I have recently moved to a smaller house and have gotten rid of unnecessary items. The problem is where to store things with which I just can't part, such as heirlooms, out-of-season clothes, important papers, and Christmas decorations. Any suggestions?
Storage Ideas: Make Use of the Attic
We just moved into a new home that is much smaller than our other home, as well. My husband put a plywood floor in our attic and we have stored some of our important things there. Winter clothes are stored on a rack in the attic. Labeled boxes, toys, etc. are stacked up neatly!
Cindy in Louisiana
Storage Ideas: Don't Forget the Garage
Do you have a garage? If so, you can put 4 X 8 sheets of plywood over the rafters to create huge shelves. By using a ladder for access as needed, you can then put boxes of things you seldom use up there. You may want to wrap some things in plastic bags since, depending on where you live, humidity may be a problem.
Storage Ideas: Try Space Bags
I've found that a really great way to store off-season clothes is by using Space Bags. The large and medium sized bags really hold a lot. Sweaters and comforters really compress when you suck the air out of them. Ebay is a good source for inexpensive space bags.
Storage Ideas: A Word of Experience
We live in a small three-bedroom ranch and have two small children. I have to store hand-me-downs, toys, and all my seasonal decorations. I have resorted to the following:
- Our queen-size bed is raised six inches to allow a large amount of under-bed storage. You cannot see the items because I purchased a longer bed skirt. I store extra blankets, gifts, videos and wrapping paper under the bed. Some of the containers have wheels, so they are easy to pull out. I have also purchased some space bags for this location.
- I purchased a large quantity of file boxes (with lids) and use these to store items in the garage. They sit right on top of each other. They are easily labeled and keep most of the dust off of the things that they are holding. These boxes hold books, hand-me-downs, toys that are being cycled in and out of the house, seasonal decorations, and craft supplies.
- I use a low bookshelf behind my sofa as a sofa table and store all our board games there.
- We bought pressed wood cupboards, with doors, and put them along one wall of the garage. The doors hide the clutter and keep the dust off of things. We live in Indiana and the cupboards have been in the garage nine years and are still holding up well, despite the humidity in the summer and the freezing temperatures in the winter.
The garage solutions may not work for those people who have problems with moths or rodents. I have not had any problems and live in a wooded neighborhood.
Storage Ideas: Decorate a Trunk
You could get a large trunk, refinish or decorate it, fill it with items you need to store, and use it as a coffee table. You could also buy or make a pad for the top of the trunk and use it for extra seating.
Stack a pile of three different sized pretty hat boxes (which match your decor) and use them for storing smaller items or collections.
Storage Ideas: Not Just for Travel
I store things in our suitcases. They're handy and keep things neat and secure.
Storage Ideas: Relish Your Smaller Space
It's a daunting prospect to realize that after you have pared down your belongings all you think you can, you realize you still don't have enough storage space. This happened to me after moving from a 3,500 sq. ft. home to a 1,595 sq. ft. home. Perhaps the following suggestions might help you:
- Know up front that you won't find immediate solutions. Rather, look for spaces that are not being used or are being under-utilized. Look for vertical spaces, too. There is only so much horizontal (floor) space in your home so begin looking at vertical spaces.
- Do you have cabinets with finished tops where items can be attractively display and stored? My kitchen cabinets hold a beautiful (I think) array of large serving platters, baskets w/greenery, and collectibles such as an antique coffee grinder, collectible and breakable hens, my grandmother's antique glass cookie jar, etc. I used bricks to "hold" my platters in place, turned the baskets on their sides and filled them with artificial greenery, and mixed and re-arranged several times until I found the perfect compliment of colors, shapes, and so on. Now, all those big plates, platters, and collectibles are up out of my way, but I can see them constantly.
- Do you have windows and door frames that are on the same plane or level? Can you make a simple shelf unit connecting the two together and thereby creating overhead storage space? This again uses space not normally used but looks fantastic with a collection of larger items mixed with basket and greenery, or whatever. I also like the look of this type of shelf filled with stacking wicker baskets where seasonal items can be stored, and then mixed with baskets and greenery or whatever suits your fancy. I once saw 12 identical square wicker baskets stacked in rows of three each interspersed with artificial foliage above a kitchen door and widow area, and it looked great! Little did I realize at the time that I was looking at the homeowner's entire collection of Christmas tree decorations!
- What's under your bed? Perfect place for storage. I use dresser drawers with casters on them and a pull rope and then topped with a piece of old shower curtain to protect from dust.
- What's in your suitcases and where are you storing them? Out-of-season clothing hangs beautifully in a garment bag, and unless you use it every week, it only takes moments to take the clothes out before you begin packing.
- Is every inch of overhead storage potential used in every closet, every storage cupboard? Can you add another shelf in there even if it is going to require that you use a stepstool to retrieve something off that shelf? Or can you add another shelf near the bottom of the closet or cupboard?
- Organization is your key to success here. You will feel as if you have more space if you organize things to where you can find them instantly. Subdivide into smaller units in storage bins or canisters or baskets or whatever at every chance you get. You will feel good about what you are doing if you can find what you want at first glance!
- Continue to pare down. Get rid of items you don't use regularly or if you can't find them a new home within six months.
- Constantly look for storage bins, boxes, baskets, and containers at garage sales. Make sure you will be able to use the item if you buy it, as it will only add to your problems if you don't.
- Most of all, relish your new smaller space. It means less cleaning but demands better organization. Through the clever use of finding more storage areas that are not readily visible to others, you will succeed.
Storage Ideas: Trash Can Treasures
Any person who lives in limited space can use this idea. Substitute trash cans, metal or plastic, for end tables. Fill the can with whatever you need to store and then top with a precut piece of wood from a home improvement store. You then cover it with a tablecloth, piece of fabric, quilt or whatever matches your decor. You could also use two cans placed under a sheet of plywood to form a dining table or desk.
Storage Ideas: Heirlooms as Art
One way to keep heirlooms in the home is to frame them as "art work." I have hung my mother's wedding dress. I placed the dress between two pieces of glass and then had someone make a frame for me to keep it all together. I hung the dress in my dining room. The same can be done for dishes. I have three of my great grandmother's dishes done this way as well. I had a carpenter make boxes for them. I then hung them in the hallway of my home.