By Vince Mancuso, Storage.com
Storage.com is an advocate of a cleaner home, whether through helpful tips for tackling clutter or the use of a storage unit.
Whether you’re in a three-bedroom home or a studio apartment, chances are you have clutter. Spare rooms often become dumping grounds for unused items. Countertops become havens for receipts, magazines, mail, and other items that should be filed away. And, of course, there’s that hallway closet that’s filled to the brim—the one you’re too scared to open after you were barely able to get it shut the last time.
While getting rid of trash is easy when decluttering, it’s much harder to get rid of items that you don’t need around the house every day but still want to keep. Think old family photos, financial documents, Christmas decorations, and the bike you ride to and from work when the weather allows. Rather than stressing about ditching these belongings or finding a larger home, you can rent a self storage unit.
Renting a storage unit is a great solution for keeping all of your belongings while getting the most use out of your square footage. But before you go running off to the nearest facility with a 10×10 available, follow these steps for using self storage to declutter your home.
How do you determine what needs to go into self storage? That’s easy. Create an inventory of the non-essential items taking up space in your home. The best way to take inventory of these items is to separate them into four categories: records, keepsakes, seasonal, and junk.
Records would be things like financial documents (taxes, investments, credit card statements, loans, etc.) and home or vehicle documents (mortgage files, insurance policies, appliance manuals, etc.).
As for how long you should keep records, each document has its own “keep” period. For example: Taxes should be kept up to seven years whereas bank statements should only be kept for a year. Any record that’s past its recommended keep period should be shredded and/or thrown away.
Keepsakes include more personal items, such as photo albums, family heirlooms, collectibles, antiques, and furniture that you may use later down the road. While you might not use these items every day (or even every month), they’re belongings you want to keep for sentimental or personal value.
Seasonal items can include winter and summer clothing, holiday decorations, lawn equipment, boats and ATVs, and sporting gear. These are usually the possessions you keep in closets, garages, attics, or basements when they’re not in use.
Junk is whatever you have left. This includes broken items, belongings you never use, things you don’t have a place for, and possessions that have no personal value. Either discard, sell, or donate these items.
Once you’ve taken inventory of your clutter, it’s time to find a storage unit for the items you want to keep. This means finding the best storage facility, unit size, and storage features for your needs.
If the items you’re storing are things you’ll need on a regular basis, such as a bike, then it may be best to find a storage facility near your home. However, if you’re only storing Christmas lights and the inflatable Santa collection you use from November to January, the location of your storage facility isn’t as important since you won’t need to pick up and drop off these items frequently.
Each facility has different storage amenities available, which is why it’s important to determine what items you’re storing before finding a facility. For instance, if you plan to store wooden furniture, which can crack in extremely cold environments and warp in hot, humid environments, you’ll want a storage facility that has climate-controlled storage units. If you’re storing expensive or personal items, such as jewelry, wine collections, or family heirlooms, you’ll want a storage facility with good security.
As far as storage unit size goes, a 5×5 or 5×10 is what most people use to declutter their homes. These units are roughly the size of a walk-in closet and can hold a mattress set, small furniture, and a few boxes. If you need to store multiple large items—like a sofa and armchair, bed frames, and some boxes—a 10×10 would be better. This unit size can typically hold the contents of two full bedrooms.
If you plan to store a recreational vehicle that you only use when the weather’s nice, such as a motorcycle, ATV, or boat, ask the facility about vehicle storage options. Some facilities will have indoor spaces from sizes 10×15 and up; others will have outdoor or covered parking stalls.
Move In and Check In
After you’ve found your unit, it’s simple. You just move in!
Though, one thing many self storage users don’t consider is whether they need to visit their storage unit after moving everything in. This is especially true of people who don’t need to frequently swing by the facility and grab items. Nevertheless, it’s important to regularly check in on your storage unit to make sure your belongings are still in good condition. A good guideline would be every two to three months.
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