Sadly, summer is coming to an end. The air is getting cooler and signaling that it’s now time to put away all of the bikes, beach towels, pool toys, and other summer gear until next year.

So, where does it all go? Likely, into your garage, basement, attic or shed, or a spare closet if you’ve got one. The first step is to designate a space to store everything, so you’ll know where to find it next spring. But, before you put it all away make sure you perform a thorough assessment of “need” and “need-not.” Decide what you want to keep and store and what needs to go. If you didn’t use it all summer then don’t waste precious space storing it all winter.  Also, if anything is broken, ripped, or doesn’t fit anymore, let it go.

Once you have weeded out the “need-nots,” you can start putting things away. The goal here is to get the most stuff in the least amount of space, right? To make the most out of your storage space, try one, or all of these six smart storage solutions.

  1. Wall Racks. There are some versatile wall mounted systems out there, like the Elfa utility system from the Container Store. They offer a variety of mix and match components to handle whatever you’ve got. Try baskets for corralling balls, high shelves for beach chairs, coolers and boogie boards, hooks for lawn and garden tools, and racks for bikes. This will keep things out of the way, but make it easy to get to them once next summer rolls around (I’m counting the days!).
  2. Vertical Storage. Always think “vertical” for small, narrow or shared storage space. Install a pulley system or shelves that hang from your ceiling for things such as bikes and containers. This will work wonders for your spatial arranging. Not only can you more easily clean and sweep the floors when there’s very little stored on them, but this ensures there’s room for things to fit below (like your car in the garage).
  3. Adjustable Shelves: Shelves are always a great solution, but adjustable shelves are even better because you can customize them to fit the bins (see below) and other items that will go on them. Choose sturdy shelves of heavy plastic or metal. Avoid shelves with cardboard or fiberboard if your space is damp or humid.
  4. Water-Proof, Air Tight Bins. Pack small and loose items like summer clothes, summer holiday decorations, picnic supplies, small pool and/or beach toys in sealed plastic bins with lids. This will keep the critters out in the winter — especially if they are stored in a garage, basement or attic. Label the containers for easy identification next spring.
  5. Sports Rack. A freestanding sports rack can hold a variety of items such as golf clubs, bats, balls, tennis rackets and more. These racks work well for items that you don’t want to store too far away and may use all year round.
  6. Storage Bench. Storage benches can be used indoors or out and can offer some much-needed hidden storage for summer items like chair cushions, pool toys or lawn games. Indoors they can hide sandals, beach towels and even bathing suits.

Bonus tip: When organizing your summer stuff, use a zone system: Create zones in your storage space for items like sports gear, yard equipment, beach toys, outerwear, etc. Wall signs or labels will help everyone know where to find and put things back.

Now it’s about time to dig out those sweaters. Happy fall!

By Sarah Buckwalter

Certified Professional Organizer®

Sarah Buckwalter is a Certified Professional Organizer® with over 18 years of experience in home, move and office organization. She is the founder of Organizing Boston. Organizing Boston is the largest professional organizing firm in New England and was awarded Best of Boston Home™, Best Professional Organizer.

Nationally recognized as an organizing industry expert, Sarah shares her expertise through speaking, writing and on television. She is a regular guest blogger for nationwide companies and has appeared several times on the hit series, “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC.

Sarah also runs Organizing U. Organizing U is an online training platform focused on business development, to help Professional Organizers and small business owners achieve their dreams of success.