When deciding what size storage space you need, it’s really about maximizing the potential of the storage unit you are renting. You don’t want to pay for a huge storage unit when you only need one half the size. Let’s talk about how to maximize space efficiently and safely, pack like a pro and secure the correct storage unit size for your needs.
Organization is key when you are putting things in storage. While navigating through this step, keep in mind which items you will need from storage first and which items you won’t access for months. Then pack the unit accordingly, placing the items you need sooner and more often toward the front of the unit, and the items you won’t need for a while or less often in the back. Though it may seem ideal to pack the largest items first, that may not make sense if you will need them in the near future. If you take some time before you start packing your unit to plan and organize, it will save you time every time you visit. You can even draw it out on graph paper if that helps.
As you start packing your boxes, keep similar items grouped together, and label at least two sides and the top of every box. Then as you pack the boxes into your storage unit, use this same concept as you stack them so you can easily find what you need. That means keep all kitchen boxes together, all clothes boxes together and so on. Be sure to place the heavier and larger boxes on the bottom and the lighter and smaller boxes on top. This goes for items inside each box as well, if you pack something heavy on top of a lighter item, you risk causing damage to them.
Another good tip is to place your largest bulkiest items (such as couches, beds, dressers and the like) on the far end of the unit. Stand them on end if you are able without causing them damage, and break them down if that is relatively easy – doing both will maximize your space in the unit by utilizing the vertical space that is often left empty. For example, take bed frames apart and lean the pieces against the wall. For items that are not easily taken apart, like heavy wooden bookshelves, stack boxes on the shelves after you place it into your storage unit. Remember the rule of heavier on the bottom and lighter on the top, so as not to cause anything to topple over.
Using boxes or containers that are similar in size and shape and easily stackable will help utilize your space the best. The more stacking you are willing and able to do, the more usable space you guarantee in your storage unit. You can also place small boxes inside drawers, cabinets and any open area in your furniture. All boxes are not created equally. They vary in quality and intended use. Moving boxes, though typically inexpensive, are designed with a short life span in mind. Grocery or liquor store boxes are clearly the least expensive option. However, they are of equally poor quality and who wants their book collection to smell like produce? If you’re looking for the best value, you should consider purchasing the storage boxes we sell in our rental offices. They are typically a stronger box, which is needed to stand the test of time. There is nothing worse than coming back to your unit a few weeks or months after renting the space to find all of those nicely stacked boxes collapsed under the weight of their contents. We recommend you speak with any of our certified self storage managers to discuss how you can benefit from using the right tool for the job.
To protect any items that are not in boxes or totes (like the surfaces of your furniture), use clean canvas, covers, tarps or sheets between them and anything you place on top. If you do not want to stack the actual furniture on each other, you can still stack boxes on those items and inside to make use of that empty space.
Part of the process of using your space wisely is also leaving room to access your items and boxes in different areas of your unit. Try to create a “U” shape aisle in your unit, with items along both side walls, the back wall, then in the center front of the unit. This way you can walk around your unit and easily get to the things you need without having to move a ton of stuff out of the way each time. If your storage unit is on the smaller side, just one aisle down the center will work.
Organization before placing things into your storage unit is a very important step to maximizing the space. Don’t expect to do it all in one day if you want to be successful. Plan and pack over a few days and complete this step before moving on to the next. When done packing, you can move, pack and organize your storage unit another day. And if you are moving to a new home, get this stuff done and out of the way before moving day. That way you only have to worry about moving and not your storage unit on that stressful day.
Remember to work smarter not harder. Though you may think it sounds harder to organize and maximize when moving into storage, you’ll soon realize it was smarter the first time you need to get something out of that storage unit. By maximizing the space in your storage unit from the day you move in, you can save a lot of time and hassle. You will be able to find items more easily when you need to and each trip to your unit will be quick and painless. If you decide to make a map or graph as you pack it, you will save even more time and stress later.