Aside from extra summer weekends, there are two things every cottager needs more of: storage space and time. Luckily, a well-organized shed gives you both by helping you stow away items that you don’t want in your crowded cottage, and by ensuring that you can quickly find the right tools when it’s time to conquer your weekend chore list. So once you have the perfect shed for your cottage property, make the most of it with these simple storage solutions. As a bonus, many of these tips will also apply to your boathouse and your garage at home.
Prioritize your tools
It seems like common sense to keep large tools like long-handled pruners, rakes, and trimmers at the back of the shed where you won’t cartoonishly step on them, but your weekend chores will seem less onerous if you keep your most common tools close at hand. Hang them close to your shed door with strategic wall hooks that give every tool an easy-to-find spot.
Hang your hose
Struggling with an unruly garden hose is the summertime version of tangled Christmas lights. But unlike those twinkly strings of holiday frustration that get stored away in the attic when they’re not in use, your hose is usually outside for everyone to see—and trip over. Save your sanity this summer with a proper hose hanger so you don’t have to drag your whole hose to the edge of the garden every time you need to water the hydrangeas. While you’re embracing the clutter-cutting power of the spool, keep your twine, tow, and other assorted ropes on simple string-friendly solutions like toilet-paper holders or funnels (feeding the twine through the narrow bottom) mounted to your wall.
Invest in sturdy shelves
You might be tempted to screw some closet brackets into your shed walls, but sturdy shelving goes a long way at the cottage, where the toys are plenty and the space is scarce. If you’re on a lake, look for metal shelving with stainless grates so that your lifejackets and flutter boards can breathe. That way you can put things away damp without worrying about mould and mildew.
Bring on the bins
Shelving is a must, but adding storage bins to those shelves is the best way to keep smaller items from getting cluttered. Bins also allow you to group tools and items based on their use, so when it’s time to weed the flowerbed, you can bring the bin with your trowels and work gloves with you and have everything at hand. As with shelving, opt for metal baskets for potentially wet items, or for miscellaneous bins where you’ll need a clear view of contents without pulling down the entire bin. You can also take advantage of awkward spaces like the back of your door by hanging small baskets for smaller tools and gear, similar a shower caddy.
Customize with crates
Every shed is different, so create your own easy shelving by stacking wooden crates to fill your available space. If floor space is scarce, you can also mount them to the wall for individual shelving solutions in otherwise unused spaces. You can also screw hooks into the backs or tops of crates to add even more storage options.
Make space with magnets
For smaller tools with metal parts like paintbrushes and trowels, magnetic storage is the perfect way to keep things close at hand yet out of the way. It also helps you make use of nooks and crannies that might be too small for shelving. Try placing a strip of magnetic tape along the edge of a shelf or window ledge.
Trace a tool wall
Have a bad habit of not returning things to where they belong? A tool wall is the perfect way to keep track of your tools. Plus, you’ll always have a reminder of what’s missing when your neighbours borrow your pruning shears. Use a pegboard on an empty wall for easy hook arrangement, and then hang your tools and trace around them with a black marker so they’ll always have a home.
Build a potting bench
If you’ve got green thumbs and plenty of space, a potting bench is a game changer, and it’s easy to build one with a few two-by-fours and a sheet of plywood. An added benefit of a dedicated bench is that the shelving beneath it becomes a dry place to store those bags of fertilizer and birdseed that can get musty and cluttered on a bare cement floor. To give your shed some country character, replace those bags beneath the bench with simple bushel baskets.
Use your studs
Sometimes the simplest storage options are the best. If your shed is an unfinished space with two-by-four studs, use the spaces between them to store long and unwieldy items like dowels and fishing rods, which aren’t easy to hang. To hold them in place, hook bungee cords to eyelets affixed to the studs. Also, if you have exposed studs overhead, large hooks are the perfect way to hang up your cottage cruiser bike for the winter.