Storage Tips

  1. How to Store Things in Damp Basements

    Sadly, depending on the age of your home and/or where you live, you’ve likely had to contend with a musty basement once or twice.

    Moisture can get in, seals can fail, the temperature can fluctuate, and it can get awfully hard to safely keep anything in there. If you’ve been battling moisture and mildew in your basement and need to figure out how to better organize anything already down there, here’s a few tips we’ve found to keep everything a little cleaner:

     

    Leave space for air to move: Moisture and humidity collect most often in areas where items are tightly packed together and the air can’t move between them to dry it out. Wherever possible, leave space between items on shelves to help the air flow through and prevent moisture from accumulating. In cases where space is at a premium, you may need to provide shelves with open decking and backs such as wire shelving to help improve air flow.

     

    Moisture removers everywhere: It’s no exaggeration when we suggest using as many moisture removers as you can throughout the basement to help capture moisture in the air and prevent it from building up and damaging your stuff. There’s plenty of DIY recipes to make them yourself using household items (such as cat litter, activated charcoal, and silica gel), or they’re easily purchased at supermarkets and hardware stores. You’ll be surprised at how much difference it makes.

     

    Use the right materials for storage: As you probably already learned the hard way, a lot of materials can’t withstand the conditions of a basement as easily as some others. “Softer” materials such as cardboard and wood aren’t good choices for long-term basement use due to their ability to absorb a ton of moisture very quickly. Stick with more corrosion-resistant options like chrome shelves, epoxy coated shelving, and plastic bins to keep the dampness at bay (and try to remember to keep a lid on everything).

     

    Keep it airtight: If your basement is home for a lot of your seasonal clothes when you don’t need a coat, vacuum sealing may be the way to go. By reducing the amount of air in a container you can more easily prevent the buildup of mildew, and vacuum packing at home might be the ideal solution for long-term storage of clothes you don’t wear that often or anything with sentimental value such as a wedding dress.

     

    Remember to keep an eye out: Finally, no matter how many precautions you take, you’re going to have to keep checking on everything you store down there. Don’t leave anything unattended or sitting still for very long, and for particularly sensitive items (electronics, old fabrics) bring them upstairs into the sun to let them dry out and warm up a little.

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  2. Get Those Canned Goods Under Control

    No matter what your preferred diet or favorite food, everyone has some canned food around the house. Vegetables, fruits, maybe some SPAM if that’s what you’re into—whatever you have, it can pile up after a while.

    Unless it’s totally expired, though, you don’t have to throw it away! Canned goods aren’t nearly as hard to organize as you might expect, and with a little patience and imagination you can get those beans and mushrooms under control.

     

    Make sure you can see what you have

    One of the fastest ways to lose track of everything you have is by not knowing what it is. If you’re the sort to store canned goods in a drawer, a quick and easy way to prevent that is to label the top of everything with a magic marker! Tag everything with a quick “olives”, “peas”, etc on the top lid of each can so you can see what it is right from the get go.

     

    From a cabinet to a closet

    Canned goods can contribute to a lot of overall kitchen cabinet clutter, and it can get hard to figure out just how and where to organize everything. A good solution we’ve found, depending on the size of the cabinet, is to treat it more like a closet—set up some closet storage bins, closet shelves, or even standalone wire shelves to help give everything its own space. Think back to the last time you reorganized your shoes and jackets, and you’ll be on the right track!

     

    No spaceno worries!

    Of course, not all of us have the luxury of a pantry big enough to keep a bunch of shelves in, so alternative solutions are needed. The more industrious among you may be able to repurpose shoeboxes or even magazine racks to keep cans organized, and you can always use over the door storage on the back of your cabinet doors (or even a door near the kitchen) to keep extras.

     

    Look on the walls

    Of course, if you don’t have any cabinet space left—or maybe if you don’t have any cabinets—you could always turn to the walls! Build or buy some new wall shelves to provide extra space for canned goods that won’t make a bigger mess out of your cabinets or countertops. This is an especially good way to keep the things you cook with more often closer at hand than the other ingredients which might just get in the way.

     

    Get it outside of the kitchen

    Finally, if worse comes to worse, just try to find somewhere else to keep them. The point of canned goods is to prolong their lifespan and help them stay fresh and edible for longer than other types of food, so a little stint in the basement or a climate-controlled garage won’t be the worst thing for them. Just...remember to eat them before their expiration date, alright?

     

    Do you have other tips for managing a canned food avalanche in your kitchen? Leave a comment below!

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  3. Make College Move-In Day Easier!

    Ah, college. A time of self-discovery, personal growth, and hopefully some learning along the way.

    Before all that, though, there’s always one big hurdle to cross—moving into your dorm!

    Dorm life can be a ton of fun, but it’s got a lot in common with moving into your first new apartment, or moving at all, which means it can be a huge pain. The stress of making sure you have everything is compacted by the fact that dorms don’t typically offer a lot of space.

    But all is not lost! When your move-in day approaches, there’s a few things you can do to try and make it as stress-free as possible for everyone. Here’s a few tips we’ve pulled together to help try and smooth out some of the...less appealing parts of moving into your dorm:

     

    Make sure you have everything by day 1

    The last-minute scramble for school supplies doesn’t stop at college. In fact, it probably involves more stuff than ever because now you need to furnish your part of the dorm! Make sure to factor in enough time to buy both the regular round of school supplies (backpacks, pencils, probably a new tablet or two, etc) and the sort of creature comforts you’re going to need while you’re there like hampers, pillows, closet storage bins, and so on. You’re probably going to have a pretty long list, especially if you’re starting your freshman year, but going in with your list checked off will save a lot of time in the long run.

     

    Get ready to move in a hurry

    A lot of colleges will have set time limits on when you can move your things in, so whatever it is you’re bringing, try to make sure it can be set up quickly. Try to avoid taking a lot of bulky furniture, instead looking for things like office chairs and desks that can be assembled when you get there and moved into the dorm itself more easily. Keep all your clothes, supplies, and furniture neatly compacted and ready to move in a hurry—you don’t want to get shut out of your dorm with two bags left in the car!

     

    Don’t be afraid to move stuff around

    A lot of students think that the furniture that’s already in your dorm has to stay there, but in most cases it’s actually easier (and better in the long run) to move it around. Talk to your roommates to see what works best with what everyone brought with them, and feel free to relocate until everyone can stay organized. You need to make room for that fridge stand somehow, right?

     

    Look up and down for organization

    Due to the limited space of a dorm, you might have to think outside the box a little bit to make everything fit. Get some standing wire shelving for the walls without shelves (or hang wall shelves if your school allows it), store things under the bed or under the dresser as needed, and don’t be afraid to get a little more creative than you might have at home.

     

    Don’t be afraid to send stuff back home

    A big mistake a lot of people make when packing for their dorm is to overestimate how much they’ll need for their first few months there. Focus on seasonally-appropriate clothing and don’t get too bogged down on packing winter clothes just yet to save room. Bigger amenities like your video game collection and your favorite bike might be better off in your parents’ garage for the time being, as they’re going to be too much of a pain to store in such a limited space. It might be a little heartbreaking at first, but you’ll notice how much space you saved yourself and you’ll be glad you did it.

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  4. How to Use Wall Space to Organize Clothes

    Whether due to a tiny closet, an overstuffed closet, or maybe no closet at all, a lot of people in apartments or smaller homes have been trying to find creative ways to organize their clothes.

    And while bedroom dressers are a good solution, not everyone’s bedroom has enough space to keep adding dressers—so what’s a fashionable young person to do?

    Have you tried looking on your walls?

    Wall space is a great idea in a lot of situations where extra storage space is needed in smaller rooms, but people tend to overlook its potential for getting your vast collections of belts and sweaters organized. Here’s a few ways we’ve found to make wall storage work for your clothing collection, no matter what your taste in fashion:

     

    Shirts

    Let’s start with one of the most common pieces of anyone’s wardrobe: shirts! Whether you’ve found yourself with a ton of graphic tees from all the concerts you’ve been to or you’re just amassing a collection of nice button-downs for use in the office, you’ve probably wound up with a lot of shirts you need to put somewhere. Luckily walls can be a great place for that. If you have any wall shelves or wire wall shelves already, these can be easily repurposed as shirt racks by putting some hangers on their brackets, or sliding in a thin bar (or wall rail) through the brackets. Any shirts that can be folded and put away can go right on top, while the bar holds onto dress shirts or anything that needs a hanger. For rooms lacking wall shelves, the craftier among you could try installing a few industrial-style pipes or railings to provide hanger space.

     

    Shoes

    No matter how much space you do or don’t have already, shoes are never the best to organize. If you don’t have space for any more shoe racks in your closet, try putting some nails or lower-profile screws into your walls and hang storage bins or decorative baskets from them to hang onto the shoes you wear most often.

     

    Sweaters and jackets

    Heavier stuff like cold-weather clothes tend to take up the most space. A good way to keep them out of your hair until you need them is to repurpose some old wall-mounted bookshelves to keep folded sweaters and jackets until the weather cools down enough to need them again.

     

    Bags and purses

    Finding a place to keep a purse you’re not currently using is one the worst parts of owning a purse, but wall storage can help out. Find an empty wall shelf and line your purses across it (stuffed with tissue paper to help them keep their shape as needed), and once they’re all in place, make sure to use bookends to keep them in place.

     

    Scarves, belts, ties, and other accessories

    So we’re doing good on getting your bigger clothes taken care of, but what about the small stuff that’s easy to lose (and already hard to organize, even if you did have the closet space)? If you have room for a few more shelves, towel racks are the best way to get these smaller items hung. Drape them over the sides of the towel rack to keep them out of the way and easier to get to.

     

    Have you used the wall space in your bedroom or dressing room to keep your clothes organized? Drop a comment and let us know what you did!

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  5. Storing Blankets and Other Overnight Visitor Accommodations

    Love it or hate it, we all have company sometimes.

    Relatives come to visit, kids come home from college with baskets of laundry in tow, holiday parties last a little too long and someone needs a couch to sleep on, it happens to everyone.

    While it’s always a good idea to keep some extra accommodations around for company like towels, blankets, and the like, it can be hard to find a place to keep them, particularly if they need to be separate from the rest of your linens for whatever reason.

    If you find yourself frequently trying to find space for your guest accommodations (particularly if you don’t have the luxury of a guest room to keep them in), here’s a couple of tips we’ve pulled together to keep everything nice and tidy:

     

    Figure out where your guests are going to stay.

    A good first step to planning storage of your extra blankets is to figure out where your guests are most likely to stay. Is everyone staying on a pull-out couch bed in the living room? Do you have a guest room or an unused extra bedroom (after the kids have moved out, for example) that they can stay in? Identifying your visitors’ likely nesting place will help inform a lot of the storage decisions you make from there.

     

    Make an inventory of your guest accommodations.

    From there, you’ll want to take stock of what accommodations you have to provide. Do you have a full bed with its own set of sheets and pillows, or just a guest blanket and spare pillow? Will towels or bathing supplies be provided? Ask yourselves these questions as soon as you can to help eliminate any mystery.

     

    Identify extra room in the guest area.

    A good way to keep your guest accommodations close at hand is to see if there’s any extra room in the area they’re sleeping in. If you have a guest room available, try to set aside the bottom drawer or two of a bedroom dresser to hang onto everything. Wall shelves are a good touch in situations like this as well since they’re up and out of the way, and if worse comes to worse there’s always the bathroom or hallway closet.

     

    Find out-of-the-way areas.

    Of course, if you’re too busy trying to store blankets for the people that live in your house, this might be a bit more daunting a task, so identifying any extra space you may have is critical here. Room under the bed? Space in the basement? Unused shelf in the kids’ closets? Just leaving them draped across the couch before it becomes a pull-out? You might have to use a little imagination to find just the right hiding place for these blankets.

     

    Keep your blankets clean in storage.

    Of course, if a blanket is being stashed in the closet, it’s bound to get a little...funky if it’s not used properly. Take it out for seasonal washings even if it hasn’t been used, try to keep an air freshener and a moisture trap in the closet to prevent mildew or moldy odors, and when you know you’re going to need them, try to give them a wash (or at least a quick Febreze-ing) before they’re unveiled.

     

    Wash after use.

    Finally, whatever blankets and pillowcases you might have lent out to your guests, don’t think anyone will be offended by you washing them right afterwards. They might wind up staying in storage longer than you think, and a good washing will prevent unwanted smells and/or reduce wear and tear in the long run.

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