How to steal space ?

Who needs additional space and can’t seem to find it anywhere? Probably the majority of homeowners who have purchased a home, and have outgrown that home, in terms of where to put all their stuff?

This is a construction website and not a psychology class, however, based upon personal experience, your stuff will expand to fill the space. My stuff became so extensive that it filled a 4000 SF home as well as 3 car garage and two storage spaces. I had too much stuff. Things occurred in life and I now have no stuff. Why, because I choose not to have any stuff!

I had a friend of mine preach to me, during my stuff days, that he and his wife would purge every 3 years. If they did not use the item within the last 3 years, they discarded the item, gave it away or donated it. At first I felt this was overkill regarding the purging of stuff, I was incorrect. In fact, I will probably recommend a purge every 2 years as opposed to 3.

If you decide not to take my advice, you will need storage, and if you have lived in your home for more than one year, you are probably already looking for additional space.

As a builder, we see all the space and in many instances, get paid a nice sum to point these spaces out and construct shelving, cabinets, hanging peg boards, etc. Here are our some of our secrets and suggestions.

1.) Attic access hatch ; The attic space is the ultimate in storage capacity. If you have a raised ranch or a low pitched roof, the installation of a attic hatch will open up that area above the top floor ceiling, to all your storage needs.

2.) Attic stairway ; If you have a larger colonial home, tudor or large cape, the installation of a stairway up into your attic space is invaluable. An open large staircase will allow you to not only store whatever you may need, but would allow you to expand this attic space into living space.

3.) Attic floor; Once you have accessed the attic via the access hatch or a stairway, the placement of plywood, or other rigid flooring material on the top of the ceiling joists, will open the entire space up to storage. If you are considering adding ceiling insulation, it is recommended that this procedure occur, prior to the installation of the attic flooring.

4.) Attic shelving; There are substantial opportunities to construct attic shelving throughout the attic space. It is important to leave access to the eave areas of the attic for storage of random items such as cribs, play sets, etc. The most practical space for any attic shelving is straight down the middle of the attic. This will allow access from both sides and will still allow access into the eaves of the space. It is not recommended that you hang any type of storage units or shelving from the roof rafters themselves, due to the need for these rafters to absorb loading and wind forces, during which time they may flex and move a certain amount. This movement should not be restrained by shelving or hanging items.

5.) Attic gable end storage; Depending upon the design of the home, in some attics there is substantial height at the gable ends of the roof, as well as within any dormers or shed roofs, located off the primary roof area. All of these areas can be utilized by installing plywood on the floor and constructing shelving to fit the space.

6.) Living areas, eave space; Depending on your home, if the upper floors have a sloping ceiling, this usually means that there is room at the perimeter of the rooms on the upper level, where the wall meets the ceiling. This is normally called the eave space, and is in most cases, during the initial construction, this space is simply sheet rocked off from the interior living spaces. If this is the case, the reframing of these side walls with access panels or doors, will allow access into these eave spaces. Once again the installation of flooring as well as creative shelving will allow storage under the eaves.

7.) Stairway enclosures ; In most situations, there is room under the stairways in the home. Normally this room is used for a closet, a small bathroom or other small storage requirement. However, in some cases, this room is not utilized and is a treasure for finding additional storage space for stuff.

8.) Kitchen cabinet recesses ; In most kitchens, the installation of the kitchen cabinets resulted in the loss of corner space as well as soffit space. All small areas of access in the rear of the kitchen cabinets should be reconstructed with specialized shelving to accommodate items that are not commonly used. In addition, the area above the kitchen cabinets can be boxed in with specialized doors, or access panels for items not commonly used, such as grill pans, or specialized items.

9.) Stairway walls ; The installation of narrow shelving along the interior of stairway walls is a good method of storage for specialized pieces, such as painting, sketches, flat plates or other flat kitchenware. If these shelves are enclosed with doors or sliding panels, their use is endless. Care must be taken to ensure that these shelves do not encroach on the legal access dimensions of the stairways.

10.) Ceiling removal ; The removal of ceiling panels, sheetrock, or ceiling finishes, exposing the floor joist of the floor above, is a good method of establishing the appearance of added ceiling height. Again, care must be made that no code violations are encroached, however, the hanging of hooks for pans, or other elements, can be tastefully done, to gain additional storage space and capacity.

11.) Basement access ; Depending upon the home, the access to the basement or crawlspace can be enhanced to allow storage in this area. If the home has a small crawl space the use of a mechanics creeper, the small piece of equipment mechanics use to provide access under your vehicle, can be used to maneuver under the home. Totally dependent on the design and the layout, the basement or crawl space can allow substantial, additional storage space within the home.

12.) Installation of a bilco door ; The installation of a bilco door, which is an exterior entry to your basement through the foundation wall, will allow the storage of larger garden materials in the basement, without the need to enter from the home itself. Normally the installation of an exterior bilco door is not an expensive project, and will provide the opportunity to use the basement in a much more efficient way.

13.) Create space under front porches; Many homes have large expansive porches and decks. The use of the space below the porch or deck is valuable. There are several new methods and products that have been designed to eliminate the water leakage to the space below the porch or deck. These systems are basically waterproof panels that lead the water into a gathering gutter system. This gutter system is then designed to channel the accumulated water into a leader that drains the panel system. In this manner the area below a porch or deck can be a waterproof storage area.

14.) Create waterproof floors beneath decks and porches; Whether the area has been waterproofed from above or not, the installation of a deck or panel system of sheathing under the porch or deck will provide a space, depending upon the waterproofing situation, for storage of outdoor material and furniture or tools, etc.

15.) Exterior lean to sheds ; The construction of a simple lean to shed against the foundation or siding, will provide substantial storage space. The efficiency of a lean to is that it is built to use the already constructed foundation or exterior wall of the home. The construction of a lean to can be as formal and sophisticated as the home owner desires, but the key is the use of the already established wall. A simple 2X4 constructed frame with plastic sheathing over the top, can provide substantial temporary storage.

16.) Make a floor plan ; Develop a floor plan of your home by measuring the dimensions of each room. Place these dimensions on a piece of 1/4 inch graph paper and construct your home on paper. The reason that this is done, is to discover those hidden areas that have been simply covered over by the builder of the home. Remember, the most efficient method of finishing a home, is to cover over as much of the framing with sheetrock, plaster, or other wall finishes. There is no efficiency, nor profit in providing access panels, or extra doors into hidden storage areas. You need to discover these areas yourself and access them. In so many homes, the builder merely covered over the odd spots of framing or space. It was much easier and efficient to sheetrock these areas during construction, than to think about any access into them. If you layout your home by measuring all the room dimensions, you will quickly discover the hidden treasures of storage areas that the original builder covered over. Access them with a door, an access panel, or simply opening them up and installing shelves. There are many methods of utilizing the hidden storage areas of your existing home.

17.) Build an outside shed or garage; If zoning allows, the construction of an exterior separate shed or garage will eliminate the majority of your storage requirements. Of course, you must realize, that in time, you will eventually fill these spaces up also. The construction of a storage shed or garage can be as costly and sophisticated as the home owner desires. The ability to find a modular storage shed or garage should be investigated, prior to the stick construction of either storage option.

18.) Lease a storage area; If there is simply not enough space for all your stuff, within or outside of your home, it might be necessary to lease a storage area in a facility. Although this will eliminate your storage issues at the current time, if you have filled your home, you will probably fill your storage area.

19.) Throw away and purge ; Although stating the obvious, the simple act of throwing away stuff and or giving it away, is the easiest and quickest method of creating additional storage space. Walk your home and decide what stuff is necessary. Start with the easy stuff. Make a decision and pick a time frame, that if you haven’t used an item for a certain preselected period of time, you probably won’t use it. Get rid of it! You will be very surprised how much storage room opens up!

21.) Hire a professional organizer; There are professional organizer’s that hire themselves out to consult individuals on the proper techniques of organizing and managing their stuff. These professional organizers are trained in being aware of a hoarder impulse in individuals, and have the ability to assist the homeowner with gaining control of their possessions.

23.) Purchase a garage storage or basement storage system; There are organizing systems that have been specifically engineered to establish a means of organization within a garage or basement space. These modular units are specifically designed to be added to, as storage needs increase. The ability to organize with a modular storage system, will allow the home owner to control and manage a considerable volume of material.

24.) Organize; This is the ultimate space saver. Think about individuals who have material and equipment beyond the quantity that you own, and how they deal with it. Maybe some of them simply organize their material and stuff. There are numerous garage spaces that are totally organized. The homeowner has installed hanging brackets for the bikes, boats, skis, etc. They have used the area above the garage ceiling for storage and have constructed clever racking systems for material. The ability to organize and manage material is an art, the more organized you can be, the more material can be stored.

25.) Consider a furniture set.

In summary , how to steal space, is achieved by an honest approach to how much material and stuff is truly needed. Once this question is honestly answered, the physical techniques and methods of achieving more space are based upon practicality and observation. It is essential that the homeowner visually walk the home and creatively generate various areas for additional storage. It is extremely difficult to specifically identify storage areas, due to the fact that all homes and properties vary. The ability to store material in an attic space is far greater in a colonial home than in a flat roofed contemporary. Storage is essential, unfortunately the space created will generate additional needs for storage. Storage causes ” stuff ” to grow, and it is essential that the homeowner understands this axiom of home ownership.

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