For someone who lives in the scorching-hot-nine-months-out-of-the-year South, I have a surprisingly large amount of blankets and over-sized sweatshirts. The blanket collection has been growing ever since I left home, with quilts my mother has gifted me, vintage afghan blankets I’ve found while thrifting, and a glut of cheap throws I always buy any time I spot one on sale at TJ Maxx or Target. The preponderance of too many oversized sweatshirts is due to the fact that I work from home and like to keep it comfy.
As I mentioned above, I live in Louisiana, where you honestly only “need” a blanket or a sweatshirt a few nights a year. So for the other 360 days, I don’t want thick, fluffy blankets, throws, sweaters, and sweatshirts taking up closet and drawer space in my (barely) 500-square-foot apartment. Actually, the only real place I have to store blankets and quilts is my tiny narrow linen closet in my bathroom.
Just three flimsy shelves to house over 10 bulky blankets, sheets, pillowcases, towels, and washclothes. After stacking even three quilts on the top shelf, one-third of my storage space is occupied. Removing an item from the precarious towel tower on shelf number two requires the determination of a champion Jenga player. Trying to locate my favorite set of pillowcases out of the pile of sheets and throws takes the steely focus of someone playing Operation.
I’ve tried strategically decorating my apartment with stacks of blankets to alleviate my linen storage woes, but honestly when summer comes around it’s so balmy here even looking at a blanket can make it feel hotter.
And while I technically have enough room for all my sweatshirts and sweaters in my bedroom dresser, it’s only possible if they are all rolled up tightly and I never actually have to take anything out of that drawer (because the organization will completely unravel during even the smallest of t-shirt searches).
I bet I’m not the only one with a problem like this—having lots of soft items taking up unnecessary storage space in a small home in the off season.
But this weekend I vacuum-storage packed all of my blankets (save the two left out for my bed) and winter soft clothes (goodbye, oversized perfect lounge wear for the next eighth months) and I am swimming in so much extra storage space I might actually be able to get a towel out of my linen closet now without the entire tower tumbling to my bathroom floor.
They aren’t a new invention—the vacuum storage bag—and yet the fact that they’re not in everyone’s small-space storage arsenal surprises me. A small initial investment of money (in my case, I purchased a two-cube variety bag from my local Lowe’s store this weekend for about $17 bucks, plus I had another extra-large bag in my closet). I stuffed about five blankets and quilts in one, turning a bulky stack into a slim(-ish), air-free, water-tight package I’m able to stand up vertically on my linen closet’s top shelf.
On Sunday I pulled every long-sleeved thing out of my bottom dresser drawer—plus way too many pairs of tights—stuffed them all unceremoniously into a big cube, sucked all the air out, and now a tight little tamale of winter wear is sitting quietly on the top shelf of my closet, awaiting a day when the temperatures might be under 90 degrees again.
The big downside, as you may have surmised already from this post’s very unimpressive photographs: This solution is affordable and easy, but it ain’t attractive. When compressed, the giant plastic bags resemble sad, deflated clear beach balls. You won’t be opening your linen closet doors and coming face-to-face with a Martha Stewart-quality stack of linens, inspiring you to live your best life.
But since I’ve decided to make my home in a city under sea level, overflowing with humidity, an undulating parade of bugs, and an alarming amount of mildew, having my soft goods hermetically sealed away until I’m ready to use them again—knowing moisture and insects will be kept out—is worth the unimpressive “after” photo of vacuum storage-bags of your stuff. And the fact that I have never read the directions and never fold anything that I put in the bags means this is a lazy-proof, imperfect storage system that just about anyone can use.