Attic Storage Organization: Your Complete Guide


Completely gut and organize your attic storage organization. With this guide, you’ll discover massive amounts of unused space and how to protect your memories.

Think your attic is just a bunch of wasted space? Think again! With just a few hacks and smart ideas, you can up your attic storage organization game. Learn how to maximize this overlooked area in your home.

Your Complete Guide to Attic Organization. Everything Your Need to Know. Get Organized. Stay Organized. antiques, sporting equipment and vintage home decor being stored in an attic.

Wondering where to begin? Get our FREE guide, The 30-Minute Organizing Secret, and discover easy ways to overcome the chaos of clutter – even with kids at home!

Attic Storage Organization

Is your attic easy to get to? Or is it one of those places you stick stuff and then basically never see it again?

Attics tend to be used as last-resort storage. They are full of old pictures, dusty trunks, and cardboard boxes that are falling apart.

In this guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know about attic storage organization.

The perfect companion to this guide is our Take Back Control book. Download this book and go through each room of your home and create a calm and organized area that brings you peace and joy!

This is what the guide will cover. Click through and jump around or go through it in order. No matter how you do it, this guide will help you obtain your goal of an organized attic where you can find everything you are storing.

Table of Contents

  1. Questions to Ask Before You Start Organizing Your Attic
    1. Are my memories preserved correctly?
    2. Do I need it?
    3. Why is this here?
  2. How to Organize Your Attic
    1. Empty your attic
    2. Sort Everything
    3. Clean the attic
    4. Buy the correct containers
    5. Install shelves
    6. Stack and label boxes
  3. Attic Storage Tips
    1. Consider humidity
    2. Create a system you can maintain
    3. Keep everything accessible
    4. Make it safe
  4. Attic Storage Questions Answered
    1. Can you store stuff in the attic?
    2. What is the best way to store clothes in the attic?
    3. Is it safe to store cardboard in the attic?
    4. Should you finish an attic?
    5. What is the best way to store photographs in the attic?
  5. Attic Storage Solutions

Questions to Ask Before You Start Organizing Your Attic

Before you even start organizing everything you should answer these questions. The answers will give you direction and vision and save you a lot of time. You’ll discover what you need and how to create an organized attic.

3 Important Questions to Ask Before Your Start Organizing Your Attic.

1. Are my memories preserved?

First, look at everything in your attic. In what are they stored? Are the photos decaying? Are antiques breaking? Write down the most pressing and important areas to focus on first.

Any item with sentimental value or a family history attached to it should be protected. Create an inventory of these precious items and note the ones that are neglected and need extra care.

2. Do I need It?

Next, ask yourself if you really need everything in the attic. This tends to be a place that people throw things they don’t want to deal with. So it’s easy for this to become a sort of trash pile.

If it is a priceless memory, keep it. If you don’t know why you kept it, get rid of it. You’ll discover a ton more storage space just by removing unnecessary possessions.

3. Why is this here?

Finally, ask why you are storing all these things in the attic. Is this the safest place for them? Are you just using the attic as a trash room? When you answer why it’s in the attic, you can store it correctly and make sure it’s easy to find when you need it.

How to Organize Your attic

Now that you know what you have in your attic and why it’s there, it’s time to really spend some time organizing it all.

How to Organize Your Attic.

Follow these 6 steps and you’ll have a completely organized attic that will shock and impress your family. Every single step is important, so do them all.

1. Empty your attic

First, take everything out of your attic. This is more important if your attic is not climate-controlled. It’s miserable to try and work in a sweltering attic or a freezing cold one.

Take everything down and put it in your most open room so you have room to go through everything.

2. Sort everything

Next, sort everything that you pulled out of the attic. Put it into three piles:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Throw Away

After you remove all the trash and donated items, you will be able to go through and sort the things you are keeping.

Put them into separate piles or tubs/totes if you have them.

These are category examples you could sort your stuff into:

  • Type – memories, home decor
  • Ownership – by whose it is
  • Frequency of use – old memories vs seasonal decor

3. Clean the attic

The next step is to completely clean the attic. Sweep the floors and wipe down the shelves, if you have them. You want to have a clean place to put your stuff back in.

4. Buy the Correct containers

Before you put everything back in the attic, you need to store your stuff in protective containers.

Buy totes that will fit your stuff without being too heavy. Remember, you’ll have to carry them back up to the attic. It’s ok to split up collections into multiple bins and tubs.

If you are protecting precious memories, you’ll need something that is airtight, so don’t forget a locking lid.

5. Install shelves

Does your attic area have shelves? If not, either buy some plastic shelves or build your own out of wood.

No matter how you do it, you need to prevent your boxes from being crushed under the weight of another box. Storing them on shelves will extend the life of your things and give you more room. You’ll be able to stack things up to the roof!

6. stack and label the boxes

Finally, label every single box and then put them back into the attic. You need to label them because it will help you find what you need faster.

Some of the best ways to label plastic totes include:

It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be legible and easy to find.

There you have it! After you put all the boxes back into the attic, you’ll have a completely organized storage space.

Attic Storage Tips

While you are sorting and storing all your stuff, here are some vital tips to consider. Keeping these in mind will help you store your things correctly and keep your attic organized long-term.

4 Attic Storage Tips.

Consider humidity

The very first thing you need to consider is how climate-controlled the attic is. If there is absolutely no ventilation, then it probably gets super hot in the summer and freezing in the winter.

If that is the case, don’t store priceless musical instruments or anything else that might get hurt in extreme temperatures.

You can either store those things in a climate-controlled storage unit, or pay to heat and cool the attic.

Create a system you can maintain

Next, create an organization system that you will be able to maintain. Don’t stack a seasonal decor box underneath a heavy tub of old memories.

Make your system make sense. Create zones for each category. Examples of zones and categories include:

  • Seasonal decor
  • Craft supplies
  • Luggage
  • Memories
  • Baby clothes
  • Collectibles
  • Outdoor equipment

Keep everything accessible

As you create your organization systems, keep everything easily accessible. This is why shelves are so important. You don’t want a treacherous tower of heavy tubs that could fall down.

Accessibility means:

  • Clean aisles between shelves and boxes for walking.
  • Boxes on shelves instead of stacked.
  • Ease of finding what you need quickly.
  • Using small totes instead of heavy ones that are difficult to move.

Make it safe

Finally, make your attic a safe place to not only store your things but to walk around in.

Invest the time into laying floors and covering up holes that you could fall into. You could go as far as finishing the entire attic. If you do want to finish the attic, read this first. It will help you avoid pitfalls and keep you from making dangerous mistakes.

Attic Storage Questions answered

Even after reading all this information, you probably still have a few questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about attic storage.

What Can You Store in Your Attic?

Can you store stuff in the attic?

Yes, the attic is a fantastic place to store all sorts of things. The most important thing to remember when you are storing things in the attic is to protect them in airtight containers.

What is the best way to store clothes in the attic?

Protect clothes from fading by storing them away from direct sunlight. Put them in plastic tubs.

Another fantastic way to store clothes in the attic is in vacuum-sealed plastic bags. This way you can stack lots of clothes on top of each other and they will stay protected from humidity and cold temperatures.

The best way to store clothes is inside storage bags. You can keep sweaters or out-of-season clothes zipped up and stacked. There are also handles so you can grab them and move them whenever you need.

Is it safe to store cardboard boxes in the attic?

Yes, it is safe to store cardboard boxes in the attic. It is safe, but not the best idea. Cardboard is flammable. So if your house catches fire, your things inside are toast. Literally.

Also, cardboard is susceptible to mildew and dampness. It rips and isn’t easy to label. You also can’t stack cardboard boxes on top of each other effectively.

So while it is safe, it just isn’t a good idea to use cardboard boxes in the attic.

Honestly, storage bags are our favorite way to store clothes in the attic. They keep dust and air out, have a see-through window so you can see what is inside, and they have a place for a label.

Should you finish an attic?

Finishing an attic would certainly protect your stuff better and be much safer for you to navigate. But it is an expensive option, so you have to weigh the benefits against the expenses.

If you hope to use the attic as a guest bedroom or a place for an extra office, then finishing it will give you a lot more livable space. It will increase the value of your home too.

It certainly isn’t necessary. You can use it as storage in its unfinished state.

what is the best way to store old photographs?

You need to store old photographs inside acid-free containers and plastic sheets. Then keep them in an airtight container to protect them from moisture and direct sunlight.

This video explains how to effectively store and preserve your old photographs.

Attic storage solutions

Do you feel confident about organizing your attic yet? Here are some more attic storage solutions and examples of how others organize their attics.

10 Smart Attic Storage Ideas.

These will inspire you to invest a few days in your attic and make it a usable space.

1. Make the walls and floor semi-finished

Even if you don’t completely finish your attic, it’s important to protect your stuff from loose insulation and falling in between studs.

The simple act of installing plywood floors and walls can make a huge difference. It will feel cleaner and you’ll be able to walk around the shelves safely.

2. Install built-in shelves

Investing the money into custom shelves for your attic can make a huge difference in what you store.

Sometimes that space at the roofline can be super awkward. But with custom shelves you can use every inch effectively.

This is also a fantastic idea if you hope to use this space as an office or guest bedroom someday.

3. Keep breakable objects on shelves

Next, if you have a collection of breakable items, it might be a better idea to display them on shelves instead of hoping they don’t break inside boxes and totes.

Another added benefit of displaying them on shelves is that you can see how much you own and keep your collection controlled.

4. Don’t forget the stairs

As you are working on your attic – taking things up and down – make sure you have a safe way to get in and out of the the attic.

Hidden stairs are a really popular solution. You can also purchase hidden foldable ladders that you can install in your attic floor.

Whatever solution you make, just keep it safe and something you can use.

5. Use every inch of shelf space

When you install shelves in your attic, stack things in them so that every inch is used.

The photo above is a wonderful example. They stacked books inside empty spaces next to plastic totes. They even put folded fabric on top of a shorter tote.

Look for any wasted space and try to fill it without overcrowding.

6.Minimize to save money

Even if you don’t install shelves (like in the photo above) you can still have an organized attic. You just have to keep less stuff up there.

Minimalism is one of the best ways to stay organized. Keep less things and you’ll have less to trip over and try to find ways to keep safe.

7. Tubs make all the difference

The before and after in this picture says it all. Loose items take up so much more space than organized and labeled tubs.

Yes, it might be a bit of a financial cost at first. But the reward of keeping your stuff organized is worth it.

8. Label things clearly

This photo is a perfect example of how to label boxes so you can find them! The font is legible and you can read them from far away.

It’s also a wonderful example of how to label totes without a label maker. You don’t have to go fancy. Even using a printer and white paper works perfectly!

9. Stack things on the top of shelves

This is another example of how to use every inch of open space. And if you are looking for creative ways to label boxes, try some decorative tags. This just looks so neat and put together!

10. Restructure the roof

If you really don’t have usable space near the roof, it might be worth it to hire a contractor who can free up some space. This is a very costly project, so make sure it’s worth it to you.

But finishing the attic can also give you built-in drawers and a lot more floor-to-ceiling storage space.

Attic Storage: Keep Your Memories Safe

Everything that you collect and store in your attic needs to be kept safe. Whether you hire a professional organizer or do it yourself, the project is a large one. But it is worth it.

You will love how you feel when you walk into your attic and are able to find exactly what you need. You’ll be able to store so much more stuff in your attic when it is completely organized and clean.

Struggling to get motivated? Sign up to get our FREE guide, The 30-Minute Organizing Secret, and discover easy ways to overcome the chaos of clutter – even with kids at home!

More Storage Organization Guides

Along with attic storage organization, here are some more places you might want to organize next.

Everything you need to know to organize your attic, your complete organization guide.

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