You've purged, you've organized - how to best store what's left?

handustOctober 29, 2006

I am pleased to say that I've made tremendous progress in purging and organizing lately. We recently added onto and renovated our house and while it's not huge, it's more than big enough for our purposes now. I'm tickled pink.

Between moving out and moving back in, I was finally motivated to rid our home of a shocking number of bags of stuff that went either to charity or to the dump. I still have more to go (some boxes got moved before I was able to get to them), but I'm really happy with my progress. I'm a terrible SHE, trying to follow FlyLady in earnest now after many false starts over the past couple of years, but I'm doing well for me.

My question is this: Even after purging, there are things that I would legitimately like to keep. A few mementos, off-season clothing for the family, etc. I'm tired of seeing mis-matched cardboard boxes with mystery contents within. I dream of having a system I read about years ago in the SHE books -- having each box coded with a list of inventory kept so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

To me, the best boxes would be some sort of plastic bins that you can somewhat see into and that will protect the contents from dust or other possible damage. But there are so many of these boxes -- has anyone found a brand that they like particularly well? What types of lids would you recommend for long term storage? I rather like the idea of attached lids (we constantly have miscellaneous box lids lying around), but they are few and far between.

I am SO anxious to make a decision and purchase these boxes so I can be done with this stage of my organizing process (for now). I'm hoping someone has a favorite organizing box they can turn me onto!



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I like the Rubbermaid bins with detached, domed lids (otherwise you can't fill the bin to the top). Since you're using these for long-term storage, I wouldn't worry about attached lids--you won't be opening them very often. None of mine are clear because I don't like the "messy" look of half-seen contents.

I would suggested color coded bins rather than bothering with an inventory list. For instance:

orange = Halloween decorations & costumes
green = Christmas decorations
blue = off-season clothes
gray = momentos (shouldn't be many, since true treasures are meant to be used and enjoyed)

Now that we've purged closets, we no longer need to pack up off-season clothes. This was a definite bonus for me because that was never a chore I enjoyed!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2006 at 5:54AM
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I've tried a number of brands of plastic boxes and I swear by Rubbermaid. The plastic is more flexible and doesn't end up cracking. The cheaper boxes can crack and chunks fall out leaving holes. If you get all the same style of box, the tops will be interchangeable so not being attached is no big deal. We don't adhere to the different colors rule, but instead store certain things in certain places. Get the boxes and don't let your momentum slide!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2006 at 6:28AM
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I like the Rubbermaid boxes also. The tabs on the cheaper ones that should hold the lids on the boxes don't work (for me, anyways) and the lids pop off (if filled too full) or slide off (if the box isn't full). I just put a short label on each box with a general category - household, office, clothes (with each person's names), etc.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2006 at 8:27AM
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What is critical: MEASURE your shelving and find boxes that fit without wasting space. I have about 1/3 of the box height open above the boxes and it attracts clutter when people (never me, of course) stack things there instead of finding the right box. If they were taller, the clutter couldn't land.

And make sure you have a few boxes big ehough to hold the bulky things like sleeping bags.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2006 at 9:04AM
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better yet, pick bins you like, and have shelves made to hold them.

I thought I'd like the attached "butterfly" lids, and I do sort of, but I find that you can't stack them very high, bcs the lid gives int he middle, and you end up pushing down ont he stuff inside, which bulges it out on the sides. At least, that's true of the lighter-weight ones the Container Store sells.

(I don't know if you'd have the same problem w/ the heavy-duty opaque plastic ones they sell to warehouses, etc.

I also find that, in my "walk into it everyday" closet, I do not like the clear sides. the "visual clutter" is extreme--I can tell what's in it, that's true, and it's useful. But that shelf looks like a disaster, even though everything's tidily in a container.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2006 at 10:29AM
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I swear by clear containers for the kinds of purposes you need. I keep a roll of labels in the closet so I can re-label when I change something. Heavy Winter socks and sweaters are now in drawers and I can re-lable containers "summer".

I couldn't remember a color coded system from one season to the next -- soemthing about my age perhaps...

    Bookmark   October 31, 2006 at 1:53PM
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Don't forget that you might not want the clear ones if you are storing items which could fade. I keep some paper items and you'd be suprised how much sunlight will even get under a bed and cause fading/drying on the edges. I keep my quilts in blue storage containers. Again, I don't want any fading.

I really like the colored lids/boxes which are now available for holiday decorations. Since they are clear with green lids, I can easily tell someone to bring down the containers with the green lids, instead of having to make sure all of the sides are marked. Our long term storage here at the house doesn't have any natural sunlight, so fading isn't a concern.

We have a good sized amount of storage away from the house for dh's client files. Rather than try and do something with an alpha system, he just set up a spreadsheet listing what was in each box, then printed off a copy for the side of the box. Now, rather than trying to read all of those lists, he just pulls up the client name and knows that he has to go find box #14. As he creates new boxes, he just continues the system. It's working well so far.


    Bookmark   October 31, 2006 at 11:01PM
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Some great ideas - especially using the rubbermaid containers. However, I've got everything disorganized and having difficulty where starting a "good system"

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 8:08PM
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Chez, a good place to start is with any holiday decorations. Once you get those put together by season, you can evaluate what you have left. I think a good system is based on broad catagories.

We don't really need that much long term storage. Some of my catagories are camping/Scouting gear, a box of painting supplies, tools, household repairs supplies, gardening/seed starting supplies, and sports equiptment. I have a banker's size box for each family member. Sentimental childhood items, those things we really don't know what to do with go in there.

I think some people get stuck because the catagories are too narrow.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 5:33PM
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