Ramseys: Do you need more storage? Or just better organization?

For some homeowners, the most difficult space to find in a home is storage space. As your clutter grows, you may think you need a larger home with more storage space. But maybe not. Instead, think organization. With spring just around the corner, here are a couple of tips we have learned over the years to manage and organize the overflow of stuff.

First, consider changing your mindset from keeping to repurposing. Instead of, "I'm saving this because I might need it someday," think, "I'll give this to someone who can use it NOW, not someday."

The easiest way to make this shift is to pretend you are moving. Then divide everything into two groups: What would you keep if you moved? What could be repurposed?

After you've repurposed as much as you can, and you still have overflow, here are a few ideas to help you better use your existing space.

First, consider using shelves to organize items. Don't be afraid! Add shelves to closets. Look at spaces where standing shelves could be used. Shelves with wheels are easy to move if needed. Store items used often, which might be visible to guests, in more decorative containers. Store other items in clear, lidded storage boxes for easier stacking and labeling. These clear boxes come in a variety of sizes. A clear box gives a hint of the contents and the labels can be written in any way meaningful to you -- for a person, use, year, or any other combination. Use pieces of tape for labels, in case you want to repurpose the box later.

Next maximize storage potential in the garage. If you've already used the obvious cabinets, shelving, pegboards, and workbench, consider the ceiling next. There are a number of lifts and hoist devices for all types and sizes of things. With a combination of pulleys and platforms, small items (tires, boxes, bikes, etc.) can be placed overhead and out of the way.

If heavier items such as cars, motorcycles, snow machines, ATVs and snow blowers are taking up to much space, you may still be able to stack things with an industrial size lift if you have the ceiling space. Measure carefully and take note of the movement of garage door opener. Larger lifts are expensive, but the cost may be offset by not paying a storage fee and the convenience of having your larger toys at hand.


Next, don't forget the dark and dusty crawlspace. If yours is large enough to use, consider adding as many additional porcelain lights fixtures as you can. Then buy wire cages to protect the exposed bulbs and to keep from hitting them with your head. The better the crawlspace is lighted, the easier to see and use those former dark recesses.

To help with the dirt and dust, remove the old plastic vapor barrier material, plus any large rocks or sharp objects. Level out high spots with a little raking. Then purchase at least 6-mil reinforced vapor barrier. The kids and grandkids would have fun helping install it. Their smaller height will allow them to easily stand and pull it back into the corners. Remember to overlay edges by 18 inches and tape securely. Specialty tape is available at hardware stores for the seams.

Lastly, buy a cheap plastic sled and a pair of kneepads. A sled can be loaded with heavy plastic storage boxes and easily pulled over the newly installed vapor barrier. Label a 3-inch by 5-inch card (seasonal, fishing, camping, etc.) and staple it to the floor joist. That way, to find a box quickly, you don't have to remember which area it might be in.

There are plenty of storage ideas and products available on the Internet and locally, so why not take spring cleaning to a new level this year.

Barbara and Clair Ramsey are local associate brokers specializing in residential real estate. Their column appears every month in the Alaska Dispatch News. Their e-mail address

Barbara Ramsey

Barbara Ramsey is a local associate broker specializing in residential real estate. She can be reached at