17 Jan A definitive guide to organising your loft
Lofts and Attics. The abyss over our heads storing everything that we don’t want to see but cannot part with.
If you have one, a loft can make a huge difference to the level of organisation in your main home. The problem however, is that it is all too easy to forget about the things that we have stored up there; adding more and more over time until its practically impossible to get in the door, let alone find what you need!
In this blog, I will guide you through the process of decluttering and organising your loft so that it works for you, so that you can find what you need when you need it, and that all space is truly maximised.
I do admit that organising your loft is not an easy task. However, give it the time and energy that it deserves, and you will reap fabulous rewards. Benefits include:
- The joy of finding something you had completely forgotten about
- Repurposing an old item so you don’t need to buy new
- Creating space in your loft for other items currently cluttering up your living space
- The time you will save by knowing where everything is
On that positive note, take a deep breath and let’s tackle this together, and remember to get in touch if you need more support!
STAGE# 1 Set the parameters of the task
Before you start running up those stairs, throwing yourself through the hatch and organising that loft, you need to think about precisely what you are going to do up there. Do you want to declutter and get rid of some things, or is it more of a tidy up? Do you need to make space to bring up some things from the main house, or do you just want to know what you have?
Whatever you decide is completely fine, it is all progress, but figuring out what you want to achieve in this task is key as it will help you to not feel overwhelmed. A declutter is always good, but if it is more of a consolidation and reorganise that you want, then this will take less time and you can scoot right to stage 5!
STAGE#2 Prepare yourself
Dependent on the scope of the task, the level of preparation required will vary. If you are decluttering, check the opening times of the local charity shop and refuse tip and note what they accept. Purchase some protective sheets for your car if you are moving things yourself or hire a skip if you think you are undertaking a BIG job. It is really important to prepare adequately, as otherwise I guarantee that all of the clutter banished from your loft will just lay around your front door for weeks on end until you get sick of tripping over it all and put it all back in the loft!
I would also grab yourself some spare boxes and receptacles. You don’t need anything purpose-built right now, but just something to help you carry and move your things. Final key preparation is to dress yourself in something that you don’t mind getting dusty and that is comfortable…there is going to be a lot of moving around here!
STAGE #3 Start with the quick wins to gain confidence, momentum…and space!
Decluttering and organising your loft is daunting task. Therefore, I advise starting with some quick wins. If you have any items that you already know that you no longer want, pick them straight up and expel them from the loft! Put them downstairs, run back upstairs to find any other quick wins and do the same with those! Create piles and add one of the following labels; donate, sell, give away, or bin to remind yourself what you are doing with them. Beginning with the easier things will get you into the spirit of things and will also help you create a bit more space to move around. Look around for other quick wins and do the same.
STAGE #4 Leave no stone unturned
Once the quick wins are through, it is time for the nitty gritty of opening every single box and looking at each item in turn. There is no skirting over things allowed here, you need to see everything!
Starting near the loft entrance, open each box/bag/receptacle and take a good look inside. For every item you find, make a choice whether to keep, donate, sell or bin.
If you want to keep things, keep them! But, if you haven’t used the item in a while, are keeping it because it was a gift, or because it was expensive, it is time to get rid, however hard it is. If you are not sure, create a ‘decide later’ pile and decide on these items at the end of the decluttering process.
This will be the most time-consuming part, but keep going until you are through with all of the boxes. Retain all of the ‘keep’ items in the loft and put everything else in clearly labelled piles downstairs- it is here where a passing-down helper would come in super useful!
STAGE #5 Time to organise; putting like with like
At this stage, you are probably surrounded by a lot of half-empty open boxes and wondering how this will ever get better. Do not fear, as things are about to improve dramatically!
The next task is to group similar items together and create boxes or piles of items that are alike. For example, put together all photographs and photo frames, create a specific box for ‘memory items’ and make a dedicated space for any children’s toys or clothes that your little ones to grow into. As you do this, add a quick post-it note to the box to remind yourself what it contains.
Categorising like this will make things easier to find, and will help you edit down further if needs be.
Once you have completed this, you should have all the items that you want to keep, roughly labelled in homogeneous boxes, bags or piles. If you have been ruthless, – or even just very good in categorising- you should have just found yourself a lot more space!
STAGE #6 Clean, Clean, Clean
Once through with the decluttering process, it is a good idea to clean your loft space. If it is a small loft, you may need to get everything out in order to do a thorough clean, but if not, just push everything to one side and clean the vacant space…and then switch. It may not be done again for a good few years so do make it a sterling job!
STAGE #7 Bring up anything else from the house that you want to put in the loft
Next, bring up anything from your main house that you also want to put in the loft. Be selective, as is no longer a dumping ground. Since it is a place that you want to remain organised, everything needs to really deserve the space it is occupying. Christmas decorations are of course a yes, but anything broken, old household items that you will no longer use, or every piece of artwork that your children ever made are no longer allowed.
STAGE # 8 Refine your storage set-up
With everything that you want in the loft now in situ, it is easy to see how much space everything takes up. Now is a good time to check the suitability of your receptacles and storage set-up.
Whilst most things can be stored in vessels found around your home, if you feel that your space would be amped-up by some new storage options, or that your current storage set-up is not adequately protecting your valuable items from loft elements and critters, I recommend these ‘really useful storage boxes’. They are great because they can be sealed tightly, you can see what is inside and they come in a variety of sizes so you can create storage combinations which work for your needs both now and into the future. If space allows, purchase several big boxes (64 or 84 litres), and some smaller ones to be stacked on top.
Once you have all your receptacles, move to each of your piles in turn and -keeping like with like- pack them carefully in appropriately-sized boxes. Larger things such as items of furniture of course don’t need a box, but keep them with similar things. Write out a large label on both the front and side of each box and continue until everything is packed and/or labelled.
STAGE #9 Create the perfect loft layout
Now we are really cooking on gas! Next, we are going to put all the packed boxes in place- and whilst you may be so fed up that you just want to chuck everything in and shut the hatch- thinking carefully about how you are going to arrange things within your loft will ensure that you are not clambering over 5,859 boxes to reach your holiday suitcases.
Things you need soon- or with reasonable regularity- need to be the most accessible, so put them close to the loft entrance or on the top of any stacks you make with your boxes. Sentimental items and things required less frequently can form the bases of stacked boxes, or be placed towards the back of the loft. Try to keep boxes of things that you may use simultaneously close together, make sure that you can see every box, and that the label is clearly visible.
Creating the optimum use of space and ensuring that everything is as accessible will take a few attempts, but it is worthwhile playing around with different combinations to make sure that any extra space you unlocked is well-utilised.
To finish this stage…and thankfully the process of decluttering and organising your loft, sketch a floor-plan of your loft, and map out roughly where you have put everything; spare bedding in that box next to the spare towels, memory boxes to the right with the photographs etc. Affix your masterpiece close to the loft entrance and refer to it when you are trying to remember where the Christmas decorations are 11 months after you last saw them!
STAGE #10 Relish in organised bliss!
Et voila! A step-by-step guide to organising your loft your loft. Was it as bad as you thought? Its ok to say if it was. However, no matter how difficult it was, treat yourself, because if you have completed this task then you are amazing and deserve some form of celebration!
If this post has spurred you on to tackle organising your loft, then I would love to know which tips proved to be the most useful in the comments below. As said, this task will take time, but the benefits are well worth it!
As always, if these tips are not enough and you would like some more dedicated assistance, then do not hesitate to get in touch with Organising Claudia for more dedicated assistance.
Feel free to browse the ‘Tips and Tricks of a Professional Organiser’ page for golden nuggets such as how to organise your wardrobe for the new season, and stay tuned for the next blog on how to make moving house not the most stressful thing that ever happened to you!