Making Room...in the Attic

My goal is to have an empty attic. It might sound a little far-fetched because I haven’t yet mapped out where else in my house the stuff would go. There aren’t a lot of spaces awaiting with bated breath the arrival of more stuff to store.

Let me revise my initial statement. My goal is to completely declutter my attic. I don’t want to find new homes in my home for whatever has been living in the attic unused and unwanted all these many years (well, OK, maybe except the Christmas decorations, and they could use a good decluttering session, too). Decluttering, vs. emptying the attic means that the accumulated, unnecessary stuff up there, anything that doesn’t make the cut, will find its way to a donation center or get kicked to the curb.

Attics function in much the same way as basements or garages when it comes to storage. They can be the land of the forgotten. There’s typically enough room to ‘shove’ a few things in the attic for now. But, ‘for now’ can become forever. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say. And if you’ve accumulated your stuff, your kids’ stuff and your parents’ stuff, it’s likely the attic is holding much more than you might remember.

In addition to getting rid of the easy stuff, decluttering the attic might be a wistful road down memory lane. So, part of your decluttering plan should include a realistic timeline to get the job done. Give yourself the time to reminisce when you need to, but it’s also good to have an accountability buddy to continue nudging you toward the finish line.

Prepare for Entry

Attics can be notoriously dusty, potentially moldy and visited by furry and flying little creatures. In an unfinished attic, it’s not unusual to see exposed beams, floor joists and insulation. Unlike any other area in the house, the attic poses its own set of unique challenges. It’s often accessed via a ladder. There may be no temperature regulation and not enough room to stand up straight. If this sounds like your attic, you need a plan. What time of year is best to tackle this project? How long can you reasonably stay in that space given the temperature and decreased mobility conditions? How much time does your schedule permit on any given day to work on this? Will someone be available to help you? How will you get boxes and belongings in and out of the attic? These are all important considerations to incorporate into your plan.

When it’s time to begin in an unfinished attic, be sure to take the necessary safety precautions. Gloves, a mask and good lighting should be among the first supplies you assemble.

Getting Down to Decluttering

Whether or not your attic is finished and easy to navigate or not, your decluttering strategy should include how you’ll go about reviewing all that’s there. Designate an area in the space where boxes can be emptied, and categories created. Another option is to bring boxes out of the attic one at a time and into an area of the house where you have more room to maneuver. Still another option is to empty out the contents of the attic completely into an area of the house that can accommodate the quantity, perhaps a cleared-out space in the garage. Your approach will depend on the considerations mentioned above, time, temperature and how much help you have. This is one project that may take an extended period of time. No matter which approach you choose, you might have to live with the creation of temporary clutter somewhere in your home while the project progresses. Be sure you can live with that.

To Store or Not to Store

Once you’ve reviewed everything that’s been living in your attic, you no doubt will have full bags of trash to dispose and boxes of belongings to donate. Be sure that anything in the donation box is worthy of being a donation. That means clothing should be clean and in good condition; household items should be in working order.

The fluctuating temperature swings in an attic are not good for storing photographs and paperwork.  Review all photos and consider digitizing the keepers and otherwise preserving the memories. Be very selective about the paperwork you keep, also. Is it realistic to keep book reports your adult son wrote when he was in third grade, essays from your college days and handouts from conferences that you haven’t looked at since you put them in the attic?

For anything that will remain in the attic, be sure you have an appropriate container to house it. No items should be exposed. Be very selective about what you keep and use air-tight containers that can withstand fluctuating temperatures and keep pests at bay. Once you’ve gone through the review and purge process, take the necessary steps to protect everything’s that you’ve decided to keep.

Now I must excuse myself. It’s time to declutter my attic.

Making Room...in the Kids' Bedroom

Is there such a thing as an organized kid’s bedroom? I’m sure there are some out there somewhere. It’s one of the most common battles I hear from clients with children. It’s just one room in the house; why is it so difficult to keep it organized? Take heart. There is a way.

The age of a child is going to provide some direction on how to organize the bedroom. If your child is a toddler, the approach you take to organizing it will look much different than when she’s a tween. Some organizing ideas and tools will be handy no matter the age of your child. However, just as your child will grow, so will the organizing strategies evolve.

One of the first strategies you’ll want to consider is providing a model for your child to follow. Does her bedroom really look so different than the other rooms in the house? Some research suggests that children’s behavioral patterns are set by the age of three. You can count organizational skills among those behavioral patterns. Monkey see, monkey do. As with other behavior you model for your children, your approach to keeping an organized home is one lead that may be followed. Sure, it’s best to begin at the beginning, but new habits can be created at any time. The key is to be consistent.

Before you bring in the bins and baskets (which should never really be done first) decide how the room will be used. Yes, of course it’s a bedroom; it’s a room for sleeping. What else do you envision for the room? Will it serve as a playroom? Will homework assignments be completed here? Is the room where your child will spend quiet time? Your vision for the room will help guide your organizing choices. Let’s break it down by age group.

Toddlers

 If you’re family with toddlers, get down to their level and take a good look around the room. Looking at the space from their eye level will give you a completely different perspective and help determine what will work best for your child to help maintain an organized room. For anything they will be responsible for putting away, like toys and books, storage as close to the floor as possible will be most useful.

During the toddler stage, closet space may be best utilized for anything but hanging clothes. Think about moving the closet rod as high as possible for what does need hanging and use the remaining space for shelving or a bin system that can be easily reached by the little ones. This will help engage your toddler in learning where things go and will be especially useful when it’s time to put it all away.

Make a game out of keeping the room organized. Kids at this age love to help and if it sounds like fun and not a chore, they’ll be happy to jump right in. All of that sorting and stacking of wooden blocks and colorful plastic rings that kept your baby so busy is about to come in handy.

The elementary school years

At this age, kids can take on the responsibility of keeping an organized room. It’s still all about accessibility. Hang a second rod from the top rod in the closet so that it’s at a reachable level. Hooks may also be a good option on the back of the door for hanging jackets, hats and backpacks that are used routinely.

Kids are used to their classrooms being set up in zones, so mimic that idea in their bedroom. Set up a reading nook, a place to store board games and collectables like stuffed animals or action figures. Use the zone method for clothing, too. Store jeans with jeans, hoodies with hoodies, pjs with pjs. You get the idea.

Tweens

Changes happen quickly at this stage, and the kiddie bedroom may be ready for a makeover. The room may now be homework central, so the play space may need to become study space. The focus of the room may be on visual organization vs. clutter control. Containers on shelving, a desk with storage and a pegboard to house everything from baseball hats to jewelry are good options to maximize space.

By this time, an organizing style may have emerged, hang vs. fold for example. Access is still key, so choose organizing tools that best compliments her style. If she’s involved in the choice, she may be more inclined to manage the system.

Is there such a thing as an organized kid’s bedroom? I’m sure there are some out there somewhere. It’s one of the most common battles I hear from clients with children. It’s just one room in the house; why is it so difficult to keep it organized? Take heart. There is a way.

The age of a child is going to provide some direction on how to organize the bedroom. If your child is a toddler, the approach you take to organizing it will look much different than when she’s a tween. Some organizing ideas and tools will be handy no matter the age of your child. However, just as your child will grow, so will the organizing strategies evolve.

One of the first strategies you’ll want to consider is providing a model for your child to follow. Does her bedroom really look so different than the other rooms in the house? Some research suggests that children’s behavioral patterns are set by the age of three. You can count organizational skills among those behavioral patterns. Monkey see, monkey do. As with other behavior you model for your children, your approach to keeping an organized home is one lead that may be followed. Sure, it’s best to begin at the beginning, but new habits can be created at any time. The key is to be consistent.

Before you bring in the bins and baskets (which should never really be done first) decide how the room will be used. Yes, of course it’s a bedroom; it’s a room for sleeping. What else do you envision for the room? Will it serve as a playroom? Will homework assignments be completed here? Is the room where your child will spend quiet time? Your vision for the room will help guide your organizing choices. Let’s break it down by age group.

Toddlers

 If you’re family with toddlers, get down to their level and take a good look around the room. Looking at the space from their eye level will give you a completely different perspective and help determine what will work best for your child to help maintain an organized room. For anything they will be responsible for putting away, like toys and books, storage as close to the floor as possible will be most useful.

During the toddler stage, closet space may be best utilized for anything but hanging clothes. Think about moving the closet rod as high as possible for what does need hanging and use the remaining space for shelving or a bin system that can be easily reached by the little ones. This will help engage your toddler in learning where things go and will be especially useful when it’s time to put it all away.

Make a game out of keeping the room organized. Kids at this age love to help and if it sounds like fun and not a chore, they’ll be happy to jump right in. All of that sorting and stacking of wooden blocks and colorful plastic rings that kept your baby so busy is about to come in handy.

The elementary school years

At this age, kids can take on the responsibility of keeping an organized room. It’s still all about accessibility. Hang a second rod from the top rod in the closet so that it’s at a reachable level. Hooks may also be a good option on the back of the door for hanging jackets, hats and backpacks that are used routinely.

Kids are used to their classrooms being set up in zones, so mimic that idea in their bedroom. Set up a reading nook, a place to store board games and collectables like stuffed animals or action figures. Use the zone method for clothing, too. Store jeans with jeans, hoodies with hoodies, pjs with pjs. You get the idea.

Tweens

Changes happen quickly at this stage, and the kiddie bedroom may be ready for a makeover. The room may now be homework central, so the play space may need to become study space. The focus of the room may be on visual organization vs. clutter control. Containers on shelving, a desk with storage and a pegboard to house everything from baseball hats to jewelry are good options to maximize space.

By this time, an organizing style may have emerged, hang vs. fold for example. Access is still key, so choose organizing tools that best compliments her style. If she’s involved in the choice, she may be more inclined to manage the system.

As your child is growing like a weed into different size clothing, set up a donation box in her room, especially if the clothing won’t be handed down to another family member. Encourage your child to add toys that are outgrown to the box as well. If she’s beginning to make decisions about how she spends her own money, now is a good time to introduce the ‘one in, one out’ rule, too.

The approach to organizing a kid’s bedroom is not so different than how you tackle organizing any other room. With kids, of course, there is a large component of teaching to be done. Kids are like sponges, soaking up all that they can learn, so start as early as you can to build a lifestyle of being organized. Before you know

it, they’ll be heading off to college. Organizing the dorm room will be child’s play.

 

The approach to organizing a kid’s bedroom is not so different than how you tackle organizing any other room. With kids, of course, there is a large component of teaching to be done. Kids are like sponges, soaking up all that they can learn, so start as early as you can to build a lifestyle of being organized. Before you know it, they’ll be heading off to college. Organizing the dorm room will be child’s play.