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- Arranging Living Room Furniture
- Clear Clutter at Home with Baskets
- Helping a Pack Rat Get Organized
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The Organized Home10 Essential Storage Principles Of An ExtraOrdinary Home
Storage. When planning a renovation, remodel, repair or new home construction, overlooking storage can make the difference between a job well done and a job with something left lacking. Don't bust the budget. Make the space work for you.
Planning a remodel, major repair or new home construction? Looking for some terrific features to include that won’t be budget busters? We can help! We started collecting over 1,000 uncommon, affordable convenience built-ins in 1998, when we first began writing books and consulting to help people have truly extraordinary — but affordable — homes. Here are our favorite storage ideas as well as our 10 essential storage principles. Add any of these to your next project and you’ll be on your way toward creating a home that’s truly beyond the ordinary!
1. First of all, the purpose of good storage is to help you keep organized. (Contrary to what your spouse or teenagers might say, it’s not merely to hide monster messes where they’ll get forgotten or require tons of time to sort through whenever someone’s looking for something!) Start your storage planning by listing all your possessions, their dimensions and where each item is normally used.
Rollaway storage — with lockable wheels — can tuck into a stall built into a lower cabinet, island, closet or under a sink. Or roll into place for being used under a table, desk or countertop. Ideal for laundry hampers and garbage cans; a cart for tableware (from walk-in pantry to the table and from the dishwasher back to the pantry); file cabinets; a stack of drawers; containers for toys, equipment, gift wrapping or craft supplies; an entire island; a wagon or cart to wheel around the house while putting various items it contains wherever they belong; and so much more.
2. There must be adequate storage space for all your current belongings, plus additional space for future acquisitions. And if you expect to raise a family in the house for decades, you might need as much space to grow into as you fill now. In addition, don't forget to plan extra space if you like to buy food or supplies in bulk.
Pullout shelves, bins, baskets and racks in lower cabinets allow easy access to their contents. Don’t forget to add these under sinks, with cutouts that fit around the plumbing. No more getting down on your hands and knees to see and find things! And with these, you can get to — and therefore use — the space that’s even at the very back of your cabinets.
3. Next, I’d be sure each storage area is appropriate for whatever you plan to store there, and that each has the appropriate hardware, compartments, etc. for its contents. That means your sports equipment requires space that's different from what your music and video collections need.
For hanging table linens, dowels bolted onto the back walls or mounted on a frame bolted to the sides or bottom of pantries, closets or cabinets make linens easily accessible while minimizing creases and fold lines. No more digging to the bottom of a drawer of folded linens to find a favorite tablecloth, or having to empty the entire drawer to get it out! And no more linens that are too wrinkled to use “as is!” This is also a great way to use a narrow area of otherwise wasted space.
4. Plan storage scattered throughout the entire house. Ideally, everything will be stored near where it's used. No point in hauling stuff through half the house just to use it!
You’ll love having closets and cabinets — the pantry, too — whose lights go on automatically as their doors open, the way a refrigerator’s does. (One of the many benefits of built-in cabinets is the inside lighting that’s possible.) No more groping to find manual light switches, especially when your hands are often too full to reach for a switch — or they’re wet! This is also wonderful for kids — and adults in wheelchairs — who can’t easily reach a closet’s traditional light switch. A plunger switch is inside most refrigerators, but magnetic contact switches — similar to those used in home security alarm systems — can also do the job throughout your house.
5. I’d also plan for your most frequently-used items to be easiest and quickest to reach. Then make sure the things you use less often fit in the remaining spaces.
Electrical outlets inside drawers, cabinets or in appliance barns on countertops allow small appliances to be stored out of sight and used without frequent plugging and unplugging. (Ideally, everything you store in these spaces will be used nearby so you won’t need any extension cords.) You avoid countertop clutter, the items never get dusty and are always ready to use, and no one needs to fiddle with the plugs — especially when their hands are wet or arthritic. Just be sure to measure the sizes of the appliances you plan to store before you finalize these spaces’ dimensions, so you avoid any surprises about something not fitting inside.
6. Your largest and heaviest possessions also need to be the easiest and quickest to get to, so don't put them up high or in a corner that’s tricky to navigate. Fill your remaining spaces with your lightweight items.
Separate activity areas in the kitchen will make everything efficiently at hand exactly where you need it: baking and mixing, food preparation, cooking, cleanup, entertaining, beverage service, etc.
7. Be sure your storage minimizes having any wasted space anywhere in the house.
Hang a detachable hamper inside a pullout or tilt out lower cabinet door or storage bench, or inside a closet door. A cloth hamper hanging on a frame makes transporting clothes or linens to the washing machine especially easy, but wire or plastic hampers also work. No more dropping items on the way to the laundry room that you might trip over! Choose materials that allow ventilation in the hamper, to prevent mold from forming on any damp or wet items that remain inside for more than a few days.
8. Make your storage areas accessible so none go unused just because they can’t be easily reached.
Full-extension drawers, pullout shelves and file cabinets — all on easy-gliding metal tracks — allow you to reach and see all their contents, so you can use all their space.
9. I’d also look at traffic flows in the house. If the most frequently-used items are stored in the major traffic paths, no one will have to go out of their way to get what they need and you’ll have a very efficient house. On the other hand, you can also affect where the traffic detours through the house via where you store popular items. So if you want to eliminate bottlenecks where people often collide with each other, move the popular items to different locations so some traffic will flow along new paths.
Adequate clearance around every open drawer, hinged cabinet or door, and appliance door will keep traffic flowing and save you some steps. Be sure you have room to open and move around all the drawers and cabinets you need to open at once when you’re emptying the dishwasher, putting groceries away, working on a project, etc.
10. My final point is to make as many of your storage elements adjustable and removable as possible. The storage spaces that work for you initially can then be modified to remain as effective as ever as your needs change.
Open shelving — or you can remove some cabinet doors — gives you instant identification of and access to your stored goods. Stored items get more light around them and are easier to see, the motion of opening cabinets is not required, and this saves some trial and error if you don’t recall precisely what’s stored where.
Like this article? Then you’ll love our books that all have uncommon, affordable storage ideas that increase your quality of life and your home’s resale value! We also offer a free e-book at www.extraordinaryhomes.com, The 34 ExtraOrdinary Home Principles: Plus Over 70 Fabulous, Affordable, Innovative Ideas That’ll Improve Your Life and WOW You!
© Copyright 2005 - 2006 by Carol Abrahamson/ExtraOrdinary Homes. All rights reserved.
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