Creative outdoor storage ideas

Equip your outdoor environment with these creative storage ideas.

Our house doesn’t have any storage. No, I mean it. It’s what happens when you turn a three-bay shed into a house, and space for a shower becomes much more important than somewhere to put your clothes. However, it does stop you from collecting junk and having too many pairs of shoes – if, in fact, there is such a thing.

A couple of weeks ago my partner built me a wardrobe. It is 180cm high, 50cm deep and 60cm wide. I am embarrassed to admit that all my clothes fit in it. What I said in the previous paragraph is thus proven. But now that the issue of indoor storage is, if not solved, at least partially addressed, outdoor storage has cantered onto the agenda.

We don’t have any outdoor storage either. There’s a garden shed about 80m from the house, which precludes going there to get your gumboots if it’s raining, and a woodshed by the vegetable garden, which is full, but there is nowhere within spitting distance of the house for keeping string, secateurs, garden shoes, the dog brush and all the other junk that, at the moment, accumulates around the courtyard.

On a rainy day, these items are shoved on the outdoor table under the umbrella to keep dry, where they are often joined by a couple of damp cats that aren’t smart enough to come in out of the rain. A decent outdoor cupboard will solve at least half the problem.

Making an outdoor cupboard or storage unit of some kind isn’t rocket science – even I can do it. Making one that’s waterproof, though, is trickier. If you have more money than time, a good solution is to buy a good-looking, pre-fabricated unit from a hardware store or manufacturer. Google “garden shed”, “kitset cupboard”, “outdoor cupboard” and so on, and you’ll be spoiled for choice.

They come in timber, corrugated iron and a mixture of both, they’re good-looking, waterproof and you can choose whatever size, shape and style you want. Two tall, skinny cupboards and a matching storage box (for those bloody gumboots) is my dream. Not only would it take care of all the junk on the table (minus the cats) but it would add a new dimension to the courtyard and give it a cosier look.

Sadly, I’m in the “more time than money” category at the moment, so a DIY or secondhand solution is more likely. The upside is that I may well end up with something much more original. A mechanic’s tin cupboard could look great, as could an old timber cupboard from a farm shed or workshop. Something with vintage signage on it would be a bonus – depending on what it says, of course.

A word of caution, though – a funky-looking cabinet from a junk shop is pretty unlikely to be waterproof. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of time perfecting your storage solution only to find, when it rains, your gumboots still fill up with water. If waterproofing the entire unit isn’t an option, look at the possibility of using it as housing for a plastic storage system.

It’ll look great on the outside and nobody need know there’s a cheap and nasty plastic unit on the inside, provided you’re not planning to use it as a drinks cabinet by the barbecue. You can dress up an old unit with a coat of oil or stain, a paint finish, or Moroccan-style iron handles. If waterproofing is still an issue, erect a sail over it, making sure the fall is to the back and not over the doors.

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