“…and I’ve seen rain.  I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.  I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again…”

I always thought that I’d see you again.

I’m pretty sure this phrase incites fear in anyone who’s pondering gettin’ a little organizing help.  You know, they invite a girl over to help ’em get organized and the next thing they know all of their prized possessions are in the give-away pile. Stuff they had no intention of letting go of. Stuff they still love.  Stuff they’ve had for ages. For weeks on end, they’ll dream of their lost loves.  The cd’s from their youth.  Tablecloths that covered their childhood dining table.  Work out clothes that haven’t seen the light of day since the Clinton administration.  I mean, after all, if you don’t have space for something then you’ve gotta toss it, right?  No space means no keep!

Well, not necessarily.

I’m about to tell you something that has the potential to change the way you live.  It also has the potential to turn every single one of you into a hoarder which is why right now, this very minute, you must promise me you’ll never abuse this strategy.  You’ll never take advantage of this super helpful tip.  You’ll only use your new-found knowledge for good and not evil.

Did you promise?  For real, did you say it out loud?  I’m gonna need you to say it out loud.

I’d like to introduce you to the annex.

An annex is a purposeful secondary storage location for a group of items that don’t fit in their primary storage location.

(You can breathe now.  In and out.  Deep breaths.)

For example, let’s say you have a shitload of tablecloths.  You entertain often so you have the potential to use them all; you just don’t have room for all of them in the dining room sideboard. Instead of shoving them all in and hoping the door doesn’t pop open due to the extreme strain created by all that pent-up fabric and vinyl, you house the ones you use THE MOST in the sideboard and then store the rest in a secondary, less convenient, but still get-to-able location.  A few tablecloths in the dining room, the rest folded neatly in a LABELED box in the upstairs closet.

Another example would be make-up.  Perhaps you have an abundance of it.  You love to go out  and always rock the smokey eye when you do, but since you’ve had a baby?  Well, it just doesn’t happen as often. Instead of having one cosmetic bag/drawer that’s stretched tighter than Boss Hogg’s belt, keep your “going out” or not everyday cosmetics in a secondary location.  IN AN ANNEX.  The stuff you use the most stays at your fingertips but you’re not rummaging through all the crap you only use once a year every freakin’ day.  AND you only toss the stuff you absolutely hate or has expired.  That less frequently used stuff is stored in a LABELED plastic bin in the top of your closet.  Or lives under the sink while your everyday stuff gets a place of honor on the vanity.

Toys are another great item to annex.  It seems that most houses I go into today have an overabundance of them, sometimes to the point that the poor kid doesn’t even know what to play with first!   The annex allows you to leave some items out while the rest are safely stored away.  (Stored AND labeled!)  You can then rotate toys in and out so your kid doesn’t get bored.

Now that you’ve been introduced to the annex concept, you need to read the fine print.

1.  An annex can ONLY be employed when you actually have extra space. See, sometimes it’s not that we don’t have enough space, we just have it in all the wrong places. Like your linen closet is TINY but your guest room closet is HUGE.  This is the perfect scenario for an annex.  If your home is stuffed to the gills already and your family is climbing over each other, the annex is not appropriate.

2.  All items in an annex are subject to re-evaluation after a set period of time.  If you haven’t touched your annex in a year or more (That sounds dirty!  Or kinda sad…) then it’s probably time to let some of those items go.

3.  If an annex isn’t thoroughly and clearly labeled, then it’s just a box of C.R.A.P.

4.  The annexation of an item implies two things- 1.  You plan to use it in the relatively nearish future and 2.  You’ve already deemed it “fit to keep” and are not just using the annex as an avoidance strategy for making the tough decisions.

5.  The annex is similar but not quite the same as the base camp and outposts strategy.  (Keep your eyes peeled for this next week!)

So, to review, an annex is a PURPOSEFUL SECONDARY storage location for items you don’t have room to store comfortably in their PRIMARY storage location.  An annex usually holds items that you don’t use regularly therefore don’t need at your fingertips hence the reason they were bumped OUT of the primary storage location.  An annex is ONLY appropriate when you actually HAVE additional storage space. (Additional storage space means you don’t have to be as strict when you purge. Lack of additional storage space means you DO have to be strict when you purge and nullifies the option to annex.)

Thinking the annex might be something you want to try?  I’d love to help you figure it out!