Winter Organizing

It’s time to hunker down for winter. Chilly days mean cozy blankets, extra pillows and lots of winter gear to keep warm until spring. It can be tough to keep your home clutter-free with all of these additional accessories around. To help combat a winter storage nightmare, we gathered expert tips and tricks.

“We are big proponents of storing bulky items like blankets, floor pillows and wraps in good-looking containers made from natural materials like seagrass,” says Olescia Hanson, spokesperson for The Container Store, which recently opened its first Long Island location in Westbury. “They are a great solution for keeping your clutter organized while also lending a nice complement to your home’s existing décor.” For the winter months, Hanson recommends white-washed wooden bins for storing oversized blankets, sweaters, mittens and scarves.

“I love these not just for textiles but they are also great for magazines, slippers, even craft supplies,” she says. “When the weather’s bad, so many of us seem to settle in with a DIY project or catch up on our reading. Having a few extra storage bins around gives us a place to corral it in.”

A great way to prevent snow boots, hats, gloves, umbrellas and similar gear from cluttering up your home is to tackle it right at the front or back door. “Assign a large bucket, basket or bin to each family member and place it wherever they enter and exit your home,” says Marc Thee of Marc-Michaels Interior Design in New York City. “That way, everyone is responsible for their own clutter management.”

It’s very likely that sweaters, cardigans and sweatshirts are on heavy rotation when it comes to wardrobe. To keep them clean and contained, Hanson suggests a three-step storage process: Clean, contain, repel. “Protecting your wardrobe from things like dust and bugs is key to preserving their life,” she explains. “Cleaning your items, especially before it’s time to pack them away until next winter, is an important step. Moths and carpet beetles, the primary pests that can cause damage, are attracted to natural fibers like wool and cotton. They also feed on organic stains within synthetic fibers.”

imageWhen it comes to proper storage, think about the types of items and space you have. If you’re running out of hanging space in your closet, invest in a freestanding closet. If you have extra shelf space, stack bulky items vertically. “Sweaters, especially those that are handmade or made from delicate materials, need to be folded,” she explains. “But rather than simply storing them on an empty shelf, it’s important to keep them well protected. Archival storage boxes are a great solution and can be stacked neatly on a shelf or the floor.”

If stacking space is limited in your closet, use storage bags instead. Hung from a rod or simply tossed on a shelf or under the bed, they store items more efficiently than bulkier boxes. If shoes are your clutter culprit, place those worn most frequently on lower shelves so they are easily accessible and place less-frequently worn shoes in protective clear shoeboxes so they’re out of the way.

Finally, use all-natural cedar to repel pests. The essential oils in aromatic cedar give off a scent that people love, yet they repel adult moths and carpet beetles. Be sure to check if the scent fades throughout the season. If it does, Hanson suggests a quick rub with sandpaper or use a mist of cedar spray to restore its potency.

Now that you’ll be spending even more time at home, the popular gathering spot, the kitchen, might be in need of a little extra attention. “Most kitchens have what I call ‘island clutter syndrome,’” says Thee. “Everyone dumps their mail, to-do lists, school paperwork and more on this kitchen workhorse. An easy way to fix this problem is to create an organizational system on the back of a pantry door or similar space.”

Thee suggests hanging metal mail bins and designate a few for bills and other important documents that need immediate action then designate another for lower priority items. A calendar with a corkboard or magnetic white board is also a good idea to keep all of those winter activities and invitations in order, keeping them off the counters and up high where everyone can see them.

If tackling clutter, be it big or small, seems like a daunting task this winter, imagine how much of an easier time you will have when it’s time to freshen up your home for spring. They’ll be less work (everything will be properly stored) and your spring-cleaning will be a breeze.

lauren debellis

A former magazine editor, Lauren DeBellis has been writing and producing stories about home decorating and design for nearly ten years. She resides in East Northport with her husband.