How to Best Organize an Attic


The prospect of organizing an attic can be a surprisingly daunting one. Unfinished attic spaces can be dark, cavernous areas where you’d rather not venture. But by taking the time to organize an attic, you can breathe new life into the space. Your attic can go from being a dark, cobwebbed area best suited for ghost stories to a well-lit, organized and even multifunctional space.

Costs to organize an attic can have a wide range as well. It can be free. It could even make you money if you clean out clutter from the attic and sell it. But if you have enough junk, you might consider renting a dumpster, which can run in the low to mid hundreds of dollars by the week. Refinishing an attic can cost in the mid to high tens of thousands if you wish to make the space livable.

Sort and Get Rid of What You Don’t Need

If your attic is currently the place where you dump anything that doesn’t belong anywhere else, your first step is to sort and get rid of what you don’t need. It can be hard to look at the mess and know where to begin. However, there are several decluttering tips you can follow to get a handle on the chaos:

  • Start by sorting things into piles. For instance, you might have a pile for holiday decorations, another for children’s artwork or class projects and maybe even a miscellaneous pile.
  • After you have things in more manageable piles, sort between what you want to keep and what you can throw out. Have a garbage bag with you to immediately toss what you don’t need.
  • Some of us struggle with what to throw out and what to keep. A rule of thumb is that if you forgot you owned it, it can probably be thrown out. Also, if you haven’t used it or looked at it in two or three years and it has no emotional significance, it can probably get tossed.
  • As touched on above, consider renting a dumpster if you have a lot of junk to clear out.

If you can follow these rules to organize an attic, you may be surprised how much bigger the space feels when uncluttered.

Make Plans for the Space

A more involved way to organize an attic is to think about how to arrange the attic for multiple or new uses. When you think about it, the attic has the potential to be a whole other room or more. Several ideas of what to do with the attic include:

  • A child’s play area
  • An extra bedroom
  • A reading nook or library
  • A walk-in closet space
  • A more intricate storage area

Label And Inventory Your Attic Storage

Finally, the last step in the Attic Organizing Challenge is to label all of your boxes and other storage containers, and take an inventory of what you’ve got in the storage space.

Make sure you label all four sides and the top of each container, so that no matter from what angle you’re looking at it, you can get a clue of the container’s contents.

Further, add a number to the label, and then also fill out the printable attic storage inventory form I created for you to use in this Challenge. On the form you can list more detail about what is in the numbered containers than you can on the little labels.

Plus, you can then keep the form in your home management binder or in your filing system to reference when you need to remember where you stored something.

The page of the site giving you access to the form (linked above) also has some suggestions for its use, so make sure you read the instructions when you grab your copy of the form.