Maximizing Hidden Storage

Attics and Basements

Most homes have some kind of concealed storage. In the northwest very few people are fortunate to have a full basement. More often homes have partial attics or a small crawlspace. No matter what kind of storage space you have there are several ways to help make it organized and work better for you.

The space – Make sure the area you plan to use for storage is safe for you and your possessions. Attics and basements present different challenges. The temperature in the attic is a factor to consider, since it can easily get 40 degrees hotter than the home. The problem with a basement is often the presence of moisture. In both spaces, lighting is very important to help you stay safe and organized. If your space has insufficient lighting, consider adding a few battery operated tap lights which stick to the wall surface. Make sure you can safely move around the floor surface. Adding plywood flooring to attic crossbeams or unfinished under house spaces will protect you as well as your stored items.

The contents – Think about what should and shouldn’t go into this storage space. Holiday decorations, hand me downs waiting for the grandkids, and other items that you very seldom use are great stored here. These spaces are often inconvenient to access, so you wouldn’t want to put frequently used items like a stroller that you use every other weekend, the suitcase that gets used once a month, or the mixer that is too large for your counter. Also keep electronics, photos, and candles out of these spaces as the environmental conditions can harm them over time. Keeping a list of the items stored in the space will help you know what you have and prevent “hunting” for an item or duplicate purchases.

The placement – Before you start putting your stuff in, make a plan. Group all like things together. Decide where all of the Christmas decorations will go and locate a place for all the out of season boots, skis, and snowboards to be stored. Think about how often they get used and place the more frequently used items closer to the entrance. Having a plan will help you both in retrieving an item as well as in returning it when you are done. Don’t forget to make sure there is a safe path to move through the space.

The containers – Choose containers with your specific space in mind. Since space is limited you will want to make sure that the containers you use make full use of the depth and height of your space. Consider the other obstacles we discussed earlier like moisture and heat. Plastic may be the best kind of container to protect from moisture, but is it the best choice for a very hot attic? Mobility is another factor to think about with containers. If you have to carry the containers up narrow attic steps, several small containers work better than one large one. Some containers even come with wheels on them to help make moving heavy ones easier.

Take time to go through your space once a year and clear out those items which you no longer use or that can be passed on to someone else. With the weather not being too hot or too cold right now, it would be a great time to take a second look at your concealed storage and start making it an organized and efficient space.

© 2020 Beth Giles

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