Prevent Disaster when Storing Items

It’s almost that time of year again when we all decide to declutter and do the proverbial spring cleaning. I get very busy around this season, as clients are ready to start with a fresh look and minimize the clutter.  One of the biggest issues we face when redesigning a space is what to do with all the left-over stuff. Much of my redesign work involves moving out unneeded or mismatched items, and shopping around the house for a better fit.  Inevitably, we end up with a pile of stuff stacked in another room.

So, where do we put it all? We all need more attic, basement or garage storage! Donating items is your first line of defense, but for those pieces that make the cut, we must know where & how to store them properly. Attic and garage spaces are the most common, and if you’re lucky enough to have a basement, we can use this space as well.  These environments are very different, however, and stored items require unique and specific care.  I’ve had so many clients tell me that disaster struck when a pipe burst in the basement, and they lost all their photos to water.  I’ve had others whose collections melted in the heat of the attic. And then there’s the exposure to the elements in a garage setting. Proper planning can prevent this from happening to you!

 

1. Assess the Space & Quantity of ‘Stuff’

First things first – figure out what you need to store and how much space you have in each environment. Most importantly, consider accessibility to the items and how often you will need to access the items.  If you have too much stuff and not enough space to store it, you need to go back to the beginning and pare down again.

2. Determine the Best Place

Now that you know what you have to store, it’s time to determine the best place for it all. Climate is the key!

3. ATTIC

The attic is usually the driest of all areas, but you must keep roof leaks in mind.  It also experiences the greatest temperature extremes and is usually the least accessible area. Focus on items that are the least used, such as holiday decor, seasonal clothing, luggage, and folding chairs & tables. Beware of airtight plastic containers if you live in an area that gets very hot summers, as these containers can overheat and melt the items within.  Canvas or cardboard storage containers are best. Avoid: Never store photos and papers in the attic, as the extreme temperatures can make these papers brittle.

4. BASEMENT: I once read that there are two types of basements: those that have flooded and those that have yet to flood! In other words, the basement is prone to flooding and is usually the most humid area of all. You must store things expecting them to get wet. Never store anything directly on the basement floor. Instead, use shelving that’s at least 4″ off the floor to safeguard them against flooding. Clear plastic containers are the best for the basement, just don’t overload them and don’t forget to label. Avoid: Clothes and furniture can be damaged by mold and mildew, as can cardboard boxes.

 

5. GARAGE: The garage is a good middle ground, but space is usually a commodity here! I suggest storing frequently used items and things that you need easy access to, such as lawn equipment, bikes, car related items, trash cans, recycling bins, etc. Camping gear is also a good fit for the garage, as is sports equipment.

6. NONE OF THE ABOVE: Paint, propane, electronics, photos, and vinyl records should never be stored in the garage, basement or attic. These items need relatively constant temperatures and humidity levels.

I hope you’ve learned a few good tips for organizing your attic, basement or garage storage areas as you enter into spring cleaning. If you’re ready to redesign your space and move out some clutter, I’d love to work with you!

Your House

Where do you store your stuff? What tips do you have?

Go ahead, tell us in the comments!

As always, call or email me!

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