It is estimated that approximately 10% of American households maintain a self-storage unit. Often, these units contain the overflow items people can no longer fit in their homes or offices but aren’t ready to sell or discard. For others, a self-storage unit is an interim solution to store items during a time of transition, such as during a residential move or following the death of a relative. Regardless of why you decide to rent a storage unit, the key to storing your possessions in an efficient and cost-effective manner lies in knowing how to organize a storage unit.
This article sets forth best practices for storage unit organization so you can keep your unit tidy and accessible.
Why Organizing A Storage Unit is Important
If you’ve ever visited your storage unit to find one specific object — like a serving platter for Thanksgiving or an important file you need to complete the year’s tax return — and ended up spending the better part of a day searching through boxes and files, you understand the importance of storage unit organization. By following just a few simple steps during the planning, packing, and stacking process, you can save yourself a lot of time and aggravation.
Saving time is certainly reason enough to adopt the storage unit organization tips provided below, but there are other reasons to consider these storage unit ideas as well. When possessions are properly and safely packed and organized, they are not only easy to retrieve, but they take up less room, saving you money in monthly storage fees.
How to Pack a Storage Unit: Best Practices for Storage Unit Organization
Consider implementing the following storage unit organization ideas to make the most of your rented space.
Inventory Your Items
Start by taking an inventory of all the items you plan to store. This typically includes starting a spreadsheet listing each item and then, as you start the packing process, add details about how the items are packed and where they are located in the unit. For instance, you might list a pair of sterling silver candlesticks in your initial inventory list and then indicate on the spreadsheet that they were packed in Box #6 and deposited on the bottom shelf on the left-hand side of the unit. It’s a good idea to take photos of each item before packing it away.
Create a Map For Easy Access
If you think you might need to access items in your storage unit from time to time, it’s a good idea to create some sort of map indicating where your belongings are located inside the unit. As you think about how to organize your storage unit, be sure to leave space to maneuver inside the unit. For instance, you will want to place shelving and larger items in a manner that allows you to easily (and safely) walk around. Pro-tip: consider organizing your belongings by category. This will significantly reduce the time you spend making your map and allow your storage unit organization to flow more logically and efficiently.
Organize Storage Unit By Size
Once you have taken inventory of your items and thought about shelving and maneuverability, you can think about what size storage unit you will need. A popular unit size is 10’ x 10’. This 100 square foot space is about half the size of a one-car garage and is considered ideal to store the contents of a typical one-bedroom apartment’s furniture and appliances, plus a dozen or so medium-sized boxes containing household possessions.
Utilize Vertical Space
Consider expanding the storage space with the addition of free-standing shelves. When loading a lot of items into a confined space, it’s always a good idea to think vertically. In other words, find a way to safely stack items as high and close to the ceiling as possible while ensuring that any items you might want to retrieve are still accessible. Shelving is a great way to accomplish this. If you use as much vertical space as possible, be sure to keep a step stool or ladder handy.
Pack Smaller Items in Clear Plastic Storage Bins
While more expensive than cardboard boxes, plastic storage bins last longer because they are more stable, stack better and allow you to organize your belongings more efficiently. If you can find clear plastic storage boxes in the sizes you require is even better. That way, you can see inside each box to quickly identify the contents.
Label every bin and box with a number and the category of its contents using a permanent marker or stick-on labels. Then add this detailed information to your spreadsheet. Be sure that the labels are visible to anyone searching for an item in the storage unit by placing the labeled side of each bin facing the front.
Disassemble All Large Furniture
While it’s tempting to just throw that old Ikea couch into the unit, this is not the way to optimize your storage unit organization. In the interest of saving space and being able to maneuver inside your packed storage unit, you will want to disassemble all your large furniture items before moving them into storage. This includes removing table legs and taking apart bed frames and headboards. Think of how you can store these types of items sideways and vertically to maximize space and make it easier to move them in and out of the unit.
Organize Belongings by Size
When it comes to how to organize storage units in a logical and safe way, you should always place your biggest and heaviest possessions in the unit first so they can be set against the back wall. Then, you can stack your bins and boxes on top of your heavy stuff. You want the heavier items placed on the bottom so they don’t crush your lighter belongings.
Keep Important Items In Front
This may be one of the most important tips in this article, as it can save you a significant amount of time. Before you unload into your storage unit, consider whether you may need certain items regularly or anytime soon. Then, find a way to keep them easily accessible. The easiest way to do this is to have a section dedicated to these items near the front of the unit. Even if you have labeled everything perfectly and know exactly where they are located, that isn’t going to help you if you still have to exert time and effort forging through your unit to retrieve a much-needed item. Plan to keep anything you might need once a year or more — such as important paperwork or seasonal clothing — close to the entrance of the unit.
How Jubel Moving & Storage Can Help
As you consider what size unit you will need to hold your possessions and how to organize a storage unit, it’s important to select the right self-storage unit at the right facility. Whether you need to store your items for a long time or during a short-term transition, make sure you rent from a reputable local storage company.
As San Francisco’s premier moving and storage company, we can take the hassle out of moving and storing your possessions by doing the heavy lifting for you. At Jubel Moving & Storage, many of our customers are seeking an alternative to the traditional DIY storage in the Bay Area. We offer a door-to-door storage service for those customers — we come to your home or commercial building, pick up your belongings, meticulously catalog each item for you, and then store them at our local Bay Area storage facility. We take photos of your stored items and provide easy access so you can always find what you need when you need it.
We invite you to learn about how Jubel Moving & Storage can help with your storage needs by contacting us online or giving us a call at 415-716-7942