Tag Archives: self-storage

Tips for Maximizing Your Storage Space

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.


Fourth: Arrange the room

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.

Fifth: Label

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
  • Brackets/hooks
  • 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.

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Filed under Garage, General Organizing, Moving, organizing, Perspective, Storage, Strategies

Managing the World of Self-Storage

How good of a deal is that storage unit?

How good of a deal is that storage unit?

Lately we’ve had several clients struggling with the issue of storage units. It makes us realize how important it is to think through the decision about renting one before you make the leap.

When we feel compromised for space the appeal of an extra garage is enticing. There are valid reasons for needing and using storage but if you don’t have a planned exit strategy and timeline for emptying it, the long-term cost will far outweigh the benefits.

The Financials

Don’t let the perception of a low monthly cost cloud the reality of how much you’ll really be paying over time. According to the Self Storage Association, in 2013 the asking rent for a 10’ x 10’ unit was $115/mo. That comes to $1,380/year. If you can afford that much would you be better off spending higher rent or mortgage to get a larger living space? Would the money be better spent processing and organizing the stuff so you don’t have to store it? 

Still think it’s a great idea?

  • Some stored objects depreciate or become obsolete (computer equipment, appliances)
  • If you’re holding onto things because “they might be valuable one day,” the storage cost will greatly offset your profit
  • If you can store it for years, you can probably live without it
  • If the storage bill is unpaid, the contents will be sold to pay the fees and you will still be liable for the balance of the bill
  • Having more storage promotes acquisition
  • Inadequate security can put your items at risk of loss
  • Climate issues – damage can occur to furniture/art/photos/papers due to moisture and heat; climate controlled units are more expensive

Getting Out

Understand that the main cause of clutter is unmade and postponed decisions. Getting a unit emptied will require many decisions about what to keep, what to let go of, and how to let go of items. Having an exit plan is essential for controlling your costs. Decide a date for when the unit will be empty and plan a timeline accordingly.

First step is usually to sort the contents. Options for getting items out once you’ve sorted:

  • For furniture, art, and collectibles – have an estate sale person come and make you an offer
  • Some storage facilities offer eBay selling services
  • Schedule a charitable donation pickup
  • You many need to hire a mover or hauler to get rid of large items or trash; storage units generally don’t let you use their dumpsters
  • If all else fails, leave the unit unlocked and the door ajar

Take a hard look…do you want to spend money on keeping things in limbo or do you want the clarity and peace of mind of having made sometimes tough choices to free up your resources for better uses?

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Filed under Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Perspective, Storage, Strategies

Tapping Spring Energy To De-clutter

Saturday Evening Post article: "End Clutter Now"

Does Clutter Have You Feeling Trapped?

Spring is the season of renewal and freshness. We think of spring cleaning, good weather, beautiful flowers blooming. The March/April 2013 issue of the Saturday Evening Post has a great article describing the connection between our state of mind and the state of our homes. Here are 3 key quotes from the article, End Clutter Now, by Iyna Caruso:

  • “‘A systematic pattern of home neglect is really a form of self-neglect,’ says Dr. Holly Parker, a practicing psychologist and faculty member of Harvard University.”
  • “As a nation of affluence, we buy without thinking what we’re going to do with it, how we’re going to use it, and where we’re going to put it. And because we’re busier than ever, we have less time to figure it all out.”
  • “Clutter is an energy sapper that takes its emotional toll and steals domestic joy. If home is where the heap is, it’s a good bet family members are more stressed and less productive.”

Clutter can be a symptom of depression but it can also cause it.

Take advantage of the energy of new growth that comes with spring and tackle the clutter in your home.  Iyna Caruso created a list of seven steps to do this.

7 Steps to Clutter Control

As the author points out, “If the task still seems daunting, or the situation has gotten a bit too out of hand, consider hiring a professional organizer who’ll come to your home to help you prioritize and systematize.”

Got a good spring cleaning story?  Share it with us!

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Filed under General Organizing, Holidays, Perspective, Strategies, Time Management