This is the bit that most people struggle with! Every house (bar one!) I have ever lived in has not had enough storage space. Or more likely is that we have had too much stuff! Either way in England most of us get by with a cupboard under the stairs, a garage, an airing cupboard and some loft space. If you are lucky you might get some fitted wardrobes. This is why we are leading the way in self storage. We just don’t have enough space.
More and more of us are opting to store some of our possessions in storage facilities rather than keep them at home. Adding another outgoing to our monthly bills. Personally I would rather see what can be done at home.
This post also includes all houses and not just Victorian properties. Victorian properties aren’t any better than any other type of house when it comes to storage. They do have chimneys which are useful for putting shelving up either side and they generally have a decent under stairs cupboard and a big loft, if you haven’t converted it of course which I suggest you do!
The first solution
Get rid of everything you don’t need! This is the cheapest and definitely easiest way of dealing with your storage issues. If you are reading this in late march of 2020 you will also know that there has never been a better time to do this! We are all stuck in doors, so you might as well do something useful. Anything you can do in these very strange times to keep you occupied, happy and healthy has got to be a good thing.
So lets get straight to the point. You probably don’t need half the things you own and I’m sure deep down you know this. Again with our health and the health of our loved ones currently under attack, you’ll probably be very much aware of what is important in life. Having thousands of nick, knacks probably isn’t it. Sorry don’t mean to be preachy but this health scare definitely puts things into perspective. Minimalism is a good thing.
So have a good sort out. Clear away half your junk and this will immediately give you twice as much storage space! Don’t keep spares of anything. Use your favourite or best and get rid of your others. Make all the things you own your favourite. Don’t keep draws full of junk. Don’t keep boxes full of old magazines. If you don’t listen to cd’s anymore and you’ve got hundreds of them (recently guilty of this!) then sell them. I didn’t even have a cd player anymore.
Have a look at my previous post on ways to clear out your unwanted things. The first thing you should always do is have a clear out. Less stuff equals more room. Just go cupboard by cupboard, draw by draw and get rid of anything you haven’t used for a year. There are also lots of books and guides to help you. If you have got it down to the bare essentials then there are lots of ways to store your valuables. I’ve done this recently so I will leave it there!
The Cheapest solution
The easiest and cheapest solution once you have cleared all of the excess stuff is to box or bag up anything that won’t hang in a wardrobe, fit in a draw or in a cupboard. Again when you are putting things into boxes, have a good think about why they are going into boxes and not displayed or used. Most things go into boxes, never to be seen again. It may be that you don’t actually need them or are ever going to use them. Obviously things like toys, shoes, sports equipment, seasonal wear and your Sunday best stuff are fine. They need somewhere to live when they are not in use.
Plastic/fabric boxes and the sturdiest plastic/fabric storage bags really are the cheapest way of keeping this type of thing together and orderly. Put the items in the box, label them and put under beds, in the bottom of wardrobes or if they are sturdy plastic boxes then they can be stacked up.
Plastic boxes with lids are also really good for loft space. Just make sure you get good quality ones. The thin flexible type tend to break quite quickly. Plastic is bad for the environment but not if you keep the plastic for a long time. Good quality plastic boxes could last a life time. If you really don’t want to get plastic boxes then fabric covered card board is the next best thing. The problem with these is you can’t clean the fabric very well and they start to degrade over time. If you are thinking about putting boxes in the loft use plastic ones.
You might have memorabilia from your child hood, wedding dress, etc… Perfect for the loft and if you get the boxes to be roughly the same size, then they can be stacked. You could also have a good look at the boxes you currently have, measure them and buy boxes that will fit on top. It really essential that they fit on top of each other, you’ll make better use of the space this way. Make sure you label them. Very important!
Also if you have a small loft hatch, make sure you can carry yourself and the box through the hatch! This can be tricky in modern homes in England. The hatches are sometimes really small and make it dangerous to squeeze large objects through them. The number of times I’ve got to the top of the loft ladder only to realise I can’t fit through the gap!
In terms of plastic boxes, we have lots and I mean lots! My son has so much Lego and there isn’t really any where else to put it. I dream of a minimalist lifestyle but Lego has other ideas! We have a mixture of bright red boxes which are stacked up and some clear boxes that live under the bed. Its fine for kids bedrooms and the red boxes actually brighten the room. You probably wouldn’t want these in a main bedroom. Nobody wants to see a huge pile of plastic boxes stacked up in their bedroom! We’ve also got a sliding storage solution from Ikea that works really well. I’ve featured it below.
So other than toys and memorabilia, what can you store or need to store? I’ve had a good think about this one and had a little look around my own house and there are lots of things. Make up, toiletries, valuables, books, magazines, pens, paper, arty stuff, laptop cases, guitar cases (in our house!), tennis rackets, squash rackets, boxes for Tv’s, Ipads, board games, clothes, shoes and coats. There are other things like kitchen stuff but those items live in the kitchen and never come out, that’s the idea anyway!
The two things we really struggle with is shoes and clothes. We have two shoe racks for one half of this little problem! Then you’ve also got hats, umbrellas, trainers, football boots, etc… We bought a wall mounted coat rack (x2!) from Ikea and that is excellent. We also have a bench with baskets underneath, for shoes that aren’t used as much. Beach shoes and football boots.
One thing we don’t have anymore is any entertainment media. I cleared all of my Cd’s and Dvd’s recently and sold them to a company called music magpie. I worked out that I hadn’t listened to a cd for years and didn’t even have a cd player to play them on! They didn’t fetch a huge amount of money but they will have found new homes and the money I received paid for about 6 months worth of Spotify, which I use 2-3 hours a day. This freed up lots of space as they were very bulky.
If you still have these items, have sorted through them and still want to use them, the best option is to have them on shelves with easy access. I haven’t picked any out as I do think most people have turned to music streaming a while ago, or they have downloaded their cd’s to their computer.
One thing that we do still have lots of is the original boxes for x box, Nintendo and various other electronic device boxes. I always keep these! I think if the item breaks and have to go back to the store, they are better off in the original box. We decided to put them all in bigger plastic boxes and label the boxes. This keeps them together and stops them from getting damaged.
The next or biggest thing is clothes. There is no easy answer for a large collection of clothes. Ideally they need to be hung. This is so you can see them and make the most of them. Once they go into boxes or storage they invariably don’t get worn again, unless its seasonal. This means lots of wardrobe space which we just don’t have. Or really good quality racks. There really is no substitute for trying to live with less clothes. It’s so difficult because you’ll go through your clothes and find lots of things you haven’t seen for a while that you still really love. I do anyway!
There are also lots of people who hover between sizes. This means twice as many clothes! This is where it gets really difficult, as you don’t want to admit to yourself that some of your clothes are unlikely to fit again! The sensible thing to do is put the clothes that don’t fit away in boxes or think about selling/giving them away. You can always buy more, when you are slim again and enjoy getting rid off your bigger items. The ideal storage solution for clothes you don’t wear often are fabric boxes you can slide under your bed. It means they are still easily accessible and will be in good condition when you want to wear them.
Last but not least is books and magazines. Books really should be on shelves. Once they go into storage boxes, it is most likely because you aren’t going to read it again. If you have text books related to your job then fine, keep them for reference material. Magazines can be stacked up and displayed or put in magazine racks. I had boxes of magazines and I just recently gave them away.
Anyway, I think I’ve narrowed it down to Boxes, Under bed storage, shoe racks, coat racks and clothes racks. This will keep most of your house tidy and well ordered and help you locate those items you don’t use all of the time when you really need them. I’ve picked a few of the sturdiest and most sensible versions of these things below. I own most of them!
35 Litre really useful box – 3 for £31. These boxes are made in England and at 35 litre are pretty big. They are also very tough and durable and can be stacked up. I’ve got lots of these! They can go under beds or stack up neatly in cupboards or wardrobes. As clear plastic boxes go these are really good! Don’t buy cheap plastic boxes as they won’t last and they’ll end up in landfill. Not good.
18 litre really useful box – £9.99 each. Same brand as above and the same length and width box, just half the depth. These are very similar to the addis boxes that I use for lego but are no longer available. They are shallow enough for Lego as you really need to be able to see what you are doing. You can still locate small pieces right at the bottom of the box!
9 Litre really useful box – £11.94 each. Same brand but again half the size. Excellent for smaller items. You can keep valuables, watches, passports and important things in these.
Fabric underbed storage – £18.99 each. They look cosmetically better than plastic boxes and are ideal for clothes. You can get cheaper transparent plastic bags that do the same job but don’t look as attractive and aren’t as durable as these bags are. Great for seasonal clothes.
Fabric under bed shoe storage – £19.99 each. Similar to the other fabric boxes but with shoe compartments. Keeps all your shoes together and you can actually see through the material which is ideal.
9 pair shoe rack – £23.91 each. We’ve got two very similar shoe racks. There enough space to put sandal and flip flops underneath. Keeps the hall way looking tidy.
bamboo wood shoe rack – £25 each. This is from Habitat and is a nice alternative to a metal rack.
Antique look wall mounted coat hook – £30 each. These are almost exactly like the hooks that we have got. They’re really sturdy and hold lots of coats.
Coat and shoe rack combination – £44.99 each. We don’t have one of these but this would work really well if you’ve got less shoes. It is also a great bench to sit and put your shoes on.
If you would like a more permanent solution, that doesn’t involve either stacking boxes up or hiding them under your bed, then Ikea have some wonderful storage solutions. They have book cases, shelving, either wall or floor shelving. They have wardrobes, draw units and various cupboards but the storage that we have are the units below. They are really good as the bins are open top so you can get at what ever you are storing in them quickly. Perfect for toys.
Trofast storage shelves with plastic bins – £49 for the shelving unit – The draws are extra. These are particularly great for Lego. We have two sets! (I did say we’ve got lots of Lego!) You can get two different size boxes to fit. The orange boxes as shown are pretty deep. You can also buy yellow boxes that are more shallow.
Grey bamboo storage box – £20 each. These are really nice looking storage boxes. Great for to put on shelves as they are really attractive. They are small, so good for watches, jewellery and valuables.
Lego brick storage container – £24.99 each. These are really lovely! They are expensive however. If we didn’t have quite as much Lego as we have, we would purchased lots of these as they look great in kids bedrooms.
If you need wardrobe space or somewhere to hang clothes then you can either buy a wardrobe, a coat hook or a clothes rail of some type. I use clothes rails, coat hooks and have also seen wall hanging rails that look really good. More sturdy than a rail as you can’t knock it over and they also look to use up less space.
Oropy industrial pipe wall hanging rail -£32.66 each. These look great and depending on your wall hanging skills will be very sturdy! You can get them with shelves over the top, perfect for hallways. I always find that with the floor standing rail that they get knocked over at some point. Or even more likely, you load it up so that it just collapses!
Free standing clothes rail in white – £18 each. We have a few of these, just don’t overload them or as I’ve said they will fall over! Perfect for lighter clothes.
Next time, I’m going to look at the item that can best tie the room together, the rug!