Do you really need to put stuff in storage?

About to do a building project?  Thinking of putting your furniture in storage?  If so, then read on!

Drive into any major town in the UK, and before long you’ll see a big shed with “STORAGE” written large across it’s often yellow walls.  “Great!” you think, “we can put all our stuff in there while we build/renovate our house”.  Beware!! These places gobble money as easily as they gobble up junk!  Time after time, I’ve watched clients bring their worldly possessions out of storage and realise they’ve wasted a lot of money, over months, if not years…..

I’m actually the first person to advise you to empty a space as completely as you can, before undertaking any building work.  Not only does this reduce the chances of things getting damaged, it also gets them out of the way of the builders, who hate nothing more than having to move your stuff, so they’ve got room to work.

But my point is, be brutally honest about what is WORTH putting into storage in the first place, particularly if you’re having to pay for it.  In the rush to pack up a house before building work, the lure of the storage facility makes it all too easy to put off those slightly difficult decisions – “Do we keep that old table/sofa/chest of drawers?…..oh well, let’s just put it in store and then we can decide”.  But everything you put into storage costs time and money – moving it into store, storing it and moving it back out again.

Of course you then spend the next few months living without any of these things.  You’re absorbed in the building project, and gradually forget what’s in there.   So by the time the builders leave and the doors of the storage unit swing open, you’re seeing all your “stuff” with fresh eyes.  And oh boy! it often isn’t pretty.  What was “well loved” in your old home now looks sad and tired, whilst upholstered items and beds are prone to mould and damp.  Still want to sleep on that musty mattress???

Now I’m not suggesting for a minute that you chuck absolutely everything out before you start – far from it.  A home filled only with brand new furniture can feel impersonal;  so much nicer to have a range of pieces that hold personal memories for you, alongside some new items.  All I’m saying is, take a long hard look at things before they go into storage.

First of all, will they physically fit in your new home? and can you get the furniture through the door and up the stairs if necessary?  Your new home might be bigger than your old one, but that doesn’t mean that the access will be better!  Next, where exactly do you envisage each piece going?  and will that work?  No good planning to put an old piece in your teenager’s bedroom, if they turn round and tell you there’s no way they want it in their room…..

Finally of course, will it look right in the new setting?  We moved from a small cottage with low beams to a spacious contemporary house with a soaring ceiling height, which meant much of our old furniture was of dolls house proportions.  We managed to rent an unfurnished flat whilst we built the house, so took the furniture we did keep there and didn’t need to put a single thing in storage.

If you can’t avoid using storage, do make absolutely sure that you photograph and accurately measure everything you put in there.  You or your interior designer, will then be able to plan the new layout around these pieces.  It really isn’t any good trying to “guess” how big that Welsh dresser was, that you last saw several months ago, and nothing is more irritating than finding that the socket you hoped would be just beside it, is actually hidden behind it……

So have a major clear out before you start a project and take a long hard look at each item, not only furniture, but also personal possessions.  Use storage sparingly, especially if you’re having to pay for it.   Don’t fall into the trap of paying to store stuff and paying to have it moved, only to end up getting rid of it – I’ve seen that happen a lot!

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