How to Organize Your Attic

[ by Nannette Richford, Next Door Storage ]  This post was originally published on the SpareFoot Blog

Attics are notorious for being cluttered with half-filled boxes and piles of unused items that are simply too good to throw away, but still get in the way. Sometimes this includes family heirlooms or old documents that, because of disorganization, end up getting lost of destroyed. Just because you use your attic for storage is no excuse for it to look like it was hit by a cyclone.

Getting your attic in order saves time, energy and space. According toEveryday Minimalist, 80 percent of home clutter is caused by disorganization–not by lack of space.

Here are 10 steps for how to organize your attic.

1. Sort the Stuff.
The first step in getting your attic organized is sorting the items based on their use. At this stage, simply placing items in separate piles is OK. Of course, you’ll clean up the piles before you’re finished. Other options include sorting by season, by person or by any other category that makes sense to you.

2. Get Rid of the Junk.
Let’s face it. Some of the items you find in your attic are nothing but junk that has long outlived its purpose. This includes broken items or those with missing parts that you intended to fix someday. The best storage place for them is the Dumpster.

Other items may no longer fit your needs, like old children’s toys, but are suitable for someone else. Place these in piles to be sold or donated.

3. Consider a Self-Storage Unit.
Items such as furniture that you simply don’t have room for right now take up valuable space in your attic. Consider moving these items to a self-storage unit until you’re ready to use them again. That way, you can free up space for the things you use frequently.

4. Assess Your Mess.
While some items, like Grandma’s old cane or little Johnny’s first baseball bat, don’t require special packaging or containers, others—such as Grandpa’s old military papers and Aunt Alice’s will—require airtight containers to protect them from aging.

storage container5. Buy Some Bins.
Plastic bins can be purchased for a few dollars and offer the perfect storage solution for items that need protection, like paperwork or handcrafted items. While clear bins let you see what’s stored inside, light-blocking bins are a better solution for certain delicate items.

6. Use Labels.
One of the most overlooked steps in organizing your attic or garage is labeling the contents of your storage containers. Attach index cards or large labels to the containers to indicate what’s inside them. Putting them on the top and on the upper left-hand corner of each side lets you check the contents without any hassle.

If you’re unsure whether you really need to be keeping those items, Diana Colman, founder of Four Quadrant Living, suggests adding the date to the label. If you haven’t used the items in a year or two, it’s time that they find a new home.

7. Put Up Rods.
Hanging rods can be invaluable in the attic, especially if you store seasonal clothing there. This works well for winter outerwear, ski pants and any items you prefer not to fold and pack.

8. Check Out Storage Carts.
Plastic storage carts with drawers are the ideal places for small items such as craft supplies, children’s toys and hobby items. Don’t forget to label the drawers so everyone knows what’s inside.

9. Consider Shelving.
Don’t overlook the value of installing inexpensive shelves in the attic to store commonly used items (think seasonal sports items or holiday items). Metal shelving is relatively inexpensive and works well in the attic, but don’t forget to anchor it to the wall.

10. Spread the Word.
Once you’re organized, hold a family meeting to discuss the importance of putting items where they belong. This way, you won’t end up with clutter in the attic—or anywhere else.