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Kickass Ways to Organize Your House and Your Preps

Organizing your home is for survival is more than buying in a whole lot of gear, packing it in boxes then sitting back until TEOTWAWKI… or simply making lists of the contents of cupboards.  Life happens, kids move things around, stuff doesn’t last – so what can folks do to make their daily lives easier day with an increasing stockpile?

Water stashing

If you are in an apartment or house keep at least 4 glass containers each with 1 gallon of water in the fridge for emergency drinking water. Replenish them regularly from either municipal supplies if the water is good or buy bottled water.

Have a stock of at least 4 gallon containers stashed in the apartment. Purchased water in plastic containers often has expiry dates listed– note these dates in your diary/phone planner so you can use and replenish. If water is in clean, dark glass containers and stored in a cool dark place it should last, in theory, indefinitely. The dark glass keeps the sunlight out, which could stimulate bacteria growth.

Water bricks

These are easy to stack up and store in a small space. They are also easy to carry when you need to find a place to refill them. They can also be used for storing dry good like beans, lentils, and rice – the screw on lids can’t pop off like some plastic containers do allowing in damp and insects that will spoil your goods.

worm farming

Indoor firewood storage

In a long term SHTF situation when the electricity goes down and you can’t get out to replenish gas cylinders its back to the basics used for thousands of years – wood-fired cooking and heating. The question is where to store all that firewood for pizza ovens and wood-burning stoves. Some people have made space in their lounges for a “feature wall” made up of logs stacked neatly to create a natural texture to the interior of a home.

Some people use a section of shelving usually used for books. You can also use wooden cubes that are 12 x 12 x 12 inches made from shelving to store firewood – group 4 as a coffee table filled with wood or use single cubes as side tables. Alternatively stack higher in a corner of a room or put 4 together as a low bench and place cushions on top for seating.

Outdoor firewood storage

Buying the big 32 gallon wheelie plastic trash cans is a good option – they come with a removable clip on lid that prevents moisture getting in and can store quite a large amount of wood – so it doesn’t matter if it rains  – the wood stays dry inside and instead of a tote you can wheel them to where you want them.

Alternatively, build large boxes that can double as outdoor seating in summer from marine plywood with hinged lids. Pack with firewood. Make sure the boxes are treated with a quality timber preservative/moisture repellant and preferably place din a covered patio area on under the eaves where they have some protection form the weather.

Emergency lighting

Make a handy pocket from fabric that has a hanging loop that slides over the doorknob. Inside this store a candle and matches, a lighter and/or a small torch (with spare batteries).

In lounges use an attractive carved box on a coffee table, to store candles etc. There should be something to light the way in every room in an emergency until you can get to other emergency lighting.

Using the space under the stairs

Because this space is quite deep it tends to get really messy. Consider building rolling cabinets with drawers that fit under the stairs so you can easily pull out the whole cabinet, then slide it back into place or simply pull out the drawers to reach stuff.

Some people construct their wooden stairs so that each step has a pull out drawer for storing goods.

Using edges of the room at ceiling height

Construct partitioned shelves that run the length of a room – touching the ceiling and around 12 inches deep and 12 inches high mounted to the wall. This is not space you need and if the shelves have sliding panels covering them, lift up or drop down doors painted the same color as the room they will give a huge amount of storage space for items that are not used that often or emergency food supplies.

Narrow cupboard shelves

Why oh why are kitchen cupboards designed with such deep shelves? It is just asking for stuff to get pushed to the back and lost behind everything in front of it. Cupboards also stay tidier if they don’t have doors – and in humid climates it means no moldy smells. You can see at a glance what you have. And how many kids and adults haven’t knocked glasses over as they try to reach for their favorite one behind three others in front of it.

If you can, remake cupboards with shelves around 6 inches deep for coffee mugs, glasses and water jugs, and around 12 to 15 inches for plates and other dishes. Leave the lower cupboard at around 2 ½ feet deep to store bigger totes.

Repurpose old drawers

Kitchen: Instead of a jumbled clutter under the kitchen sink these old desk drawers were turned on their side and fitted to the wall in the scullery area to store kitchen-cleaning materials. Image 9658  There is no need for complicated inventories – at a glance one can see if there is more than one of a type of cleaner – store the full one until the other one is empty then replace it.

Bedroom: If a drawer is in good condition and has a bar type handle hang vertically with the bar facing downwards. You can hang clothes to be worn the next day – for example kids’ school uniforms, place the lunch box on the shelf and any other items needed for that day  – all handy and ready to be grabbed on the way out.

Repurpose drawer fronts complete with their knobs or handles on by attaching to the wall or to the back of doors to hang clothes, scarves or jewelry.  You are unlikely to have so many clothes lying on the floor if there is a handy hook. It also makes planning what to wear the next day easier – all in one place, ready to wear.

Open shelving

Here are loads of ideas from Pinterest on open shelving.

Open shelving means things are on display – so you are going to keep the best and ditch the chipped plate or cracked mug. If it’s gathering dust on the shelf it means you are not using it often enough and you don’t need it – be ruthless.

Things don’t only have to go on the shelves – attach hooks underneath so you can hang stuff – in a bedroom a lovely collection of boots can be hung – working as a display with the handbag on the shelf above and boots hanging from small clip type hangers underneath.

In a kitchen the cups/mugs can hang under the shelf, or muslin drawstring bags filled with spices.

Kitchen cupboards with doors

Not everything should be on display – all baking and muffin pans can be stored in a plastic tote with a clip on lid inside a cupboard behind closed doors. Want to bake? Pull out the tote and voila – every size and shape you own in one place.

Cupboard shelves too far apart so you have waste space – try this handy kitchen shelf organizer.

Rolls of tin foil, baking paper and cling wrap tend to be difficult to store – either a plastic file storage cover mounted to the inside of the pantry door or an organizer made from fabric with long narrow pockets will do the trick.

Appliances

While the toaster and kettle are used daily, how often does one use the waffle maker, the mixer and other appliances? Put them- with all their bits and pieces in a tote and into a cupboard. Kids want waffles – haul out the tote. This way there is no scrambling through cupboards to find appliances – they are all in one tote or two if you have many appliances.

Drawer with dishcloths

When you have dishcloths in a pile the ones on top get used first and the ones at the bottom stay there as the freshly laundered ones go back on top. Pack them into neat rolls and place them in the drawer. You can see at a glance what you have. Image 9660  The same principle can be applied to wardrobes – install drawers and roll items like gym wear so it’s all in one place – to pull out and choose at a glance.

Pet accessories

Dogs leads, collars, brushes, worm tablets, flea shampoo all go into a medium size see-through tough plastic box with a clip on lid. No need for labeling  – anyone can see what is inside.

Car care accessories

Car shampoo, wax, interior spray, tire black and all that stuff goes into another see through plastic box.

Spare cleaning accessories

When the sponge scourer gets used up where do you find another? Or a brass scourer or the steel wool? New mop pads? You guessed it another see through plastic container.

Double rails to save space

It would be the ultimate to have a walk-in wardrobe like a movie star. However in real life most walk-in wardrobes look like they are the dumping ground for anything and everything that needs to be out of sight – cooler boxes, umbrellas even unused gym equipment. Unfortunately most homes come with built-in-cupboards with only one hanging rail. Check your heights – you can usually alter them so you can fit two rails doubling your hanging space. It’s only long dresses that may cause a problem.

Use deep cupboard space

Often cupboards are built quite deep so there is space behind where the hanger reaches – build narrow shelves in the back of the cupboard and use them for storing canned food or water.

Color blocking

How many times have you mentally planned what to wear then searched along the rail for the outfit? Fifteen minutes later, getting in a hissy fit and cutting it fine for getting to work you drag on the nearest thing you can find.

The fashion industry uses color blocking.  Buy different color plastic hangers and color code the wardrobe. Black clothing on black hangers, red, pink and orange on red hangers, blue on blue, green on green, white and cream clothing on white hangers, grey clothing and mauve, purple on purple hangers and anything that doesn’t fit those categories on yellow hangers. Then you hang all the white hangers together, black together and so on. So you need a black top – easy – check the black section of the rail!

Bikini/swimsuit drawers

These don’t seem to work! Everything becomes a jumbled mess – yes there are those little plastic fold out thingies you put in the drawer and each niche fits one item in nicely (they are great for socks and underwear)– but what if you have three black bikinis in different styles – how do you know which is which? The solution – put them on hangers in a separate section of the wardrobe. That way you can see what you want to wear and have all swimwear together.

Use the inside of wardrobe doors

The inside of a wardrobe door can have place for hanging shoes or handbags like this. In fact the insides of wardrobe doors can be used for keeping toiletry items, like deodorant in handy fabric organizers.

Storing gift-wrap

When you have it in a box there is always a bag or roll that doesn’t fit and ends up getting squashed in the back of a cupboard somewhere – this hanging stand takes care of gift wrap problems or you can make your own using a hanger and some fabric.

Towels

When they are in neat piles –some kid (or adult) always pulls one from the bottom of the pile when in a rush to go swimming leaving the rest strewn over the floor. Quick fix – rolling the towels. Putting in extra shelves creates less height between the shelves taking only two rolled up towels above each other.

Kids get them out easier and they are ready rolled to go into the backpack as they head for a pool or the beach. Do the same for bath towels – and use open shelves in the bathroom – manky looking towels just don’t cut it on display and get moved to the box for mopping up after a storm, drying dogs or placing at doorways when kids insist on leaping out of the pool and storming into the house without drying off first – they at least catch some of the drips.

A woman’s tool cupboard

Tool cupboards are usually outside and men have their tools all set up nicely in sizes of spanners, with outlines for hammers and handsaws so they go back into place – but going out to get basic tools can become a bit of a nightmare if the workshop is quite far from the house and is a man’s only domain. “Who used xyz tool? ” Scowl.

In the inside of a wooden cupboard in the passage place cup-hooks around the sides and back of one shelf, string a little cord onto the power tools you need  – like a jigsaw, a sander, a small drill and hang them up – that way when the cupboard is open you can see exactly which tool you want.

All the little bits can go in small tool boxes on the actual shelf itself – avoid one huge toolbox – they are a pain to lug around – it’s easier if drill bits, screws and screwdrivers are in one; nails, tacks and hammer in another.  Paintbrushes can also hang up together with scrapers. Fixing up little things in the house goes quickly as you don’t have to fetch everything from outside.

Organizing the pantry

Many preppers are into canning and preserving the bounty from their survival gardens. Everything must be labeled with the date it was made. Again you need narrow shelves so you can see everything at a glance and store stuff not only by type, but also in date order. So shelf 1 has everything preserved in July – fruit, pickles, jams, and then shelf 2 has everything preserved in August.

Keep the stuff   you need to eat first on the shelf at chest level. People just don’t bother to bend or stretch for items if something easier is at hand. Keep the stuff that still has six months to its use-by-date up high. At the end of each month change the produce around so what needs to be eaten is always at chest height. Place red stickers on the currently to be used shelf – say so kids and guests asked to fetch something know where to look.

Exposed beams

If your home has wooden exposed beams it is easy to install some heavy duty hooks and hang up attractive baskets with lids into which you have stored extra pillows and sleeping bags  – the kind of things you only need when guests arrive or when you go camping

Corner shelves

Corners are often underutilized areas, in bedrooms especially. Build in corner shelves and use attractive colorful cardboard boxes or baskets with lids.

Office space

When space is minimal think of hanging you computer screen on the wall and having a narrower desk, made from a piece of wood resting on storage cubes in which you can place files and books. To complete the organization make a wall mounted organizer with fabric pockets into which pens, pencils and various stationery items can be placed within easy reach from your narrow desk. Even the printer can be mounted on a metal wall bracket to give you more space.

Garages

If the garage strong enough supports then install a rail on the ceiling into which you can slide storage boxes. Suspended above the floor they give so much more floor space. Watch this video  to see how it’s done. The space above the door where the automatic garage door slides up can have a shelf installed with storage totes, as this is usually an area that isn’t used:

Box type tool cabinets on walls that fold out with storage space for screwdrivers, spanners etc. on the inside of the door enable everything to be seen at a glance.

Install mounting fixtures for bicycles on the wall so they stay out of the way. In fact bicycles can make an attractive display in a bedroom too if they are wall mounted, and there is a mural in the background that sets the bicycle into the scene.

Attics

Use all available space – working from the lowest area at the edge with space for pull out storage totes on shelves (you need the totes to keep out the dust) then working to the higher shelves towards the middle of the space. This video will give you some ideas on constructing shelving:

Basements

Often these double as the teen hangout or the man cave – but that doesn’t mean you can’t store stuff there. Narrow cupboards lined with shelves with doors set on strong hinges also lined with narrow shelves – so it can open out to display tinned and dry goods, spices and extra medical supplies – all easy to reach. The cupboards won’t be in daily use so couches can be placed in front of them and being narrow they don’t take up too much basement room and can span one whole wall from floor to roof. giving loads of storage space.

Furniture

For a coffee table make a plywood box that can be given a suitable painted finish or covered in fabric and can simply be set over stacks of water bricks or food storage containers.

Couches can have pull out drawers for storage.

Beds should have pull out drawers for storage. If not they can be raised slightly higher so totes can be stored underneath.

Construct fabric organizers with multiple pockets that hang on either side of a double or single bed. In these pockets there is space for a magazine, a book, cell phone, a pen and notepad, a small torch or whatever you find necessary.

Benches in hallways or on patios can be constructed with hinged fold up seating that allows for storage.

Safety

Organize quick access to a self defense weapon in case of a break in: a baseball bat near the bed, a knife in a bedside drawer, the gun safe close to where you sleep, a hatchet in the kitchen in a place easily reached but out of plain sight.

Medicines

A small emergency medical kit in an accessible drawer, where it can be reached in the dark if need be  should be in  the bedroom. Never store medicine in the bathroom – the dampness and steam will decrease its shelf life.  Each member of the family’s backpack should have a small waterproof emergency medical kit left in it permanently.

Herbs and Spices

Many survivalists have knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants so shouldn’t need massive supplies of medication.  My Survival Farm explains all about growing and identifying common plants you can find almost anywhere for medicinal use.

If you have quite a variety of spices a rack in the kitchen often becomes dusty – a shallow drawer with glass bottles stored on their sides is easier to keep clean and dust free. Generally whole spices last 2 to 5 years. Once they have been ground it drops to around 6 months to 2 years so preferably keep spices whole and grate/crush when you need them. Leafy herbs like parsley and mint only last from 3 months to 2 years.  Keep in screw cap glass jars to prevent moisture getting in and mark the date of purchase or the date you dried and packed them so you can use in rotation.

Bug out bags/emergency backpacks

While the contents of bug out bags are explained thoroughly in other posts on this site, each person should also have a back pack ready packed with a change of clothing, emergency basic toiletries, a bottle of water, space blanket and emergency rations like a trail mix with nuts, seeds, raisins and cranberries.

What is useful is that the back pack for kids can double as a sleepover bag if they are visiting friends in a normal situation – but whatever they use needs to be replaced as soon as they get home so the bag is always ready for a grab and go situation.

Identification/precious items

Each person in the home should have a small wallet that contains some emergency cash, identity document/passport and perhaps a precious photo or two, and valuable jewelry to be grabbed in an instant should there be a fire or emergency evacuation.

Copies of these and other important documents should be stored on the cloud for retrieval later if the originals get destroyed. The wallet could fit in the under the doorknob pocket described earlier or in a fabric pocket fitted to the inside of a wardrobe door  – within easy reach in an emergency.

Flotation Devices

In areas prone to flooding and hurricanes there should be a life jacket, equipped with a whistle hanging behind the door of each person’s room. They can be used on boating, fishing and water-skiing trips, but must go back into place for an emergency. They shouldn’t be stored in a garage or outside room as there may not be time to reach them in an emergency.

The most important thing about organizing your home properly is being able to enjoy it on a daily basis without having to search for items like misplaced keys.

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About Jeanie Beales

Jeanie Beales
Traveler, photographer, writer. I'm eternally curious, in love with the natural world. How people can survive in harmony with nature has fueled my food safety and survival gardening practices. Over the years on numerous trips to wild places and cities I've learned all sorts of survival hacks, but there is always someone out there who can teach you a new trick so I remain an eternal student and forever humble.

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