Storage space is an elusive concept, and the “perfect” amount is often just a little more than we have. The right amount of storage is like a carrot always dangling before us. And no matter what we do, it seems impossible to reach it.
Many of us equate “space”-such as closets-with storage. “If I just had one more closet,” we say, “then my storage needs would be covered.” Or we buy lots of plastic containers or other items traditionally associated with storage, thinking that if we buy enough of them, our problem just might be solved.
We believe the answer lies not in more plastic containers but in thinking about storage more creatively. Many of us believe that most of our things should be contained and hidden or, at the very least, put away. But you don’t really need to hide your belongings unless you want to.
If you’re worried that storing things in plain view will look messy or cluttered, we assure you, there are many ways to avoid falling into that trap. Also, wouldn’t it be great not to have to hunt for your winter coat, your roller skates, or extra bed sheets when you need them? The key is this: You need to create inexpensive, accessible storage solutions. We like to call it smart storage.
When you have items that you need to store, do you automatically reach for cardboard boxes and stuff them until they are overflowing? While cardboard boxes might be fine for storing some items, they are not a very attractive solution, and for this reason, things stored this way tend to get pushed to the back of a closet where no one can see them-not even you.
But what happens when you need something that’s in the box? You’ll have to move all your shoes and other items that get piled up around the boxes, and dig through to find what you’re looking for. Does this sound like your system? But there are better ways to store things!
If you’ve never considered storing your belongings in style, perhaps it’s time! The type of creative containment you opt for depends on several factors. First, you’ll need to consider what you’re storing. Clothing, for instance, should be treated differently than garden tools. Second, consider the location and the environmental factors of that location.
If you have an unused computer you’re storing, you’ll want a location that won’t get too cold or too damp, since these conditions could damage the computer. Third, you can begin thinking about the containers you’ll use. Although plastic bins and cardboard boxes can get the job done, consider these more creative alternatives:
For Long-Term Storage:
Instead of banishing sweaters or off-season clothing to the back of your closet or stashing them in cardboard, try something different. Pick up old drawers at a flea market, paint or stain them to match or complement your bed, then add four rolling casters on the bottom so it can be moved around easily. Store each unit under your bed, and you’re putting a little-used space to a productive use.
Tired of a linen closet that’s overflowing? Purchase an inexpensive wicker hamper and store off-season linens in a closet. Beach towels can occupy the hamper in the winter, and flannel sheets can hibernate there during the summer.
For Short-Term Storage:
If you’re short on bathroom space, use decorative hooks to hold baskets or bags full of toiletries.
Small shelves mounted over doorways or windows can hold items like books and collectibles.
Shoe bags are versatile receptacles that can store a multitude of things, from Beanie Baby collections to craft supplies to correspondence.
Small items (e.g., buttons, safety pins, etc.) can be stored in bulk easily. Purchase a few matching glass jars with screw-on lids. Glue the lids onto the bottom side of wall shelf, with the lids in a straight line with a few inches between them. Fill the jars with small items, and screw the jars on the lids. When you need a button, grab the jar and twist, retrieve it, then screw it back into place.
Another idea for storing lots of small items: Remove the label from an old paint can, paint the can all one color and decorate it with decoupage or paint markers. Use the cans to store belts, game pieces like dominoes, small toys photos-anything! Glue several paint cans together for an interesting storage unit.