Do you have a large family that enjoys sports, DIY, restoring antiques, gardening… but don’t know where to store the equipment needed for these activities? In the basement or garage, of course. But how can you make sure you will be able to find what you need quickly and make the most of the space available? A little organisation is required.
Reach an agreement
Start with a mini family meeting. What does everyone want to store? Why and for how long? Christmas decorations, baby clothes waiting for the next baby, DIY and decorating material, bicycles, skates and roller-skates, gardening pots and tools, tinned foods and preserves, souvenirs you cannot put anywhere else for the moment… An exact list of what you need to store should be made.
Is the list very long? Perhaps it is time to consider a trip to the tip to dispose of old pots of paint and pieces of plywood you no longer need. Or to offer your sister-in-law the baby clothes and accessories you no longer need.
Determine the zones and choose the appropriate furniture
Here are some of the most common examples:
- Recycling zone (recycling bins, items awaiting being taken to the tip, etc): bins provided by the municipality
- Basement zone (preserves and maintenance products, freezer): ordinary shelving
- Sports zone (racquets, balls, knee protection and helmets, etc): robust shelving with height-adjustable shelves
- Vehicle zones (anti-freeze, chains, washer fluid, etc): same type of shelving as above
- Gardening zone (seeds, pots, fertilisers, stakes, spade, etc): lockable cabinet and vertical tool area
- Souvenir zone (children’s drawings, inherited items, etc): old cabinet
- “Celebration” zone (Christmas and Easter decorations, wrapping paper, etc): ordinary shelving
Allocate a logical place to each zone
To facilitate access to all these items, you should consider how you move around the area. So would it be better to place a recycling bin at the garage entrance or at the exit?
Then consider how often you will use these items. The more you will need to access them, the easier they should be to get to. For example, Christmas decorations, as they are used less often than the toilet paper stock, can be stored higher up and further away on the shelves.
Make sure everything is visible
This basic storage principle also applies to garages and basements: everything should be accessible and visible at a glance.
So you should use transparent storage boxes and easy-to-read labels.
Be careful: before buying a range of large plastic boxes, collect together the items you intend to store and estimate the approximate volume. You will then have a good idea of the size of the boxes you need.
Divide the space
If the area is ready, place chests, bookcases and shelves perpendicular to the walls: this will better define the zones and increase the storage capacity. You can also line the shelves up in the centre of the garage (if you don’t park your car there), a little like a library or a bookshop.
Ideally, the floor should be as clear as possible. This means that there will be as many things high up as possible (hooks for bicycles, horizontal bars attached to the ceiling for wooden planks or rarely used material, perforated panel for tools etc). Do not pile the storage boxes too high: you risk being unable to access them from below!
Keep in a good condition
Consider humidity and dust: protect the things you want to keep. Your storage boxes must be robust, whether they are plastic or metal.
Also consider the lighting: nothing is more annoying than carrying out archaeological digs by feeling around in the dark.
Keep it tidy
We need to promise not to throw items “blindly” into the basement or the garage (since we have changed the lighting).
Every year, re-assess the content to decide what can be discarded and what needs to be replaced.