Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Tropical Vegan Home - De-cluttering the hallway closet

One of the (many) things I don't like about renting is the lack of good storage space in our unit.  We have a store room for big stuff, like empty luggage, but since we don't own our place, we can't do things like build cupboard/shelving units into the walls, like I would like to.  And since we're in a unit, there isn't heaps of space for furniture like cupboards/shelving units.  And we don't like buying things, generally - partially because we don't like to spend money, and partially because we know we won't live here forever, so it seems silly to buy lots of heavy stuff that we will need to move.

But we've lived in the same place for almost 4 years now, so we've managed to accumulate lots of stuff that needs storing, even though we haven't accumulated any place to store it.  The result of this is that our hallway cupboard has become a catch-all - it is a pantry, a tool box, a craft cabinet, a place to stash cleaning supplies and cat food and anything else that we can't find a home for.  It looked like this:

The top shelf was mainly tools, some craft supplies, and some food.

One level down was a medicine cabinet, of sorts - sun screen, panadol, insect repellent, bandages, etc. And our main 'pantry' items.  And our cookbooks.

Below that was gardening stuff, paperwork, and some more food.

Second from the bottom was linens and cat stuff.

And on the bottom we had the vacuum cleaner, dive gear, and some electronic stuff.

And don't be fooled by my simplified descriptions - there was lots, lots more than this on each and every shelf.  It was a mess.  And, it was a cockroach heaven.  When I had first moved over here, I had the North American mentality that cockroaches are an indication of a filthy lifestyle.  Eventually I realised that they are just part of life in the tropics, and there is little you can do about them, really.  But that doesn't mean I want to make their lives easier by giving them a comfy mess to live in!  And anyways, clutter gives me the heebie-jeebies.  So, I set about fixing the problem.

First, I took out all the paperwork, and filed away things that needed filing.

Then I took out everything from the closet.  I got rid of a fair chunk of stuff, but it was pretty amazing to see just how much stuff we've managed to amass - especially considering that when I moved over here, all of my belongings fit into two suitcases.  This is just the food, and just the food from the hallway closet.  You see, we have a tendency to buy food en masse when it's on special, and we pay no mind to such trivial matters as expiry dates.

We also have a giant plastic box hidden behind the dining table that stores extra bags of flour and spices and so on.

When the cupboard was empty, I cleaned and cleaned every shelf.  I cleaned with bicarb soda, and with vinegar.  Then I wiped with eucalyptus oil, which is a disinfectant and hopefully a cockroach deterrent.  Then Nacho had a final check to make sure everything was sorted as I started putting things back.

Except instead of putting things all willy-nilly, like we had done before, this time there was a method to my madness.  I'll shamefully admit that I even mapped out every shelf on paper to make sure that things fitted properly.  With a bit of careful planning, I could squeeze all of the food, booze and cookbooks onto a single shelf - instead of spread across three or four.

Finally, a few hours later, I had everything that was going back put away.  A lot of stuff was re-homed to more appropriate places, like craft stuff in my craft box in the other room.  A lot of stuff was thrown out, or set aside to be donated.  What went back in, then, was the cream of the crop.  On the top, I put the tools and electronic stuff - Andy uses those more than me, so the fact that I can't really see the shelf isn't such an issue.  I also moved our filing system to the front of the top shelf, because that's easy enough for me to grab.  Below that is all of our food, and then the next shelf down has garden and random household stuff (extra toilet paper, candles, etc).  And our medicine cabinet supplies - with plenty of room to grow.  Further down, linens, office supplies, and cat stuff.  The bottom shelf changed the least - it still houses the vacuum cleaner and Andy's dive gear (which I hadn't yet replaced when this photo was taken).

It's still not perfect, and I still long for the day when I can build a shelf into a wall without forsaking my bond, but at least now I can find the things I am looking for!


Emma said...

I'm impressed :) we've only been in our flat for 1 year and a half adn the amount of crap we have is astounding. Every week we drop off a few more bags of stuff to the salvos haha

Hannah said...

I am in awe. Really. Please come and do this for my room? It's so tiny that "stuff" just builds up in days, and then I just block it out of my mind's eye and keep leaping over piles of papers to reach, say, my bobby pins or a book or...

Millie said...

its small but you sure make every space earn its keep...good job.

Debra said...

Great Job! We just moved and I have been decluttering as unloading.
Blessings, Debra
Raw Vegan Diet

Dee said...

Ha! I hope my TV room whinge was the inspiration for this. It is hard to have such restrictions on space. I don't know if I could survive in a lowset house without all that "basement" to keep things in.

The cat looked very pleased with the results. Hopefully this gets you a few months reprieve from feeling squeezed.

Vaala ◪ said...

That's a pretty good effort. I have a lot of this sort of thing to come in the next month so yeah, any advice you have would be welcome!! said...

Nice job, it looks great now! I need to build some shelves in my lounge but I'm scared they'll get hideously cluttered & annoy me!

Anna said...

I love Nacho's "check" of it all. Those photos are classic. What a character!