We’re putting in a walk-in larder when we build our new kitchen, and this is a kind of storage room I guess. So what are some other types?
Storage rooms in houses have been used for stockpiling since the Middle Ages and have been variously known as cellars, pantries, strongrooms, closets, larders, cupboards, chandleries, butteries, wardrobes, kitchen closets, vaults, cold storage, sculleries, still rooms, and eweries.
Let’s dive down into the subject of storage rooms in more detail, and discover more about their history, what you can store in them, and how to lay everything out so you stay organized…
What is a Storage Room Called? (Names of Different Types)
Through time, storage rooms in houses have been known as cellars, pantries, strongrooms, closets, larders, cupboards, chandleries, butteries, wardrobes, kitchen closets, vaults, cold storage, sculleries, still rooms, and eweries.
What is The Use of a Storage Room?
Storage rooms have been around as long as humans have stockpiled stuff. In caves, at first. In the wealthy households in the Middle Ages, there was a storage room for everything. At a minimum, there was a room for the meat, a room for the booze and a room for the bread.
The word pantry comes from the French word “paneterie“, which comes from “pain“, or bread. In a large Medieval home, the pantry was for the bread, and the larder for the meats. Most wealthy medieval households also had an ewery, which stored all the drinking pitchers, or ewers.
The buttery – which comes from the Latin or French word for bottle or butt – was a storage room for the alcohol. In the Middle Ages, the butler was responsible for the buttery and the pantler was responsible for the pantry.
In colonial America, underground root cellars were popular. Later, homes had a “cold pantry”, which was a small, north-facing room with a couple of screened openings to let the wind blow in.
In Victorian times, meat was stored in the larder. The scullery typically had running water, so it housed some of the messiest preparation chores, like cleaning fish and carving meats. The scullery was where the vegetables were kept and prepared, and the dishes were done.
The butler’s pantry housed the household sterling silver collection, which was counted, polished and kept under lock and key. In some households, the butler even slept with the silver.
Today, most of us don’t have as many rooms in our houses as those medieval folks did. And, we don’t have much need for a storage room just to house the family silver.
But we still have stuff. We need an overflow area for food, paper supplies, cleaning supplies, alcohol, hobbies and sports. We need space for off-season clothes, extra shoes, household tools, gloves and hats.
What Should Be in a Storage Room?
Storage rooms should be for overflow items, not things you use every day. Leave the everyday stuff where you can access it. Everything else can be put away in a storage room.
Most of us don’t clean the house every day, so cleaning products can be stored. Store the vacuum, broom and mop. Store extra scrubbing sponges, and rolls of paper towels.
If you buy in bulk – and who doesn’t these days – store the extras in the storage room. Extra cans of food, sauces, paper products, baggies, and trash bags.
Got extra clothes? Store out-of-season clothing in the storage room. Store bins of shoes and purses. In the winter, store summer sports gear. In the summer, store winter gloves, hats, coats and ski gear.
Store patio cushions during the winter months and suitcases that get used twice a year. Store the ironing board (and iron) that gets used once a year.
Store a small step ladder for those top shelves and that hobby stuff that was your best idea – ever.
How Do You Lay Out a Storage Room?
First, consider what you need to store. What is overflowing in your house? Ladders? Food? Winter coats? Patio cushions? Toxic chemicals? Then, measure your space and design your layout.
Toxic chemical storage should be on high shelves behind shelf doors that close or even lock. Possible toxic chemicals include: paint, insecticides, herbicides, algicides, bleach, gasoline, antifreeze, motor oil, laundry detergent, old batteries, pet tick treatments, oven cleaners, glass cleaners, mouse bait, hand antibacterial cleaner, toilet bowl cleaners, shower cleaners, carpet cleaners, drain openers, furniture polish, air fresheners, and mothballs.
Open shelves are good for linens, books, games, winter/summer clothes, paper supplies, cans of food, boxes of food, holiday decorations, camping gear, patio cushions, sports gear, and those suitcases.
Open shelves but with storage bins are good for small things like crafting supplies, sewing supplies, gloves, hats, purses, junk drawer junk, shoes, and wrapping supplies. Onions, garlic, potatoes, and some fruits can be stored in open bins if your storage room is cool and dark.
Organize your storage bins by color or with labels. Or, use clear storage bins to see exactly what’s inside.
Hanging stuff from the walls or ceilings can be a good choice. You can hang mops, brooms, bicycles, skis, and ironing boards from the wall. Consider hanging mops and brooms behind a door.
If you have a ton of tools dumped into tool bags – and can never find the one you need – consider putting up some pegboard and arranging your tools where you can see them.
Here’s an article by an interior designer on how to design a storage room.
Can I Use The Garage, Attic or Under The Stairs As a Storage Room?
A garage is a great space to have a storage room. Garages are spacious. And, in a garage, storage solutions don’t need to be fancy – and expensive.
Garages are good places for sports equipment, bikes, extra suitcases and tools. Old toys are good to store in a garage.
But garages aren’t OK for everything, because cars, engine oil, gasoline, a lawnmower, snowblower and power tools all share the garage space. Because of the fumes in a garage, it shouldn’t be used to store any food.
Mice often overwinter in garages, and they are surprisingly good at making nests out of shredded camping and hiking equipment, winter clothes, and patio cushions. As for a giant stack of paper towels – mice heaven!
Also, If you live in a cold climate, and unless you have a heated garage, keep in mind that most garages get pretty dang cold. Freezing, in fact.
An attic storage room has many of the same problems as the garage. Bugs and mice. Temperature extremes. Sure, you can store all those old toys and tools up there. But boxes – even some stout plastic ones – of old keepsakes can be at risk from pests. Unlike a garage, an attic can also be susceptible to damp.
A storage unit under the stairs inside the house is the best choice of these three. Inside your house, the temperature is regulated and the mice are few (hopefully).
An under the stair space can have awkward dimensions, so a custom solution may be best. Design your own under the stair storage space that is perfect for your needs. Get some storage containers that you like and then design the height of the shelving to fit them.
This video shows how to make some under the stairs storage drawers.
What Are Some Storage Ideas For Other Rooms? (If You Don’t Have a Designated Room)
If you don’t have space for a storage room, don’t despair. There are lots of clever ideas out there. You can DIY your own storage spaces or get some help from one of the many stores specializing in storage solutions.
For example, the bed in your bedroom takes up a lot of prime bedroom real estate. Check out platform beds with storage spaces. Store extra pillows, blankets, winter clothes, shoes, and books underneath.
Storage benches or ottomans are a great idea for mudrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, TV rooms or playrooms.
Here’s This Old House with 37 ways to add storage to your home.
The history and use of storage rooms is fascinating, and our new walk-in larder definitely fits the bill as being an official storage room.
It seems the key to using a storage room efficiently though (no matter what’s in it), means some serious attention must be paid to labeling and organization so you know where everything is.
Looks like I need to get the label maker out like Monica from Friends, otherwise, there’ll be just one giant mess in our new larder before too long! 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James started Castle of Mine to bring you the best articles on home improvement, based on his years of experience in homemaking projects. Read more >