A Green Home: Creative Storage

Reader Contribution by Jaci Kennison
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Jaclyn Kennison is a freelance writer living and playing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She owns and manages an art gallery and event venue between fits of shopping and redecorating. 

Over the years as I have continued on my quest to green my life, I have also filled my space with stuff; pants with holes in them, used wrapping paper, boxes and bags–things I imagine I will use, someday, for something. As the space in my 420-square-foot apartment dwindles, I find myself looking around and wondering when ‘going green’ became an excuse for my clutter.

In a fit of organization, I found myself looking around my tiny home wondering how I could declutter and make more space. The answer? Creative storage.

Start by just standing in the middle of each room and taking note of all the elements. Look for the best features of each space and capitalize on those. For me, it’s nine-foot-high ceilings and huge windows. Maybe you have large, window-less walls. Or a balcony. Once you pinpoint your best features–both for storage space and as focal points–you will know what you have to work with, and what you want to work around.

Use books to display decorative pieces that are important to you. Photo By Jaci Kennison.

Next, gather everything you need to store out of sight in one pile, and things you can store in an artistic way in another. Books are almost always appropriate in plain view. Stacks of them can act as small tables, or line shelves with them and add decorative items on top. Be wary of anything that may leave marks on the books though. Plants and candles may not be best suited as book toppers.

Things like framed pictures and art should always be hung when working in small rooms. Standing them on surfaces takes up valuable working space.

When working with items that are seasonal, and should probably be kept out of view–such as holiday décor–consider employing suitcases and trunks. Old military style trunks are perfect for storage and they still look great as tables or benches. Vintage suitcases can be stacked and offer storage for craft items, seasonal clothing and extra towels or blankets.

Built-ins and shelves are ideal, of course. They offer a whole lot of storage potential with a relatively small footprint.

One of the greatest ways to declutter, of course, is to be honest with yourself. Will you ever really get around to making a chandelier out of old cd’s? If not, burn them onto your computer and donate the discs back to a buy-sell-trade media outlet. Pare down your decorative items and keep only those things that truly mean something to you, or that are focal points in your home. Keep that same mantra in mind when shopping vintage stores and so on. Are you willing to give something up to have this new thing in your home? Can it do double duty? Do you really, really love it–does it make your heart jump? If not, leave it there.

Going green means reducing your consumption, reusing what you already have and recycling as much of your essential waste as possible. It can also mean living a simple, uncluttered life.