Techniques for long-term storage of fragile stuff?

Fori is not pleasedJune 26, 2006

I have a lot of items I want to put into long-term storage since they're contributing to clutter yet I can't toss them. I have plenty of storage space in my attic, but I'm not sure what's the best way to box things up. What sort of containers are good for storing things like china, knick knacks, goatskin lampshades, etc.? Are moving boxes good? I think it'd be a good idea to pack away things in containers that could be moved without re-packing, should I ever get around to relocating, plus they tend to be sturdy boxes. But I'm not sure they're good for stacking for years and years.

Are those special china storage things worth getting or are they no better than a good box?

Are the boxes made for files good? They seem like a good size.

I'd appreciate any tips! I'm not sure where to start...well, I think I need to start with some containers and packing materials... :) Thanks!

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I use "banker's boxes" where possible, because they are uniform size and easy to move.

Put a big plastic trash bag in the box, pack your stuff in the trash bag as usual, then seal the trash bag and put the lid on the box.

That gives better moisture and dust protection.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 6:43PM
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You KNOW we are going to suggest you just get the stuff gone. Never heard of a goat-skin lampshade!

If you must pack and save the stuff, I would try and use smallish boxes, typically moving boxes 1.5' x 1.5' x 1.5'. I would just use bubble wrap or clean newprint type paper. If you have packed the boxes full, they should hold up well in stacks. Some of this depends upon the temperature conditions in your attic space. Banker's boxes are really sturdy, but they are on the expensive side and also heavy themselves due to the thickness of the cardboard. Moving companies sell nice boxes and we have people getting and giving them away all of the time on Freecycle. I would just want the boxes to be of a consistent size so your stacks would be easy to contain.

Seal them up and label really, really well. I mean in detail. "Six dinner plates, 2 cups and saucers." "Great aunt Sally's ugly purple elephant." You don't want to have to go through all of these boxes if you do decide they aren't something you want taking up space. I would try and keep like items together. All of the china in boxes next to each other. That way, again, you wouldn't have to sort through everything.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 6:53PM
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for stuff that's organic in nature--cloth, leather (goat-skin), paper--try to find acid-free storage boxes.

Otherwise, I second almost everything Gloria says.

Basically, pack as though they're going to be sent through the mail or handled by movers.

I've heard that the safest way to ship china is standing on its side, so stress doesn't transfer down through the stack.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 9:32AM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks for the tips.

I suspect some of it will be tossed, but if I toss my great grandmother's china, my mother will disown me. Most of the junk is the type of stuff you stick on the mantle, or on a display shelf, etc. Except for collecting dust, it seems to help with tidyness by blocking off areas I'd otherwise stick "bad" junk on. I'm messy, and an open surface is an invitation, so either I put good clutter on it or bad clutter...but I'm going to try NO clutter and see what happens.

I think I'm gonna toss all the glued and chipped dishes though! Yeah!!!!!!!!! (See? I'm making progress!)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 9:51AM
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Movers put paper in the bottom of a box. Then, they randomly put in each knickknack which has been covered in a few sheets of plain newsprint paper. They again randomly put in more paper into the box to hold the knickknacks in place so they won't move around. Finally, they put more paper on the top and then close the box.

They definitely use a lot of paper and sometimes I'm sure I've thrown out small pieces because of all the paper but this is the way they pack a box.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 10:26AM
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I have an idea for keepsakes and wedding presents you may be asked about. Take photos of them on the piano or fireplace mantel or wherever. Something artistic maybe with a bowl of flowers next to it, Then get rid of the stuff!
When Mom asks,or the giftee--you can say, we had it out--here's a photo. We packed it away because of the pollen; snow; painters; fear of earthquakes, etc. Would you like a copy of the photo?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:48PM
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I agree with everyone, especially about the acid free boxes. (Is that print free newsprint-like paper acid free?) I don't think plastic bags are a good idea though I am not sure.

You might take pictures of everything you pack before you pack it and put it all on a CD.

Here's one idea that I don't think anyone has mentioned: What about saving one example of something -- one cup and saucer just as a reminder and letting go of the rest.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 3:11PM
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I think the taking photos is a great idea. How about printing them on paper and attaching to the outside of the carton so you'll know exactly what's in there.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 3:13PM
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Fori is not pleased

I like the idea of saving just one from a set and getting rid of the rest...but that would only work for the china, and I'm allowed to keep a set of china aren't I? ;)

I DO have room to store everything. I think packing alot of it up will help to sort the junk from the stuff worth storing. But I'm not yet at the point where I need to make the hard choices.

I started boxing some items and realized that I have alot of candleholders and I can't put the *&$%^ things in the attic because we keep having blackouts. So, I guess I'm at least realizing what I actually USE. I actually have useful knicknacks!! With that in mind, I'm going to toss out a smelly giant dim candle to appease the gods of declutterization.

Thanks for the inspiration!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 3:26PM
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Of course you're allowed to keep a set of china, even more if you are comfortable with it. It's like going into a store and seeing something you didn't plan on purchasing. I always ask myself if I will be very upset if I go back and it's not available anymore? The same can apply to the china. Will you be very upset if it's out of the house or relieved that you finally parted with something that was just adding work in having to carefully put them in boxes.

Perhaps by putting your things in the attic, you will realize which pieces you actually miss and make decisions about them all in the future. It will be easy to do since everything will have been already be organized by you.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 4:48PM
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fori, you get to keep whatever you want. It's your house. What I'm "hearing" is that you are keeping the china because your mom wants you to keep it. If you really want the china, why not get it out and use it? That's a better use of the china and a way to remember your grandmother than it sitting in boxes in the attic IMHO.

My mom has several sets from dead great-aunts. I'm telling you, it means nothing to me since it was never used when I was growing up. I don't care if it's worth a dime or not, it's going to the thrift store. Keep things you love and don't let anyone guilt you into keeping things you don't. If your mom really wants the china, then give it to her to take up space.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 6:39PM
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I have to agree with Gloria. Why not use the china as your everyday dishes? Your meals will be that much more special and you'll solve the storage problem.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 7:27PM
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Fori is not pleased

Y'all are right of course. I do love the china, actually...didn't even register when I got married because I was getting this set. It gets used at holidays, when we can get family to travel to the great white north to join us, which isn't too often. That set is in perfect shape. I may actually keep it downstairs, and where ever I put it, it'll have to be packed a little more accessibly than the other stuff (that's why I'm looking at those china storage boxes. Not sure they're the right thing though.). Even the attic isn't that far off--two flights of stairs but otherwise as easy to get into as any other room.

The problem isn't lack of storage really; it's getting off my butt and putting it IN storage.

Now, the other, half-busted set of china...I'm going to have to take your advice on that. Will we ever eat off it? heck no. I absolutely will toss that. Well, I'm gonna save the sugar and creamer, and add the serving dishes to my everyday dishes because I broke all the matching ones. And I guess I could have coordinating houseplant saucers. Because I bet they'd look better than the current collection of pie tins, my college dishes, and my mom's old everyday dishes! So if I can't find a purpose for a piece, it'll go.

You may be heartless and cruel (just kidding!!) but you all do bring a nice clean perspective to things! Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 9:36AM
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