Quick storage tips

After putting the Christmas issue to bed, I’ve been trying to catch up on the housework that’s been neglected over the last month. And by ‘trying to catch up’, I mean reading tips on storage in a bid to make the most of my over-full tiny inner-city house. (When procrastination is made an Olympic sport, I will be on track for gold – provided I remember to put the paperwork in …) Anyway, let it not be said that procrastinatory reading does no good! Here are the best easy and useful storage tips I’ve found, including a couple I’ve successfully followed:

* At least twice a year, pull everything out of the pantry and have a big throw-out. Tip stale and unused cereals, flours and grains straight onto the compost heap (or just scatter them around the garden if you don’t compost, then lightly fork and water in). Empty ancient tins and bottles of tomatoes and beans similarly, along with most expired sauces, then clean the containers for the recycling. If you have rancid oils, you can use them to preserve timber garden furniture in a frugal pinch, or just drizzle them sparingly around your garden – they’ll decompose quickly and are no problem to soil or fauna as long as there’s not a big puddle.

* When you put everything back into your pantry, sort like with like. Herbs and spices are best all kept in the one plastic box for easy access, similarly cake decorating bits and grains and legumes. Pop all your sauces into an open-topped box that can slide in and out, and then look for other groups you can use the same trick for. If you have a lot of empty ‘above’ space, look at shelf inserts or under-shelf storage to make the most of it.

* Have a dump zone near your front door? Slap a piece of furniture there. A side table will keep handbags up off the floor, while a coat rack will give you space to store out-door clothes as well as bags. If you’re concerned about security, a set of neatly sized drawers will be easy enough for everyone to dump their bag into their assigned drawer, while making life hard for casual thieves. And if you’re a sporty set at your place, a big stainless steel rack with boxes for balls/mitts/pads/helmets etc and space for kit bags on the bottom shelf will see weekend and after-school sport proceed more smoothly – with no more ‘Muuuuum! Where’s my …?’ Just be sure to check for kit that needs washing regularly (I’d say hang a small bag or basket for kids to dump the washing in, but we’d both be dreaming it will ever get used.)

* Need more special space for little things like shed keys, shopping lists and bills? Use a magnetic hook on the fridge for keys that need an easy-access home not on your key ring (and then be sure to put them back there every time you spot the set left somewhere else. Eventually you will train your family.) Cork tiles or potstands stuck inside your pantry or study doors provide a pinable spot where you’ll need it – Stick on a blank sheet of paper and attach a pen with a 3M Commander clip so you’re always ready to jot down a shopping list or your to-dos. As for bills, try dropping everything into the one big buff envelope as it comes in, then taking it out and filing it away when its paid. Leave the envelope clipped to the fridge or beside your computer, so you can easily check to see what needs to be paid and when.

* Hanging shoe racks with pockets make a great tights and stockings storage. Just roll each pair neatly and tuck them into a pocket – you can sort with a row per type if you have capris, stirrup tights, opaques and sheers. If you’re like me and own quite a lot of tights, you might prefer a hanging storage unit like this one that you can buy little drawers for.  I keep my tights in drawers, sorted by colour and then my regular shoes in the open compartments, which makes getting dressed in the dark in the morning less of a risk!

* If you have hanging space near your laundry hamper, clip a zippered lingerie washbag (you can buy them in the tights and stockings section of most department stores or online) to a skirt hanger and hang above the hamper, then put your delicate smalls in their directly rather than needing to pre-sort each load of washing.

And if all else fails, there’s always the internet and the power of dreams …

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