“A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. … That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff! Sometimes you leave your house to go on vacation. And you gotta take some of your stuff with you. Gotta take about two big suitcases full of stuff, when you go on vacation. You gotta take a smaller version of your house. It’s the second version of your stuff.” George Carlin, “Stuff”
I just returned from a week at the condo my family has owned on Amelia Island in Florida since 1978. It has gone through a couple of remodels and updates since then, and we are a relatively clean tribe, but there are drawers, cabinets and closets there that were disorderly when we bought it, and have turned downright chaotic over the years. So many treasures, receipts, photos, toys, games, memories really, have accumulated there, all of it invisible in a sense because my siblings and I only spend a week at a time there. Off to the beach, let’s go shopping, time for dinner. And then a rush to the airport to fly home.
So, I decided to put my Professional Organizing skills to work over the course of five days. I started with drawers using a simple 4 step procedure: 1) Remove everything from a drawer; 2) vacuum and wipe the drawer and replace liner if necessary; 3) decide what objects belong in that drawer and 4) categorize, clean and contain only those objects that are in good shape and are still wanted. This process ended up with games that were stored all over the place moving into a nice, deep, accessible drawer instead of being buried deep inside a dark cabinet. Old crystal ashtrays got sanitized and are now holding paper clips, game pieces and other small objects.
Next came cabinets. Similar process 1-4. The key thing about cabinets is to be willing to move shelves up or down to accomodate tall or short items. Most times, installers just put a shelf dead center and we work around that. Or we unload dishes and glasses when we first move in, then get used to them being in a certain place, even when we realized after a year that they are inconveniently stored. In the case of a vacation home, it can be helpful to use clear labels to identify what items belong in each drawer and cabinet. That mitigates the jumbly junk drawer syndrome that comes from many users.
Finally, when dealing with closets, it is so important to establish the function of the closet. In our case, there is a large utility room directly beside the entry hall closet, yet there were brooms, vacuums, cleaning supplies and general junk scattered in the small closet. I took everything out, then got a few hanging linen shelf units from a big box store, and filled them with sand toys, frisbees, sunscreen, and other fun objects that one would want to grab on the way to the beach. Umbrellas are in a stand in the corner, as are kites in an opposite corner. On the shelves are buckets and towels, and hats for fair-skinned visitors. All the cleaning supplies were relegated to the utility room. An over the door shoe storage hanger will hold flip flops and beach shoes so that sand is stopped before it can get up the stairs into the main house.