When it comes to deciding on a home, storage is often one of the last things we consider, if we even think of it at all. Our overflowing cupboards and the the ever-growing mass of storage centres that inhabit the ring roads around our towns and cities are testimony to this fact. Britain is not all that savvy when it comes to storing all that the 21st century has to offer, with clutter often being the result. Our kitchens are clogged with juicers, bread-makers and ice cream machines, while our living rooms overflow with games machines, set-top boxes and DVD collections.
A trip to Ikea for yet more bookshelves or storage boxes is often the solution we decide upon when things start to spill from our cupboards, but a smarter, tidier long-term solution may be staring many of us in the face. Look up and look down and you may just find it.
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Most of us are savvy when it comes to loft space and the advantages of boarding the space below the roof for storage. But what about the other little nooks and crannies that our properties offer up?
The most obvious of these hidden storage spaces are not that dissimilar from the loft, existing in the voids that sit above the ceilings in our hallways, box rooms and bathrooms. These spaces can exist above ground floor rooms or be stranded loft space that has not been exploited yet. Once opened up and boarded, these spaces can be every bit as useful as a loft, offering up to an extra room’s worth of space to the hemmed-in homeowner. What is more, this is not a solution that should break the bank. In most cases, a competent builder or carpenter should be able to sort you out with a neat opening, boarded floors (and possibly an access ladder) with just a day’s work. You could have a lift up or press-to-open hinged opening installed, which will make the space easy to access and close up again. After all, you won’t use storage if it is a pain to get at.
Having this out-of-sight storage means that your winter coats needn’t clog up the hallway in summer and that your files or old bank statements can be kept safely without taking up floor or cupboard space. But if you don’t have the space over your head then you can always have a builder explore the space below your floor to see if this offers a solution. Many older houses have small cellars or large but shallow voids beneath the floorboards and you could be sitting above such a space without even knowing it.
The space may be shown on the plans for your home, so do check these if they are readily accessible. Lifting the floorboards should also reveal if you have voids beneath the floor that may be worth exploiting as storage space. Many people find just enough in a Victorian house to make a wine cellar from, whereas others can discover useable cellars that stretch the length of the house. They may not be the kind of cellar that you could stand up in, but they are often more than sizeable enough to solve all your storage worries.
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The main problem with cellar space is that it can be damp, but your builder should be able to check this, as well as finding solutions to any damp that is detected. Obviously, cellar or under-floor storage will not be practical if you have carpets or laminate flooring throughout your home. But it is ideal for anyone who has exposed floorboards.
A good carpenter or joiner should be able to make an opening with a neat closure and an easy-to-use handle that you can twist and open. They can also install less obvious openings if you want to use the space as a storage place for valuables. The cost of the job will depend on the size of the space and how much work is needed to make it useable. But a basic space could be opened up for just a few hundred pounds.