Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Got a 17,000 Square Foot Attic? Here's Some Organizing Advice.

 Here's an article by Candy Spelling (wife to Aaron, mom to Tori and Randy) on how she organizes her 17,000 square foot attic. I'm sure it will come in useful to you!

"My attic, like most things in my life, is oversized. At 17,000 square feet, it’s larger than the condominium where I plan to move.  But, I’ll write about downsizing another time (just the word causes me great anxiety), and, instead, invite you in to this special part of my haven.  I know that, when people think “attic,” they usually visualize stuffing things away and going back “someday” to sort them out. Not me; I’m not only a chronic sorter, but I think more of the attic as “my special storage space” than “out of sight, out of mind.”

Candy's 17,000 square foot attic
Candy's 17,000 square foot attic

One friend said, “You treat Randy and Tori’s school awards as importantly as Aaron’s big TV statues.”  I liked that. Each item is a piece of our lives, and they deserve better than to be poorly packed away until the dreaded clean-out-the-attic day finally arrives.  I actually look forward to going to the attic and climb up there at least four or five times a week, and sometimes every day. There’s too much of our lives up there to be stuffed, piled and forgotten.

We’ve collected a lot of stuff, and I wasn’t sure where to start. So, I studied storage areas in hardware stores, hotels and big box retailers to figure out the best way to keep the original floor plans, architectural drawings and charts that show what’s connected to what and how to find the wiring for every piece of equipment in the house.  I have almost a hundred different kinds of light bulbs (for everything from koi pond reflectors to French lampposts), plus unique duplicates of every carpet, wall covering, upholstery fabric, stone, and paint used in the house. Everything is labeled, and I even wrote stories about some of the rare items, such as the tale of how I found the silk for our entry hall walls.

I’ve organized and captioned everything from Aaron’s amazing career, so a large part of my attic looks and reads like a "TV Guide" from a past decade with his scripts, photos, memorabilia, notes, videos and awards from the thousands of hours of TV he produced.  Next to scripts from "The Love Boat" for example, I have a display of family photos from our cruise, photos of the cast, awards the show received and even a TV version of a cruise ship captain’s uniform.  It’s like being on “The Love Boat,” without ever getting seasick.  Multiply that times “Dynasty,” “Fantasy Island,” “The Mod Squad,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” and dozens of other shows, and people feel like they’ve stepped back into their favorite parts of TV nostalgia instead of a climate-controlled attic.

Holidays have always been very special times for me, so decorations take up a lot of space. Nothing makes a home a haven more than celebrating the holidays with festive and special items.  So, I have 59 boxes of Easter decorations, filled with everything from bunny costumes Tori and Randy wore (soon headed for Liam and Stella), to every shape and color of Easter eggs for the children from various charity organizations who come over to hunt for Easter eggs. More attic space is devoted to Christmas than any other holiday.  In fact, I have 180 boxes of Christmas decorations, which hold everything from the seven-foot toy soldiers who greet visitors outside in December, to the Mrs. Claus dresses I put on my dolls.

A big dilemma was organizing all these different memories.  I have labeled every box (“big white rabbit husband and wife drinking tea” and “cushions from Tori’s Sweet 16 party” are examples), and I have photos on the outside of every box.  I often thought I solely supported Polaroid for years because I took almost as many photos of decorations as I had actual decorations.

I always liked walking into public libraries because I appreciated the organization and order. I realized that I used some of those old filing systems for my attic over the years, but with a much warmer feel to it.  After all, my attic is full of years in the lives of Aaron, Tori, Randy and Candy.  I want to be able to visit those times whenever I can.

Here are some tips to make your attic more of an attraction than a house of horror.

Candy's Storage Tips:
1) Be discriminating.  Everyone’s attic holds something special, or else the items should be in the trash, not in your home. So, for those special memories – even if you’re not as compulsive as I am to check on them all the time – you want to make sure they are protected and easy to find.

2) Label your items as you put them away.  Don’t put this off, or chances are, they’ll just get piled and pushed and never be where you want them.

3) There are great storage boxes, cabinets, holders and files today, available everywhere from the local discount store to the storage stores. Get those that are designed to hold photos or clothes or books, to make sure they stay in good condition and protect your valuables against the elements in a cold or warm or musty attic.

4) Look for acid-free tissues, boxes or wrappers to store your valuables and delicate items. Archival storage solutions are available from many retailers, container stores and online photo accessory retailers, and it’s worth finding it.  No matter how carefully you may pack some items, they still might wilt over time if not stored in an acid-free environment.

5) Take photos of what you’re storing, and number each box with a Sharpie or long-lasting ID.  Keep the records in a scrapbook, three-ring notebook or on your computer, along with a drawing or map of the attic to show where you placed each item. The reference numbers and maps will certainly be useful when you need to find something. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

6) Check in on your attic from time to time and don’t be afraid to move things around.  You might also want to move some things back downstairs to be more prominent in your life again. Life moves very quickly, and there’s no reason to shut out the past."