As every first time homeowner learns before the first year ends in their new place storage is key. One simply accumulates things. And where to put them becomes a major challenge over time unless you get into good habits early on. Here are some top tips for how to manage self-storage effectively.
Top tips for making self-storage work for your needs
Whether you are taking time to travel, downsizing, or striving for a spotless home, a self-storage unit is invaluable. These units come in a vast array of sizes, from small storage lockers to large shipping containers, so there is one that fits every need. However, no matter which size you opt for, there are a few tips you should know to ensure you are making the most out of the extra space.
If you want your self-storage space to be well-organized, functional, and efficient, just follow these 12 easy tips.
1. Make an Inventory List
Before choosing a unit, decide what to put in storage and make an inventory list. This will ensure you aren’t forgetting key items and will give you an idea of how much stuff you have to store so you can choose the right size. If you are still unsure which size of storage unit is best once you’ve created your list, get advice from the storage company or check the size guidelines on their website. Many include visuals to give you a better idea of what fits in each space.
2. Add a Few Shelves
If you have a space that you plan on packing a lot of small items or boxes into, consider assembling a few utility shelves against the wall. Unlike stacking boxes, shelves allow you to access belongings without shuffling around a lot of items to get there. In addition, if you get a shelf that is almost as tall as your unit, this also allows you to maximize the vertical space—without running the risk of ruining bottom boxes or stacks toppling over.
3. Place Down Heavy Items First
If you plan on piling boxes, ensure that the heavier ones are on the bottom. This will help stop them from getting crushed and prevent your possessions potentially getting damaged. Plus, piling from heaviest to lightest also creates a sturdier stack.
4. Protect Your Mirrors
If you have mirrors going into the unit, take some painters tape and make a large X over the glass. This will keep the insert from shifting around and absorb shock to help ensure the mirror doesn’t break. For extra protection, consider wrapping it in a moving blanket or comforter, then face the glass against a wall.
5. Clear a Path
Pick a unit size that is large enough to fit all of the belongings you need to store and leave room for a path to access them. This isn’t always possible due to lower budgets and availability, but it is highly recommended if you can make it work for you. Try placing all your items against the wall and leave an aisle in the middle to walk through—just make sure to leave at least an inch between objects and the wall to encourage airflow. Leaving a pathway clear will save you lots of time down the road when you need to access specific items.
6. Group Similar Items
This tip is a huge time saver for all self-storage spaces, but it is especially important for larger ones. Make sure to keep similar belongings together. This means that you may have a shelf dedicated to tools, a corner just for Christmas items, or a stack of boxes with all your clothes.
7. Repel Unwanted Visitors
Keep your unit smelling fresh and deter pests with essential oils, such as lavender or mint. All you need to do is place a few drops on cotton balls around the storage unit. Beyond this, ensure there is no food packed away, consider plastic containers over boxes to discourage nesting, and wrap any upholstered items carefully.
8. Use Garbage Cans
If you have empty garbage cans going in storage, take full advantage of them. Garbage cans are great for organizing long and narrow items like brooms, hockey sticks, curtain rods, and skis. Confining these belongings to a taller container also makes them much easier to shift around as a group and they are far less likely to fall over.
9. Take Advantage of Drawers and Cabinets
If any furniture in storage has drawers, cupboards, or any other storage space, make sure that you are packing it with items. This will help you save a lot of space, as well as stay organized. If you are worried about not being able to remember what is in the drawers, add removable labels or add details to your storage map (see Tip 12).
10. Pack Using LIFO
Last In, First Out. Simply put, you are going to want to pack frequently used items into your unit last, ideally near the front. This ensures that you will be able to access them with ease and won’t have to spend time digging them out. Common items to keep in the front may include seasonal clothing, holiday decorations, and winter tires. What are items you shouldn’t keep near the front? Valuables. If you insist on putting these in the unit, toward the back is better. However, it is better to keep valuables like jewelry, personal records, and stocks and bonds in a safe deposit box if you can’t keep it in your home.
11. Keep a Step Ladder Handy
Another item that you may want to place in your self-storage unit near the entrance is a stepladder. This will come in handy if you end up having to reach a high item. Other convenient items to include with it are a flashlight, a measuring tape, a dolly (if you have a lot of heavy possessions or furniture), and a few empty boxes or bags.
12. Make a Map
No artistic skills needed, just grab a piece of paper and a pencil. You want to make a rough sketch of your unit and make note of where key items are located. When you are done, take a photo of it with your phone then hang the physical copy inside the entrance of your unit. That way, you will always have a copy on hand, as well as a highly accessible copy as soon as you pop your storage door open.
No matter your reason for renting self-storage, the 12 tips above will help you take maximum advantage of the extra space. With just a little bit of planning and know-how, your storage unit will be organized, efficient, and easy to navigate.