Prioritizing Your Spare Room

By Kathi Burns

I currently reside in a 3Br/2Ba Apt with my husband and daughter. Our spare bedroom is a MESS. It's a computer room, ironing room, guest room and storage room. I really need some organization in there. With such limited space, I just don't have the ideas that a professional would. I am to the point now of frustration and I need to clean up. I do have a garage to store items also, but I am nervous about what to store there due to mold, etc…

Answer: Think about the many activities that take place in your spare room and decide which activities take priority. Can some activities be delegated to other areas within your home? Gather a few plastic bins, empty boxes and trash bags.

After determining which activities will take place in your second bedroom, take inventory of the contents in this room. Are there items there that don't belong with these activities? For instance, if this is a computer/ironing/guest room, can the hundreds of DVDs and video games find a new home in the living room by your television? Can you store your winter clothes under the bed in your master bedroom?

You will be best served by moving your storage items to the garage. Before you begin moving these boxes, empty them and decide if you still have a good reason to keep every item. Many times, we decide to keep things and years later, if we think about it, we will decide that we don't need them anymore. If we don't think about it, items have the tendency to remain in storage for the duration of our lives never to see the light of day again.

If you have boxes of books, which many of us do, consider whether you could find them later at a library or online if you decided to actually read them again. Donate extra books to your local library. Books are better read than stored. The library will resale them to raise money for future book purchases.

Once you decide which storage items must go back into storage, move these out of your spare room and into containers. Plastic tubs with tight fitting lids function well in garage areas.

If you are concerned about mildew, buy "Damp-Rid" packets to absorb the excess moisture. Remember to empty the water collection units regularly. Store your bins off the floor on wood or concrete blocks if your garage is prone to flooding.

After moving things to the garage, box or bag your trash and donations and take them to the dumpster or your car for transport to your favorite charity.

Use the closet in your multi-purpose room to supplement the planned activities. Find new homes for the items that don't suit the intended purpose of your guestroom. Make certain that the items in your spare bedroom are compatible with your planned activities. Create separate zones for each task within the room, whether it is ironing or working on the computer.

Once these steps are completed, you will have a functional space and feel less overwhelmed. With any luck, your guests will also have an empty spot in the closet to hang their clothes. Good luck!

Kathi Burns, founder of AddSPACE to Your Life!, is a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist, Speaker, Professional Organizer and Image Consultant based in San Diego. She can be reached at 760.436.4266 or by email:

Also see:
Setting Up Your Home Office
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