Organize Your Home

Organize your home by making the most of your garage, basement, and laundry areas.

Home Organization

Photo: The Container Store

Unlimited storage space would be great. But sufficient space is possible if laundry, basement, and garage storage is maximized. Before buying storage products haphazardly or individually, get rid of the excess—there’s no need to store what’s not there. Review and donate, sell, or discard items that are not needed. Safely dispose of no-longer-used chemicals and other unsafe items at a hazardous waste center. What’s left is what needs to be stored.

Smart Storage Planning
First decide whether your stored items are in the best location. Things that get little use might be better stored in the basement than the garage. Seasonal items can rotate to remote storage spots during off-season. Gardening supplies should be near the garden. Then, list items by storage location. Note whether they are used daily or often; used less often or seasonally; are small, large, or hold dangerous contents. Keep those points in mind when matching belongings with the best storage options. Laundry detergents and other supplies can be stored in a closed cabinet, on a high shelf, or even in a deep drawer. Small gardening tools might be best in a basket, bin, or on hooks.

Storage Solutions
With a checklist in hand, review storage products and systems available, but keep options flexible to meet changing household needs. To keep items off the floors, there are pre-drilled tracks and slat or slot walls, which are grooved panels or strips for hanging movable hooks, baskets, bins, and cabinets. There are suspended storage options that include ventilated shelves attached to the ceiling or mechanical lift systems that raise items or shelves off the floor.

Vertical mounting strips allow for height-adjustable shelves, drawers, and cabinets. Stacking cabinets have removable bins. Heavy-duty casters and wheels allow cabinets and lockers to be moved and adjusted to accommodate uneven floors.

Depending on the amount of stuff, decide whether a storage system or a few individual products are most appropriate. Be aware that components vary from company to company. If choosing a system that has a slat wall or track system, find out if hangers, baskets, bins, or cabinets from another system will work with them.

Laundry Storage
Laundry rooms benefit from slide-out bins or baskets to keep dirty clothes off the floor and rods to hang drip-dry clothes or items fresh from the dryer. Hinged or pull-out shelves can provide space for folding or stain treatments. It’s important to store cleaning fluids safely and away from small children in closing drawers or cabinets with safety locks.

Basement Storage
A dry basement offers many storage possibilities, but items should be kept away from the furnace or water heater. Select shelving or cabinets that keep items off the floor in case of flooding, and away from overhead pipes that can burst. For unfinished basements, an open shelf system and a series of hooks or baskets may help keep items easily seen yet organized. Storage systems are also available for finished basement space, with designs and finishes to match the home’s decor.

Garage Storage
The garage has become an extension of the home, especially in warmer climates, so it must be cleaned and organized. Racks, hooks, baskets, and overhead or suspended storage now target garden gear, athletic equipment, tools, and large items like bikes, canoes, and motorcycles.

Storage components with adjustable legs accommodate sloped garage floors. Safety-lock mechanisms on garage cabinets keep children and pets from chemicals or dangerous tools. Garage storage units must be able to handle extreme heat, cold, and humidity without rusting, cracking, rotting, splitting, or peeling. That is why galvanized metal and plastic products are so popular for garage storage components.

Storage Planning and Installation
Once you have inventoried your items and mapped out storage categories, you can shop online for designs and storage configurations to organize your belongings. It is also possible to hire professionals who will assess your needs and create a storage plan for you, complete with a list of storage components to buy and install.

There are many companies that offer do-it-yourself storage assembly. You can order online or purchase the storage pieces at a retail outlet for assembly at home. Customers can benefit from the design guidance and online planners these companies offer, but save on the overall cost by installing the storage units themselves.