Most of us have stuff in storage, whether it is in a commercial storage unit or a closet in your house, we have things to store. I figure even The Minimalists have items in storage of some sort.
How do you maximize the space you have to avoid paying monthly storage fees or to minimize the storage fees you pay by renting a smaller space?
Here are a few tips for making the most out of your storage.
First: Do a little purge
Figure out your have-to-haves as opposed to your nice-to-haves. Do you really need to keep that snowboard, if you haven’t been to the snow for 10 years? Would it be easier just to rent ski equipment if you decide to take a trip to the mountains?
Doing a purge doesn’t mean you have to go through everything you’ve been storing. Take a quick look around and see if there is anything easy to get rid of. Is there a carpet that is so stained you’ll never use it again? or are you holding onto art that you’ll never hang on your walls?
It’s not very methodical, but every item you remove makes space to see and evaluate what’s you really want to keep.
Once you have done a sweep of the items you know you won’t keep, you can go through boxes individually, but for the quick and dirty method, just rearrange the space to make full use of it.
Second: Use containers for storage
Boxes are easier to stack than small loose items. Whenever possible, box and label items that can be stacked or put on shelves. Clear plastic tubs are great because you can easily see what’s inside.
Third: Maximize the use of the space
Use vertical space, add shelves, use rollers or wheels under things to make things moveable. These rolling metal shelves come in different sizes. The shelf heights can be customized. Find them at Home Depot, Costco, The Container Store and even on Amazon.
These plastic shelves are inexpensive and easy to move around.
Packing the room according to your access needs is essential. Group items toward the front that need to be accessible…even if they aren’t exactly in the same category. For example, you might need access to your summer equipment more often than your Aunt Gertrude’s ashes (yes, we find those in storage units.) Seasonal items take priority over memorabilia.
Consider whether you need walkways to get to things or can items be put on rolling shelves and stack the shelves right next to each other – knowing you can roll them out to get to the back.
In addition to labeling any boxes and tubs it can be useful to label whole shelving units or zones within the space.
Tip: Use shelving on wheels so you can roll things out and get access to items in the back…instead of having to unpack the whole unit to get to something at the back wall.
Tip: Use as much vertical space as possible. Shelving enables that but if what you’re storing doesn’t make sense to store on shelves such as rolled carpets, framed pictures or skis, see if you can hang things on the walls or from the ceiling using brackets or hooks.
Handy items to keep in your storage unit:
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Labels and/or blue tape
- Large magic markers/sharpies
- Box cutters/scissors
What to bring with you when you go to visit your storage:
- Storage unit keys and access code
- Camera/phone for inventorying
- Toolkit with battery operated drill
- Sturdy plastic bins or boxes with lids
Remember to balance the true value of your items against the ongoing cost of storage Most likely, you are paying $1200 a year to store these items in a commercial storage facility. You might intend to have items in storage for a short time, but statistics show that we keep things in storage much longer than originally planned.