Renovating? You might not need as much storage as you think

When you look at it that way, you can see how absurd it is that we individualize ourselves with our fences and hoarded possessions.
— Morrie Schwartz
Think before you renovate: 9 reasons why you do not need more storage.  Photo: Gandhi's possessions on his death 

Think before you renovate: 9 reasons why you do not need more storage. Photo: Gandhi's possessions on his death 

Maybe you already have enough storage

A year ago I wanted more storage.  A lot more storage: built-in robes, attic storage and a fancy outdoor shed.  I was certain we didn't have anywhere near enough storage to keep all our stuff.

We paid a massive about of money to a fantastic architect for detailed plans.  We even had the drawings reviewed by an engineer.  Lots of money spent  - more than $10,000.  Lots of time.   

At that point in our lives I hadn't started thinking about simplifying.  I was missing seeing  what really mattered.  Instead, I was dazzled by clever storage solutions and stylish renovations on Pinterest.  I got completely carried away with wanting more space.

Decluttering may change your mind

After an intense month of reading and listening to every podcast I could find on simple living and minimalism, we began to declutter our home.    This intense and transformative period of decluttering made us realise we didn't need major renovations.  We didn't need more storage.  

This realisation was mind bending.

Don't get the wrong idea.  We don't live without stuff.  We still have a lot of stuff.  The difference is  the stuff we have we either love or use.

9 Reasons why you may not need more storage

1. You'll have more places to put more stuff

You've got extra storage. You fill it.  Have a think about it,  who do you know who has lots of empty cupboards? 

I've helped many people sort their homes.   Not one had a single storage nook that wasn't jam packed with stuff.  Stuff that no one uses.  Stuff that no one even knows is there.

It's the same old story.  You clear out a cupboard,  bag up stuff you don't use….. and then….  you never know, you might use those things one day.  So, you shove it all in a cupboard - and forget about it.  In doing a job you've given yourself an even bigger job in the future.

2. You'll spend more money,  buying more stuff to fill your extra storage

You won't plan to do this.  You won't go out and say, I've got a spare cupboard, I'm going shopping.  It will just happen.  Slowly and steadily you'll fill your extra storage with your purchases.

When you can simply put stuff out of sight, you forget how much you really have. You don't hesitate to buy more things when you feel the urge to buy.  People who have small homes or limited storage tend to think twice before they buy.  They simply can't fit more things into their homes.  

3. You'll waste valuable time organising stuff

How many times have you heard yourself say…. "I need to organise that cupboard'?, 'I need to clear out Sophie's room'. 'I'm going to have a clear out at the weekend'? Are you guilty of that?

In giving yourself more storage you're just going to have to spend your limited time later 'organising it', 'sorting it out',  'having a good clear out'.   That's time you could be doing something more interesting.  Doing things with your family or friends.  Do you really want to have more storage so you lose precious weekends tidying & organising?

4. You'll buy more 'storage solutions' to organise your stuff

You'll 'need' to go out and buy storage boxes with lids and without lids.  You'll 'need' baskets and clothes organisers.  You'll spend a lot of time at Ikea looking for perfect containers to fit your stuff.

Of course, even with a small amount of storage you'll need clever storage solutions.  You just won't need to keep buying more.

5. You'll have more shelves and cupboards to clean

Cupboards to clean, draws to wipe out, walk-in robes to vacuum.  Attics to cobweb, sweep and dust.  You'll either spend time cleaning it or worry about cleaning it.

6. More stuff costs more money. 

If you spend thousands on storage, that's thousands you can't spend on fun experiences.   If you look back over your photos I bet the moments that stand out are the things you did differently.  Even children and teenagers benefit from experiences rather than stuff.  You could even try a no stuff birthday challenge.

7. You'll be rattling around when the kids leave home (and even while they're still there)

This may seem ridiculous but it's not really that wild an idea.  Even as kids get older they seem to use less stuff.  The days of baskets and buckets of toys only lasts for a short period of time. It won't take long for the mounds of picture books to get replaced by novels they can read on a Kindle.

Then they'll move out.  

Of course some kids stay home for years or keep coming and going.  But others leave home as early as 17 to go to university or on exchange programs.   Do you want to be a storage unit for all their stuff when they travel or live in share houses?

8. Remember you only need to equip your family.  Not a tribe

When I started decluttering I was frankly embarrassed at the amount of stuff we had.  Let's take the linen cupboard.  I had something like 40 towels (excluding beach towels) and over 50 pillow cases. I'd had half of them for years.  Some from when I first left home.  They were 'too good to throw away'. 

Given I'm not running a hotel,   I donated more than half to charity.

We now have enough pillow cases for the pillows on our bed.  Plus a few spares.  And you know what? Not once have I thought about those pillow cases. Not once have I wished I had them back.

9. Your family will have to deal with all your clutter in the future

Of course, none of us want to think about it, but it's true.  We're all going to move on at some point.   My husband and I lost 3 of our parents early - while our children were very young.  They left behind so much stuff.  Lifetimes of stuff.  Stuff they had thrown into cupboards, garages & attics.  They didn't even know it was there - they hadn't looked at it for years.

The experience of dealing with their stuff taught us a lot.  A particularly important lesson was this:  The parents we've lost are not their stuff.  We can't hold onto them by keeping all their possessions.

When our children have to deal with losing us they will have enough on their plates.  We don't need to leave behind masses of storage crammed with unnecessary things for them to sort out.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps you may benefit from reviewing everything in your existing storage before you make plans for more.  You may just find that you don't need as much as you think.

Question: Do you currently have cupboards, drawers and other storage spaces currently filled with stuff?   Do you use all of it?  Do you need all of it?