How storage works in different types of spaces

Sheila Chandra - Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It might seem strange, but there is actually a difference between the way storage in a bedroom and storage in an attic works. This is something naturally tidy people seem to understand instinctively and which naturally messy people don’t. If you didn’t know that, it’s not really your fault. The problem is we use the same word for both, and it isn’t clear that they function in very different ways.


There are two different types of storage

This is something that doesn’t usually get explained to us. Storage needs to work differently depending on the type of space it’s in. What do I mean by that? Well the rooms in your house are either largely static (e.g. your shed) or dynamic (e.g. your living room). What I mean by that is that your shed remains largely untouched except when you need to get something out of it. But your living room is like a living system. It’s being used by multiple people all the time. For that reason, the way things are ‘stored’ or placed in it needs to reflect that.


What we know about storage actually only applies to static spaces

This makes sense because static spaces are actually ‘pure storage’ spaces. Attics, or any space which is outside a main living area and is used purely for putting seldom used items in, are easy to organise. We’ve all been taught the principles of using the space efficiently (stacking boxes and so on) and of putting ‘like with like’. Provided the containers in them are well marked, then finding things and keeping some semblance of order in them isn’t usually a problem. When you feel you have to clear out your attic it’s usually because things in it are obsolete rather than because it looks as though a hurricane has hit it.


How ‘static storage’ principles will trip you up in a living space

More ‘lived in’ spaces like living rooms or bedrooms contain items that are frequently used, sometimes several times every day. So it’s a common trap to believe that the only way around the fact that you’re ‘messing them up’ all day is to tidy up frequently. I’m exhausted just thinking about that… In fact, if the possessions in your living spaces are well organised, then they will tend to gravitate back to their correct places automatically, and tidiness can become something that almost seems to maintain itself. Doesn’t that sound idyllic?


How storage in a dynamic space should actually work

Understanding the way storage should work in a dynamic living space is key to attaining this state of organisational ‘nirvana’. So think of it like this. If you’ve never considered it before you probably think of every single item in a bedroom as being ‘stored’ there. But in the case of larger and frequently used things such as the bed, which wouldn’t be put in there unless they were essentials, you can see very easily that they are being used, and are therefore not being ‘stored’ at all.


Smaller items need to be part of a living system

The problem comes with the less frequently used and smaller items, which you probably classify differently. These are the ones we tend to insist we need storage for in our bedrooms (whether we choose wardrobes, chests, chests of drawers or cupboards). But are they being ‘stored’ in your bedroom, any more than the bed is? The answer is no. Smaller and less frequently used items in a bedroom need to be just as easy to access and use, as the larger and more frequently used ones. If they’re not, you will subconsciously feel that you’re living in a broom cupboard, and that things are not set up to help you. And in a way that’s true, because they’re not!


Create ‘workstations’ for smaller items instead of regarding them as items to be stored

The point is that with larger items of furniture, it’s easy to see that they form a living working system, that you need to access and use every day. So every single item, however small and infrequently used within a living space such as a bedroom, needs to be regarded as part of a living working system too, and placed accordingly. That means within arm’s reach of the task around a ‘workstation’ specifically set up for that task, e.g. doing your hair or make up, with the most frequently used items placed at the front. In other words, they’re not in storage at all…

To understand more about how to place items in a dynamic space download a free excerpt of ‘Banish Clutter Forever'. You’ll be tidy before you know it…

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