So, a few weeks ago, my Mom brought me up a REALLY special piece of furniture. It's the hope chest my Pop-pop made my Mom when she was 16. She didn't have a good spot for it in her house, and (if I'm being honest), we need ALL the storage we can get in this tiny little house. 😆 (If you haven't heard the story of our home, click here!)
It has been SO nice to have an extra place to store things! With four people in a little house, storage has always been interesting. I won't say it's been an issue, because (by some miracle) we always seem to have enough room for everything.
However, every time we get close to the holidays, I start thinking about storage... Toys, clutter, and what we might need to let go of so we can make room for the influx of STUFF that inevitably comes with the season of giving.
So I want to share 10 ways that we make storage work FOR us... — so you can get a head start on decluttering BEFORE the holidays!
Okay, so I'm NOT perfect at any of these, but these are things we've put into practice for YEARS. I'm a functional minimalist — by that, I mean that I'm not a minimalist in "style," so if you're thinking of white on white with a white couch… think again. 😆 We just do our best to keep our "stuff" to a minimum. As Allie Casazza says, our stuff can be traded for time. How much time do you want to spend cleaning up your stuff? Once you've answered that question, you can minimize accordingly.
Okay, here goes:
1. Cut through the CLUTTER.
Okay, I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory. But GIRL: do you REALLY need all the stuff you have in your house? Take a good hard look at what's taking up your time. Often, it's not an organization problem… it's a TOO MUCH STUFF problem. I used to have a bad habit of hanging on to useful things that I "might use someday." These days, if I haven't used it in a few months, it leaves the house.
*If you want to declutter your entire home… I HIGHLY recommend "Your Uncluttered Home". It's an online course that is designed to walk you through decluttering every area of your home. Allie is an AMAZING inspiration to me, and I can't recommend her course enough!!! If you use the link above you'll get $30 off!
2. Use dual-purpose Furniture.
Almost EVERY piece of furniture we own has some kind of storage. My treadle sewing machine doubles as a table for my computer. Book cases, trunks… even our TV cabinet is an antique sugar chest that holds random kitchen stuff (like christmas platters!) Make use of what you have… but also buy pieces for their USEFULNESS, not just for their looks! By the way… IKEA is a GREAT place to buy useful, gorgeous furniture since they specialize in storage options for small living spaces!
3. Make the Best use of Space.
Bookshelves don't just have to hold books! We have a clothing cupboard that holds craft supplies and toys in our bedroom. One trunk holds my fabric stash, plastic rolling bins are under our bed for extra clothes. There really isn't a space in our home that isn't used for storing something. It's often tucked in unconventional spaces (like the kitchen stuff in the living room!)… but making use of the space we have looks like being okay with unusual storage ideas.
4. Store stuff FOR the people in your life.
I don't want the house to feel like a museum that my people can't enjoy.. but I also don't want a toy-bomb in the house! (This is especially important since they have a small bedroom and NO play room!) The kids have access to their toys (in cute crocheted bins!) on the lower shelves, and the upper shelves are for Alex and I.
Alex also has several spots in the kitchen/office that are just for him. As a business owner, he has a TON of incoming paperwork, and he used to leave it all over the kitchen table… for… MONTHS. He isn't a minimalist, so rather than nag him or mess up his paperwork, I've tried to be intentional to create a space that works for him.
5. Organize the INSIDES!
De-cluttering is ALWAYS step one… but don't underestimate the power of organization. Make use of the space you have while still making sure you can find everything you need. Even our JUNK DRAWER is organized. I can't stand not being able to find stuff, which is an issue since I'm not naturally organized. I buy cheap plastic bins at Dollar Tree to hold pens, hair ties, and whatever else we store in drawers. Since I'm not naturally tidy, knowing EXACTLY where something goes is a huge help.
6. Look for unique storage options.
Just because you don't have "normal" storage space doesn't mean you can't find a way to make it work! We have ONE closet in our house. Yep, you heard me right: ONE. It's our linen cupboard, my cleaning supply closet, and the top shelf holds random tools and renovation supplies. ALL of our clothes either fold into a chest of drawers, or hang on our open closet. The kids clothes are also folded in their drawers (yes, even Tasha's dresses!). Thank goodness for Marie Kondo's folding method!
7. Sort BEFORE new stuff comes in!
This tip is GOLD. When I was a kid, my Mom would have my sister and I go through our toys before our birthdays or Christmas. She would remind us that new stuff was coming… and ask us if there were any toys we didn't play with any more. This process was our OWN decision (and I never felt deprived, btw!), and has been a HUGE help for my entire life.
If you know a holiday or birthday is coming up… take an hour or so to make sure you're not holding on to anything you don't need. Stuff is just STUFF, after all! (As kids, we also sent our old toys to a local church thrift store, so it was a good lesson in giving to others who didn't have as much as we did!)
8. Find a place for EVERYTHING.
Remember the old saying "A place for everything and everything in it's place"? Well. I'm not very good at that. Living in the tiny house means that sometimes I'm at a loss as to where to put stuff. So instead of finding a place for it (or getting rid of something else to make room), I let it pile up on surfaces in our home. Find a place for EVERYTHING that comes in your home, and get it to that place as quickly as you can.
9. Do a "quick sort" every few months.
Life just brings a ton of random stuff along with it, doesn't it? The kids come home with little toys from school, happy meal toys, or I buy stuff that I don't need from the dollar section at Target. Every so often, I'll do a quick sort of all the "extras"! The kids have one bin full of "random" toys, and I'll go through it and get rid of anything that's broken or that they haven't played with in a long time.
10. Give yourself grace!
If you're upset because there is stuff out during the day or your house is a total disaster… PLEASE remember: You have humans living there. You and your spouse are NOT perfect. Your kids aren't robots. It's going to get messy because your home is being LIVED in. And that's awesome! Give yourself some grace as you begin to declutter and organize your home.
Before you head off, I wanna share a few more thoughts on toys:
Right now for large "sets" of toys, we have:
- Several sets of IKEA wooden trains + tracks.
- Lincoln Logs + Wooden Blocks
- Kitchen Toys
- A Tool Box + tools
- A bin of cars, trucks, + tractors
- A bin of "extras" (like Barbies + dinosaurs, + happy meal toys)
- HUGE set of Duplos
- Dress-up Clothes
- Coloring books + crayons/markers
- Puzzles + Magnet toys
I really hope this helps you think differently about the STUFF you have in your home — and where you store it. Please remember: It's totally a work-in-progress for me! I'm not naturally tidy, so I have to work REALLY hard at not letting the clutter get the better of me.
Are you interested in MORE tips for living minimally so you have time to live the life you really want to?
Then, Allie Casazza is your girl! Oh my GOSH, she has inspired me SO much, and was the catalyst to me choosing to minimize the kids' toys in the first place. Here are a few resources:
- The article I first read by her (it's GOLD!): "How Getting Rid of My Stuff Saved My Motherhood."
Follow Allie on Instagram (her stories are the best!)
- Take her course, "Your Uncluttered Home." This has been SUCH a huge help to me... and full of so much info on HOW to get your house uncluttered — FOR GOOD. 😱