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the packrat's guide to a happy home by Hilary Emmons | 1 2 3
continued from page 1

step two: sort.
Once you’ve excavated your stuff, start sorting.  Separate your things into categories that reflect how you use them.  For example, I might have a “pieces of paper that I keep for information” category, a “pieces of paper that I keep for sentimental reasons” pile, a “books” pile, and a “strictly decorative vintage beauty appliances” pile. 

If the mess is really overwhelming, you may want to take one room at a time or start with broad categories, then sort these into smaller groups.  Once you see how much you have, you’ll be better able to figure out where to put it.

This is the time to perform the dreaded purge.  As you sort, you might be surprised by how much of your stuff you don’t remember owning – and how much of it you can part with without a qualm.  Purge till it hurts – and then stop immediately.  Don’t worry; you’ll find a place to put the rest.

step three:  put it all away.
Now that you’ve got everything sorted, you’re ready to find homes for it all.  Although this process will vary according to where you live and what you own, there are two principles that can maximize storage for everyone: verticality and accessibility.

When planning storage, always think vertical – most homes have much more free space overhead than on the floor.  If you just use your closet for clothes, you’re only using a fraction of the space.  You can place a shelf above the closet rod, or sort your clothes by length and store things in the space beneath the shorter items.  Bookcases or wall-mounted shelves can be placed on any blank wall and used to store anything you can think of.  On the floor, drawer units allow you to stack your stuff sky-high.  And don’t forget the nooks and crannies.  Under the bed, on top of the refrigerator, behind the sofa – look around, and you’ll find tons of potential storage.

Your storage spaces can be filled to the brim as long as you make sure that the items you use most often are accessible.  You shouldn’t have to move boxes of memorabilia to get at the vacuum cleaner (unless you reminisce more often than you clean, of course!).  Put rarely-used kitchen appliances in the back of that long, narrow cabinet, and pots and pans toward the front.  Those cunning little tables with lids that lift off to reveal storage within look good, but in my house, the table top would be covered in a matter of minutes, and I’d never see its contents again.  I stick to tables with drawers, so I can cover the surface and still use the storage. 

As you stow your stuff, think about function.  Items should be stored where they are used most often.  This will not only make them more accessible, but also easier to put away – and maintenance is a big part of being a happy packrat.

saunter along this way please

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