Why you don’t have enough storage space and what to do about it

Stacks of books

Are you struggling to contain your belongings? Own too much stuff and not enough space? You’re not alone according to a report for the Royal Institute of British Architects titled ‘The Way We Live Now’.

Many survey participants were unhappy with the amount of storage space their accommodation offered. They simply hadn’t considered it as an important issue when choosing their home in the first place.

We have so much stuff!

Storage space is an issue but then we do have much more stuff these days. Anthropologists at the UCLA conducted one of the most extensive pieces of research into contemporary life.

They concluded that we’re living in the most materially rich society in global history, with light-years more possessions per average family than any preceding society.

It’s not just a US phenomenon either, the UK is a nation of hoarders too. A survey by storefirst.com found that the average Brit owns 58 items of clothing but only ever wears a third of them. We buy new things too but rarely make space for them. The survey found that on average, for every 17 new items we buy, we only throw out 13.

The reasons for this behaviour can be complex and range from lack of personal organisation, hanging onto things ‘just in case’ to sentimental or emotional motives. At the extreme end of the scale are those with hoarding disorders or OCD. Like the majority of us however, you probably don’t have compulsive hoarding issues.

What you do need is some guidance on sorting out your storage space. Here are three tips.

Maximise your current storage

Regular decluttering is essential to enable you to make the most of your space. Make a habit of checking storage boxes, the loft or garage, every three months. Throw out anything that’s broken or donate items unlikely to be used to charity.

Do a monthly mini-declutter in a different room to make decluttering less of a major chore. Save the bigger areas – loft and garage, for the spring or autumn clean.

Once you’ve decluttered you can make the best of what you’ve got. Consider using colour coded boxes for different items or for each family member to make it easy to keep tidy in the first place.

Make the most of your cupboard space with extendable shelf organisers, under the shelf hanging baskets or over door hangers.

Update your storage as your situation changes

Lives change. You start a new hobby, get a pet or maybe meet a new partner. Consider how to include potential extra baggage such changes bring.

The basic shelving unit that once happily housed your book collection may not cut it anymore. Weigh-up your current organisation system – are the boxes you have now appropriate? Every home has potential extra storage capacity, the trick is to finding it.

Modular or stackable storage is a good investment as you can add to it as your storage needs grow. The nature of these units mean you can adapt them to fit the space you currently have.

Outsource your storage

If your home really is too small for your needs, maybe your family is growing and moving isn’t an option, you’ll need to think laterally. Self-storage is booming with storage rental availability on the increase in most large towns.

This option is best for long-term storage where you’ll need infrequent access. Think of using self-storage for seasonal items such as holiday equipment (luggage, camping gear) or Christmas trees and decorations. If renting space is beyond your budget, perhaps ask to borrow space in a relative’s garage or loft.

Sometimes all it takes is to have another look at your home and see how your space is being used. Keep on top of the clutter and make use of some innovative storage systems, you may just find you already have the space you need.