By Holly Moore, Certified Self Storage Manager
Need help and advice on storing your belongings in a self storage unit? Or maybe you need some tips on how to make it all fit inside the storage unit you rented? No worries; we have you covered! Once you have decided to use self storage, you first need to determine what size unit you will need for all your stuff. Rather than trying to figure it out on a piece of paper and draw it all out like a Tetris game, or simply guessing and taking the chance you guessed wrong…you can use our handy online storage calculator tool to get started.
Measure Large Items.
Simply grab a measuring tape and jot down the dimensions of the large items you plan to place inside your storage unit. Make sure you get height length and depth – you can round up to the nearest full inch to make it easier. You want to measure items like the sofa, coffee and end tables, TVs, entertainment centers, bed frames and mattresses, dressers and so on. You should even measure and notate the quantities of boxes and storage totes you plan to store as well. The best advice we can give is to measure it all. Don’t assume it is small enough and you can just fit it in there somewhere. The only way to be sure you have enough space is to measure each item.
Use Our Handy Storage Calculator.
Visit our website Storage Calculator, and select which storage location you plan to use. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to view the calculator. You can select some presets for a one, two, three or four bedroom home if you want a quick answer. Or, you can choose to “customize your stored items. By selecting the custom feature, you can enter the total of each item for every room in your home. This allows you the flexibility to pick and choose items to move an entire house into storage, just one or two rooms, or only certain items from all throughout the house. Use your measurements and mark the item closest to that measurement. Again, always round up to ensure you have enough space – never round down.
After you go through and enter all your items, click “calculate” at the bottom and our Storage Calculator will give you the recommended storage unit size to fit everything. The tool will show you animation of how you should pack the items inside the storage unit, too – which is kinda fun if you ask me!
If you want to secure your storage unit right then, you can take the recommended unit size and rent online 24/7 at your chosen location.
Play Storage Tetris!
Now for the fun part – making the most of your storage unit space! You will need a pen or pencil, some blank or graph paper and measuring tape. You should plan out on paper (like a map) where your items go inside your storage unit – think of it like a Tetris game. You want to make it all fit, use the most of the space available, and not have anything fall over or cause damage to anything else. This will help you down the line when you need to access specific items, by giving you a graph or drawing of where each item is located and about how much space it takes up. Keep the animation from our Storage Calculator in your mind to help you place your items inside the unit. Tape the map to the inside of your storage unit near the door, so you can quickly locate items each time you visit.
If storing fabrics, always protect them with plastic covers. Plastic covers and dust wraps will protect your fabrics from picking up smells and collecting dust. This is especially important if you are choosing a unit that is not temperature controlled. We offer high quality mattress, couch, bed and other plastic furniture covers for sale in our retail shop located inside the rental office at every location. Plastic wrap rolls are available in our as well and they work great for sealing those awkward shaped ottomans and pretty much any piece of furniture – you can cut them to size and shape and tape them into place.
When you stack your furniture on top of each other, be sure to place plastic, cardboard or heavy material in between each piece to protect the surfaces from damage. You can stack small tables on top of larger tables (top to top), chairs on top of tables, stand couches on end and disassemble bed frames and stand on end. Use mattresses to cushion between tall wood pieces. You want to maximize the space inside your storage unit by placing these large items inside the best way possible. Going vertical is always a good option, just don’t stack too high and make sure any stacked items are stable and not at risk of toppling over.
Always store heavy items in the back of your unit and on the bottom layer. Large furniture that cannot be disassembled will take up the majority of the floor space. It Is not advised to store very large solid furniture on its side or on its end as it could fall or warp and bend over time. Remove seat cushions from couches and store them in plastic. If you are storing anything glass or fragile, keep it to the front of the unit so it is visible when you open the door and can be kept safe when moving around inside. Be sure to mark it clearly that it is fragile.
We also sale specialty boxes for mirrors, TVs, files and even wardrobes complete with metal hanging bar. We have standard boxes as well that are made specially for long periods of time in storage. You can really play Tetris with these and find places to fit them. Put boxes inside of large hutches and wardrobes, place small boxes and items inside drawers, set boxes on chair seats and table tops place boxes under desks and between table legs. Always stack smaller items on larger items, and lighter items on top of heavier items.
If you have a lot of clothes to store, consider purchasing a tension rod to set up inside your storage unit. You can purchase ones with lengths of 5 or 10 feet depending on your storage unit size. Hang the clothes in protective plastic, use plastic hangers and place the hangers on the tension rod. This is a great idea to store your out-of-season clothes in your new HUGE closet! Plus, it is a great way to use vertical space without the risk of stacks falling over. Place the tension rod near the top of the unit walls, so that you need a small step stool to reach the items. Then keep the small step stool inside your storage unit for easy access.
Take Photos and Organize Parts and Pieces.
For the next part, take out your cell phone. Use your camera and take photos of your office chair, desk or other assembled furniture. Take photos before and along the way as you disassemble your items. This helps you speed up the process of re-assembling when the time comes. You can even use a small tripod and video the process.
If your assembly-required items came with a set of Allen wrenches and you have them still, great! If you no longer have those, you can purchase some at the local hardware store. As you take your items apart, keep all screws and small pieces together in a labeled Ziploc bag. It even helps to place the original assembly instructions inside the baggie if you have them. You can even place a note in the baggie with the total of each part. For example: 10 shelf pegs, 24 one-inch screws, 12 two-inch screws, etc.) If possible, tape the baggie to the largest part of the disassembled furniture. If tape will damage the item, punch a hole in the corner and use twine to tie the baggie to the item.
Protect Corners and Sharp Edges.
Use foam or another soft but durable material to wrap any sharp corners or edges and secure with tape or twine. This can protect your furniture from damage in transit and also protect your body from harm while packing and moving. It makes sense to wrap all table and chair legs, wrap mirrors and other glass items and make sure to cover sharp items like brackets that stick out after you took the item apart.
Pack Storage Totes and Boxes.
On to the totes! If your stuff includes a large number of small items, it may be wise to invest in plastic tubs or totes with secure lids and handles to hold everything. Buy or find ones that are similar in size and shape so they stack together nicely. Label each container with duct tape and a thick black marker. If you are storing files or paperwork, we suggest you purchase file boxes because they are intended for this purpose and come with labeling space. Plus, they are sized perfectly for files and file folders, complete with lids and handles.
Storage Tetris sounds like a fun game, but you need to be sure you take precautions and keep safety front and center while you “play”. Don’t get carried away and just stack all the way to the ceiling! Organization is very important, so label everything and keep your storage map inside the unit near the door. Update your map as you make changes and keep a second copy inside your car as a backup. Keep a step stool in your storage unit to help access things better that are too high to reach – like that tension bar with your clothes near the ceiling. Even though all of our locations are well lit, there is no light inside your storage unit; so keep a battery powered flash light near the door with your map.
If you need any more advice or help playing Storage Tetris to maximize your space, ask your friendly Property Manager or contact us today. And, if you cannot wait to start your game of Tetris, you can rent a storage unit online now and start “playing”!