It can be so convenient to have a backyard shed where you can house everything from gardening supplies to your unused belongings to those projects that you know you’ll finish one of these days - Hey, no judgement! We’ve all got something cooking up in the backyard shed!
But, when things start to get cluttered, it can be hard to see that backyard shed as anything other than a chore looming over your shoulder. The more items you put into it, the smaller it seems, and the more work you can anticipate if you ever try to clear it out.
In this article, we’re going to tackle the overcrowding problem you have in your shed. This will also be helpful for anyone just starting to store items in that brand-new backyard shed. We’re going to talk about organization and storage tips so that you’ve got a shed that looks neat and clean.
Step One: Clear out the unnecessary
Whether it’s old broken lamps that will never come back to life or half-empty cans of paint in the color that you just hated on your bathroom wall, don’t hold onto the things that you no longer need.
This can often be the hardest part in the process of maximizing space in your shed, but it’s crucial. After all, you want to maximize your space for the things that are useful to you. Imagine wanting to design the perfect tool shelf to showcase your entire collection. Now imagine you can’t see it because you’ve got a worn-out mattress in the middle of the shed that you’ve been meaning to take to the dump for some time now.
Maximizing space means that you’re giving space only to the things that serve you. So, here are some tips to cutting down on things that are just in the way:
- Consolidate things like bags of soil, bird feeder, and other garden items. Organizing these things will be much easier when they’re stored in stackable plastic storage bins. Plus, they’ll have a much longer shelf life when you store them in an air-tight container instead of simply folding over the top of the bag
- Donate old clothes, furniture, and other household items to charity.
- Resist the urge to keep items that might be useful later. Especially if you use your backyard shed as a workspace, there’s a tendency to want to collect useful parts - screws, bolts, even larger items like metal scraps, pipes, and tools. But, at the end of the day, you’re probably never going to need 100 of the same sized rusted nails that you pried out of an old piece of furniture, and you don’t need three of the exact same hammer. It can be helpful to make an inventory of all of the items you have in your shed and go through with an objective eye to ask yourself, Do I really need this? Maybe I’m not using it now, but would it really be so much of a hassle to get a new one if the situation ever arises that I do need this? You might even ask yourself, Do I know anyone who could get more use out of this item? Maybe it makes more sense to give your tools away to a friend who will be willing to loan it back to you if you ever need it.
- Tackle those projects that you’ve been meaning to do, right now. If you’ve been storing those shelves that you’re going to put up in the guest bathroom in your backyard shed, just get to it already! You might even just place those projects - be they furniture pieces ready to be put together or pictures that need mounting or some other home improvement project - in the area where they’ll be place permanently. You only have to step over an unfinished project once or twice before you build up the motivation to finish it. You might also ask your handy friend to come over and help you power through some of these projects. Entice them with a dinner or a beer if you need to.
Step Two: Take everything else out of the shed for inventory
Now that you’ve got everything in your shed that you want to be there, it’s still helpful to pull everything out and get a sense for what you have. You’ll be much better able to maximize your space if you start playing that mental game of How do all of these items fit together?
You might not have realized, for instance, that you’ve got 5 planting pots that fit together perfectly because they were stored in different piles in your shed. Now, seeing them in the daylight, you can start making those kinds of connections, and thinking about what items make the most sense to be stored together.
Step Three: Arrange items based on use
The holiday supplies, the summer garden supplies, the winter beddings, the fall recipe books, those will all be used at different times of year and should be stored together.
The benefit of grouping together items like this will be that you can rotate them according to the season. In summer, for example, you might store the winter items to the back or up high because they won’t need to be accessed. Less shuffling around on a daily basis will mean that your storage shed is less cluttered and more convenient to use.
Step Four: Get the right storage tools
You know what you’ve got to store, you know how you’d like to map out your backyard shed, now it’s time to get the storage tools that will really help you maximize your space.
Here are a few of the must-have storage tools for your backyard shed:
- Wall Hooks - these are perfect for hanging those bulky garden items like rakes, brooms, hoses, shovels and more.
- Floating shelves - Floating shelves are perfect for storing items, and they’re super function when located above work desks or other surfaces where you’ll be working on your projects.
- Creative storage for little pieces - If you have a lot of little easy-to-lose supplies like sewing needles, nails, screws, or bolts, you can store them in small jars or transparent plastic containers. Even recycled spice jars are great for this. Make sure these jars have their own space on a floating shelf so that you can easily see them and they don’t crowd up your workspace.
- Peg boards - This is a great option for those smaller tools like screwdrivers, hammers, rolls of tape, and other items that should be handy all the time. Not only will this make your space look less cluttered, but you won’t have to do any frustrated rummaging through drawers looking for your things anymore!
- Magnetic boards - Another popular wall-hanging storage device is a simple magnetic board or strip. Make sure it’s strong, because you’re going to it to hold the weight of your metal rulers, screwdrivers, hand files, and other lighter metal tools. Harking back to the small jars for your nails and buttons, you can also store these jars on a magnetic board if they have a metal cap.
- Tall metal shelves - Try to find the tallest shelving unit that will fit in your backyard shed. We say this because you can put the less frequently used items, like gift-wrapping paper, the good dining set, etc on the top, pulling them down only when they will be used. On the eye level shelves, put the things that you’ll use most often. And on the low shelves, put other items that fall into that not-everyday-use category.
Make sure that your shelving units are made of sturdy metal (no termite risk or water damage) and that they are on locking wheels for easy movement.
- Folding tables, collapsable seating - When you’re not actively working at your desk, you can make the space look open and clean if you’re able to fold it away. Your working table might be attached to the wall, folding down when you’re ready to use it. That way, you don’t have to worry about finding a good place to store it. Similarly, folding chairs, chairs that can collapse into the wall or are actually attached to the table, can give you much more space when you’re not using them.
- Plenty of different sized plastic storage bins - Plastic storage bins are our absolute have-to-have storage item. Find ones that are sturdy enough that rodents and other pests won’t be able to smell inside or chew through the lid. And make sure that you get enough variety to be able to store different sized items. You’ll also want them to be transparent, so that you can see what’s inside the box. And, if you want to take the organization to the next level, you might also invest in different color lids. That way, you can narrow your search down even more if you’re looking for something specific that might be buried inside. For example, pink lids might be bedding and linens. Blue lids might be kitchen supplies, and so on. If color-coding isn’t your style, simply label your boxes with tape and make sure you put the inventory on the side of the box (e.g. baking supplies, cold weather sweaters, etc.)
- Vacuum Sealed bags - You can maximize not just the space in your shed, but also the space in your plastic bins with vacuum sealed bags. By removing the air from your beddings, pillows, towels, and clothes, you’ll give yourself so much more space in your backyard storage shed. You’ll be amazed at how some of these bags can really help you find space you didn’t expect to have. These bags will also protect your fabrics by preventing moth infestations and other damaging pests.
- Exterior Cabinets - If you’re looking for even more space, you might utilize the exterior portion of your shed as well. Of course, you want to protect your items from things like sun, wind, and water damage, so the best way to go about this is to create a durable little supply closet. This can house your most frequently used gardening supplies like your gloves, pruners and hand rakes.
Step Five: Create Clear Areas in the Shed
If you’re going to be using your shed for a variety of different uses - as a workspace, a play area for the kids, an art studio, or yoga space, the best way to maximize your space is to make clear divisions.
You can do so with physical barriers like shelving units, book shelves or folding room separators, or you can think about it in more abstract terms.
For instance, if you use the same space for both yoga and wood working, you might completely transform the space for each activity. When it’s time for yoga, all of the wood working materials go away in their storage bins to make way for the yoga items. When yoga is over, all of the materials - mat, candles, etc. - are placed back in their storage space. When you’re not doing either activity, your shed will look neutral and tidy.
Step Six: Stay on top of the cleaning and tidying
The best way to maximize you space may not be the most fun. But cleaning, tidying, and organizing frequently will always make your shed inviting. When there’s no clutter, and when everything is in its designated spot, your friends and family will be asking how you maximized your space in your backyard shed.
Make it a habit to clean up and tidy every time you leave your shed for the day. You’ll love coming into an organized shed.
Some extra advice for potential shed owners
Now, if you’re thinking of buying a backyard shed or replacing your backyard shed, all of the above information will be super helpful in maximizing your space. But the best thing you can do? Get the right sized storage shed.
If you can, get a storage shed that is slightly larger than the one you currently have your eye on. Believe us, your items will take up more space than you imagined, and no one has every complained of having a storage shed that was too large.
Need help finding the right shed for your needs? Why not give us a call? We’ll talk you through finding the right size and maximizing your space so that your backyard shed doesn’t become an overcrowded stressful space but rather a tidy, open, inviting one.