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Recycling Common Household Items for Storage & Organization Part I
When I usually tell people I am a professional organizer, most often their response is "wow, I didn't know folks like you really existed". Well prior to the 1980's we didn't. But we have needed organization ever since the first prehistoric man needed a tool more than once. Part of the need for professional organizers is due to the events of our world since the last few centuries…the age of industrialization with the advent of the factory created the need to organize workers, duties and productivity. Along with WWII many housewives were called out of the home making many double duty moms and career women who still had households to manage. Sound familiar? In the late 1980's nesting became a societal rage…focusing on creating cozy and highly liveable spaces used for retreats from the hassles of the rest of the world. Then comes Martha Stewart and suddenly being in your home was not just a daily habit it was now a pleasure and a hobby, being efficient and practical while striving for beauty became a frequent topic on daytime talk shows. However, not everyone is Martha Stewart. The most recent trend of downsizing has created a need in the industry like none other…we have too much and now have to find some way to deal with all that stuff we've purchased to make our homes comfortable and pleasurable but are no longer functional. So, what is clutter? Clutter can be good and bad- it is all in the eye of the beholder…how does it make you feel? We are biologically wired to acquire and accumulate – we are on a quest for more, more food, more money, more territory, more information, more stuff. Americans are programmed to "get" instead of "let go"…we are taught that acquiring possessions is good and a symbol of our wealth. But clutter is a stress producer…we can actually define clutter as anything that creates stress in your life, because of its appearance, condition, location, arrangement or quantity. "Overwhelm" is a condition created by our clutter that causes paralysis of the decision making muscles. It causes us to spin in circles, repeating something like "I just don't know where to start". As the 6 billion dollar storage and organization industry continues to grow rapidly, manufacturers are filling every niche. Storage was only available once upon a time in industrial blue or clear. Now, specialized storage products are available in an array of materials, from bamboo to faux leather to sea grass to swanky decorator patterns to go with your own home décor. Organizers are no longer only available at home improvement stores, they are now getting floor space at drug stores like CVS &Walgreens. Walmart has an entire section devoted to containers, Target has a wide variety to choose from. Not to mention the introduction of stores like Ikea and The Container Store. Even Lillian Vernon has an extensive storage section. According to the International Housewares Association, closet and storage items were the fastest growing housewares category over the past five years, with consumer spending increasing at an average of 20.5% per year. The Associations latest Home Trend Influentials study ranks home organization and home storage among the hottest housewares product categories through 2010. We are and have been for a few years now in a storage crisis. In a 2007 study conducted by the University of California in Los Angeles, 75% of the 32 families involved in the study stated they had put so much stuff in their garages they could not even fit one car in the space. From construction materials to excess furniture and toys… storage of material goods has become an overwhelming burden for most modern day families. Annual consumer expenditures in the U.S. have almost doubled since 1990 to $8 trillion in 2006. We've been through a frenzy of getting and now there is a frenzy of storing it all. Today… organization is everywhere…there are magazines devoted entirely to the subject, home improvement shows that make us believe we can completely redo a room (sans the crew of 25) in an entire weekend plus knock out a yard sale in the process. Experts, have projected the organizing industry to continue to grow at a rather robust rate despite the current housing slowdown. This is due to the fact that people continue to make changes in their lives- downsizing homes, retirement, relocation, growing families, and organization helps to maintain these transitions. The biggest mistake people make when attempting to get organized is that they go to the store and buy a bunch of containers. Instead, they should think about how they want the space to look and what they will be storing and then buy products according to a plan. By sometimes trying to simplify our lives we add to the problem by simply purchasing the wrong containers. Purchasing products with no idea of what is going to go in them…can cause us to actually double our clutter by using inadequate or ill planned storage containers that will never fully live up to their intended purpose. But we desperately need these containers. Professional organizers operate under what is referred to as a "container principle", by placing four walls around a group of items you create boundaries around a particular category. Do you need more, do you have too much, or are you at capacity? So, In order to get it right we first have to look at how we are going to arrange a particular space. We drag it all out, sort it, purge what needs to go (which "purging" is it's own topic which could last more than an hour to discuss why we have trouble with that particular subject)…and then create a plan of how we intend to use and store the rest of the items. Always keeping in mind, is this collection going to grow? How often do we need to get to it? Do we want it to be attractive, am I the only one who will see the container it is in? It can get a little discouraging not to mention expensive. Many times we can use a little creativity and use the containers we already bring into our homes. Pause before you discard something that could potentially help you de-clutter and organize your stuff. Anything that originally served as a vessel of some sort can have the capability to continue serving as an organizer for other things. Come back next week for Part II!
posted on: 4/1/2010 2:00:00 PM by Melissa Searcy
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by Melissa Searcy
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Melissa Searcy is a professional organizer and independent decorator now living in Jasper, AL. Formerly of Montgomery, Melissa owns Lulagrace Interiors where she was a regularly featured guest on morning television and had articles featured in the local newspaper and many local monthly publications. For more information you may visit her at www.lulagrace.com. Melissa is also a member of the Facebook community at Facebook.com/melissa.searcy or on Twitter at Twitter.com/LulagracePO.
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