How to Organize an Attic — 5 Tricks Professional Organizers Use to Make the Most of a Space

Organizing storage is daunting at the best of times, but tackling the attic is a whole other story. Professional organizers given us their best tips

storage shelves in an attic
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Organizing the attic is no doubt an arduous task to undertake, but once it’s all in order it will prove to be such valuable storage. There are quite a few factors to take into consideration and you may need to apply different parts depending on the space you’re working with, but ultimately this is a great part of the home to make function for your lifestyle, keeping track of where things are and allowing clear, easy access to each and every area.

So whether you're trying to declutter your home into your attic, or just make your loft storage space work better, follow these steps to reclaim and maximize that space.

1. Planning the organization

an unorganized attic

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It’s a good idea to plan the organization of the attic before loading it up with all sorts of random items. ‘It's important to consider the type of items that you will store in an attic, especially if it isn't temperature controlled,' advises Amy Bloomer, founder of Let Your Space Bloom. 'Stay away from storing anything in cardboard as it's a feast for pests. If the attic isn't very easily accessible, then don't store things that you use frequently. It should be used for seasonal items, keepsakes that you can't fit elsewhere.’ It's a great place to store holiday decor for this reason.

Logical placement of items should be based on how frequently something is needed, along with how accessible it is. This is a key part of the process, and should not be underestimated. Karina Toner, Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning says. ‘Take note of unique features in the space such as ceiling slopes, natural lighting, and any potential issues like leaks or temperature fluctuations.’ This awareness guides your organization plan and ensures items are stored appropriately and safely.

2. Purging and cleaning

Before taking it any further, a purge and clean is absolutely essential. ‘Donate or discard items you no longer need, and clean the space thoroughly,' advises Karina. 'This provides a fresh start and ensures you're only storing what is truly necessary.’

A clutter-free space enhances organization, and a fresh start makes for easy decision-making and gives you a boost to carry on tackling the space.

3. Organize and categorize

boxes in an attic

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So how is it best to organize such a big area? Starting by categorizing your items into logical groups will give you a feel for what you’re working with. Karina recommends organizing the attic into zones based on categories, ‘Create zones for holiday decorations, seasonal clothing, or sentimental items. This zoning system makes it easier to locate specific items.’

Amy advises organizing the space in whichever way makes the most sense to you: ‘Each person is an individual and what makes sense to one, may be confusing to another. Do what rings true to you!’ 

4. Storage solutions

Ultimately, the goal is to maximize this space and make full use of getting those things that are always in the way up and out of sight until needed again. Attempt to blueprint your space, visualizing your attics potential, utilizing features such as sloped ceilings and naturally lit areas. Once you have designed a plan to work to, you’ll need to consider the best storage ideas for all these different items.

‘Invest in airtight transparent boxes and label them clearly,' Karina suggests. 'This will allow you to see the contents without opening each box, saving time and effort during retrieval.’

Creating this visual inventory is a great place to begin and in most cases, this alone will have organized the majority of smaller items. ‘Install rails for as the best storage for clothes, especially for seasonal or seldom-used garments. This prevents them from wrinkling and makes it easier to locate specific pieces’, recommends Karina. This is perfect if your space allows it, but if prone to damp, keep those garments packed away in vacuum storage bags to prevent any moisture finding its way in. Freestanding, covered rails, like this one from Home Depot, are a good choice for an attic space, too.

Use racks for larger or bulky items maximizes any vertical space available and prevents a cluttered floor space. Vertical shelving will make the most of any available wall space, and is particularly effective in attics with sloped ceilings. ‘You could opt for custom-built cabinets or shelves to optimize your unique space if necessary,' says Karina. 'Utilizing under-roof storage is also a good idea for items that fit the slope of the ceiling.'

There are also smaller options such as pegboards, foldable furniture, and rolling storage bins to add in as an extra after the larger pieces are in place.

5. Light it up

an empty attic space

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lastly, ample lighting is key to bringing this whole organization process to a positive completion. Adequate lighting will aid visibility and a well-lit attic ensures locating items at ease.

‘Install fixtures strategically to illuminate all corners of the attic,' Karina suggests. 'Battery-operated LED lights can be practical for areas without direct electrical access.’ When it comes to natural night, it’s a good idea to place anything that’s frequently accessed close to a source of natural light, however she warns ‘Place items that don't fade or degrade with sunlight exposure near windows. Be mindful of potential damage from prolonged exposure to sunlight.’

By incorporating these strategies, you can turn your attic into a well-organized and easily accessible storage space. ‘The key is to tailor the organization to your specific needs and optimize every inch of space available.’ says Karina. Embrace the process of transforming this space and you’ll enjoy it for years to come.

Portia Carroll

Portia Carroll is an interior stylist, writer, and design consultant. With a background in interior architecture and design, she has a plethora of creative experience in the industry working with high end interior brands to capture beautiful spaces and products and enhance their qualities.