Have you ever rented a self-storage unit? I have. A few times. When we were selling a residence.

It's kind of a hassle, but it sure helps your home look more like a model home.

And I was always glad when it was time to actually start serious packing because the job was already underway.   

Getting the extra furniture, the overflow from your closets, the out-of-season belongings, and all those trinkets with too much personality into an off-site storage place is way-preferable to stacking them in the garage. Or clustering them in the guestroom.

As with almost everything else, it helps to have a plan. Here's mine.

LIST the items you plan to store.  Figure out how you'll pack them.
  • Boxes of uniform size are best for books, clothes, kitchen items, linens, and toys.
  • Plastic storage tubs with lids can be stacked for fragile items or for long-term storage of off-season things like seasonal decorations.
  • Awkwardly-sized items like furniture, bikes, garden tools, and sports gear won’t stack but still take room.
PRIORITIZE boxed items you may have to access during storage, so they can be packed close to the front of the unit.

GET your boxes from the paint store. They're free and they are all the same size -- four-gallon. 

PACK  things like dishes and framed photographs between layers of sheets and towels that you're packing as well.

AVOID storing items in containers that don't stack, if possible. Examples would be laundry baskets of toys, shopping bags of toiletries, or bundles of blankets. Boxed items stack straight so you'll fit more things into your space.  Nest together odd-shaped things when packing the unit. 

MARK all boxes clearly to indicate contents. Be specific. Write "Stuffed armadillo, ping pong paddles, high school yearbook, beer mugs, tennis trophies," not "family room stuff."

If strangers will be doing the moving for you, do not label boxes with valuables. Too tempting. They may disappear. Instead, number them and keep a master list of contents.

Write on the sides, not the tops of boxes. Mark what is fragile because they should be stacked up high when stored and also when packed for moving. 

ESTIMATE the size of the unit you'll need. Here are rough guidelines. 
  •   5' x 5'  unit holds a chest of drawers, a mattress set, and stacks of plastic tubs or boxes. 
  •   5' x 10' unit will hold furnishings of a mid-size bedroom, including a queen-size bed, dresser, TV, and a few storage boxes. If you have no furniture, calculate that it will accommodate 100 medium boxes.
  •  10' x 10' unit will hold the equivalent of the contents of an entire family room or two full bedrooms.
  •  10' x 15' unit will hold the contents of up to three bedrooms. Good for large items such as couches, tables, and chairs.
  •  10' x 20' will hold the contents of a 5-bedroom house, including a refrigerator, washer/dryer, dining room table, chairs, and large boxes. Since you're probably not storing appliances, you'll have that much more room for boxes and furniture.

PROTECT your belongings. Don't take a chance on storing clothing, electronics, upholstered items, artwork, musical instruments, or family heirlooms in a unit that is not climate controlled.

CHOOSE a site that is convenient if you might be digging into your stored goods now and then. If you don't expect to need the stored items, you can probably save money by being able to choose from facilities less conveniently located.

ASK management if your unit will be available 24 hours a day. Is it clean and brightly lighted? Do you feel secure when coming and going? Is it easy to load and unload from your car? 

STACK strong items on the bottom -- things like tables, plastic totes, and chairs. Stack to the ceiling if possible to use all the space you're paying for. Leave a narrow pathway so you can easily find items later.

CONSIDER off-site storage for things like an RV, a boat, or vehicle not being used. It will improve your curb appeal.

Every time I've used a self-storage site, I was able to stage my home more effectively, and make our moving day go more smoothly. I hope these tips do the same for you.

Be sure to download my helpful homestaging eBooks for other ways you can make staging a home easier, faster, and more profitable.