I know that right now, you feel about 800 lbs lighter. By this point, you should have a whole bunch of bags of discarded items ready to be put in a yard sale or donated, not to mention the bags upon bags of trash you threw away already. You’ve lifted a heavy burden off of your shoulders and now you’re surrounded by things that bring you joy and delight. YAY! Now you’re ready to give each of these joyful items a home in your home.
Now you need to understand something about storage. Storage isn’t about keeping as much as possible: it’s about knowing where to find what you need any time you need it. The point of storing items in your home is to give them a place, rather than having floating Avalon-items that disappear and reappear in different places within your home.
The other thing is that you’re going to want to store things beautifully because what you have left are the things you love. You’re going to want to place them lovingly in a way you can appreciate them. These are the best ways to do so.
Store Like With Like
You may have stored things in your house based on flow. Books in a pile on the side table, the jewelry you wore yesterday on your nightstand, coats in the entry closet. Stop this. Stop it now. This is like BEGGING for more clutter because you’re spreading things all over the place, allowing them to fall out of the categories you’ve just created & refined and forcing them into the realm of “miscellany.” Marie Kondo has this to say:
Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.
It should never take a lot of effort to get things out of or into storage. I mean, yeah, putting away laundry is always going to be a pain, but you can at least rest assured that you’ve taken away one pain-point: figuring out where things belong.
So instead of inviting clutter creep, store like with like. Books in one place, like sayyyy a bookshelf. Clothes in another. Pots & pans together, flatware & glasses together, baking dishes together. Cleaning supplies stay together, sewing supplies stay together. I know this seems redundant, but I want to reinforce the point: put things of the same category together!
Why? Why not spread everything out across my home so it’s in a convenient-ish place for a single purpose?
By storing like with like and concentrating storage in limited spaces, you’ll be able to tell at a glance where things are. Remember that whole thing about wild goose chases because you know you have something, you just don’t know where it is? When you store things of one category all in one place, you’re eliminating the around-the-house wild goose chase. You can look for 15 seconds and see that something isn’t there. You’ve saved yourself time and energy, and now you can take action instead of sitting frozen.
But what about my flow? What about my routine?
Think of it this way: your flow is based on where things are stored. If you store similar things together, your flow will naturally come together. Sure, it might reset, but you’ll make it work.
To make it easier for yourself, make sure that your storage spaces aren’t too far apart. Keep your underwear close to your clothes and keep your clothes close to your accessories. (I know, I use clothes as an example a lot, but it’s easy for most people to grasp so just roll with me, okay?) This way, as you’re getting ready in the morning you’re still moving around a small space, rather than having to move from room to room to room.
Everyone’s belongings go to their bedrooms
This one is crucial. Everyone needs their own place in the home to call their own, even if that means the kids who share a room each have their own dresser and toy chest for their own belongings. Each partner will have their own side of the closet and their own drawers & shelves. No longer will the kids toys going to be stored in the communal living space. Everyone gets a designated storage space. Again, this prevents clutter creep & sprawl. Heck, even kids can keep up with this.
Make sure your kids are included in the process of placing their belongings. I included my 4-year-old in the placement process, allowing him to guide which toys went in which drawers. After that, he could tell you exactly where to find the toy he wanted and he could tell his friends where to put toys away once they were finished playing. In fact, he got really upset when one of his friends put a toy in the wrong drawer. It was quite the thing.
But the point is, he was able to participate in tidying and he’s now much happier to keep things tidy.
Vertical storage is your new best friend
Think about the piles you’ve had around the house. They grow and they grow, and you can’t really get anything out from them without disturbing everything else and risking the whole tower spilling to the floor.
Horizontal piling is inefficient at best. More efficient? Vertical storage. Think of how you store books on a shelf and do that. But figure out a way to do that with as many things as possible. Make everything as visible as you can, using whatever tools you can (remember those shoeboxes I told you to hold onto? Eh?) so that those things you chose to keep because they bring you joy don’t get neglected and forgotten at the bottom of the piles. This sounds stranger and harder than it is, since we’re generally used to storing things in neat, tidy piles that get pulled apart as we reach for things within them, so to demonstrate, here’s a video of Marie Kondo folding a lingerie drawer!
It’s pretty great, right? You can see every item at a glance, you get to handle and appreciate every item as it’s put away. Nothing is neglected, everything is easy to find, and NO PILES!
You don’t need more storage than you already have
You used to struggle and force things into storage spaces, so you know you were already able to store lots more than you now have. I mean, you were storing it before, so it stands to reason that since you have even fewer items to store, you’ll be able to store all of it. Right? Right. So before running out to the Container Store or IKEA (I know, they used to be your happy places, but now your house can be your happy place), place things according to the storage that you currently have. If you want to upgrade your home’s aesthetic, have at it, but let that be secondary to finding every item a home. You’ll be amazed by how much you already have.
A couple more tips
At a glance doesn’t have to mean everything is out in the open
I personally like to have display style storage – open shelves, nicely displayed necklaces, a decorative vanity – but not everyone does. Some people prefer closed storage in cabinets, wardrobes, chests, etc. That’s totally fine – do what works for you. This is your home we’re talking about, so get creative. Once everything has a place, you might decide that you will try out that Pinterest project you fell in love with. Do it! I’m willing to wager you won’t regret it when you do.
Be diligent every day in putting things away
I didn’t mean to rhyme, but maybe it’ll help make this point sticky in your mind. When you get home each day, take 5 minutes to put things back in their places. If you carried your laptop around, put it back at your desk. If you carried a book with you, place it on its shelf. If you’re wearing jewelry, return it to its home. The same thing goes for the makeup you may be carrying with you, your shoes, your keys, even your handbag. Make it part of your “I just got home” ritual. Not only will this help you transition from being out to being home, but it will build your appreciation for each item that joined you throughout your journey that day. (Sorry, I forgot to give a woo warning there.)
This was truly my favorite part of the whole process, because I really did regain an appreciation for my own belongings and for my home (as well as the many things I had lying around that I’d forgotten). What’s more is that placement and storage will fundamentally stay the same, even as your decor changes. By giving things a place within your home, you’ve created a more usable canvas to express your style and bringing to life that dream lifestyle you’d envisioned when you started your decluttering journey. What’s more is I found it’s evolving as I get better at the various techniques Marie Kondo suggests in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
This is part 4 of my decluttering series, based on the KonMari method outlined in Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Read the whole series from the beginning:
Part 1 – How I Decluttered My Home in 1 Week (and you can too!)
Part 2 – Decluttering 101: What Kind of a Life Do You Want?
Part 3 – Decluttering 101: The Art of Discarding