Residential Design Services for Builders

Our Blog

January 22, 2024

What Can We Learn From the Self-Storage Boom?

When it comes to providing enough storage in our homes – there is just never enough! The problem of not enough storage has gotten worse since the pandemic. Seems Americans have got too good at ordering “stuff” on Amazon and not as good at throwing “stuff” away.

Is Shopping Too easy?

Full disclosure: I hate shopping – whether in person or online. But I am married to an Amazon addict. If I mention to Guy I would like another butter knife – there are four delivered to my doorstep the next day, plus a few other gadgets we may or may not need. Stitch Fix has transformed the way people shop for clothing. These super-fast, convenient shopping experiences are creating a storage challenge. Where do you put all this stuff?

Holiday Décor

Fresh from holidays, finding places for holiday decorations used to be limited to a couple of boxes for tree ornaments and outdoor lights. Not anymore!  One of our team members added to his collection last year with a life-size Santa and butler Polar bear. He sacrificed an entire upstairs closet dedicated to Christmas decorations!

Decorating for Christmas has become a competitive sport!  Who in the neighborhood has the best decor? But wait – competitive outdoor décor isn’t just limited to Christmas. One famous street in Greenville, SC goes all out for Halloween.

Great fun – but where to you store all of that stuff?


Yalcin Sonat/

According to Yardi Matrix, there has been tremendous growth in the self-storage business since 2020. There are now more than 14.5 million people utilizing self-storage – which is up by close to a million in two years.  Some believe the demand for self-storage is increasing because of housing affordability issues – especially in urban areas. Another factor is downsizing. The 55+ market is famous for wanting a smaller house but failing to adequately downsize the amount of stuff they keep. A quick google search revealed three self-storage facilities within 5 miles of my home with another one under construction.

It’s clear to me that our storage needs are only growing – so where can we expand our storage in the home?


Ever since we fell in love with the open kitchen island, finding adequate upper cabinet storage in the kitchen has been a challenge. During the lockdown, the number of kitchen gadgets we needed increased. The result? We quickly ran out of storage for the large bulky items and our kitchens became a disorganized mess. The once-adequate corner pantry no longer provides enough storage. Large walk-in pantries are a better solution. Be sure to run extra shelves up high – even if a footstool is required to access the top shelf.

The addition of the Messy Kitchen is another great storage solution. These is especially helpful for our favorite kitchen gadgets like the juicer, blender, coffee maker, and air friers.

I also love the tall upper cabinets. The taller the better – especially if you have a house full of tall people (husband and two sons all over six feet tall). I also love the glass cabinets above the uppers. What a great place for the display of collectables that is safe and relatively dust free.

Master closet

Ask most buyers, and they will respond “you can’t make my closet big enough.” While that’s not often feasible, oversized closets have great appeal. But how big should the closet(s) be? We advocate a minimum of 1% of the square footage of the home in hanging: a 3,000 sq. ft. should have thirty feet of hanging – before double hanging. Then, above the hanging, add shelves for suitcases and bins for off-season clothes. But if you’re selling to 55+ buyers, you should consider going beyond the minimum. Make sure you satisfy the minimum hanging before adding linen shelves or drawer stacks to the closet.

Garage storage

For many – including our household, the garage becomes the catch all for stuff. Many builders understand this phenomenon and offer 2’ and 4’ bumps to their garages as optional upgrades. But often that’s not enough.

One of my neighbors has a three-car garage with no room for cars. A quick google search reveals lots of garage storage systems that go in front, over, and between the cars. I wonder if I should drop them a hint…

Attic Storage

If you have a two-story house with attic space over the first floor – gaining access from the second floor is awesome.

We did that in our current house. Oh – we thought we were so clever! Unfortunately, we didn’t opt for the foam-insulated attic like you see above. Yes, it gets cold in the winter and scorching in the summer even with the radiant barrier on the roof – but it gets worse. Because our attic is ventilated, the stuff in the attic is affected by wind. During a tropical storm, we had wind-driven rain come through the ridge vents. What a mess! Stuff also gets super dusty as well. I’d like a do-over on that decision!

But at least our attic storage and its dusty content are easily accessible. We used to have a pull-down stair in our old house that was downright dangerous when trying to retrieve large boxes. Now consider the 55+ buyer who has had years to accumulate stuff and has downsized to a ranch plan. This buyer often suffers from diminishing core strength and should not be attempting a pull-down attic stair. Instead, we advocate a permanent stair to attic storage. We call it the Florida basement.

Under the Stairs Storage

Move over Harry Potter. This valuable storage space is not to be overlooked. One builder finishes the underside of their stairs to the fourth tread. They must employ munchkin drywall hangers.

Basement Storage

One positive of living above the Mason Dixson line is the awesome basement storage. But there are downsides to too much basement storage. One is it is too easy to save everything. The second is the amount of stuff becomes a major deterrent to moving – especially if they were considering moving to the south – where it is currently warmer.

Yes – We have a problem!

So, is it a lack of storage that is the problem or too much stuff that is the problem? The reality is, most of us aren’t as organized as we’d like to be, why do you think Tidying Up with Marie Kondo was such a hit on HGTV? Even if we take her lessons to heart, our storage needs aren’t going away anytime soon.

Selling Storage!

I wonder how many would-be buyers haven’t considered that a new house with adequate storage would allow them to cancel their self-storage unit lease. Could this cost-saving help offset the higher interest rates? While I’m not advocating marketing new homes to self-storage tenants, it could just be another tool to help wake the resale buyer out of their low interest rate induced coma.

Have you mastered the art of organization with your home? Or is more storage never enough? What are your favorite solutions you have seen? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Categorized in:

This post was written by Housing Design Matters