A House in Higher Order

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You can declutter and reorganize storage areas at home and help others in the bargain

Call it human nature of a side effect of civilization. We tend to collect more things than we need. Extra canned food in the pantry, outgrown soccer equipment in the closet, unopened soaps and shampoos on the bathroom shelf. These unused things can be a burden to us, adding stress to everyday life. Thankfully, we can declutter and reorganize our homes, repurpose our extras so they benefit someone else, and feel good about doing both.

Start by decluttering and reordering three home storage areas with these easy steps. You’ll find spring cleaning takes on a whole new meaning when it includes repurposing usable items. With a plan to donate unneeded good to others, dreaded “have to” household purging can become a “want to” weekend activity.

1. The Food Pantry

Sort your stuff: Take out everything from your pantry, then cluster like items together. Check for expired or stale items, and discard or recycle them. Edit the remaining items asking, “Will I use this in the next few weeks or a reasonable time frame?” If the answer is “Yes,” it stays. If not, choose to give it away.

Repurpose with purpose:

Unopened staples, such as flour, sugar, cooking oil and unopened, unexpired packaged goods are badly needed at local food banks. See the sidebar for more information.

Organize and label:

The success of any organizational system is based on it being sustainable without a lot of explanation. The same is true for your food pantry. If you organize it one way but the others in your household don’t know the system, it may not be successful. Take the time to leave clues for yourself and others of where things go, with labels that you make yourself.

More Tips

If you have room, keep a small dustpan and broom nearby for quick cleanups, a fold-up stepstool if some shelves are out of reach, and markers for labeling and for writing purchase dates of ingredients.

2. The Family Closet

Sort your stuff: Take out everything from your closet, grouping like items together and checking for condition, fit and importance: Is it in good shape? Is it being used? Does its use warrant a place in the family closet? Items that get “yes” on all three questions stay. Those that don’t should be tossed, recycled or given away.

Repurpose with purpose:

If you have unwanted items, there are many new homes for them. including Goodwill, local homeless shelters, animal shelters and local church clothing drives. 

Organize and label:

A family or shared closet quickly becomes a myriad of clutter if its contents aren’t organized so everyone using the storage space puts things back in their place. You can make that happen more often with personalized boxes, spaces, hooks and areas.

More Tips

The multitude of storage containers, systems and products available provide great selection, functionality and style. To save money and time, buy compatible organizational items so you can mix and match boxes, bins, containers, etc., between similar storage areas in your house. Boxes and bins suitable for a family closet should also work in bedroom, bathroom and linen closets, for instance.

It’s also best to choose a family of materials and stick with it. It’s difficult and often awkward to mix natural baskets and boxes with plastic and wire bins and containers in the same storage area. Check out the smart storage solutions for dorm rooms—even if you and your family have no one in college right now. Over the door and under-the-bed storage ideas abound and are adaptable to family closets and other areas in the home.

3. The Kids’ Rooms

Sort your stuff: The rate that children outgrow clothes is matched only by how fast they age out of toys, books and learning tools. Make sure you go through their bedroom closet and storage areas as often as possible and select items that are too small or are no longer being used.

Repurpose with purpose:

Kids’ clothes, games and toys are easy to donate. Kids’ bedroom furniture also will have value to others. See the sidebar for more information.

Organize and label:

In order for organization efforts to last longer than a couple of days, think like your child. Where do they want to keep their toys, books and personal things? Are they ready to hang up clothing, or will shelves and hooks work better for them?

 

 

 

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