Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Storage crisis

Floor to ceiling
Despite having a whole medium-sized upstairs room just for my personal stuff (mostly books and wargaming-related), I've run out of storage space.

The room wasn't a bad size when we first moved in some twenty years ago but with the accumulation of cabinets, cupboards, racks, bookcases and storage crates, it's gradually shrunk to a narrow corridor. Besides filling all these storage units, the units themselves are stacked with plastic boxes which literally reach to the ceiling.

One particular problem is that I now don't even have a free space for moving stuff around or getting games ready to take out. What is the answer?

Move to a larger house

Moving  house is a very time-consuming and stressful undertaking. A larger lounge would enjoy uxorial support but the demand for more wargaming space is an aspiration unlikely to achieve joint critical mass.

Put stuff in the loft

Although the loft is already crowded with domestic junk and books, I could make some more room there. However, I've tried this before and it's very inconvenient.

Have a loft conversion

This would be fairly expensive and might not give me a bigger room than I have now, unless I utilised both rooms which would be a somewhat disproportionate use of a house. The main problem, however, is what would I do with all the other stuff already in the loft?

Colonise other parts of the house

Not an option.

Compress existing storage

This is an ideal solution but I doubt if it would free up more than 10% of the used space.

Sell books and/or figures

I already have about twenty crates of unwanted books in the loft which I would try to sell on Amazon or eBay if I had time. I have sold some figures at shows, but most of my armies are, I think, still wanted. The problem is that I will probably never finish painting them and they may never be used. So I have a strong attachment to them but it's probably more emotional than rational.

This is a troubling dilemma, but I have a plan of sorts. I think I should start by chipping away at the problem, that is selling off stuff I least want and seeing how far I get. There is some scenery and even a few figures which are definitely surplus to requirements. Gaining a cubic foot here and there would be an immense help. But it's getting rid of books that would probably be the least painful and most productive way forward.

While books about uniforms, hardware, organisation and tactics are essential to any wargamer, general histories and memoirs are only of marginal interest, especially once read. There was a time, perhaps, when I would have liked to have become some sort of 'military expert' and would have required a library to support that conceit, but it's too late in life now and I have other priorities consuming my time and energy.

Any suggestions will be gratefully received!


  1. Your are on the horns of a dilemma. A bigger house seems reasonable to me although your idea of chipping away at the problem has merit too.

    I wish you luck in tackling this monster.

  2. It seems a certain truth that if you create more space.....you will simply fill it. Better to manage the space you have.

    You can get yourself into a certain routine of selling around £20 worth of stuff a week on e-bay. It is slow going at first, but over time it does create gaps and does create money and it brings a certain discipline to constantly reviewing what should go next.

    It is not the way however to make a significant impact at a time of storage crisis ... that calls for more drastic action, the charity shop, donation to a school or something and the tip (waste / recycle centre).

    It a mindset thing, I don't really see the difference between having something you won't use in the next 10 years sitting on a shelf or sending to the tip, it's just that one seems worse that the other, but the reality is that one clears space and liberates the mind, while the other doesn't. The finance thing doesn't really come into it, as stuff in the tip is worth ziltch, but so is the stuff that just sits on shelves hogging space and is too troublesome to sell etc.

    It sounds like you have already seen book clearance as the way to go, I would just do that aggressively NOW and then in the future start buying new books on digital for Kindle or the Pad etc. I have a lot of military titles on my iPad .... that represents a lot of shelf space and weight saved.

  3. Tough choices that we are all forced to deal with at some time or another. Best of luck!


  4. It’s hoarding, you cannot be using all this stuff and never will. Get rid of some, make that hard decision. It’s actually quite liberating. I am getting rid of items I have not used for 20-25 years. Gives you some more money to spend on current interests as well.

  5. Yup, it isn't a "storage crisis". It is definitely a "stuff crisis". I've recently gone for the bigger house route but I can already see this is not a sustainable strategy. So I too am eyeing up neglected boxes of barely started projects. Deep breathe. Finish them or flick them.

  6. Thanks to everyone for your comments and advice. I'm probably privileged not to have hit the buffers before.

    I hadn't thought of myself as a compulsive hoarder, but there is obviously a problem. I think it's partly a result of my upbringing. My parents belonged to that wartime make-do-and-mend generation. Clothes were handed down, everything was harboured for possible future use, fat from roasts was saved in bowls for further cooking and food was scraped off plates and re-served if you didn't eat it all.

    It must sound insane, and perhaps disgusting, to the rising generation but that's what it was like. I was born over a year before the end of rationing and I remember seeing ration cards in a kitchen drawer years later which my mother obviously kept in case they might be needed again!

    There was no need for recycling because there was no waste. If you wanted to buy clotted cream you took your own bowl. Everything else was served in brown paper bags. Glass bottles were returnable. There was no plastic packaging. Household outgoings consisted largely of ashes and vegetable peelings which were collected for the pigs.

    I have, of course, adjusted to the abundance and lower price levels of modern life but its profligacy is sometimes hard to stomach.

    Another factor is simply lack of time. It's so easy to accumulate, but disposing of things is time-consuming and awkward.

    Anyway, the purge has begun. The problem isn’t just wargaming-related, and the first target was clothes in my wardrobe where I cleared about a foot of rail-space. Next up were paperbacks and other low value books which will go straight to the local hospice charity shop. Books of more value and wargaming stuff will be offered to other wargame club members or sold at wargame shows, boot fairs or on the Internet. That will take a little longer but I’ve already begun to mass stuff for disposal.

    I've only cleared about a yard of shelf-space as yet but as Norm suggested, it liberates the mind.


  7. With just a few hours work I’ve now made huge inroads into the problem. I’ve also pruned the Games, Workbench, and Wish List pages (top menu) as another aspect of my commitment to streamlining. For the time being, at least, I’m on a roll.

  8. I hear you, not least because I had a similar upbringing and am currently wrestling with storage issues. Two things come to mind, concentrate one thing at a time, clothes for example or books. Secondly how about a smaller scale for new projects?

    1. I appreciate the advice but I've found that switching target is refreshing and less mentally fatiguing. It also allows further thoughts to mature.

      I decided many years ago to move to smaller scales, particularly 6mm, mainly to ease the burden of carrying stuff, but I never stuck to it! Although the ultimate aim is to game, being seduced by the look of models is often the reason for starting a new project.

      Just recently I've been thinking about this again in the context of minimising work. For large games smaller is definitely better, and this is actually going to be the subject of my next post.