Cleaning Won’t Fix It: Problems of a Low-Storage Home

Hello again! Amelia and I had a wonderful weekend visiting my family. We got to see everyone, had a wonderful picnic followed by delicious cake and homemade ice cream, and even attended a parade! Naturally, Amelia and her younger cousin (they are two days apart) were much petted and loved on, so yesterday and today Amelia is making it clear that the swing is not a cool place to sit and where’s a grandparent or an aunt when you need one? Add that to a doctor’s appointment with some new vaccinations yesterday, and I just didn’t get this post written when I wanted to.

I am happy to report, however, that her doctor is pleased as punch with Amelia’s growth and accomplishments, as is only proper. She’s a beautiful, wonderful girl and I’m glad we continue to suffer no significant health problems after her early start.

Back to business: I promised to report on problem areas in my house, and I’m going to do so now. This is not really intended as an exhaustive list. There are a lot of areas where things are less than perfect, obviously, but today I want to talk about systemic areas. Not necessarily something that we need to just do a better job with, but rather something that isn’t a matter of simple maintenance.

Incoming Stuff

Our house, well-loved as it is, has a couple of little quirks that present challenges in staying organized. And the three things I’m going to talk about today are all related to those quirks. The first is the fact that there isn’t a dedicated entryway or foyer. The front door opens immediately into the dining room, and more than half the time we use the garage door anyway, which opens right into the living room. Neither entry is particularly close to a closet or storage area. This means that there’s no great place to set up a ‘landing strip’ for mail that needs to go in or out, wet shoes, coats, and so on. And in consequence these things tend to land wherever they fall: on the breakfast bar, the dining table, the coffee table . . . whichever flat surface is most convenient when we walk in the door.

This is a major problem. Not only is this the cause of a lot of the clutter in the house, it’s also created difficulties with lost and misplaced bills, disorganized exits from the house (especially troublesome now that we have a baby to tote along with us with all associated paraphernalia), and general mayhem.

Proposed Solution: Create a landing strip by the garage door that makes use of containers and wall space to manage the following items:

  • Keys (these currently have a small hook rack by the door that’s been pretty successful, but I’m not opposed to moving that some if necessary for the whole solution)
  • Coat Rack or Hooks (we have a coat rack by the front door, but that’s not where we usually enter or leave, plus it’s covered in huge numbers of coats so it’s difficult to grab or add one)
  • Shoe Storage
  • Mail Sorter
  • Tray for Man Pockets (Neal tends to empty his pockets as he walks through the house to change after work, and there’s a little trail of earbuds, inhaler, wallet, ID tag, and so on that stretches from the breakfast bar to the nightstand and dresser, to his desk in the office)
  • Trash Can (for junk mail)
  • Mirror (for quick spit-up checks)

Towels and Linens

Our house has no linen closet and minimal bathroom storage, but we have lots of linens and towels and bathroom dohickeys. Currently these things are stored in a chest in the living room, a flatpack cabinet in the office closet, a dresser in the office, stacked in the laundry/pantry, and a series of cubbies wedged into the tiny bathroom. Amelia’s towels and linens are stored separately. Moreover, that piecemeal space is inadequate to the volume of things we need stored, and clean linens often end up living in the bottom of laundry baskets as other loads are folded and put away on top of them. There just isn’t a place for them to go.

Proposed Solution: Sort through the collection to make sure we need everything we have. Try to bypass Neal’s cute but obnoxious-in-small-house need to assure me that the towel that’s nearly ripped in half still has useful material and should be kept for the garage or dirty work rather than tossed (He can’t throw anything away, and even has difficulty disconnecting with stuff enough to donate it.) to get excess stuff out of the house. Consolidate storage.

Long-Term Plan: Supplement storage consolidation by ripping out current bathroom cabinetry and replace with open shelves and basket/bin storage.

The Combination Laundry/Pantry/Utility

WP_20150511_002Not only is this room desperately trying to be all things to all people, it’s an incredibly awkward space to begin with. You walk in from the kitchen to see the washer and dryer directly in front of you, the utilities to your left behind a floor-to-ceiling curtain, and a window and some shelves for pantry storage to your right. But there’s a little nubbin of space to the right of the washing machine that is barely three feet square and contains two doors. It creates this odd square cutout in our bedroom that’s almost as awkward as it makes the laundry room. We are currently using a combination of steel restaurant style shelving and a plastic shelf along the back wall of the odd bit for pantry storage.

WP_20150511_003The trouble is that, with so little good storage space in the rest of the house, this room gets dumped on. It is just full of stuff, and nothing is working. I need it to be much tidier and more organized to support more cooking at home.

Proposed Solution: Just getting it cleaned and organized is going to do wonders. Again, this is going to require a purge; I know there’s stuff in there I don’t need or use.


3 thoughts on “Cleaning Won’t Fix It: Problems of a Low-Storage Home

  1. If you find old/ratty/ripped towels or linens, I recommend donating them to an animal shelter! They almost always take those kinds of things for when new animals come in. If the two shelters up here don’t want them, I’ll gladly take them to the Hamilton Co. Humane Society for you on my next trip home. I know they’re always looking. Tell Neal that when he lets go of old towels puppies and kittens live! haha 🙂


  2. You might need to get cracking on that utility room if Neal is going to work on that problem by the door. Oh boy. I wish you luck. It is always so hard to figure out the best way to store things when there is practically Jo storage area.


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