Designer Tips From Saul Podemski – Organizing Your Home

April 4, 2014

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Call it a proverb or a famous saying – we’ve all heard it from someone – our parents, our co-workers, quite often from our own spouse. It’s been attributed to almost everyone, including Benjamin Franklin.  And these days, it resonates with everyone – we have too much stuff, too little room, and too much going on.

The whole idea is to get organized; to create a space for everything, for everyone, and for every purpose.  And besides creating a comfortable, welcome atmosphere in your home, you really just want to create more space – a usable, practical, productive environment.  And here, we’re talking about it all:  clothes and toys; supplies and tools; equipment and gear; the home office; even the workshop area.

We all have “stuff” – most of it usually inside the house, but for many of us, there’s the over-stuffed garage, the over-flowing shed, or the condo locker that’s jam-packed.  And it’s not just a physical matter of organizing – it’s a whole mindset – an approach to setting up an orderly, systematic framework where our “stuff” is easy to find and easy to access.  But after years and years of collecting, stuffing and cramming, the new approach doesn’t happen overnight.

First off, you need to decide to do it – then, you can decide how.  The “how” is often best expedited with a company that specializes in home storage solutions and storage organization.  They have the great ideas, the experience from other clients, the shelving and fixtures, and the expertise to customize the installation.  More importantly, a good company works for you, so everything is based on your preferences and priorities.

Next step is to plan – again, completely up to you.  You need to determine how things will be organized based on your lifestyle, your needs, and your physical space.  You need to have a plan for each space, and always focus on the number one consideration:  function.  Obviously, your home office is different from the storage space for sports equipment.  As well, storage of seasonal clothing differs from power tools and construction materials.  And naturally, indoor storage solutions will differ from what you decide to store in the shed or garage.

While you’re at it, take the opportunity to purge – throw it out, donate it, or give it away.  There are organizational experts who believe that you can get rid of up to 50% of your “stuff”.  Others will tell you that if it hasn’t been used in a year, get rid of it.  You also don’t need duplicates of things – have you noticed how many hammers you have? What about rakes and shovels, brooms and bins?  Never mind the clothes you never wear (or the ones that don’t fit).  Most everyone has trouble getting rid of “stuff”, so if you don’t use it, and you don’t need it, and you don’t love to wear it – don’t keep it!

Truth is, you can do it yourself – there are home centers and hardware stores aplenty, and they all carry the materials you’ll need.  But nothing really compares with hiring a company that specializes.  It’s like when you do your own plumbing or electrical – sure you can do it – but, well, you know.

If you do end up using a company that specializes in storage solutions, you still need to know what you want to do with each space.  And although a good company can come up with ideas and suggestions, you definitely need to be the guiding force.  The great thing about plotting out and planning your storage space is the end result: there’s a place for everything, and everything has a place.

Another important thing to remember is not to freak out.  Clutter and chaos didn’t arrive over-night, and neither will it disappear over-night.  Also, everything doesn’t have to be expedited in one fell swoop – it can become a step-by-step process, or a room-by-room process.  There’s just no need to turn your life upside down – it will defeat the purpose of harmonizing your living space.  

Whether you hire a company or not, the step-by-step is going to be the same.  You’ll start off by mapping out each space, then allocating specific areas for specific purposes.  For example, a child’s closet will have storage priorities different than that unusual storage space under the stairs.  In the same way, a walk-in closet in the master bedroom differs from a home office that requires filing cabinets and a productive workspace.  Needless to say, creating the specifics of the storage space dictates what kind of storage solution is required.

So now, let’s assume the shelving, the racks, the hooks and all the other components are affixed.  You are not going back to cramming, jamming, stuffing or otherwise heaping your “stuff” into the beautiful new space.  You are now sorting, arranging, categorizing, grouping and selecting – all to keep the organization process going.  There’s no turning back.  You may decide that hazardous materials be locked up; you may want all the tools hanging up; you may need some heavy duty shelving; or you may want seasonal things to occupy a “rotating” storage space.  Whatever your approach, think about frequency of use, ease of searching and finding, and above all, simple access.

Since our original objective was having a place for everything, and having everything in its place, it’s probably a good idea that we achieve that objective.  And don’t forget to give yourself credit for going the distance – it’s a whole new approach to managing, handling, organizing, and above all controlling your “stuff”.  What a great way to move forward!