A House Too Big

How can it possibly be difficult to organize a large home? Turns out it’s really quite a challenge.

When I first met these clients they lived in a modest home of probably under 2000 square feet with their three children.  They now live in a substantially larger home, I’m guessing well over 4000 square feet, yet chaos remains.  They had assumed that by having more space clutter would no longer be a problem. More space really just gives you more places to clutter, doesn’t it?

By the end of our first meeting I had a list of seventeen different areas that could use some sort of re-organization.  The problem with a large house is that there are multiple choices for where “stuff” could be stored.  In a smaller home there is less choice so the obvious locations are usually pretty easy to find.  In this case, we will have to put a lot of thought into each space and work harder to figure out where things should logically go.

We have done some sorting in the mudroom area of the garage and discovered the new cubby units they had built are not designed quite the way they should be to hold coats, boots, shoes and backpacks for everyone. The shelving built for shoes has small cubbies but each one holds three shoes instead of one or two pair of shoes. That’s what happens when you don’t measure the width of a pair of shoes before you build the unit. Just sayin! And there aren’t nearly enough large coat hooks to hang everything on. So, we’ll be doing some carpentry work there.

As we were organizing the garage area, we realized that there was a lot of sports gear.  It’s big and bulky and some of it was in the garage and some in a storage room in the basement.  Because this large home has a fairly small garage, comparatively speaking, seasonal sports gear has to be rotated to the storage room in the basement. That meant our next step was to organize that storage room.  At this time of year, it holds camping and golf gear and we moved in shelves from another room to hold memorabilia and old family pictures and framed art that “might get used someday”.  Hmmm.

We have now moved on to paperwork. The dreaded trail of paper that goes from the bench in the garage, to the table just inside the garage door, to the kitchen counter, into the pantry and then finally makes it’s home in the office. That’s what happens when you say to yourself, “I’ll just put it here for now”. Now becomes forever and paper is strewn from one end of the house to the other.  

The paper problem is nothing to do with improper storage. It is all to do with lack of good habits and a flaw in the paper processing system.  We are about to test the idea that only current school notices and things to be dealt with this week go in an organizer on the back of the pantry door and then all other paper gets taken directly to the office.  That sounds like it should be a fairly easy routine.  However, in this big house you come in the back door, pass by the kitchen, go through the TV room and then through the playroom to get to the office. That’s a long way to have to take the incoming mail and kids paperwork before you actually get to put it down.  I keep telling my client she’ll have more exercise built into her day! Surely that will work.

Have you found a successful storage solution for a particularly challenging area of your home? Where was it and what was the solution? Is it still working?

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