Fact: seasonal storage — the rotation of possessions that you only use in certain months of the year into and out of semi-permanent storage on an as-needed basis — gives you control over your own home.
While there are countless posts, slideshows and DIY projects out there offering advice on how to stash stuff away (Under the bed! Behind the door! Command hooks in closets!), there are two simple truths we all must face:
1. There is only so much space in our homes. The average American home is 2,598 square feet; the average apartment is 982 square feet. That space is finite — there will come a time when you can’t add any more floating shelves.
2. Stuff happens fast. Look, none of us want to live in a cluttered home. Clutter makes our living spaces hard to clean. Clutter makes us lose our keys and bills. Clutter takes over spaces like our garage, preventing us from using those areas for what they are really for — say, for instance, parking the car. But clutter can happen fast, and then you’re stuck.
Or are you?
Meet the Storage Sleuths
Seasonal storage options
You can execute a seasonal storage strategy in your home with some planning and care. Dedicate a specific space to seasonal storage — a portion of your garage, basement, a storage shed in the backyard — and make a plan, start storing and stay true to the strategy. Cynthia Ewer of TheOrganizedHome.com refers to this three-step process as “Assess, box and banish and corral and control.”
1. Assess. Ewer recommends making two lists: one list of every storage space in your home, and a second list of every item needing storage. That’s pretty hardcore. I’d recommend saving some time and first writing a list of off-season items you need to store, and the realistic spaces you can use for storage (for example, you’re not putting the snowmobile in the attic).
2. Box and banish. The next step, according to Ewer, is emptying those storage areas. The stuff to keep? Box it, so it can be restored more efficiently. The rest? Donate or dump it all. Odds are good that this process will set off a re-organization chain reaction, forcing you to reassess, rearrange and “box and banish” other areas of your home, too. That’s good! This process may take awhile, by the way — it’s not necessarily a one-afternoon affair. Plan accordingly.
3. Corral and control. This is the hard part — maintaining the sanctity of the storage space. No cheating! If you have a corner of your garage dedicated to the grill, patio furniture and pool toys, you can’t just shove everything aside because you need somewhere to wedge your skis. The only time you reassess this space is when the seasons change and it’s time to rotate what’s being stored.
Take it outside: Professional self storage
The other option is self storage. Yes, there is a cost associated with self storage, but — as our friends, the Storage Sleuths, so adroitly explain above — the price of a storage unit can be offset by the additional space you have in your home.
Are you really saving money if you use your garage for home storage and expose your car to the elements? Are you really saving time if you are fighting a rising tide of clutter and disorganization every day?
If you are in the market for self storage, try a storage space estimator to get an idea of how much space you need. This may save you even more money in the long run.
Good luck with your seasonal storage project!