Professional Organizer Advice: Making the Most of a Storage Shed

I honestly don’t mind projects. In fact, I embrace them, and rub my hands together with glee when I come across a new one.

But over time, I’ve figured out that when a project stops being a fun escape is when it becomes work. That happens when you can’t find something you need, or you have to start unpacking and repacking things to find what you want.

There’s nothing a professional organizer loves more than storage—except for space to do the things we want to do. Often, families create extra storage in the basement or garage or adding a storage shed to their property. They fill them with things and soon realize they still don’t have any place to do stuff.

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What should you put in a storage shed?

For every family, that “stuff” is certainly different. It might be making a Pinewood Derby car for the annual Boy Scout’s race. It could be fine tuning bikes for cross-country rides, planting seedlings for spring, crafting or just puttering.

I’ve helped families find the space to do the things they love. We’ll organize and sort belongings in order to maximize the potential of an area. A storage shed is more than just a great way to free up the garage for your cars—it can be a functional space that is a pleasure to use. Developing an organization strategy is the key to success.

Keep in mind a storage building doesn’t have to suit just one purpose. It might fulfill several items on your wish list. Since you’ll most likely see it in your backyard, you can make it a focal point of the landscape. Or, you can use it to add an adjacent seating area for enjoying your garden or taking a break from projects.

Organize to Create Space

In order to have some space for projects you enjoy, begin with organization. The neater you can store the things you need, the more space you’ll free up for other purposes.

When I help someone get organized, I like to begin with the walls. If we put everything we can possibly put on the walls, it will weed down the belongings so all that is left are the things which cannot be hung. A storage shed offers amply opportunity to maximize vertical storage.

Sort items into like kinds because it makes it much easier to find things. Put your gardening tools together, you camping gear together and so on. From each pile of belongings, choose the ones that can hang and install hooks or racks on the wall to hold them. You’ll find there are hooks designed to hold bikes, ladders, rakes and all kinds of gear.

Maximize floor space by going vertical with things that cannot hang. Add some shelving or store things stacked in tubs. If your shed has rafters, use them to hang or store things.

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Comfortable Gardening

A workbench inside the shed is a gardener’s dream. There are so many little tasks I perform related to gardening that are more comfortable standing or sitting at a potting bench then bending over in the garden. A workbench in the storage shed is perfect for planting bulbs, transplanting small seedlings into pots, writing plant tables, doing cuttings from other plants or dividing a plant.

A few plastic tubs with lids are great for holding potting soil and other nutrients. Add hooks or a pegboard to hold hand-held gardening tools. Stack flower pots under the work bench. Baskets on the wall can hold containers of seeds and bulbs. In short, keep the things you need in reach and make it comfy.

Making and Fixing

As a child, when my dad would send me running for a certain socket wrench, I was sure to find it in his organized area. He used to tell me to respect the tools.

Perhaps that’s why I love to have organized tools today, and organizing tools is a favorite project of mine. The extra space of a storage shed wall is a great way to organize the tools you need and quickly be able to see and find them.

Organize your most commonly used tools, again going as vertical as possible, and positioning your toolbox with other occasional tools nearby. If your tools are shared, you’ll want to add labels so everyone knows where things belong. The rewards will be reaped for years to come.

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Building and Creating

It’s great to have tools at home, but even better if you can get to them easily and have room to work on something. From crafting a holiday gift to rewiring the lamp from the den, a workspace is needed alongside your tools.

I love having what I call a “messy table” in my storage area. This means I don’t have to worry about getting a bit of paint or hot glue on it. Unlike in the house, I can lay out a project and not have to scoop it up when I need to do something else. I can leave it on the messy table and return to it later on. My messy table has recently held a wrought-iron chair with a fresh coat of paint and then a long party banner I was hot-gluing together.

The best thing about most storage spaces—especially storage sheds—is not what is being stored, but the extra empty space that accompanies it. Like a painting’s white canvas, that space turns it from a place to put stuff into a place to do stuff.

Lea Schneider is a professional organizational expert who writes on storage efficiencies around the home for Home Depot. Lea’s tips for outdoor sheds are aimed at providing homeowners with techniques that will provide better utilization of this often neglected area. To research a wide variety of storage sheds, you can visit Home Depot’s website.

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