Storage at a Glance

There's more than one fit when it comes to storage space. Growing families require extra closets, retirees move to smaller quarters and look for bulk storage, heirs long for an attic to house family treasures. Even the minimalists among us require some space to stash items not in use.

Times Are Changing
Construction technology has changed dramatically over the past 30 years, and these changes have altered a home's storage capabilities. Construction improvements begin at the base, where poured concrete foundations have taken the place of cinder block and stone. The introduction of Styrofoam® insulating forms has further enhanced the reputation of a poured foundation. Thanks to better perimeter drainage and waterproofing methods, water damage, mildew, and musty odors are under control, making basement storage ideal.

Walk-up attics, on the other hand, are now a thing of the past. Once the norm, full attics were the result of free-frame roof design and high-pitch roofs. Today's more energy-efficient roof construction includes a series of engineered trusses spaced every 24 inches. As a result, all that's left is crawl space storage and little else.

If you are waiting to move into a build-to-suit property, you are more likely to affect your options for storage space. If money is no object, you can request everything from a finished attic or basement to additional built-ins. If you are purchasing within a development, however, your flexibility may be limited. More often than not, your only option may be to build above the garage for increased storage. So, be sure to review the plans and take storage needs into account while in the design phase.

Places, Everyone!
You must consider two variables when assessing storage options: First, what requires storage; second, where that storage might best be located. House storage is akin to brain storage. Some represents our ties to the past, like a wedding dress to pass on, or favorite childhood toys. These items require long-term storage. The back corner of an attic, if properly controlled and pest free, might be the perfect stash for them.

Short-term storage, like short-term memory, must remain accessible. First determine whether the items are for seasonal, occasional, or daily use, as this will determine how and where you will store them. Out-of-season clothes and holiday decorations can be stowed near the front of an attic or dormer, in a cedar closet or in the basement. Corner cupboards, armoires, built-ins, or freestanding home furnishings are perfect for everyday needs. Regardless of your options, safety precautions must top your priority list. This includes everything from fire prevention to moisture control, climate control, and pests.

A change in lifestyle often requires a change in storage space needs. The blending of two families into one, downsizing from a four bedroom Colonial to a townhouse, or temporarily housing an aging parent all require us to reconfigure our living and storage space. An established home invites you to think creatively about your existing space, so remember-there is more to storage than meets the eye! Play detective, and seek out new nooks and crannies. They may exist within walls, under eaves, and along existing spaces you have never considered.

Renovating to add storage can range from extensive to moderate. Options abound from raising the roof on a garage and refinishing the basement to adding additional closets and storage units. No matter what route you choose, a careful analysis of every room in your home is recommended so that you can make the wisest and most cost-effective decisions about revamping your space and planning for successful storage solutions.