Storage units have their place and can be a great solution for the right situation. Too often they get filled with the intention of being temporary, but end up languishing for years. Derek Naylor, president of the consultant group Storage Marketing Solutions is quoted in the New York Times:
“Human laziness has always been a big friend of self-storage operators,” … “Because once they’re in, nobody likes to spend all day moving their stuff out of storage.”
Also, according to the Self Storage Association, only 30% of renters say they will rent for more than 2 years
Here are some practical approaches to finally clearing out that unit and recovering that monthly rent back into your budget.
Don’t make the mistake of setting aside time to deal with the unit and show up empty handed or with just a garbage bag. These basic tools will enable you to effectively sort, purge and pack both items you’re keeping and those for donation. Be prepared to keep the kit in your unit for use across multiple days.
- Small folding table
- Step stool and/or folding chair
- Marking pens and tape for labeling containers
- Small and medium moving boxes for containing loose items
- Packing tape, box cutter or scissors
- Notepad for listing items in boxes or making notes of to-do’s
- Smartphone camera
- Garbage bag
- Gloves/dust mask
- A friend or helper for motivation and company!
Separate the Wheat from the Chaff
Just like organizing within your home, one of the first steps is to decide what you’re keeping and separate it from things you are not.
- Borrow a rolling cart from the facility and load it with things to just make enough working space in the unit to set up a table. Or use the hallway outside the unit if that’s allowed.
- If possible, start to physically create zones in the space to separate keepers from things going out. If it isn’t possible to literally remove items and take them with you that day, you’ll want to save yourself time in the future by staying organized throughout the process.
- If you’re holding things for other people, use your phone to snap a picture and text it immediately asking the person what they want to do with the item.
- LABEL, LABEL, LABEL! Once you’ve made a decision or opened a box to determine what’s in it, LABEL the outside so you can know at a glance the status of that box.
- Arrange for a charity donation pickup
- Load donations and take them yourself
- Arrange for a hauler to help with donations and trash such as 1-800-Got-Junk, Eco-Haul, or Lugg.com
- Deliver items to family and friends or arrange a pickup day when they come to you
- Arrange for a mover or hauler to bring the keepers home (if they won’t just fit in your car)
Emptying a storage unit can be a laborious process but you get the ball rolling, it takes less time than you’ve been dreading. Don’t plan on getting it all done in one day or one weekend! Be realistic and you won’t set yourself up for disappointment.
Once you manage to get it empty, don’t forget to reward yourself! Take ½ the monthly rent you’ve been paying and go out for a nice meal or treat yourself to a fun experience — you’ve earned it!
It’s that time of year again! Your closets are bursting, drawers are overflowing, and this is the year you are finally getting organized! You’re in luck, the elfa® shelving sale at the Container Store® is underway!
Why do we love elfa® closet systems?
- Esthetically pleasing
- Completely changeable
- Reasonably priced
- Easy to install
CLEAN LINES, VARIETY OF LOOKS
There are several different finish options for your closet system – a ventilated wire shelf in white or platinum with optional wood edging, solid shelves in many different veneers…the variety means their systems fit lots of different tastes. See examples of the different styles on their best-selling solutions page.
PRICED TO FIT ANY BUDGET
Closet pricing can vary from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand depending on the size and complexity of the design.
- A standard 6’ closet outfitted with one clothes rod and two 6’ shelves prices out at less than $200 (during the sale!) — mind you, that doesn’t include their fantastic drawers or gliding shoe shelves
- “Décor” edging and shelving, drawers, shoe shelves, tie racks, hooks, bins, and other accessories will add to the cost
- The ventilated and solid melamine shelving are the most economical
Here we installed a shelving system over an existing built-in dresser
NOT JUST FOR CLOSETS
The variety and adaptability of this shelving makes it perfect for many spaces – they also have free-standing elfa® units if you don’t have available wall space:
- Garage, basement & attic are great places for shelving
- Create a wall-mounted desk with shelves above
- Kitchen pantry
COULD IT BE ANY EASIER TO INSTALL?
The design of the system makes installation super simple.
- The whole system hangs from a single bar they call a top track. Once you get that installed securely, there is no further need for tools or the help of your handyman
- It usually takes about an hour to install a basic 6’ closet
- We must say that the Container Store’s® installers are friendly and quick. They can handle demolition of the existing closet and can handle any adjustments needed for unexpected glitches in the planning process
- If one is only installing a single closet system, the installers are a little pricey (they have a $180 minimum) so take advantage of this sale – installation is also discounted
BUT WAIT! Closet design isn’t the starting point.
How each closet functions is an integral part of how a whole house stays organized. Before you invest in a makeover of any one closet be sure that you’re storing what you really need and that you’re storing it in the appropriate location…should your boxes of photos and memorabilia really live in the master bedroom closet?
We offer closet and storage assessments to advise on how to maximize space. If you want help figuring out the best closet solutions for your needs, contact us!
Technology changes so rapidly it seems we are constantly generating electronic waste. Other than avoiding buying new products to begin with, the main way to prevent ewaste ending up in landfill is to responsibly recycle it. Here are 3 local resources for properly disposing of your electronic waste.
Since 1995 OTX West has been redirecting computers and electronics away from landfill and into the hands of Oakland public schools and low income families.
They accept donations at their warehouse located at 1680 14th Street in West Oakland. They will pick up larger donations from businesses and organizations. They were recently featured in an article in the SF Chronicle.
All donations are tax deductible and there is no cost assciated with donating. They state they securely erase data from all hard drives.
OTX West accepts:
- Desktop and laptop computers (PC and Apple)
- LCD Monitors
- Keyboards and mice
- Hard drives, cables, etc.
Convenient drop off location in west Berkeley near Gilman Ave. They take all manner of electronics; here’s a full list of accepted items. All donations are tax deductible. They also have a program for distributing refurbished computers to schools and individuals though it isn’t their main focus. Bonus – they also accept bubble wrap and packing peanuts.
El Cerrito Recycling Center (El Cerrito)
Basically this is the mothership of east bay recycling. Aside from a few controlled items you do NOT have to be an El Cerrito resident to drop items here. They accept all kinds of ewaste for free, however your donation is not tax deductible. Here is their full list of accepted items.
—>Have an additional resource you’d like to share? Let us know!
Here’s one kind of “closet” that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA. The final product had sliding glass doors. In 2016, this unit cost about $1,700
An armoire is a free-standing closet. If you have minimal closet space or just need more closed storage, an armoire can be a lifesaver. IKEA’s PAX product line is one of the most customizable; it allows you to design the exact kind of storage that you need. Here are 5 useful tips for designing an IKEA PAX armoire:
TIP: Before starting to plan, take an accurate inventory of your clothes. How much hanging space do you need? Are most of your clothes short-hanging (less than 40”) or do you have long robes, gowns or slacks hanging with clips? What kind of folded clothes do you have? Socks, underwear, jammies? Are you going to store shoes in the system or not? At this point you don’t need to know HOW you’re storing everything but you need to know exactly WHAT you’re trying to store.
TIP: Be mindful of prime real estate. When designing your system, know that the prime area of storage is the zone from forehead to hip height. Plan to stow most-used items in this zone.
TIP: You can design the closet yourself using the online planning tool. This tool enables you to drag and drop all the components and features. Is it user friendly? Hmm…you have to be fairly computer-savvy to use it. You can also get help from an IKEA staff person in the store. Some of the staff actually have knowledge of how to build your system.
TIP: These are modular units, but the very first decision you make is what kind of doors you want to use; sliding doors or doors that open out. This is because the basic frame is different for these different door styles. Also, you need to choose the best height for your PAX system. It comes in 2 different heights. Generally, you want to maximize your vertical storage (the taller option) if your room can accommodate it.
TIP: You can save money by going full DIY including pulling all the pieces from the warehouse and assembling yourself (2 people required) or you can get IKEA to help as much as you want. With your design, the IKEA staff can gather the components, deliver it to your house and install it.
* Note: If you are going to purchase their installation, it is important to know that you are responsible for removing the baseboards in the area you want the armoire installed so the IKEA installers can attach it to the wall.
Do you have a unwieldy stack of kid creations in your garage or closet? Do you love to see the creativity in the various objects they create then feel paralyzed by the thought “Now what do I do with it?” Rest easy, you’re not alone. In our decades of organizing, kid art and memorabilia is one of the most common clutter challenges we deal with.
Here are 3 tips to manage the overwhelm:
Show it off before stowing it away
Dedicate a bit of wall and surface space to display the most recent creations. It gives time for everyone to appreciate the items and for attachments to wane a little. When new items come in, it’s time to decide whether the older items really make the cut at true keepsakes.
Separate the wheat from the chaff
They aren’t all keepers. Really. Remember, the goal is to keep a representative sample that catches a snapshot of their life. This includes homework. Routine worksheets and tests aren’t nearly as personal as original writing – kids talking in their own words about their lives in that moment. Also, don’t delude yourself that you’ll “make time to go through it later”. Be honest, you’re life is likely too busy and there’s far better uses of your time.
Use the right containers
Oversize art portfolios (available from craft & art stores) work perfectly for the preschool/early elementary years. Regular size art, homework, awards, cards/letters, and school/sport photos fit perfectly in a plastic file storage box with box bottom hanging files for each school year. Definitely have separate containers for each child. Object art does best in it’s own box, tissue wrapped for protection.
Bonus tip: Go digital! Take pictures of your child’s creations and put them in a system – folders, iphoto albums or sites like Picasa. And there are many apps available to memorialize your kids’ art.
Imagine your grown child coming back home to clear out their things after they’ve launched. They find a discreet amount of their memorabilia – a portfolio and a box – with the special art they created in their childhoods and are able to enjoy the memories and revel in their creativity while not being overwhelmed by dusty heaps of tattered paintings and dog-eared papers.
Filed under Bedroom, children, Closets, Decluttering, disorganization, Empty Nest, Garage, General Organizing, home organizing, Kids, Memorabilia
There you are with the best of intentions, starting to organize your space and suddenly a ghost pops out and scares you away from your project.
This ghost could be evidence of a forgotten task, a memory of a loved one who has passed, papers from a nasty legal battle, or even some article of clothing that has unpleasant memories attached to it. With the passage of time and consistent avoidant actions, our homes can start to feel like haunted houses.
Our clients are usually glad to have us there when these frights occur.
Here are some common ghouls to watch out for and ways to banish them:
- Clothes in a size you wish you were. The hope of someday fitting back into those “skinny jeans” can be a very strong attachment. If you absolutely can’t bear to let the dream clothes go, at least make sure they aren’t taking up high value space in your closet or dresser. Put them in a tub, labeled, into a low-use space like basement/attic/garage.
- Now, if you’ve encountered the tub again while clearing out one those spaces it’s time for a real heart-to-heart talk with yourself. If weight loss is a goal, keeping the clothes isn’t what is motivating you to take action. If you take action and meet your weight goal it will be a nice treat to update your wardrobe with some new items rather than pull out those jeans from a decade ago which likely won’t still be in style anyway.
- Gifts you weren’t thrilled about. What do you do with items you’ve been given, but just don’t have a use for or actually don’t match your taste? We’ve written a blog post about this topic, but the main thing to remember is that the giver cares about YOU and their best selves wouldn’t want you to hold onto something that didn’t make you happy. Let it go, pass it on, give it to a charity who can find a good home for it…but don’t let it collect dust in the darker reaches of your prime storage closet or spare room or attic.
- Things you’ve inherited from family or friends who have passed. These items can sometimes feel heavy and burdensome. Like the unwanted gifts, they are attached to a person or past and can’t just be tossed in a cavalier manner. This is where taking time to process them will provide benefits.
- Determine their value, their importance to you, what they represent and how best to preserve that memory, if that is what you choose.
- If they have historical value, can they be donated to the local history society or museum?
- If they have monetary value, can they be sold with the proceeds going to a coveted family cause?
- Are they holding memories of a precious family experience? Is there a way to recreate the memory of the family experience without having to store a 2-ton piano that is too expensive to make useable or wouldn’t get played?
- Sometimes inherited items are best dealt with in layers – focus on dispersing the items you and others have the least attachments to; this will at least make more room for the things you choose to keep.
So, if you have encountered some ghosts, take heart and get help if you need to. There is a way to process these frights, reclaim your past and take care of unfinished business.