Storage can be a clutter safety net

The house in which I currently reside has a ton of storage space. The basement alone is about 900 square feet (83m2). You would assume that a lot of storage space is a great thing, right? Well, it is a good selling point for would-be buyers, but a lot of storage space provides you with an easy way to keep stuff that you should not be keeping.

We realized this when we cleared out our basement and closets in preparation for a yard sale. The amount of stuff that we accumulated was staggering and we still didn’t even come close to using all of the storage space that we have. The clutter safety net is what I like to call the storage in our home. If we never had an easy way of storing all of this stuff, then it would have been gone long ago.

Some people don’t have the “luxury” of a lot of storage space on their premises so they opt for the local self storage business. Again, make sure you actually need the stuff that you are paying extra to store. Do not let the self-storage industry convince you that you need a clutter safety net! People tend to get rid of things because they don’t have the room for them anymore. Available storage space should not be the only factor when deciding whether or not you get rid of something. Storage space is always be available either in your own home or at a self-storage facility but you should not justify keeping something just because the space is available.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

8 Comments for “Storage can be a clutter safety net”

  1. posted by Melissa A. on

    I like to organize so for me having storage space, and storage containers helps me keep control of my clutter. During the organizing process I find things I no longer need. Though I just moved to a new apartment with quite a bit more storage than the last place, but I already got rid of things before the move. Now I just need to stick with it.

  2. posted by SpiKe on

    I too like organizing and especially optimizing the space I have. In some ways storage space itself can be clutter. Before I started on the whole process I had 2 cupboards of unorganized stuff and junk in my bedroom. As I got rid of clutter and optimized the space usage of what I had I was able to get rid of 1 of the cupboards and give myself a lot more room. My partner wants to move to a bigger house with more room, but I don’t know how I’d juggle the use of all the empty space.

    SpiKe
    Organize IT

  3. posted by twosandalz on

    I have a patch of attic storage space, which I recently discovered is turning into a clutter safety net. While digging for some curtains, I re-discovered things I’d forgotten I owned. I used to think of the attic as a place for Stuff I’ll Always Use. But it turns out that sometimes stuff I expect to remain useful turns into dust-collecting clutter. Now I think of it as an over-sized closet, subject to collecting junk and in need of regular purges.

  4. posted by Riona on

    We lived in a motel room for months while we remodeled. Before we moved out of our place we got rid of maybe 70% of our stuff, and the rest we put in storage. Several months later, we realized we hadn’t missed any of it. So we started a great process: if we thought about something in our storage unit, we wrote it on a whiteboard. When we moved back into our apartment, we only took back those items listed on the whiteboard. Without the stuff, our life is a thousand times more peaceful and relaxed.

  5. posted by Liz on

    Heh, we’re minimalists, but even we were challenged to find a storage locker recently when the 1100 square foot apartment we thought we were moving cross country into turned out to be just about 600 square feet. Still, we mostly have moving boxes in there. Moving boxes, two containers of Christmas ornaments (mostly gifts), and one of winter accessories. I still hate having it.

  6. posted by helix on

    It is very true that storage can act as a clutter safety net. You don’t realize it until you have a yard sale or find yourself frustrated with the hassle of having to retrieve something from storage.

    We thought we had clutter licked when we installed “baker” racks from IKEA in the basement. Instead we had succeeded only in densely packing our clutter into deep racks. Retrieving anything was a pain in the ass because it was necessary to displace items to get out what we wanted– and then reverse the process when putting the thing back.

    A short while ago, I built “hungarian shelves” on one wall in the basement. It is only 10 inches deep, but the limited storage actually forces you to decide what essential things you want store there and so, by design, keeps clutter in check (or at least limited and visible).

    Here’s a link for how to build hungarian shelves:
    http://www.instructables.com/i.....B?ALLSTEPS

  7. posted by Kirk Roberts on

    After a couple of years of using self-storage I almost completely forgot what was in there. Then I started fantasizing that a freakish fire would burn just my unit to ashes, saving me the trouble of looking through items I obviously didn’t need (or even want). Now that we’re in a house (and have gotten rid of most of the stuff that was stored) there are a few cardboard boxes that I feel the same way about. What is in them? I’m not sure. But once I look it’s going to be tempting to keep the contents, just because I have the space. It’s crazy, but it seems the longer you keep something the harder it is to get rid of. Like there is added equity from the mere survival of an item in your life. The moral: save yourself the trouble later and get rid of it *now*.

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