Sheds are like steam showers and wine coolers; they're not necessary, but boy are they nice to have. For many of us, sheds are preferred storage space for weathered gloves and wheelbarrows, but not every home has one and not every homeowner can afford to build or buy one. So when you're lucky enough to land a property with a shed already present, it can feel like the cherry on top of a very tasty dessert.
Unfortunately, sheds can deteriorate into an oversized junk drawer if you're not intentional about storing items properly and with care. If your shed has become a crowded collection of garden hoses and baseball bats, or if you don't even know what's in your shed anymore, it's time to take a deep dive into this once-loved storage space and restore it to its former glory. Use the five steps listed below to transform your shed into a functional "bonus" storage solution.
Know What You Have
It's easy to stock up on extra goods and equipment when you have a shed. A discounted bag of fertilizer you purchased off season, a bird feeder you spotted at a neighboring garage sale—they all seem so convenient and ideal until your shed has evolved into a box of cluttered chaos you'd prefer to ignore. If you truly want to address the mess, however, you'll have to lean into that chaos. Spend a day (or even a weekend) pulling everything out of your shed. Lay it all out in your yard or driveway, so you can get a full picture of what you own. Once you've gained a clearer idea of your shed's contents, you can begin sorting it all in a way that makes sense.
Cut Out the Clutter
Your shed is an easy space to fill and forget. It's also easy to fill and neglect. Perhaps you've stuffed your shed with family heirlooms you hope to pass down to a child or relative. Maybe you purchased a vintage chair you had planned to reupholster but never got around to it. Now that you've pulled everything out of your storage shed, take advantage of this prime opportunity to cut out the clutter. Toss leftover pain cans. Donate duplicate (but still functional) tools. As you sift through your possessions, you may also find that some items would be best kept elsewhere, like extra bedding or important documents. Consider temperature, moisture, and pests, and relocate items that are sensitive to these factors. Evaluate every item slowly and intentionally.
Group Your Belongings
You've parted ways with the clutter and re-homed necessary items, but it's not quite time to move everything back into storage. If you complete this whole process only to find yourself still overwhelmed by your shed and unable to locate what you need when you need it, you haven't truly addressed the mess. So now that you've narrowed down the contents of your shed, spend some time sorting through your remaining goods and arranging them into groups, like gardening tools, seasonal decor, and propane and oil tanks. Group your belongings into categories, so you can create an organized storage system.
Invest in Proper Storage
While cardboard boxes are certainly affordable, they're not particularly effective storage containers for a shed. Before you refill your shed with shovels and tarps, think about your previous means of storage and adjust where necessary. First, make sure bins, shelves, and other storage areas are still functional. Toss cracked containers and replace sagging shelves. Consider your storage categories and add labels to help you locate items quickly. Ultimately, you should have fun and get creative with this step. For example, you can utilize wall space for hanging your gardening tools. Additionally, if you keep items like wrenches and hammers in your shed, you can install a magnetic strip along the wall to store them.
Keep Your Shed Tidy
To make sure your shed stays organized, try to avoid the habits that created a chaotic space in the first place. When you're tempted to toss in cushions from your outdoor patio furniture before winter, think about how that action will affect future visits to the shed. After you've used your yard tools, resist the urge to drop them by the door and race to the shower. Clean your dirt-caked shovels and shears thoroughly, then put them back in their proper homes. Finally, when you want to add something new to the shed, make sure you are purposeful about its placement. Stick to your storage system, and you'll be happy you did.