Let’s Talk About The Floor

Lots of people “store” things on the floor. Is this a good idea? Well, that depends.

Let’s begin by admitting that items end up on the floor for some good reasons. The floor is convenient (it is right beneath our feet), it is easy to reach (just drop whatever is in your hand), it is large (it holds a lot), it is strong (no wall anchors required), and it is flat (perfect for things that are prone to rolling around).

That said, the floor is often not the best choice for storage because:

The floor tends to be dirty.

Dirt, snow, water, etc. get on the floor from our shoes and soiled bags, and gravity pulls dust and dirt from the whole house downward until it stops at the floor. Unclean environments are attractive to bugs and rodents, which can compound the situation.

The floor is vulnerable to damage.

All you have to do is look at a flood scene to know that its very nature makes it vulnerable to water damage. A leaky roof, a hurricane, or a broken toilet can all wipe out items stored on the floor. Pieces stored on the floor are also susceptible to damage from pets, for whom floor items are prime pickings.

 The floor is largely “out of sight.”

How often do you get down on the floor and consider what you’ve put there? It is easy to lose track of things that we don’t see, and the floor is not a place we regularly look. Furthermore, because we add to piles from the top, anything stored on the floor is liable to be covered up by something else, making it even easier to forget.

The floor is within easy reach of children.

While adults don’t spend much time on the floor, young children live there. Anything openly stashed on the floor could pose a safety/chocking risk to a curious toddler.

So what do we conclude? Should we never put anything on the floor? No, not exactly. Instead, we need to be choosey about when and how we utilize floor storage.

Some items actually fare well when stored on the floor, including:

  • Furniture
  • Cars, scooters, ATVs, and vehicles
  • Lawn mowers and other heavy power tools
  • Bicycles (in season)
  • Exercise machines (e.g. treadmill, rowing machines, Peloton, etc.)
  • Dirty things (e.g. boots on a tray)
  • Shoes
  • Wide, flat things to slide under a bed (e.g. table leaves)
  • Heavy things (e.g. containers of rock salt)
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Large containers (too big for a shelf, like giant bag of pet food)
  • Large children’s play structures and toys

Meanwhile, the majority of our remaining possessions (clothing, paperwork, office supplies, books, photos, etc.) are better stored up off of the floor. The general rule of thumb is, do not store on the floor any items that can fit on a drawer, shelf, hanger, or hook.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “That’s all well and good, but I don’t have anywhere else to put my things.” If this is your situation, I would suggest that you first try to pare down your belongings. Statistics show that most of us keep much more than we use, need and love, and less is always easier to store than more. The next step is to add structure wherever you can to improve your storage situation.

Here are a few options for improving storage for items that currently live on the floor.

1. Add Height

Sometimes an easy first step is to simply elevate existing storage a few inches off of the floor. Something like a waterproof pallet or some casters might save the day in an unlikely weather event.

2. Add Containers

Since loose items are most vulnerable to damage, a simple first step is to add containers. For example, if your laundry piles up in the corner, get a few pop-up bins. If reading material is stacked next to a chair, get a basket to hold them. Wherever your floor is vulnerable to water damage (especially basements, crawl spaces and garages), invest in plastic storage totes.

3. Add Furniture

Sometimes we have items on the floor because we don’t have enough furniture. For instance, your papers may be stacked in folders because you don’t have a file cabinet or file box. Maybe the playroom needs some cubbies, or perhaps your bedroom needs a bookshelf. Of course, this is an area to proceed with caution. We don’t want to overfill a room with furniture (or bins) when what we should be doing is de-cluttering.

4. Use Your Vertical Surfaces

Never underestimate the power of a well-placed hook or rack.  The back of a door can be a beautiful place to easily improve your storage situation. Many closets can be significantly improved by the additional of extra shelves, rods or bins. A row of hooks along an empty wall can provide simple, cost-effective options that are easy (and therefore likely to be) used.

Need a little inspiration? Here are a few ideas that might get you going. Remember, the goal isn’t to break the bank. There are structure options for all price points, so work within a budget, prioritizing the protection of belongings, children and pets first.

Cubbies

(can be customized with a variety of bins, risers and add-in drawers)

.

Bookcase

Come in different sizes and materials, consider your budget

.

Wall System

Come with a wide variety of options that work in many rooms

.

Plastic Shelving

Affordable, easy to assemble, work well in garages, basements, and attics

.

Floor Pallet

Quick and easy way to get things up off the floor

.

Hooks

Endless variety, from functional to decorative, adhesive, anchored to over-the-door

.

Overhead Storage Rack

Great way to take advantage of overhead storage, especially in a place like a garage.

.

Over The Door Rack

Rigid ones like this one are great for food storage

.

Wheels

Either buy containers with them, or possibly add them to existing bins


* * * * *

What are you currently storing on the floor that might be better stored elsewhere?

30 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About The Floor”

  1. The floor is a terrific surface, but not necessarily a good organizing spot. As you said using the floor to position organizing containers, levels, or furniture IS a good use. You reminded me of a word I came across several years ago. You’re going to love this one. It’s a “floordrobe.” That is an “informal pile of clothes that have been left on the floor of a room.” Sound familiar?
    Linda Samuels recently posted…6 Helpful Habits That Will Boost Lasting ChangeMy Profile

    1. I’ve definitely run across many people who enjoy using the “floordrobe.” I think teenagers especially find this a logical choice:) Often we have to use floor-based solutions, but I find most people have the ability to get their clothes up and into a better storage solution. At some point, use of the floor stems from it being the “easiest” choice. Of course, this is really only true in the short term.

  2. As always, really great organizing advice. The bookshelf one is definitely one we have used here as my husband’s grandfather actually built gorgeous cherry wood bookcases with glass doors many years ago. We inherited two of them and I love how they not only are beautiful pieces of furniture but also great for storage purposes, as well. So, couldn’t agree more 🙂

    1. Lucky you having these beautiful pieces of furniture in which to store things. With glass doors too – I can picture them! There are bookshelves for almost every budget, and I find they serve both functional and decorate purposes.

    1. They work well for children because they can be rolled out into the middle of the room, and then rolled back out of the way when the play is over for the day. Bins that allow children to easily toss toys inside are a great solution that kids are likely to use!

  3. You’re terrific, Seana! I can hear you talk as you explain all the reasons not to use the floor. I particularly like the thought that the floor is attractive to bugs! I tell my clients that the floor is not an option! Thank you also for the great pictures of verticle storage options. Really great post.

    1. Thanks, Diane. I’ve run across a bug or two in organizing projects, as I’m sure you have:) I’ve also seen items that have been chewed by pets or mice. With so many great choices for getting items up and into safer storage locations, it is worth the effort to put them in place.

  4. I like your reminder about the pets getting into things on the floor. Or in my case, my cat frequently barfs on the floor. Gross, I know. I love the floor pallet you highlighted and storing anything on wheels is always a genius idea.

    1. Thanks for that visceral illustration of pet damage, Sarah! Yes, pets can cause a lot of damage. We tend to joke about it, but if they go after something of value, it isn’t so funny, right? The floor pallet is handy around here where water in basements is fairly common. A few inches of elevation can sometimes save the day.

  5. I love the title, Seana! It’s very true! I found that in smaller homes, you don’t have the luxury of placing too much on the floor. I made it a habit over the years to keep stuff off the floor because of my smaller home. Vertical storage is always my first priority. The items that are left on the floor or steps are always temporary.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…How to Get Rid of Household ElectronicsMy Profile

    1. I also place things on the steps that I want to remember to take upstairs with me, but as you said, this is temporary. Not only is vertical storage safer and cleaner, it is also easier to access. Who wants to bed down to the floor every time they need something, right?

    1. The organizing gene got to work early in your life, right Janet? Mine too! Keeping things up not only keeps them safer and cleaner, but it makes them easier to access!

  6. This is spot on. I often use the phrase, “When in doubt, walls before floors,” when I’m talking about storage options. I love all of the suggestions, and I’m particularly fond of garage overhead storage racks. I don’t know what we’d do without ours.

    1. Those garage racks can be such a great solution as so many people have high ceilings in the garage that typically are left under-utilized. So perfect for all those things that are out of season!

  7. I have a few things on the floor that I should consider moving-particularly under my desk. I keep a bag with last year’s tax records under my desk until I have completed this year’s tax material. I often refer back to it during the year so it works, but when we go away I put it up on my desk in case of an unexpected flood. I also have things on the floor of my closet that should find a better home. I will make an effort to find better storage for these things.

    1. The bag under your desk could be improved by just getting a plastic bin that would be safe in the event of a flood Dianne. Sounds like the placement actually works for you. When it comes to the closet, I agree that it is worth the effort to move things, not only for their safekeeping, but also to put them within easier reach for you.

    1. Okay, that is so funny! I bought my daughter a coat tree because she had no coat closet, and she was thrilled. It was pretty basic, but it got the job done. Sometimes it is the little solutions. That is a great story to share:)

  8. Stellar post, Seana, and from the minute I saw the title, it reminded me of Sheila McCurdy’s old book, “The Floor is Not an Option,” which came out in 2002, the year I opened my business. I love the way you spelled out why/when the floor really shouldn’t be an option but also made it so clear and obvious the wealth of alternatives we all have. My own home is mostly carpeted, but in the kitchen, the floor is for skating in sock feet! 😉

    This is a fun post for me to read, because all of my residential clients (especially the ones with kids) know that Miss Julie had an F-Rule. The FFFFFFloor is for FFFFFFeeeet, FFFFFURNITURE, and FFFFFannies! (There’s a whole little dance that goes with it, and people will pets get to add FFFFFFFurrry FFFFFFriends.)
    Julie Bestry recently posted…Paper Doll On Narwhals, Fake News, and How To Get A REAL IDMy Profile

  9. Not to mention pets! That’s why I love the product on wheels.
    Also, those hooks are the cutest! The floor is definitely a problem in our house, and we have multi-surface flooring around here. Whenever things pile up in the kids room, that means a room clean-out, and reconsidering how we are storing toys and clothes!

    1. As children grow, it is worthwhile considering how much storage has been allotted to clothing vs. toys. When they are little, almost their whole closet can be used for toy storage, but as they get larger and need a broader wardrobe, it makes sense to cull the storage and make a bit more space for clothing and shoes.

  10. I love this. I cannot tell you how many clients I’ve had whose floor surfaces were covered wall to wall. One of my clients, she was so funny, said her home looked like an archaeological dig because they were so many levels of civilization to uncover.

    I ask family members to take off their shoes as soon as they come in so they don’t track dirt throughout. My pups are another story.

    I really like the over the door organizer and the bookshelf as they’re just so clean looking and useful.

    1. Love that image of the layers of civilization – I think a pile of societies like that is a “tell,” right? I know lots of families who take their shoes off, and that really can help keep the mess at bay:)

  11. This post is very helpful and effective. The writing style is amazing. I am waiting for your new posts and please give me an update when you publish a new one. Thanks for your article!

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