Personal Archive, under my bed
February 15, 2020 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Trying to organize momentos/souvenirs/etc into a dated-archive kind of thing, in only my under-bed storage.

My current system of organization is throwing old stuff into two long under-bed storage drawers and stuffing newer stuff in the few other spots where I can find a few inches of space. I would like to be able to organize things in a more archival way with a dated system. My current plan is to separate stuff into pre-2000's (anything before that is at my mom's house), 2000's and 2010's then start with a yearly separation system starting with 2020.

But, I live in a shared apartment where really everything needs to stay in these under-bed drawers--I have no excess closet space or access to a storage room or space for more shelving. I'm a pretty good minimalist, I get rid of most stuff but I want to be able to keep some meaningful stuff. I would just go with an accordion file, but I have plenty of stuff that wouldn't work in one of those (band t-shirts, travel souvenirs, etc). So how can I organize the drawers themselves for the decades, then the years? I don't want a thousand little boxes bc that's just a recipe for a dust disaster.

Can you recommend a way to maximize the organizational capacity for under-bed storage, that I can segment by era/year? Happy to spend a small amount of money (like under $50) if there are some useful products I'm not thinking of. Also not willing to raise my bed any higher as I already have to climb into it :)

Thanks in advance!
posted by greta simone to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Use drawer dividers or make some custom ones out of foam core.
posted by jgirl at 3:55 PM on February 15, 2020

Spacewise you should be able to fit more of those containers, even a twin bed could cover one or two more. But it doesn't sound like raw space is the worst problem, just a method of organization?

I would start big, like dividing by decade, then figure out what makes sense from there. Is most of the stuff irregularly shaped? At any rate, flat stuff can go in an accordion file (by decade or year, depending on how much), with irregular stuff going into different sections if necessary. If you don't need to wear the soft goods you can get vacuum cleaner compression bags that work well. If you have the space available, don't underestimate putting containers in containers, like plastic shoebox-type containers in the larger underbed boxes, buttons in ziplock bags, etc.

Don't feel like you have to store everything together, you could keep all the flat and flattish stuff in a separate container from the irregulars, taking advantage of the greater density of storing flat materials. Binders with a variety of page protectors are good, for instance concert ticket stubs fit perfectly in business card pages. So I guess my main advice is to think in terms not necessarily of overall chronology, but different kinds of things each stored together chronologically.
posted by rhizome at 3:59 PM on February 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I specifically want to group things by date, as stated in the above, and yes, I also said that the accordion file thing is not an option I want to pursue. And, I have space for only the 2 containers due to other things stored under my bed. Please keep your answers within my constraints, as those the constraints I have decided on.
posted by greta simone at 5:40 PM on February 15, 2020

I second the idea of vacuum cleaner compression bags. One brand is SpaceBags, which was bought by ZipLoc. I've seen them for sale at WalMart I believe and they come in various sizes. It's amazing how much smaller folded stuff (or anything with air space) becomes when you suck the air out of it.

I might, myself, avoid trying to keep things together too much, but rather finding ways to put a date label in or on things. it seems to me your main concern right now is space, and if you've date-labelled everything you can defer the organization until you someday move to somewhere with more space; it won't take much time to sort by dates if everything is labelled.

You didn't mention paper things, including photographs, so I assume you're going digital with that kind of thing?
posted by TimHare at 7:01 PM on February 15, 2020

Since my kids were in preschool I've used these vinyl mesh zipper bags from the container store, one bag per kid per 2 years, roughly. Use the biggest (legal size) ones. I've fit a variety of things, like cub scout hats as well as paper in there. Each bag is labeled with a year or era (eg, "middle school"). The kids are 13 and 17 now and all those bags would probably fit in 2 under bed boxes.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:20 PM on February 15, 2020

Vacuum bags would work very well for items like band t-shirts where they don't need to be stored carefully in their exact shape, but I wouldn't use one for posters or LPs or anything delicate.

You also need to have a vacuum with a hose attachment to use them. I've used these - Vacwel Vacuum Storage Bags, and they work well. I've been able to fit several drawers' worth of off-season clothes into one underbed storage container.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:32 AM on February 16, 2020

You said you didn't want to put tshirts in accordion files, not reject them wholesale, but OK, seconding drawer dividers then.
posted by rhizome at 1:26 PM on February 16, 2020

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