Cupboards high, cupboards low, closets in every room and hall, under-bed bins, old trunks, attics, basements, shelves of all sorts — architects and furniture designers have become very clever at creating storage in what used to be simply, for example, a window seat or an ottoman. An excess of storage might seem like a blessing but I argue that it can be a curse. It’s time to talk about Deep Storage.

Here’s what I call Deep Storage:

  • Any storage that you have to get a ladder out to access
  • Any storage that requires a flashlight to view the contents
  • Any storage that necessitates you leave the house (such as the garage)
  • Any storage that requires you drive somewhere
  • The very back of very deep cupboards
  • Storage that can’t be opened unless a bunch of stuff is removed from the top of it (such as a trunk piled with books)
  • Storage that when featured in movies almost always results in someone tumbling down a steep flight of stairs to their death (basements and cellars)

I’m sure there are other Deep Storage examples, but those will give us a start. In contrast to Deep Storage is Prime Real Estate, which by my definition is storage that is effortless to access, is at the level between the hips and shoulders so that you do not have to reach or bend, and that is in a logical, clean, well-lighted place for what it stores.

Things that are used most frequently should be stored in Prime Real Estate (favorite sweaters and T-shirts, flatware, a spatula). Items that are less often used should be stored in a less-than-prime area, but still in a reasonable ball park (dresses, suit jackets, the good silver, a turkey baster). So what is left for Deep Storage?

Items that are used only annually should definitely go into Deep Storage. Holiday decorations, for example. If not too heavy, the attic or high shelves in the garage could be ideal. Heavier items could go in a basement or on lower garage shelves (of course, keep the whole category together, heavy or light, once you’ve decided on where it will go).

Memorabilia and photographs are easily relegated to Deep Storage for most people. In this case though, an attic may be too hot and a garage or basement too damp. Trunks, very high or very low cupboards and upper shelves in closets work well.

Entertaining items that are used less than once a month can also go in the very upper kitchen cabinets or that tough to get at cabinet above the refrigerator. Table linens that aren’t for every day can easily be stored in lower drawers of a buffet or china cabinet or lower shelves in a linen closet.

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You get the idea. But even better might be to try not to fill up your Deep Storage. For example, photographs and memorabilia, once put into deep storage, never seem to get looked at, let alone organized. If at all possible, why not find a spot in a bookcase or living room cupboard where they might be enjoyed from time to time?

As we get older, it is even more crucial to keep our things in areas we can easily reach and access. Most of us don’t have household help to get up on ladders or bend over to lift things like the lead-heavy Kitchen Mixer from the floor of the pantry.

Once you move your most used and loved possessions into Prime Real Estate storage where they belong, review everything above, below and outside those areas and determine what can be tossed, given away or sold. For example, extra first aid supplies and old medications often get stashed under the guest bathroom sink and are (to me) and easy category to let go.

Try living with some empty upper cupboards or an empty guest room closet. It will feel odd to leave a storage spot vacant but I bet you’ll love the order and ease it brings to the house.

Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer living in the Napa Valley. For more about her services, go to houseinorder.com or call 707-738-4346.

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