I recently got a suggestion for a podcast/post from Glen (Hey Glen!) and I thought was a great idea. His suggestion was for me to talk about how much storage we should build into our new homes. Unfortunately, after days of research and I couldn’t find very much specific information on the subject. What I read over and over again, though, was that you should include more storage than you think you need for your family’s current and future needs. That ample amount of storage will not only make living in your new house more pleasant, but it will also make your house more appealing when it’s time for you to sell it.
Since all people will have different storage needs and different amounts of stuff, I can’t really give you specific suggestions about how much storage space to include in your house, but I did come across one rule of thumb in a housebuilding forum. That rule of thumb was that the total storage space in our homes should equal about 10% of the total square footage. So, if you build a 3000 square foot house, you should shoot for about 300 square feet of storage.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the average American home contains 300,000 items. In addition, one of every 10 households in the U.S. rents a storage unit, according to the Self Storage Association. So, most people have lots of stuff. And if you are going to the trouble of building a house, you might as well build a house that includes enough storage for all your things. Everything should have a home.
Of course if you have more things than the average family, you'll probably need more space than that 10%. If you have lots of holiday decorations, or clothes or shoes, make sure you include closets or storage spaces to accommodate all those items. Purging your household of things you don’t want and don’t use is always a good idea, but after you purge, take a look at all that you have left and be honest about how much space you will need to store everything.
If you have an attic or basement, those are natural storage spaces where can house holiday decorations and other items that you don’t use on a weekly or monthly basis. You can even design your garage to be extra wide and add storage cabinets or shelves there.
Most people will remember to put closets in each bedroom. In fact a room is not considered a legal bedroom unless it has window and a closet. So bedroom closets are easy to remember, but here are a few storage spaces that some people forget to include in their house design.
1. Linen closets or at least linen cabinets or shelves. A linen closet could be put in a hallway that leads to your bedrooms or you could put a linen cabinet within each bathroom. For small houses, linens can be stored in containers under each bed. Also make sure there is enough space in or near your bathrooms to store toiletries, soap, and extra toilet paper.
2. A pantry. You'll want enough storage space to house your canned, boxed and packaged food. Ideally, you’ll have a pantry for those non-refrigerated foods. That way you can keep valuable storage space in your cabinets for pots and pans, dishes, glassware and small appliances.
3. A coat closet near to main entrance. Make sure the coat closet is large enough for visitors’ coats plus any of your family’s coats that you want to keep there instead of the mudroom. For most people building houses today, a mudroom with hooks or cubbies will be the main storage area for family coats, umbrellas and other outdoor gear.
4. Storage space in your garage or in an outdoor shed for mowing and gardening supplies.
5. Cabinets with doors or drawers in your living spaces to hide away your kids' toys. Your finish carpenter can add built-ins to whatever rooms you think your kids or grandchildren will play in or you can buy free standing units for their toys, just make sure you have adequate floor space for those units.
6. Cleaning closets (aka broom closet) that will hold your broom, mop, vacuum and cleaning products, preferably on each floor of your house, so you don’t have to lug your vacuum up and down the stairs. The cleaning closet can be placed in a hallway, a laundry room, a mudroom or even a bathroom. I almost forget my upstair cleaning closet.
7. Cabinets or shelves in your laundry area for detergents, fabric softeners and bleach.
8. Hobby storage. Whether you or your family members are into crafting, fishing, or board games, don’t forget to include some space in your house for hobby equipment. That might include cabinets in the family room, the garage, a home office or even in a dedicated hobby room.
9. Storage for pet food, pet toys, pet crates or beds, and litter. That storage could easily go in mudroom or laundry room if those spaces are large enough.
10. A storage closet for your audio visual and home automation equipment. If you’re planning on a home theater or if you want smart home features, such as home security system, you may want a dedicated closet for those components.
No matter what storage spaces you decide on, just keep in mind that most people have a tendency to fill up any and all storage space they put in their home, so if your goal is to live with fewer things, ample storage may not help you achieve your goal. Including a little less storage in your house than you think you need may encourage you to purge and have less stuff, but it may also negatively effect your resale value, so be careful.
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