“I used to sell furniture for a living. The trouble was, it was my own.” – Les Dawson.
Well, it’s that time again, time to put everything in storage, hitch up the dogs and go on the long hunt. Feed the village, provide for the lean hard times when the winter winds rip down from the north and … what the hell am I even talking about? I have no idea.
I do know that someone, somewhere in this great nation of ours, is moving or truly heading off on an extended vacation, vacating the summer home or the regular home and that means putting things and stuff into storage. There is a scientific difference between things and stuff but since my degree is in comparative comparisons and not science, I’ll be hornswoggled if I know the difference. Or if I know what in blazes hornswoggled means. So, you ask yourself, what does he know? I know about keeping your furniture safe and happy in a storage unit if you’re going to be away from it for a long time. I’m going to pass that knowledge onto you! Oh you lucky, lucky readers.
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that the unit of storage where you’ve chosen to house your furniture while you move, vacation or just want to make your cat insane by hiding all of it, is the right place. Take your time, if possible, when selecting a storage unit. Inspect it for cracks, leaks, water stains, oil stains, blood stains (I’m just sayin’) before you plunk down your hard earned or questionably come by money. If at all possible, get a storage unit that is climate controlled. That’s always a good idea but, even more so if you’re going to be storing furniture of wood, bamboo or immense origami. A climate controlled unit is going to make the survival of your furniture a lot more feasible and we could all use a little fease.
Next, you’ll want to put plastic sheets or wood palettes down on the floor. This is most important in a storage unit that’s not climate controlled but it’s also a good idea to do in any storage unit. Accidents happen and you have to plan for them and expect them. Keeping your furniture up, off the floor is always your best bet for having it last a long time.
Now you’ll want to clean your furniture, clean it deep, clean it good, scrub behind it’s ears and such. All your upholstered furniture you want go give a good, deep vacuum. The thing is, there are things, creepy things, mites and things living in your house and furniture that get cycled in and out and basically controlled through everyday living, but when your furniture is going to sit for a long time, you’ll want to make sure you get rid of as many of these little buggers as possible. Little buggers, see what I did there?
You will want a good layer of wax on all your finished woods before you store them. Protects them, keeps them clean while they are away from daily care. Metallic, brass or copper pieces you’ll want to cover with a lacquer or shellac, before storing them. If you don’t know the difference, this piece will help you figure that out. This will keep them from oxidizing, turning green or tarnishing. If you’re storing metals and you’re located near the ocean, a nice film of lithium grease on these items before you wrap them will help prevent salt air rusting and pitting of metals.
Bubble wrap is your friend here for somethings. Bubble wrap all your delicates, lamps, china, fine frames and the like. Bubble wrap the edges of sharp furnishings so that they don’t get chipped while you’re moving them, also you want them padded so they don’t cause damage to other pieces during the shifting and pushing of the loading up. Use the drawers of bureaus as storage, wrap smaller items in bubble wrap or paper and store them in the drawers.
When it comes to wrapping furniture, climate control or no, you’re never going to want to wrap your leather of finished wood pieces in plastic. Never. In a non climate controlled unit you’re looking at temperature swings more unpredictable than my ex-wife’s mood swings. You can experience extreme heat to extreme cold, sometimes over night. These temperature extremes will have an effect on the plastic. Extreme heat opens up the possibility of the plastic melting. You don’t want melted plastic stuck to your leather couch or that butter soft, miles deep, leather armchair you love to sit in on early winter evenings when the low sinking sun plays amber shadows on the walls. Shame to ruin the piece. Same goes for finished wood. You don’t need chunks of plastic becoming a permanent part of your fine chifferobe, why then you’re just going to have to bust it up.
I would suggest that you do not store antiques or heirlooms in a non climate controlled storage unit. Give those items all the help they can get to keep lasting
Look, even in the very best cared for storage units, there is always a possibility something will go wrong, a power outage, something, so even though your leather seems like it would be safe, never take the chance. If you’ve wrapped your fine pieces in plastic and then, the temp changes what can happen is moisture build up. Any amount of moisture is going to do devastating damage to leather and finished wood. Moisture is good for cake …. mmmm cake … not so much for fine furnishings. Do not take the risk, it is not worth it at all.
Leather pieces and finished wood you’ll want to cover with blankets and furniture pads. This keeps them free of dust and if there is an accident, water but, it also allows them to breath and have airflow around them so no moisture builds up.
With upholstered pieces, put furniture pads or blankets on them before you shrink wrap or plastic wrap them. This will keep them safe.
Mirrors are always tricky. You’ll want to put a nice, big masking tape X on the mirror glass itself to keep it from shattering. Also, the masking tape X has long been used by monks to ward off evil and junk food. Once you’ve applied the X, wrap your mirrors up with bubble wrap.
Now, you’re almost ready to start putting things and stuff, (you knew that would come back, didn’t you), into your storage unit. Let’s think space and access for a moment. In a previous storage article I encouraged you to label the living daylights out of everything. Label all the boxes and bags so you know where it all is. You never know when you’re going to have to get at something. So, that still holds true, label all your things and I say take it a little further. Make a storage chart to hang on the inside of the unit door with the location of everything. As you put something into the unit, label it on a sheet of paper. You can draw a little square for the item, number it and then write a key at the bottom of the page. Box #7 and then a quick list of what’s in it, Kitchen, Kid’s bedroom, etc. Same thing with furniture. #9- Hall mirror. Fill out the complete chart and then, have it laminated at the Kinko’s and hang it on the inside of the storage unit door. Laminating it will prevent it from falling prey to the weather and disintegrating.
Can I start storing now, you ask. Hold on, almost there,
Larger pieces of furniture that can be easily disassembled, you should do that. Remove table legs so they can be stacked or leaned. Whatever you think can be taken apart easily to save some space, you should do so. While you’re doing this, put all nuts, bolts, screws, nails, clips and any other kind of hardware that is from the disassembled piece in a ziplock bag and it should be … what? … labeled. Yes, a labeled bag can then be adhered to the bottom of the piece with some masking tape. There it will be when time comes to unleash the furniture.
Okay, check list; unit decided on, plastic or wood palettes down on the floor, pieces that can be, have been disassembled and their hardware has been put in well labeled storage bags. All wood furniture has been waxed, lacquered or shellaced, likewise your metallic pieces. Mirrors have been X’d and bubbled wrapped. You have blankets and furniture pads covering your fine leather and finished wood pieces, upholstered pieces have been draped with blankets or furnie pads and then shrink wrapped. A chart is set to be filled in with placement of things in the unit. Okay, looks like you’re all set to store. Well done.
From here, it’s pretty easy, large heavy stuff toward the back of the storage unit, lighter smaller items build forward. Stack heavy stuff on the bottom and lighter things as you go up. Do not stack things too high toward the front, you’ll want room to get behind the front things and, leave yourself an aisle if you can. Divide your unit in two halves, left side, furniture, right side boxes and bags. This way, you can pretty much get at everything you need. Note it on the chart and you’ll be fine.
I would suggest that you visit your things at least once a month, make sure no damage has been done and , if so, repair and adjust so it doesn’t get worse. Also, you’ll want an inventory, a list of everything that you have in the storage unit. A really good idea is to take a picture of everything you have in the storage unit and keep it in a file. Despite claims of safety, storage facilities are often targets of thieves. Just to be safe, you’ll want a good record of everything in the unit for insurance purposes. There’s no way you’ll remember everything you have in there if something happens, record it all.
So, there you are, ways to keep your furniture safe and lasting long while in storage!