Tips on Getting Started on a Home Storage System

Most of us live with many more possessions than we can comfortably manage without an organized storage system. Properly placed, belongings stay tidy, safe from damage, and conveniently accessible.

Before you begin building new storage units, you need to step back for a few minutes and consider your own particular storage needs and how best to deal with them. That means coming up with an organized, carefully considered plan. First of all, you will need to examine what you own and what you really need to keep. Then, plan where in the house these objects can be most conveniently kept, and buy or build any new storage units that are needed. Finally, organize these objects in a neat and logical way.

Storage usually falls into one of these three categories: Active storage includes things you need access to regularly, such as sewing supplies or food; keep it separate from other storage. Seasonal storage is typically out-of-season clothes and sports equipment. Dead storage includes things that are rarely needed, such as toys waiting for the next child or memorabilia that might be pulled out every 20 years. Basements, kitchens, dens, bedrooms, and attached garages are usually the best choices for active storage. An attic is ideal for dead or seasonal storage.

When sitting down to plan what goes in which room, there are a few points you may want to keep in mind. For active storage, keep things close to where they are used most often. If you usually do your mending in the living room, for example, why not find a place near the couch or armchair for your sewing supplies? Also, make sure that storage spaces in the garage and basement are well lit, particularly since some of these spots double as activity areas, such as for laundry rooms or workshops. Plan to set up a catchall bin for items that are needed frequently.

Building and Buying New Storage Units

Before adding new storage units, make sure you’re using the existing space efficiently. New units should suit the space available as well as the objects you plan to store there. Make a scale drawing of the area to plan the space. Self-adhesive notepaper is a handy idea for scale cutout of furniture that can be then moved around on the plan.

For storing large objects on shelves, such as cardboard boxes, dollhouses, and bulk food items, make sure the shelves are deep enough so that the objects don’t topple off. Make sure shelves are sturdy enough for the load they’ll have to bear. Longer spans should be supported with brackets.

Make deep storage areas accessible with pullout units. Divide up vertical spaces with stacking bins or baskets or wall-mounted shelves. In a dusty area, such as a workshop, or for storing books, documents, and other objects that need to be kept particularly clean, consider using closed cabinets and drawers.

Finally, you’re ready to use your new storage space. The following considerations are important when installing each object in its new home. Keep those things you use the most at the front of drawers and shelves. Store only lightweight objects high overhead. Take into account the height of the members of your household when deciding what should go where. Also, make sure all dead storage is clearly labeled on a surface that will be visible once the boxes are piled up. This will allow for easy identification if you have to access the items. As much as possible, avoid storing items next to household utilities such as electrical service panels and water heaters. When storing breakable items such as dishes, make sure to mark the boxes and avoid piling anything on top of them.

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