How to Fit Everything You Own in a 5’ x 10’ Storage Unit

Life changes happen: marriage, new home, newborn baby…etc. Then there are more unusual changes like the one I’ll undertake next month when I quit my job to travel the world for a year with my husband. Since we’re moving away and living only out of backpacks for a year, we had to figure out what to do with all the items we would leave behind.

???????????????????????????With the amount of nice furniture and keepsakes we’d collected over the years, we had no other option but to store it all safely in a storage unit. Thinking optimistically we hoped we could fit everything into a 5’ x 5’ storage unit. However, after seeing the space in person we realized a 5’ x 10’ storage was a more realistic choice.

Even with the larger unit it was still a challenge to make everything fit. Here are a few of the ways we were able to stack our life into a 5’ x 10’ storage unit.

1. Have a yard sale: It’s easier to store all your possessions if you don’t own as much. We went through all our items and detached ourselves from a lot of “junk.” Clothes, kitchenware, books, old toys, electronics and more made it into our yard sale. Not only did it free us from many items, it also gave back a nice chunk of change for our upcoming trip.

2. Disassemble furniture: Our large furniture included a wooden bed frame and headboard, L-shaped couch, dining room table, chairs, tall glass display case, queen-size mattress, electric drum set, and a double dresser. We had to disassemble most of it to make it fit, including our L-shaped couch, which luckily could be separated into two rectangle parts to fit better in the unit.

3. Store large items first: Since safely storing the furniture was our main priority, we moved those items in first and built the rest around them. We stood items up on end to minimize the use of floor space, and used plastic wrap and bubble wrap on corners and edges to avoid any chipping.

4. Put heavier items on bottom: We took full advantage of the 12’ ceiling space. Large items obviously tend to be heavier so it made sense to put them on the bottom rather than stack on less stable items. After the furniture was stored, we stacked as many heavy boxes as we could on the small space left next to it. We continued to build upward with lighter items such as cushions and chairs on top.

5. Use same-sized boxes: It may seem convenient to pack items in an odd assortment of boxes found around the home, but we found it handy to purchase several boxes of the same style and size. It made it easier to create a clean stack of boxes so there was no wasted space—something that wouldn’t have been achieved with different shaped boxes.


6. Leave the mattress for last: We had a queen-size mattress that we kept for last. We packed it in an upright position to fill the entire front entrance of our storage unit, which was the last remaining space. It looked strange, but it made it so we were able to use every square inch of the storage unit and not add too much weight on top.

We were able to store a lot more in a 5’ x 10’ storage unit than the average person just by using problem solving and creative thinking. Luckily, we don’t have to get in and out of the unit too much in the year to come. Get creative when storing your items. Make a game of it and take on the challenge to fit as much as you can into whatever size unit you rent.

About the Author:

Britnee Johnston and her husband, Mark, bought one-way tickets to Tokyo for their trip around the world starting in May 2014. Follow their adventures at