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Organizing Up and Down – a Vertical Makeover

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

If you’ve read the ‘About Me’ section on the right hand side of my blog, you know I grew up in a tight space. My bedroom was 5’x12′ and I had to keep most of what I owned in that room. Because of space constraints I could not spread out much. But I quickly learned that horizontal space was not the only space I had in my room–I also had VERTICAL space.

I have worked with clients in spaces as small as a studio apartment and as large as a mini-mansion. Regardless of the size of the home, I have found that people use horizontal space more often than their vertical space. It is at that point that I remind them of a very basic organizing principle:

If You Can’t Go Outward, Go Upward!

Translation: If you’ve run out of room in your room, buy some products to help you utilize the wall space you didn’t know you had.

Here are a few products that will help you to use your vertical space efficiently:

They’re not just for books–bookcases are perfect for anything you want to store or display. Measure your space from floor to ceiling. Then buy the tallest bookcase you can afford. For ideas, Google, “how to use a bookshelf for storage.” You won’t believe what people are getting off the floor and tabletops and putting on to bookcases… Try IKEA for inexpensive options.

These shelves are ones you mount to the wall. Great for displaying collections, photos, and knick-knacks.

Freestanding Closets
Need extra closet space? Purchase a freestanding closet. Again, buy the tallest one you can fit in your home and make sure it has at least one shelf at the top for extra storage.

If you have low cabinets or don’t have enough, consider cabinets that go to the ceiling. Take advantage of high-up space for things used only once in a while like holiday dinnerware or guest towels.

File Cabinets
Need lots of paper storage? You can buy a file cabinet that is five drawers high instead of two or more that are two drawers high to save on your horizontal space.

Step stool/Stepladder
Unless you’re 7′ tall, you’re going to need a step stool or stepladder to reach your vertical storage places. I recommend having at least one of each depending upon your needs. To reach my high up storage spots, I use a Rubbermaid step stool and a 3-step ladder I got at The Container Store.

When you’ve finished reading this post, take a look through the rooms in you home. Could you use a vertical makeover?

About Stacey Agin Murray

Stacey is a professional organizer & speaker in New Jersey specializing in residential organizing, time, and paper management challenges. She also authored The Organized Bride’s Thank You Note Handbook: Let Systems and 101 Modern Sample Thank You Notes Take You From Overwhelmed to Organized.

Categories: Basic Organizing Principles, Container Store, IKEA


4 responses to “Organizing Up and Down – a Vertical Makeover”

  1. I have a tall cabinet in my home office which holds my printer on an open shelf and various supplies in the drawer and cupboards. You can’t see it, but there’s space behind the decorative trim at the top that could be a good place to store things that aren’t needed very often. I’d have to put them in shoe boxes or other small containers with lids though, to keep the dust out.

  2. You were very wise to ‘go up’ for your storage needs. A sturdy step stool or ladder is one of the most important tools necessary for making that ‘above your head’ space available. A perfect home for infrequently used items!

  3. Jill Robson says:

    I am always looking for new ways to use vertical storage, great list, and who doesn’t love Ikea?

  4. Thanks so much for your kind words, Jill. Vertical storage is often untapped territory in our client’s homes. I think the Billy bookcase from IKEA has been an affordable option for those who discover that yes–the air above them can be used for organizing!

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