With all the attention paid recently to decluttering, it’s amazing more people don’t pay attention to attic organization. From “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” to Oprah, decluttering has been one of the trends of the last two years.
The reason the trend hasn’t changed attics, though, is that it’s all too easy to forget your attic. You go up there for holiday decorations, maybe. But after that, it’s out of sight, out of mind.
You need to pay attention, though. Attics are subject to extremes of temperature. They get super hot in the summer and can get extremely cold in the winter. They can also be subject to condensation and humidity, which both cause moisture in the attic.
These conditions can all damage what you store in the attic. If you have vintage family photos, vinyl records, comic books, scrapbooks, videos, DVDs or CDs in the attic, they can become cracked, warped or damaged by excess moisture.
Don’t care about old vinyl records or comic books, you say? You should. First, both are in high demand. Many young hipsters think vinyl records sound warmer than mp3 players. Second, comic books can be classics. Third, they may be loved by the generation coming up.
And that’s to say nothing of old photographs and scrapbooks. These are treasures.
So how do you make sure nothing gets gets mold or water damage? Better organization will not only save your items from damage, but it will also make it easier to find what’s up there when you need it. Here are five tips for attic organization.
Decluttering is a necessary first activity if you want to organize your attic. Almost every attic contains items that frankly are better thrown out. But you won’t know that until you declutter.
The best idea is to divide everything into four piles: keep, throw out, donate or sell. Here’s some examples: Holiday decorations, as long as they’re functional, go in the keep pile. Broken holiday lights get thrown out! Don’t hesitate. Throw out stuff that doesn’t work. Old clothes that no longer fit? Donate to a charity like Goodwill, who recycle them to deserving people. If you really don’t want your classic Superman comics anymore, sell them.
Ok, once you’ve thrown away stuff and have piles to donate or sell, start on the list to keep. You need to write down everything that’s in the attic. If you don’t, it’s easy to lose track. If you lose track, you can’t manage it. It can be on a legal pad or jotted down to be placed in your computer later.
Store your inventory in a secure place. You’re going to use it later.
Now that you have an inventory, survey it for easily damaged items. If your videotapes or vinyl records already show signs of damage, see if they can be fixed. If they aren’t showing damage, know that it’s just a matter of time.
You have three options for easily damaged items. One is to find a place for them down in the main part of your house. Can your old photographs be mounted on a wall in the hallway? Could your comic books be placed on a bookshelf?
The second is to digitize them, if possible. Old photographs can have a long life if you digitize them. The third is to get a self-storage space. These can be great ways of safely storing goods. Storage spaces are climate controlled, clean and open whenever you need them. You can leave your vintage popular culture stuff there, like DVDs and CDs, where it will always be safe. If storage space in your house is an issue, you can take items out of storage if you get more square footage down the road.
Ok, once you know what you’re keeping and what’s going elsewhere, use the inventory again. Divide all the remaining stuff by zones. Holiday decorations are in one zone, whether it’s your scary stuffed black cat or Christmas tree balls. Clothes are in another zone. If you keep sports equipment in the attic, it’s in its own zone.
One of the biggest reasons attics become cluttered is because there aren’t decent storage solutions in place. The rest of your house would be heavily cluttered if you treated it like you treat the attic!
Get stackable bins to store clothes. Get separate bins, with separate colors, to store decorations. Don’t mix Thanksgiving with birthdays. The more logical the organization you use to store items, the easier it will be to put them back neatly. If you have to dig through Thanksgiving to get to Fourth of July bunting, it’s very easy to throw your stuffed turkeys back impatiently. Don’t.
Even though attic organization isn’t the ~most~ fun someone can have on a Friday night, it’s still useful! Your attic will be easier to use if it’s decluttered and uses contemporary storage solutions for both safety and neatness.