Resolve to make the most of your existing space

February 28, 2009|By CHRISTINE BRUN / Creators Services

For many of us, each New Year's Day brings with it inspiration to clean and organize our homes. There's nothing new about that. But every five years or so, the clutter in our homes needs to be examined more thoroughly.

For example, most of us know to keep tax records for seven to 10 years, depending on your tax status. So it makes sense after tax time to gather your financial records from the previous year into a labeled banker's box and stash them in the attic.

However, there is no need keep those records for, say, 30 years. And if your papers have been around for decades because of concerns about putting financial, tax and medical records in a trashcan by the side of the road, a decent shredder will ease your mind.

It's the purging of unneeded items that creates the necessary space to reduce clutter. There are more ways to create additional room for all sorts of storage in our existing spaces.


One of my favorites is to capture the space under a bed. This might be accomplished with a bed frame that includes storage drawers that slide under the box spring. They could be good for storing bank statements, cancelled checks, magazines and photographs.

Cheaper than a new bed frame are low plastic boxes that fit under the bed. Some come with wheels for easy movement. If your bed too low to the floor for rolling boxes, you can purchase risers that will boost your bed about 8 or 9 inches.

These days, few of us can afford a total kitchen makeover. But it might be possible to retrofit one or two cupboards to coax them into performing better.

The photo shows an example of how efficient a single kitchen cabinet might become with extra attention. Pullout storage, like that in the photo, is much easier to access than standard shelving. For seniors and others with physical limitations, pullout shelving can be a blessing.

Hardware to make something like this possible is available at home center stores. If you lack mechanical skills or the necessary tools, you might consider hiring a handyman to install new "guts" in your old cupboards. Or you can contact a local cabinet shop to have one or two cupboards reworked.

Bathroom cabinets are another underused storage space. That's because the under-sink plumbing is awkward to get around. Again, home center stores offer pullout storage bins that can be easily installed under the plumbing. All it takes is a simple drill and a little patience.

Keep in mind that large single drawers are really junk traps. It's human nature to pile stuff in the drawer, creating a mess that constantly has to be picked through in order to find anything. It is advisable to build several shallow drawers for really convenient storage.

Limited space in clothes closets is an irritating problem -- especially for women!

One solution is to move out-of-season clothes to another place. It could be one of the previously mentioned under-the-bed boxes or drawers, another closet, the basement or attic. Items you are emotionally attached to, like a wedding dress, can be boxed.

Finally, if you haven't worn a garment in a year or more, it is a likely candidate for a donation to a local charity.

o Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit

2009 Creators Syndicate, inc.

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