Home organization is a never ending topic and usually involves things like labeled totes, millions of baskets, and contraptions to hold belts. I have struggled for years with having too much stuff and having it in wacky places because I wanted everything to look neat and tidy. I bought the matching bins, put on pretty on pretty labels, and yet nothing seemed to function that well. And I was always having to redo things like closets and cabinets because even if they were cute when I first set them up, they got messy of over time. I totally neglected the concept of point of use storage at home.
What I want to talk about here is a home organizing philosophy that makes sense.
The most common organizing philosophies are:
Store at point of use.
Store like with like.
Store it where its pretty.
The most commonly used is “like with like”.
For example, a linen closet holds all the linens in the house. They might not be used there or look good there, but it is the linen closet so they go there.
Or take cleaning supplies for example.
This is a page from a Martha Stewart organizing magazine, one of the ones that is super overpriced at the grocery store checkout.
Pretty, right? The caption at the bottom says this will keep your cleaning supplies organized. And it looks so nice. So this cleaning closet follows the second and third principles: like with like, and store where it’s pretty.
But this cleaning closet is a terrible idea because it makes your life harder, not easier. It ignores the concept of storing things where they are used, and it just doesn’t function.
Who is going to run downstairs to their basement cleaning station every time something in the house needs to be cleaned? And then back down to put the supplies away? No one. And that means that over time, cleaning products will be all over the house and that distant closet will be a neglected mess.
So…what is a more practical organizing philosophy?
Let’s discuss point of use storage at home, starting with the example of cleaning products.
Instead of a cleaning closet, think of WHERE you need those cleaning products. The bathrooms and the kitchen usually, and of course sometimes they are needed everywhere. The bathroom can be very easily store an all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, rags, and a roll of paper towels. Every bathroom can have this.
And magically, you will find that your bathroom is always clean.
It is no trouble to clean it quickly once every day or so because everything is right there. You have organized that one element of your home is a way that makes sense, and that one aspect of life will be easier.
Another good example of point of use storage at home. This is from the same magazine:
A closet at the back door for all the things you might need at that location! With a stepstool, where it is needed. Now within this beautiful closet/ cabinet, things are organized by the secondary principles, store like with like, and make it pretty.
But this back door closet is mostly organized with the principle of point of use storage at home, and it will function forever.
Here are some ways you can use point of use storage at home to help organize your spaces:
-Put your bread right by the toaster instead of in the pantry. Use a bread box or a drawer right below.
-If you do board games and puzzles in the dining room or kitchen, store them in your china cabinet or a cabinet or hutch near the kitchen table
–Set up a baking corner in your kitchen so all your most frequently used ingredients are at your fingertips
-Use the top shelf of each bedroom’s closet to store the linens and towels that go in that room.
-Put your laundry hampers where you get undressed, not in the laundry room
-If you like to read in the living room, put bookshelves in there, instead of keeping all your books in a study no one uses
-Give up on having your family use the coat closet if it’s not by the main door you use. Put some hooks up by that entrance and see if they can limit it to one coat at a time so it doesn’t look too bad.
With point of use storage at home, there will be some things stored in places that will only make sense to you.
I store some things in strange places that have made my life much, much easier. An extra kids hairbrush with clips and ties in the kitchen junk drawer. They always come down with it looking messy, so I fix it while they color at the kitchen table. And below the junk drawer I store their coloring and craft supplies. I was struggling with where to store my wrapping paper, until I realized I always do it on the living room floor so I have lots of space. So all the wrapping supplies are in a shallow box under the sofa.
You will also have a few duplicates of items that are used in multiple spots.
I have matches above the fireplace, in a china cabinet drawer for taper candles, and in the kitchen for jar candles. Cleaning supplies I’ve already mentioned. Scissors might be all over the place. That’s fine.
What if you buy things in bulk?
I do too. What I do is keep a reasonable supply in my point of use areas, and keep the rest in a less accessible location. To make things easy on myself, this is all in my basement on a ten foot long shelf. Every thing from extra pens to toilet paper to home canned food to spare homemade soap lives down there. When I run out of anything, I go to the basement to see if it’s there.
You might prefer to use a linen closet for things that are bedroom related, and an inconveniently located walk in pantry for your food. That would probably make more sense, but this way just keep me from getting confused.
These downsides aren’t a big deal to me in comparison to how much easier things are now that everything at home is organized by point of use.
I know this all seems very obvious, but believe me in many cases it is not. Think about how you really use your rooms and what is needed in each. Just think: Where do I use this?