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Catch-all Storage Spaces

We all have (at least) one catch-all, dump-all, store-all space in our home that tends to take the brunt of our overflow and exhaustion and never quite seems to stay organized.  For me, it’s our office/guest room/teen study space.  For those of us who live in homes with limited storage space, and/or limited space in general, it is essential to maximize space, be intentional about our acquisition and storage decisions, and remain flexible about multipurpose uses for certain rooms and closets.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to help a friend with the catch-all storage space in her home. Cleaning out and reorganizing the space had been on her to-do list for quite a while. Like many of our clients, my friend has excellent organizational skills and also knows that she needs some support to make tasks like this a priority.  We scheduled it as a part work, part social event (with our puppies, Winnie and Pepper, as cheerleaders!), and we promised ourselves a fun lunch as a reward after we were done.

As you can see from the pictures, this is a tiny space- approximately 3 by 8 feet.  As the main storage space for their entire house (no basement, small closets, and crawl space in the attic), this had become a classic catch/dump/store-all space.  As with any cleanout, our first goal was to define the purpose of the space.  This space clearly needed to be multipurpose storage.  We focused on what the space was NOT to be used for (i.e. craft materials, bags that needed to be cleaned out), how we could group like-things within the space (i.e. a section for paint and associated materials, a section for extra household items like paper towels and napkins), and what creative ways we could utilize the tight space.

Next we focused on getting everything out of the storage area and sorting items into categories.  Our categories for this space were trash, give away, check with a family member, belongs somewhere else and goes back in.  Once this was done, we deliberately put items in their sections of the storage area. My friend had thoughtfully assessed the categories that she would like and bought appropriate clear bins (which she plans to label) for things like batteries and lightbulbs.  To maximize space, she had also cleverly found a way to use an over the door shoe hanger as a wrapping organizer.

As we raced to the finish line of this project, it was tempting to leave as soon as possible for our much-anticipated reward lunch, but we made sure to first get all the give-away items into my friend’s car, all the trash into the garbage bins, and all the items to be checked with family members to a place where they would easily be seen.

Catch-all storage spaces can be tricky and can easily become overwhelming to organize.  In spaces like this, it is vital to utilize a system for organizing (sort/categorize discard/purge, assign homes for like things, containerize, and develop a system for maintenance), but perhaps even more important is to find ways to enjoy it- grab a friend to help and be sure to reward yourself for a job well done!

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