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Storage Tips From An Untidy Hoarder

Author: Lauren Coleman

I am the first to admit, I am hideously messy. Not just a little untidy, no, I have a distinct ability to make a room look like a bomb has hit it in under five minutes flat. It’s really quite a talent.

The ’24 hour rule’ helps me no end in my quest for a neat and tidy home. I’ve heard people have a ‘one touch’ rule too but I can’t bring myself to be disciplined. In my house the idea is that something can be out of place for no longer than a day and has to put back in it’s rightful home before the day is out.

Moving into our new home at the end of last year I was struck by the realisation that there was very little storage. How does one put things back in their home if there isn’t anywhere to put them? The last nine months have been spent rehoming the homeless and I’m pleased to say we’re in a good place with storage now. I learned a few lessons along the way which you might be interested in – some of them may or may not be Kondo endorsed.

  • There are some ruddy gorgeous boxes, hampers, baskets and fancy storage items about. Don’t buy them. You’re just learning to hoard items you don’t need. By all means treat yourself to one or two to corral your chargers, batteries, keys and the like but keep all miscellaneous bits together in one room. Trust me, it’s really not necessary to have a box of crap in every single room.
  • Don’t make do. Go bespoke. When I was looking for somewhere to stash my shoes I considered this Urban Outfitters Industrial Dresser. The colour wasn’t quite right and James’ size tens would be a little squished but I nearly added to my online basket. In the end I didn’t submit my order and instead went bespoke. (You can read all about it our Jali cupboard in my hallway reveal). For about two thirds of the price I got a truly original piece that fits all our everyday shoe collection in, with no squashed toes.
  • Keep on top of the clutter and clear out regularly. I permanently have charity shop bags on the go and as soon as they’re full bundle them into the car for someone else to enjoy. Similarly I try to clear out my make-up bag and bathroom cupboard every few months to keep on top of the wayward cotton wall pads and straying bottle lids.
  • Go capsule. No word of lie, my wardrobe is now a two metre rail. And I share it with my husband.
  • If you’re a hoarder like me, then resist the urge to keep every bit of personal memorabilia but do keep one or two memories to remind you of the good times. My memory jar is filled full of wedding favour tags but not the contents of Paperchase which used to come home with me after attending a big day.
  • If you can cope with the dusting then put some of your favourite collections on display rather than hiding them behind closed doors. I recently sprayed three ikea kitchen rails copper and plonked my heels on top. Cheaper than buying a large piece of art to go on the wall and just as pretty. Kind of.
  • On the same subject as using walls for storage, then do try to utilise every space; can you put a shelf over a door? Can you put pull out drawers under kitchen cupboards? We have a disused fireplace in our dining room which I knew we’d never have a need to resurrect. Instead James whacked a few shelves inside and two doors on the outside and voila a new cabinet for my crockery for about £60.
  • What are your tips for storing all your worldly belongings? Any great finds or tricks you have for your stash?

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    20 thoughts on “Storage Tips From An Untidy Hoarder

    1. Lauren, I think we might be twins – I also share your ability to turn any tidy room into chaos in mere seconds; I actually think it is a superpower… Though if powers were on offer I’d prefer to be more like Mary Poppins, and be able to just ‘click’ and have everything tidy itself away. What is so frustrating is that I actually love (yes, sad I know) tidying and decluttering my home, yet I only seem to be able to sustain the tidy for a 24 hour period.

      Like you, I also have a constant charity bag on the go, which has helped with keeping things tidy. I’m currently trying to clear out my wardrobe and am struggling to part with some items (sentimental -the dress I was wearing when I first met my husband, etc) and even those that are no longer wearable in some cases, because they are soooo comfy. I’m intrigued by the capsule idea, and I’ve read your post on it, but I am at a total loss where to start. How did you manage to keep on track?

      Love your Jali cabinet; I can’t agree more that bespoke is the way to go on storage – we had a new six foot sideboard made to measure for our extension which finally arrived on Saturday – cheaper than many high street shops, unique and totally gorgeous – I’m in love!

    2. Lauren you are my inspiration… how, just HOW have you managed to capsulize your wardrobe to a shared 2m rail! Do you feel better for it? I have been trying to do this for so long and I never quite manage it. I would LOVE to de-clutter my clothing and go full on capsule! I have now adopted a careful considered approach, a “do I really need this”/”is this a staple” rule when purchasing new clothes but that’s as far as I have got….

      1. This is a really good point, there’s less to store and find places for or give away if we don’t buy the stuff in the first place! Easier said than done, though. xx

        1. Yes, that’s my thought behind it anyway. You’re right though definitely easier said than done…requires a huge amount of willpower 😉 xx

      2. ‘Do I really need it’ is definitely the best way to start!
        I may have a few bits in drawers but hanging space is now down to a third of what it used to be. When I get to the point of running out of hangers I know it’ time for a cull.

    3. Haha! Love this. I make the place so untidy but I really do love a tidy house (why I can’t keep it tidy I have no idea – I blame the baby taking up all my time but this has been going on for years so not her fault!!). My husband is a serial dumper of stuff though. And leaves it there FOR WEEKS. Until I shout (nicely!) and it gets moved. I like the 24 hour rule though, I just have to find a home for everything first (and clear out all the hoarded stuff!!) and then I’m on it. I’m working on it, I have declared that everything will be sorted by the end of the year (seems like a long time but I think it is depressingly realistic!). Thanks for all the ideas!!

    4. Also, this is a bit random, but I wondered if there is a reason why the author of the post is not listed at the top and the bottom? On RMF you can see at the top and the bottom who has written the post. Weirdly I like to know whose voice is writing (is that really weird?!) and so I find myself always scrolling to the bottom of the post to see who has written it before reading. Maybe that is just me though!!

      1. I’m exactly the same! If a post talks about personal experiences I always end up scrolling down to see who is writing. It would be great to have it at the top.

    5. FANTASTIC POST, totally me and perfectly timed! I moved 18 months ago and in the process of moving again. I find myself moving boxes I haven’t opened in 18 months – WHY?! I’ve been lucky to have lots of storage but the new house has zero storage so I am being forced to consider some of the things I “need”. It’s been tough – and I think I will be disposing of a lot of stuff that I have carted between properties. Last of the boxes being moved today and I am going to be ruthless.

      I always think I don’t have any clothes – when I got to the new house and had no wardrobe and have been able to fill 2 (temporary) clothes rails – I think it’s time to reconsider.

      Thanks for all of the tips Lauren….I will become a minimalist….Ha!!

      1. I reckon if we hadn’t moved house I would still be a hoarder. I have cleared and given away so much recently! Similarly to Charlotte (in her recent Living with less post) I feel a lot lighter for feeling less.
        Good luck with the move Rach x

    6. I am a terrible hoarder. I had a really good blitz of the house a year or so ago – my inspiration was helping to clear out an elderly relative’s house and I swore I would stop hoarding after that experience. Recently I have bought a ‘crap box’ and when I am tidying up I put things that need to be put away in the box. Ok, the box does sometimes get moved from A to B for a couple of days but it removes the temptation to move the individual items around and never end up putting them away. So far it is working quite well – but it always seems to be full of my stuff.

    7. We’ve recently dealt with our storage issue by building a large house extension to store our crap in. Of course now we have more space we will inevitably end up hoarding more crap ? My top tip is to have one box on the ground floor per family member to corral all their random items from upstairs that have made their way downstairs, or half-finished craft projects, books and magazines, or temporary items like birthday presents for the kids’ friends that will shortly make their way off the premises but need a short-term home. Every few days the boxes go upstairs and the contents are unpacked into their correct locations (often including the recycling bin ?). Gets rid of the usual family clutter that would otherwise eventually engulf the living room!

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