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Organizing a Room I Have Never Shown You

I have a room, well actually a space in my house that I have never shared with you before. It is a space that I am thankful to have, but it is not pretty.

In fact, this space is pretty ugly…it is brown and has no windows… YUCK!… not the kind of space I could ever be happy with, but one that I have no plans to change to be “blog-post-worthy” or “Pinterest pretty”.

I wasn’t going to show this space to you, since I figured no one would like it, but when I thought more about that, it became the reason I decided I should show it to you.

Organizing storage in an attic

My never shared with you space is a small walk-in attic on the landing at the top of my foyer steps. It is where I store my seasonal decor and other decorative stuff like fake flowers, throw pillows, vases, frames and decor that I keep to repurpose into something else.

In my previous house I had both a large attic and basement where I stored all kinds of stuff from furniture, seasonal decor, project supplies and more. In previous posts I showed you how I organized each area with neatly stacked clear bins with pretty labels. When we moved, I gave away 50% of it.

In the lake house there is no basement and only this small attic for storage along with a closet in the game room where I store fabric and craft supplies that go beyond what I keep in my studioffice.

Messy and unorganized attic storage area

In this small attic, I still have the labeled clear bins from my previous house, but they have all been reorganized and labeled. I can no longer stack them high to be able to walk right up to them to read the labels and pull one out.

In the 3 years that I have lived in the house, I have kept this attic space pretty much as you see it,  usually a bit more organized, but always thinking in the back of my mind that I “should” rework the whole space to make it blog worthy with pretty photos of perfectly stacked bins that are all color coded for each season with white built-in shelves, a pretty light fixture and new flooring.

But then I asked myself, WHY?

Un-organized attic storage

I know where everything is in here. The space works just fine for my needs, no jaw dropping before and after makeover needed. In our Pinterest perfect world it has become the norm to expect grand all the time.

Well, I am here to tell you…it is OK if it is not grand as long as whatever it is, works for your needs and as Marie Kondo says…brings you joy.

This space brings me joy… joy in that I have a closed-off space to store stuff that is easy to get to. Even though it is small with an awkward to move around in slanted ceiling, it is my place. I call it my very own HomeGoods.

When I am changing the decor in a room for the season or on a whim, I go to my attic HomeGoods to find joy in the fact that I can find something to use or repurpose into something new and decorative.

What the space did need though… was a serious purge!  I couldn’t put my Christmas decorations away until I cleared out some space which made it the perfect time to do a deep purge so I could reorganize the contents.

Stacked box storage in small attic

No BIG After reveal… but I know there has been a big change in this storage space that I made happen by purging and then organizing what was left in a way that makes me happy.

It may still look a mess to your eye, but I know what each stack, bin, basket and box holds. Christmas, Autumn, Summer or Spring decor. Not all have a label on the side, but they do on the top so that if it is not in a clear bin, I know what is in the box without having to open it.

Small attic used as a place for seasonal decor storage

Many of the items won’t fit into a bin or box easily, so I keep them out on the open shelves. It kind of feels like I am shopping at HomeGoods or the thrift store, but I am shopping my attic without the need of any cash.

When I was cleaning things out, I even vacuumed the rug. :-) .

My Easy Organizing a Room Method

My only organizing strategy was to group like items together.  Nothing color-coded or stacked in perfect unison. Your space will of course be different, but grouping like items is the easiest way to get things organized and to keep a room organized.

  • Seasonal decor in labeled clear bins or boxes.
  • Throw pillows and fake flowers in plastic garbage bags.
  • Vases and tabletop items on the shelves.
  • Big and flat items stacked against the wall.
  • Light and odd shaped items beyond the studs. Out of the way, but easily reached.

Frame storage in attic

Everything stored in here has passed my editing criteria of stuff I want to keep. You may recognize some of it from past projects and decor I have created for my home.

So if you are procrastinating about organizing a room, closet or an area in your home because you think it will be too costly or overwhelming to have to make it a Pinterest perfect space, then I am here to tell you that although these spaces look dreamy when we see photos of them online, in books and magazines, it is not reality for all of us.

Simply purging a closet, room or drawer and organizing it in a way that will make sense to you is all that is needed.

The positive results from doing what feels right to you, organizing big or small, or in almost anything you do, will be a total WIN that can bring you joy that is perfect for you… and you alone.

I know each of you has your own method of keeping your house and home organized that is just right for your needs. Take joy in this fact alone, you may not think much of it, but the traits and things we all personally do to our homes with individual flair add up to enlighten others without us even knowing it. We don’t see our own personal way of doing things from their perspective.

It is when we think we need to copy or follow the dictates of some arbitrary source like perfectly styled Pinterest images.

The next time you find yourself doubting the way you do things in your home, turn the tables.  Cherish the way you organize, decorate or live. Realize that others are inspired by you, just as much as you are inspired by them.

Take pride in the fact that you organize your kitchen cabinets in a way that is ultra efficient.  You think it is nothing, that anyone can do it, but your neighbor thinks it is terrific, since no matter how hard she tries she can never get her organization to the same level.

diana Vreeland Quote

Home organizing and storage ideas that are not Pinterest perfect that anyone can do for free.

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46 Comments

  1. Diane, I love the way you look at things in life. I always feel so much better after reading your explanations! Suddenly I feel quite ‘special’, Thank you, Diane!☺️

  2. I really love this mindset for storing my extra stuff.. which is all the bits and pieces I want to make over for other uses. And the stuff I would use to do that. My space may look a mess but I usually know where where to find it.

  3. If you ever come back to visit, I will have to have you stop by and see my storage area. All I can say is, “stupid builders”….

  4. Hello, Diane; Your place looks swell even in it’s messiest of messes! I expected as much! I’m in the middle of a purge now myself. I need to rent a truck just to take things to the Goodwill! Take care!

    1. Hi Cindy – Thanks for taking the time to say hi and for reading my blog. I enjoy keeping things real. If I strived for perfection, I would never be able to finish any project. I prefer real… it gives things character. :-)

  5. Thank you for this refreshing change in a blog post! I will never be blog-post- worthy- organized but better than most. It was delightful to know that we all have our special areas that are ‘good enough’.

  6. Planning a springtime move. Thanks for giving me incentive. Must get to planning and purging!
    Your organization tips are so helpful.
    Love that you share the real! Not always perfect!

  7. Awesome post! It gives those of use with purging to do a bit of hope for the future. I will never have a clear bin organized place, but I do generally know where everything is located…and when I don’t I have to clean. Thanks for the reminder of how REAL people live

  8. Thank you for showing a real space! This is what most of my home looks like: not Pinterest-worthy, but organized and we know where everything is. Thank you for pointing out that that is all that is really necessary for your home to bring you joy!!
    Love your blog!

  9. Hi Diane,
    Please have a look at this blog I wrote on interior design trends for 2019 and let me know what you think:

  10. Hi Diane, You have made really great use of this space. How nice that you have shelves between the studs to put things on. To me organized only means being able to find what you need. Your closet fills the bill.
    Thanks for the delightful post.

  11. Oh lord… this attic looks identical to the one I had growing up in a decrepit old Midwestern farmhouse from the ’20s. Ours had no carpet–we had plain, gapping floorboards that always shifted as you walked on them. And wasps always built their nests around our bare bulb. And there were always more spiderwebs. And you could see outside through the gaps in the wall.

    But other than that, it’s totally identical! All the storage spaces and how you lined things up, pictures frames and all! I was beginning to wonder if nobody else stored things in an attic. Normally the only attics you see people mention are the ones as big as an actual room, lol.
    Thanks for the post, Diane. It certainly makes me happier. :)

  12. Wish, wish I had a space like that. Mine is a pull down attic and like one of your previous commenters (is that a word?)
    I am afraid every time I go up there I am going to fall getting things in and out. All my closets are stuffed and even though I have purged a lot of things, I still have things I don’t want to get rid of. Too much Christmas, I know. Oh well, enjoy your space! I’m happy for you!

  13. I’m so happy to see someone who will show spaces as they are in real life. Pinterest can leave you feeling inadequate if don’t have all of the right xxx. I love your after photo. It is organized and you are right, it works for you. That’s a much more achievable standard. I wish more people would share things like this.

    I’ve been making my way through some of your older posts. I loved the one with the DVD covers from old movies. Genius. Wish I had kept those.

  14. Thanks for your blog post about your attic storage. I totally agree that it is paralyzing to feel you have to have that “Pinterest” perfect home!
    As a retired art teacher (41 years) I have tons of art supplies and stuff! I now refinish furniture and have a small business in our local barn so there is more stuff in our basement. I spent the day covering mismatched cardboard boxes and labeling them with all my craft supplies and I had a fabulous time. Thanks for your honest transparent look at our homes
    If I knew how to send you a picture of my space I would but I am not that savvy

  15. Diane- this has nothing to do with your post, but in one of the photos it looks like your roof has a leak or had a leak before- possibly around the black vent pipe going through the roof where the plywood has buckled. If
    the leak is new it is probably from the roof flashing going bad. If old please disregard this comment.

    Have a good weekend.

  16. Thanks! It’s nice to see some reality in a Pinterest pretty world. Organization works different for every person. Marie Condo is lovely. I embrace her concept of joy but if I like stuff. I enjoy how you reimagine your space, your possessions and your life. I appreciate the way you share how you do things and the pitfalls along the way. Thanks again for sharing a very workable space. You rock!

  17. THANK YOU!
    I went somewhere recently, the craft space was a thing to behold, perfectly organized. At first I felt bad about my messy space, then I realized that perfect space did nothing to inspire me. I know there is a happy medium. Every so often I go through and tidy up. I need to now, but I always remind myself, people are more important than everything being clean and organized. Spending time with my elderly parents or my grandkids is way more fun. Maybe when I retire I will get anything done, but I doubt it! Thanks!

  18. Love the real, practical post! Thanks for the reminder that we don’t have to have a perfect, or even near perfect, situation, to still be able to organize what we have!

  19. I don’t have an attic and if I did it would have to be overhead storage, which I avoid like the plague. Too many chances for an accident. I also don’t have a basement . I’m old, live alone and avoid carrying things up and down stairs when I can. I do however have a 2 car garage and only 1 car, so my messy but handy storage is in one side of my garage. I have some shelving on which I have much of what I see in your attic – decor I’m not currently using, picture frames, swapped out rugs, labeled bins and storage boxes, etc. Like you, I know what’s there and every Spring I sort through it along with the items I’ve brought from the house all year long to add to the “pile.” That’s when I have a garage sale and my next door neighbor says he can’t wait to see what I’m getting rid of this year. Since I go in and out frequently, and my “stuff” isn’t stashed away unseen, it doesn’t get out of hand. I think everyone should have such a non-decorated space.

  20. Yes, and amen! I love seeing the resourceful, beautiful rooms–and I also love seeing regular, everyday rooms like this. Not everyone can (or wants to) decorate their attic, basement, or laundry room. Stand proud near the eaves of your private Home Goods store!

  21. I have basically the same attic space, however we have pull down stairs. Our AC unit and heater are also in this space. You cannot really even stand up in there.

    A year ago I was putting Christmas decorations up in the attic, and my foot slipped when I was trying to get to the stairs to get down. You have to be an acrobat to get to those darn stairs. Anyway, I cracked 4 teeth, bit through my bottom lip and hurt my back. Not to mention bruised all the way to my waist.

    I try to stay out of the attic now. But there are some things that just have to go up there. I just have to find a safer way.

    Oh thanks for the tip on calling senior housing to see if they have thrift shops. The big one here only allows residents, family and staff to utilize the store. But I found 2 smaller places and a new thrift store that just opened up.

    Another thanks, Lemon cake was absolutely wonderful.

  22. Thanks for sharing Diane. We are getting ready to move to SC from the land of basements and I have a ton of purging to do. I hope I end up with some attic space like yours!

  23. Thanks for keeping it real, Diane! Oh, to have even a small attic! Luxury! :-) We have added some loft spaces, but they’re hard for me to access, so I have to rely on my husband or son. I’m glad to have them, though! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Hi Diane …I would give anything to have a storage room like that.I live ina condo with no storage other than a big wooden box on my patio whic holds all my Christmas decoration. You cannot be a hoarder in a condo I am trying to downsize to make more room. Spring will soon here….Batty Baker from Ontario, Canada

  25. Personally, I’m happy to see your never-before-seen storage area. A while back, I asked (kind of tongue in cheek) if you ever ate a sandwich off of a paper towel standing over the kitchen sink…asked because everything always looks so nice. Well, seeing that room makes me think, “well, yeah…I bet she has her *kitchen sink sandwiches on occasion”. And that makes me feel GRRREAT. And normal. _:)

  26. Your post is giving me ideas about how to use a small area in our garage and a now-cluttered bedroom closet to store home decor items that are not being used. What a dream to have a walk-in attic space! You have made great use of it.

    1. Hi Regina – Thanks – I do love that the attic is so easily accessible, I have never had that before in any house I have lived in. Always had to pull down a folding staircase that was in a closet or hard to reach area.

      Enjoy getting the area in your garage organized to fit your needs.

  27. Hi Diane,

    I LOVE your blog and enjoy reading about your many DIY’s. It’s so good to see a real life space that reminds me so much of my own attic space; not Pinterest worthy, but functional. I have one suggestion for you. About 20 years ago, in an effort to get down from my scorching south Florida attic in the middle of the summer, I leaned into the bare lightbulb and heard my skin sizzle off. The burn was so severe and took many months to heal. I still have the 2 inch round scar all these years later. I found an inexpensive clip on light cover to make certain that I never have that happen again. While it’s certainly nothing to look at, it can prevent a serious injury. Please think about getting one so you don’t ever have to go through what I did. Keep up the wonderful blog…… your decorating ideas are unparalleled!!!

    1. Hi Kathy – Sorry to hear that you were badly burned and scarred from the exposed lightbulb in your attic. I am glad I decided to post the post since you may have saved me from getting burned :-( Your suggestion is a good one. I will look for a clip-on shade next time I am out shopping.

      1. I purchased the plastic clip on light cover in Home Depot many years ago but don’t know if they are still available in the retail store. I see Amazon’s choice has one identical to mine for $10.59. Hope that helps!

      2. I now use LED bulbs! They don’t get hot like the bulbs of 20 years ago.h

        And I would love to shop your Home Goods attic!

    1. Hi Elaine – I used to have a lot more of it, but over the years my collection has dwindled down. Yesterday I was out shopping with a friend. At one antique mall, there was an entire booth set up with blue and white pottery. It was quite pretty and had me thinking of way to use what I have more.

  28. Now, THIS is a REALLY inspiring article.

    I am a very messy person, but sometimes, in that accidental juxtaposition of objects, ideas, colors, shapes, I get inspiration.

    I like your room after AND before!!

    1. Thanks Helen – Perfect isn’t all it is cracked up to be. I agree with what you said about the… accidental juxtaposition of something can be very inspiring too. :-)

  29. You can find really good ideas for storage like this on posts about garage storage. Nifty tricks and stuff. Bet you could put your husband to work! ;o)