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Don’t Let Storage Be an Afterthought

When designing or remodeling a home it’s logical to spend the most thought on your living space. As for closets, cabinets, sheds, attics and other storage areas, it’s easy to go with the not-too-intrusive 10% of square footage estimate often quoted.

Yet the number of us who devote our garages to boxes rather than vehicles or rent storage lockers indicates that isn’t always going to be enough.

If you can keep your belongings in that 10% more power to you. Plan for some decluttering, but take an honest appraisal of everything you need to find a place for:

Individual and family storage needs

Everyone in the household, including pets, have their own storage needs. Try jotting everything down along with a good estimate of the square footage they will take up:

  • Vehicles, including bicycles, RVs, boats, etc.
  • Food and drinks, including anything you want to stock up on
  • Wardrobe and accessories
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Jobs or schooling materials (especially if home-based)
  • Toys, gaming and hobby supplies
  • Collections (stamps, wine and anything in between)
  • Health and grooming supplies, including medications
  • Seasonal décor
  • Suitcases and other bulky travel items
  • Outdoor furniture and yard supplies (including anything that needs to be kept inside for the winter)
  • Dirty and clean laundry baskets and bars to hang clothes on
  • Garbage and recycling containers (indoor and outdoor)

Where to put everything?

Once you write or type everything up and assign it a reasonably accurate number this part can get intimidating. This is where your creativity can save the day.

Closets and garages will inevitably be part of your layout but consider how much vertical space can be easily incorporated, though this will depend on everybody’s height and ability to use ladders, pulleys or even motorized shelves and bars.

Digging a basement isn’t always practical or feasible in Arizona but when it is it can be an excellent solution sized to your needs.

Attics are another classic way to build in storage space, but in too many homes they are hard to access and not fully finished, with a floor that can’t bear the weight of much more than Christmas tree decorations and pests able to worm their way inside. If you’re going to have an attic, invest what is necessary to create a usable space.

Sheds are extremely useful for lawnmowers and other gardening equipment, but don’t put too much else in them or they’ll cut into your outdoor square footage.

Overall, incorporate niches and built-in shelves, window seats and benches with built-in compartments, slide-out drawers under a staircase, safes hidden in the wall or under the floor, foldaway shoe racks in the wall or closet, cubbies and closets in the mudroom and built-in tub surrounds to hold shampoos, soaps and similar supplies.

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