To me, storage is a dirty word. What do you store? Things you don’t use. And if you don’t use something, why store it?
Of course, that’s an exaggeration, but not too much. There’s good storage and bad storage, but the former usually tends to make up the bulk. Good storage is made up of things you know you are going to use. For example, keeping your winter clothes in storage during the summer and vice versa is a smart idea because it reduces clutter and can be an easy way to double your space. A pantry for bulk foodstuffs also makes sense. But unless you’re the Queen of England, I’m not sure why you would want to have a “fancy” set of dishes or stemware in addition to what you normally use. If you’re using something only once a year or so, it probably doesn’t justify the cupboard or shelf space it’s taking up.
That gives many the bright idea that what they need is more storage space outside the home. The New York Times last week ran a feature on American’s growing demand for storage space. A taste:
Ms. Wagner, a 56-year-old book publicist, spotted a van tire wedged amid the jumble, an item that she seemed not to have noticed on previous visits, and gave her husband a knowing look. “I didn’t want to throw it away so I brought it here,” Mr. Wagner, 53, said, a little defensively.
The Wagners have been bringing their things to this storage warehouse rather than discarding them for two years. “It’s very much a part of our house, even though it’s not in the house,” Ms. Wagner said. “It’s like a hidden room.”
They are not the only ones taking this approach to clutter. According to Michael T. Scanlon Jr., president of the Self Storage Association, a trade group, 11 million American households currently rent storage space, an increase of 90 percent since 1995 — even as the size of new American houses has grown and the size of the American family has shrunk.
That is plain insane. A hidden room? Give me a break. There can be legitimate uses of rental storage such as temporary space while you live abroad for a while, etc. But if you have a locker full of crap you don’t even see, let alone use, seriously consider selling it all on eBay or a garage sale and then take all the proceeds (along with the money you’re spending on rental) and give it to charity or buy yourself a big flat screen TV.
Storage makes sense when you store for retrieval. That is, you store with a view to making it easy to have something on hand when you’ll need it. Storage merely to keep something out of sight, and therefore hopefully out of mind, is the equivalent of sweeping dirt under the rug. Seriously, if you have a rental space, think how relatively simple and rewarding it might be to get rid of it. And even if you just have a couple dozen boxes in the garage you haven’t opened in years, consider throwing them out without even peeking inside. Think of the extra room you’ll have.