Winning Storage Tetris: 3 Tips for Utilizing Every Inch of Available Space!

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Messy garage pic

Shown: messy garage not properly organized in storage.

I’m not what you’d call a pack rat, but growing up in a family that loved estate sales, flea markets, and watching Antique Roadshow on PBS, it’s easy to see why I’m far more likely to acquire a lot of new interesting things as opposed to get rid of them. If you’re like most people, you like having nice things and you love finding a good deal on something interesting but this leads to needing more storage or even (gasp) giving away treasures you spent years acquiring.

Some people might decide it’s easier to have a garage sale or just cut loose and start over rather than play serious Tetris with their storage unit. While there’s always a time and place for a sale, for the purpose of this article we’re going to call those people quitters. For the non-quitters, read on for some of my best tips on how to make sure you get the most of your storage space – without damaging the goods.

Tip 1: Plan!
This is one step you simply can’t skip! You will never be able to “wing it” at the storage unit as effectively as if you had done some simple planning. This remains true even for veterans of 50+ lifetime moves. Even with all that experience, I’m still going to be in far better shape planning out my storage unit and packing before heading over there.

In particular you need to plan for heavy boxes (aka load-bearing boxes) versus lighter ones, heavy furniture versus delicate valuables, and flexible items (tables with removable legs) versus non-flexible items (washer and dryer, for instance). Even a general overview of what you have will help you plan more effectively.

Tip 2: Get pieces that fit together.
When you’re moving to and from college the first time, any box will do. I’ll never forget my Dad laughing after my freshman year as a dozen taped up 12 pack boxes that used to have beer cans came home packed with rolled up socks, leftover Ramen, and loose papers. He was right to make fun of me.

You can do better. Look for plastic shipping containers from your local Wal-Mart, convenience store, or even order some online. They’re solid, can take a lot of weight, and they’re designed to stack together effectively since they’re all the same shape. That’s a winning combination – then your delicate cardboard boxes can go on top.

Tip 3: Plan for efficient space use.
What does this mean? Many people put tables into storage the regular way, but fitting boxes around the legs can be harder and a lot of useful space gets wasted. By setting the table surface on the ground with the legs sticking up in the air, it’s much easier to use space around the legs.

Do you have a washer and dryer? Then make sure to pack them with quilts, bedding, or clothing! Don’t leave that empty space unused! Finally, avoid the three major mistakes at the bottom of this article, and you’ll be amazed how much you can back into one storage unit.

DON’T:

  • Don’t skip out on wood pallets on the floor to save space. Though tempting, many things that can go wrong from melting snow to flood water. You don’t want anything on the floor if you can help it.
  • Don’t skip on plastic wrap. It’s far less than an inch of thickness and you’ll want it if water or pests get in.
  • Don’t use brute force to pack things together. That stress continues when you’re gone and can damage items over time.
Shane

Shane

Shane knows a thing or ten about moving. Since taking off for college at 17 he has moved over 50 times to more than a dozen states, including the Last Frontier of Alaska. During that time he's figured out the ins and outs of quality inexpensive storage, the importance of careful planning, and how to carefully ship even the most delicate items. He also enjoyed helping with packing, moving, and shipping of antiques for his parents' antique store. When he isn't sharing storage and moving advice, he's working on his next novel and, perhaps not surprisingly, eyeing his next move.
Shane

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About Shane

Shane knows a thing or ten about moving. Since taking off for college at 17 he has moved over 50 times to more than a dozen states, including the Last Frontier of Alaska. During that time he's figured out the ins and outs of quality inexpensive storage, the importance of careful planning, and how to carefully ship even the most delicate items. He also enjoyed helping with packing, moving, and shipping of antiques for his parents' antique store. When he isn't sharing storage and moving advice, he's working on his next novel and, perhaps not surprisingly, eyeing his next move.