Closets, shelving and cabinetry might be plentiful in your home, but do you have enough room for storage? Indeed, among new homeowners, one of the biggest regrets is not designing enough space to house everything.
"Log homes have both advantages and disadvantages for creating storage space," says Monte Burch, author of the recently released "Room by Room Storage Solutions." "Many log homes feature cathedral ceilings and lofts without an attic, which is sometimes a prime storage spot. On the other hand, that same sort of structure leads to an open floor plan, so you're not limited to placing walls in a certain space. You can put them anywhere you want." Such customization may include a larger walk-in closet or under-stair storage, he adds.
Before designing overly expansive spaces and loading up on every storage item under the sun — and likely creating even more clutter in the process — get your actual belongings in order. "The first thing you need to do is organize what you have," Monte says. "This is both the easiest and the hardest thing to do. You don't want to just jump in on a Saturday and get it done; it takes time." Going room by room, you should sort everything into three separate piles, he says — one pile to keep, another to throw away and a third of indefinite items to "give yourself time to think about it."
"Once you have that in mind and have figured out what you know you're going to keep," he continues, "then look at your items and find out what's seasonal. Then organize your equipment and clothing by the season. You should have several piles." Noting these piles, grab a notebook and determine the storage pieces you'll need to efficiently stow your belongings (i.e., tubs or bins, racks and shelves, hangers, etc.).
"Empty nesters won't need the same storage space as a family of five," he explains. "But if you know what items you're going to store, you can create the storage spaces for them."
Some spaces are naturally heavy on storage and may require a bit more effort to make them efficient. "Kitchens are probably the most important storage areas," Monte notes. "There's a lot of stuff to store, and the work area needs to be efficient." Five different layouts exist for efficient use: inline, where everything is laid out in one straight line; L-shaped; U-shaped, or Pullman, which is good in narrow rooms; corridor, which is similar to the Pullman layout in that it has cabinets on both sides of the room; and an island, which provides a walk-around work area and "can actually be a combination of the other four with an island in it," he adds.
"I think the most important part about kitchen storage is all the new products out there to make it easy to store things," Monte continues. One product of note, he says, is Rev-A-Shelf's blind-corner optimizer. Taking the place of a Lazy Susan, the blind-corner optimizer provides storage through four chrome baskets on sliding racks instead of circular discs, using all the corner space available.
The pantry also is growing increasingly important, he notes: "I think it's going to become even more popular. In this economy, people are looking to buy more economically and store items." It should ideally be near an entry, he says, so that when you drive up, you can just walk in and drop groceries in the pantry.
The Mudroom & Garage
Another entry-adjacent space in need of attention is the mudroom. Often the go-to room for shoes, coats and other miscellaneous accessories, mudrooms are breeding grounds for clutter. One option, he suggests, is combining it with a similar hoarding space. "Combining a mudroom and pantry is an extremely versatile way to conserve space," he notes, because the two are often placed near each other as is and can create a useful storage place for seasonal items as well.
"The most abused storage space in everyone's home is the garage," Monte says. "Most folks can't even fit their cars in anymore." Thankfully, it's one of easiest areas to organize, he says, with lots of shelves and storage units readily available. "Lots of products are designed for specific items, such as bikes, rakes, skis and garden equipment," he notes. Also noteworthy, he adds, are overhead racks for garages that have taller ceilings or don't require overhead door clearance. If your garage has a finished top, consider incorporating a pull-down ladder for attic space in an area that often goes unused.
Other storage solutions may include modular pieces, which are "an excellent way to gain storage space in a log home, particularly if you have interior log walls where it's hard to build stuff in," Monte notes. He recommends products from Sauder because they can be used in multiple rooms and boast a finished faux pine appearance that complements rustic decor.
For more information on efficient storage solutions, check out Monte's book, or visit the National Association of Professional Organizers' web site (www.napo.net).