According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, wanting a bigger home is cited as the top reason people list their homes (tied with job transfer). Although it was not specifically stated, my experience tells me that it s not bigger rooms that most people want, it’s more efficient storage space. If that s the case, many people may be uprooting for all the wrong reasons.
If you are like most people, you are more than likely living with about 60% – 70% of your possessions out in plain sight. That would be the furniture you sit on, the things displayed on walls and in bookshelves, items that sit on countertops, etc. Unless you are a minimalist, the other 30-40% is stored in garages, attics, basements, under beds, in closets and cabinets. Inefficient storage can leave us frustrated and wanting to move, even from a home with ample square footage. But moving needn’t be the only solution. There are so many ways to cleverly find or create storage space in your existing home if you just know where to look.
But, before you go looking for this hidden cache of storage space, it is vital to take a good look at the things you ve been warehousing to access whether or not it’s worth the money, time or sweat equity to keep doing so. For example, seasonal decorations, tools, and extra linens are things you might not use every day, but it’s vital that there are accessible accommodations for them. On the other hand, is it really necessary to use precious storage space on clothes that haven’t been worn in years, old sports equipment, unused kitchen gadgets, old paint cans, broken bits and bobs that never quite get fixed?
If we keep adding stuff but never taking any of it away we reach the tipping point, where even the biggest of homes will get choked out of space.
I worked with a couple that lived in a 5600 square foot home. Even though it was just the two of them they had years of accumulated possessions. They wanted to move because they felt there was not enough space in the house. But we methodically went through every nook and cranny and eliminated anything that wasn’t loved or needed or used. Although it was hard work, they realized that about 40% of what they had been storing had no value in their life. Out it went (never to be missed!) and they were blown away to see how much space their home really had.
Once you’ve don t that it’s time to think about the storage you already have. If I ask most people what their most problematic storage space is they typically say the bedroom closets. Most are outfitted with just one pole for hanging clothes and a shelf above. That’s quite an inefficient set up for storing clothing of varying lengths or items like shoes, belts, folded garments and handbags. Good storage space is found when we take advantage of the height (not just the width) of the closet. Multiple hanging rods allow different length garments to hang in the same space. Vertical towers or cubbies allow us to stack folded items or shoes, for example. If space allows, drawers can be added to take overflow from dresser drawers. And don’t forget the backs of those closet doors. They are great places to mount full length mirrors, shoe bags, robe hooks or belt/tie racks. Take a look at closet outfitting websites to get great ideas, not only for your bedroom closets but linen and other closets too.
Attics, basements and garages warehouse a variety of items, anything from granny’s antique dishes to extra cases of water and bags of cat litter. My suggestion is to line the walls of these spaces with shelves. It doesn’t need to be expensive custom shelving. Inexpensive metal shelving is readily available from most home repair superstores or buying clubs. Go floor to ceiling when possible. And don’t forget to add valuable hooks. They are available from tiny to huge and can hold everything from hoses and cables to bikes, sporting and lawn equipment. There are even some great space opportunities if we remember to look up. A friend of mine always bumped into his kayak when he pulled his car into the garage. One day he looked up and realized there was lots of unused space overhead. By laying plywood over the rafters he was able to make an out of the way storage space. Again, going vertical with storage allows you to get things up off the floor, making it easier to see what you have and easily access it when needed. If you are looking for a more custom option, remember that most custom closet companies have storage systems for these areas as well.
Inside the house can prove a little more challenging to create storage space. If a room is large but lacking in storage, you may need to annex a bit of wall space to get big storage returns. For instance, a long wall could be padded out a foot or two to create a concealed storage closet. Or that same space could be built out as bookshelves or a work station incorporating a desk with file and drawers storage. If your home lacks long expanses of space then consider the unused spaces that are frequently overlooked. The depth of a dormered window is a great places for built in seating (with storage below, of course) or a built in chest of drawers. The awkward space under stairs is a great place for storage too. The depth provides good basic storage for things like luggage and vacuums. I’ve personally done TV built ins and even a wet bar in those spaces. Finding storage space this way is a bit costlier and a lot messier, but in the long run could provide you with some great storage options.
Lastly, one of the easiest ways to add storage is by using furnishings that have combined function and storage. For instance, a Murphy bed can allow a spare room to be used as an office during the day and a guest room when needed. An ottoman with lift up storage is a great place to store blankets and knitting projects. A bed that has drawers built into it’s base can eliminate the need for an additional dresser. Today, more than ever, furniture manufacturers are mindful of the need to multifunction in a single space so they are coming up with new and interesting options.
If you love your house, but hate the storage, these might just be some solutions that keep you in it a while longer. Remember that storage is nothing but space that is being used efficiently. Take a long hard look at the available space in your home or bring in an expert that can see opportunity you can’t. There is more possibility there than you think.
If you’d like to find your homes hidden storage potential contact the Interior Design Shrink to schedule an in-home consultation.
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