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Solving the storage crunch

There's an old adage, "We move into a new home and then fill the space -- no matter how large the home." If you find yourself struggling to find a place to store your vast -- and growing -- mound of prized possessions, then you need to read on.

Have you taken a really close look at what you own and when you last used it? Before you invest a lot of time deciding where things should go, study what things should go -- away! What haven't you used for years that may deteriorate before it is again needed? Remember the old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." So, as you inventory your possessions keep your children, relatives and friends in mind. If you aren't sure about certain items, box them up, mark the contents -- include a date -- and store the box in plain view in the garage or storage shed. After a year or so of non-use, take another shot at turning it into someone else's treasure.

If you own a computer, you can save tons of room by scanning all of your important paper files. Be sure to store them on redundant storages devices and make sure that at least one of the devices is stored off your property. Your mortgage, your deed, your vehicle titles, insurance policies, rental agreement, Social Security card, birth certificates, your pet's papers, your receipts, family photos and movies, special files, and the list goes on. We have a file that contains our very important documents, which we sync with our smart phone and tablet. Certain hard copies such as receipts can be shredded. Others such as vehicle titles cannot. Regardless, all should be scanned.

It is very easy to allow cabinets and drawers to become cluttered over time, especially when you have to do a quick cleaning of your home when you have surprise visitors. Unclutter drawers periodically to keep from accumulating outdated fliers, menus, magazines and newspapers. This will open them up so you can store more day-to-day items that you need to quickly reach.

If you are considering furniture replacement, study purchasing pieces that also can serve as storage devices. For example: A coffee table that has drawers or an ottoman that can open up and double as a spot to store blankets and pillows. Increase the height of your bed only a few inches and you can gain an enormous amount of storage space making room for several low-profile plastic containers. Measure the height of the container that works best for your storage needs, and then raise the bed so that your chosen container slips in and out easily. Bed risers can be found in home design and improvement stores in different shapes, styles, textures and colors to complement your current bedroom furniture. They are inexpensive and not only give you added storage space, but will also give your bedroom a new look.

Accessorize your kitchen with pullouts, Lazy Susans, tilt-outs and more. Be sure to use accessories that offer access to hidden corners and hard-to-reach places. For example: Install vertical dividers in the deep cabinet over the refrigerator. Trays are best stored in high, deep cabinets because they can be removed and replaced without getting on a ladder. For the garage, metal frame shelving is inexpensive and easy to install and can be assembled to reach from floor to ceiling. Storage platforms are available that can be attached to a garage ceiling. Some can even be raised and lowered using a pulley system. Easy to access and out of the way -- what a country!

James Carey and Morris Carey are nationally recognized experts on homebuilding and renovation.