Organizing Ideas
Jun 17, 2008

Organizing 101: 8 rules for buying containers

By: Jeff Bredenberg
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Organizing Ideas
Jun 17, 2008

Organizing 101: 8 rules for buying containers

By: Jeff Bredenberg

It sounds so simple on the surface: Buy a box and throw stuff in it. Well, it's almost that easy, but keep these eight rules in mind when you buy the bins, baskets, and boxes that keep your storage spaces organized. Thanks go out to Mona Williams, vice president of buying at The Container Store, and Laura Ray, professional organizer, for their input.

1 Take your time. Merely loading a shopping cart with storage containers will not solve your organizing problems. You might be buying the wrong size or shape of container, and your unusable containers will become clutter themselves. Only buy containers when it's clear exactly what you need, information that will only come late in the S4 process (let's all say it together: Strip, Scrap, Sort, Store). Buy only containers that are a good fit for the stuff you need to store.

2 Consider the storage space. Containers can help you convert odd spaces around your home into storage -- underneath your bed or under a stairway, for instance. Consider shape (wide and fl at for under the bed). Measure the space, jot down the specs, and take a tape measure with you when you shop for containers.

3 Think vertically. An easy way to multiply the storage capacity in your home is to make good use of the vertical space. Putting your containers on shelves is one way to go about it. Another is the use of stacking containers. When stacking, buy containers all in the same style and brand so they'll create a stable vertical structure. In some situations, it helps to buy the kind of bin with side access, so you don't have to unstack your containers every time you want to grab something.

4 Look high and low. Choose containers based on where they will be stored. For high shelves, get small containers that you can lift easily. On low shelves, you can use bigger, heavier containers.

Image courtesy of Pottery Barn. 




Excerpted from How to Cheat at Organizing by Jeff Bredenberg Copyright © 2007 by Jeff Bredenberg. Excerpted by permission of Taunton, and Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

5 Remember color. The color of your storage bins may be important in a couple of scenarios. If the bins are highly visible in the home, you may want the containers to blend well with your décor. If you are organizing by color -- say, each family member has a different storage bin on a particular shelf -- you may want to buy the same-size bin in different colors.

6 Make it apparent. You want it to be immediately obvious what you have stored inside any container. Transparent containers make this easy. Use opaque containers for stuff that can be damaged by light. In that case, have a good way to label your containers on top and sides.

7 Consider the future. Kids grow up, you move, your interests change -- all of these inevitable things mean that your storage needs will shift as the months and years pass. When you buy a storage container, ask yourself whether it can be put to other uses once your current need has passed.

8 Think about heft. How sturdy do your containers need to be? If you need to store bulky or sharp objects (leftover bathroom tile, for instance), heavy-duty tubs are the way to go.

Image courtesy of Pottery Barn.




Excerpted from How to Cheat at Organizing by Jeff Bredenberg Copyright © 2007 by Jeff Bredenberg. Excerpted by permission of Taunton, and Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


 

 

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Organizing Ideas

Organizing 101: 8 rules for buying containers