Summer is just around the corner, and that means we will be spending more time outside. This can bring some welcome relief to well-used family rooms and bedrooms, but it can also bring a new set of challenges. How do we organize all of the outside supplies?
Since everyone’s living situation is different, there is no single answer. But a few principles apply to any space, including outside.
1. Sort first. Don’t automatically drag out everything from last year. Ask yourself, “Will I/my family really use this item this year?” Get rid of anything that you are tired of, is broken, or your family has “grown out of.”
2. Designate boundaries. Frequently, our belongings get out of control because we buy first, store second. Instead, begin by defining “storage zones” in your space (cooking, sandbox, rolling/riding toys, sporting areas…) Let the physical limitations of these spaces help you decide how much to put out. You don’t need every sporting good on the lawn at once. If you have a garage, allocate some space inside for various summer supplies (maybe you park outside in the summer to free up space.) Another option is to build/buy a shed or storage container if you need one.
3. Define “put away.” Frequently we tell the kids, “Go clean up!” In order for kids to comply (and for parents to be happy with the result,) we need to begin by establishing a “home” for all the items. Where will wet bathing suits and towels go? Do you care if the hose is coiled up and hung? Where should children put sidewalk chalk when they are finished? Where should athletes put their sports gear? Having a bag per activity can help, all hung on a row of hooks. Also, consider adding labels as it is easy to forget what goes where, especially as we transition to a new season.
4. Remember the weather. Frequently you see beautiful spreads in catalogs and magazines for patios, decks and backyards. While these are lovely, remember that you are looking at staged photos. If your entertaining areas are exposed to the elements, restrict the amount of decor you leave out 24/7 to durable, weather resistant pieces only. Allocate weather-safe storage for more delicate pieces.
To give you a bit of inspiration, I’ve trolled through my “Outside Organizing” Pinterest page to share a few creative ideas…
Hang some hooks on a fence and suspend buckets for children’s weatherproof toys.
Attach an flower box to the side of a sandbox to hold the shovels and supplies.
Hang or install a mailbox near the garden to hold gardening gloves and supplies.
Use a galvanized metal bin with a topper as a coffee table on a deck or patio. Keep necessary items inside for a quick setup.
Hang a row of peg hooks under the overhang of an entry to make an outside “mudroom” for wet items. Paint the hooks to make them match the siding if you want them to fade away.
Make a simple and affordable side table for an outside area with a large flower pot and its matching saucer inverted as the tabletop. Store small items inside.
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Being outdoors is one of the best parts of the season. A bit of planning now will make the entire summer more pleasant for everyone.
What’s your best trick for storing an item outside of your home?