if off to Goodwill (I keep the basket and return it to the closet). Find a donations center that is convenient for you…ours happens to be located on the way to my husband’s workplace, so sometimes he takes it. I’ve found that having this basket eliminates the need to set hours aside to clean out the house of things we no longer need. And it’s not just for clothes! Books, picture frames, and other small household items get tossed in there as well. We recently received new coffee mugs as a gift, so it took me 30 seconds to toss the old ones into the basket. The idea here is that if you have a designated space for donations, you will get into the habit of doing it regularly, without the dread of setting aside a whole day or weekend to gather up donations.
“Kids’ Clutter” Space
Ok, parents…this is an important one! Can you picture all the little trinkets that enter your home and end up on every surface? Plastic toys from Chik-Fil-A, party favors from goody bags, hair ties, spider rings, beads, paper airplanes…I could go on but I know right now you are all cringing! This stuff just kept piling up on our kitchen island, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I have not one, but TWO crates in my kitchen that are designated for the sole purpose of KEEPING MY KITCHEN ISLAND CLEAR.
My kids know that any random trinket left on the kitchen island (or anywhere else in the house) will get tossed (by me) into one of those crates. They know that if they are looking for something, they can find it in there. And guess what? 99% of the time…THEY NEVER LOOK FOR IT AGAIN!! So every week or two, anything in those two crates gets thrown into the trash. So you can really think of this space as a “holding spot” for stuff that will ultimately end up in the trash…a sort of junk drawer that truly only contains junk, and doesn’t get jumbled along with your scissors, pens, and tape. Side note – I’m sure many of you can throw all of this stuff right into the trash as it enters your house, and I’m envious!
“Coaching/Extracurricular Activities” Space
Those of us who coach our kids’ extracurricular activities know that we’ve also signed up for allowing more stuff to enter our house. Sports equipment, uniforms, Girl Scout Cookies, forms, team photos…you get the picture. A space for this might require more than just a bin. I coach my son’s Lego Robotics Team, and I have cleared out two shelves in a closet for the sole purpose of housing our team materials, such as workbooks, Legos, and the team model we are working on. When we meet, we use our dining room table, and when we finish, there’s a spot for it all so that my dining room doesn’t look like Legoland for the rest of the week! For you, this space might be somewhere in a garage or office. And of course, it might be a space that changes with the seasons.
“Current Projects” space
We always have something that we are working on, whether it’s planning a kid’s birthday party (think goody bags and decorations), creating craft projects (are you with me, room parents?), writing out Christmas cards, wrapping gifts for birthday parties (that seem to occur every weekend), or planning a renovation (with fabric or tile samples piling up). In our house, we needed so much space for this purpose that we have an entire cabinet in our family room devoted to such items. What’s nice about having this devoted space is that none of the above-mentioned items are cluttering up my house!
I have a suspicion that many of you already implement this one in some fashion. This, for us, is a pretty basket at the bottom of our stairs that contains anything that needs to go upstairs. We used to just pile it up on the bottom step, but it looks much prettier in this basket. I also installed two cute hooks from Anthropologie for things that can be hung, like dry cleaning.
“Forgotten Toys” Space
Confession: I’ve been secretly snatching up my kids’ toys here and there over the years when I notice they haven’t been touched in a while. We have an unfinished storage space in our basement, right next to the kids’ playroom and our laundry room. It takes only a minute or two, but every now and then, on my way to do laundry, I toss any “forgotten toys” into a large plastic bin in that storage space. This is similar to our “Donations” space AND our “Kids’ Clutter” crate, because IF one of my kids asks where a certain item is, I can locate it for them in this bin. However, 99% of the time, the item never gets asked for again. When the bin gets filled up, it goes to Goodwill. The empty bin goes back in the storage space, and the cycle continues!
“Outgoing Mail” space
We have a cute star-shaped basket near the front door for outgoing mail. You could also attach a cute mailbox to the inside of your entryway, which would keep surfaces clutter-free.
Many of these spaces really just serve as a “holding spot” for items that ultimately get donated or thrown out. But to me, having these designated spaces means that none of the stuff is cluttering my house! I’ve read several books on organizing and de-cluttering, some of which focus on the idea to not have that much stuff in the first place. And all I can think of when I hear that is, “that person must not have kids or a husband or any hobbies whatsoever!” If you can create “empty” spaces in your house, I’ll bet that you will also fall into a routine of taking a few minutes here and there to maintain all of those cleared-off, pretty spaces in your home!
You are the best Jenna! Many thanks for sharing your genius organizing hacks with us! My house is under 1,800 square feet, so I have to get creative with my “Empty” Storage Spaces. I have already cleared out a place in our unfinished basement for some of these clutter catchers!
If you are feeling like, “Ah!” don’t worry, I am too. Organization can be learned, and these posts are here to help you! I’m an average organizer, and when you add kids into the mix I drop down into the horrible organizer level! What is most important is that you take baby steps!
Keep up the great organizing work! It won’t happen in a day, but small progress is good progress!