We’re always looking for ways to maximize space for storage. There is good reason why countless magazines and blogs write about organizing the home. Think about how you feel when you’re surrounded by your possessions, in piles on the floor or overflowing off shelves and out of baskets and containers. Think about how your life could change if you surrounded yourself with space rather than stuff, and all your possessions had a home. Maximizing space in your home can lead to lower stress and an overall healthier life!
We accumulate a lot of stuff in our lifetime. If you’re reading this article, you probably know that. You may have exhausted your own ideas, and may even be tempted to get a storage unit. You’re not alone. The Self Storage Association estimates that there are more than 40,000 self-storage facilities in the United States, and the demand for them doubled from 1994 to 2004. If that’s not a scary statistic, this one is: The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 25 percent of people with two-car garages don’t park any cars in their garages, and 32 percent only have room for one. But by turning your garage into a storage facility, or investing in a place outside the home to store excess belongings, you open the door to even more belongings. Eventually you will run out of space.
The reality is simple. Home should be a happy place. This happiness is a combination of the peace and calm of the physical space and enjoyment of your belongings. A peaceful space is a clutter-free space where belongings have a well-appointed home. The organization within a space gives your mind a chance to rest, because the more we take in through our eyes, the more that is required of our brain. Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published a study that confirmed multiple stimuli (like clutter) limits the brain’s capacity to focus—whether that focus is on a specific task or rest. The resting of the mind is important to lower stress, and since stress is a precursor to disease, it is critical for your long-term health. In short, decluttering your space declutters the mind.
So, yes, hiding your possessions away in the garage or outside the home may help you achieve the organization you desire and less stress. However, in taking that route, you lose the possibility of experiencing the joy of carefully chosen possessions. Your possessions are out of sight, and likely out of mind too. Your possessions are like joy triggers. So, the full capacity of the joy of your home is lost when your possessions are lost.
You can find balance between having a calm space and enjoying your belongings. As a professional organizer, one of my jobs is finding a little more storage space in every home. All you need are new techniques to effectively maximize space.
- The bigger the better: It’s not often that I recommend that more is better, but when it comes to bookcases, get the largest/tallest one your space can handle. If you’re building your own shelving unit, make it go all the way to the ceiling. There is never too much space to store books, picture frames, or collections.
- Thin is In. Slimline velvet flocked hangers take up less space than regular plastic hangers and much less space than wooden or padded hangers, and are easier on clothing than wire hangers. A few extra inches in your closet allows more visibility of wardrobe, and saves you from grabbing a shirt out of an overstuffed closet that needs ironing.
- Bag it up. Space bags (the ones you suck all the air out of) are great for storing linens and off-season clothing. By eliminating air from the bag, you’re able to reduce the footprint of what you’re storing, and store more in the space you have.