Packing & Storing Valuables

by Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group 

Moving - Moving BoxesFor most everyone, at some point, you're going to have to pack and move, or pack and store, all or part of your household. When that time comes, it's crucial that you've mastered the art of packing valuables and fragile things--you don't want your wedding china coming back in pieces, or your winter coats more moth hole than fabric. Packing for storage, even in the short term, demands some attention to detail.

One of the first details that needs to be attended to is where to store your items. If your storage needs coincide with a move, when you're cruising down the highway wondering which storage facility is right for you, keep driving. You've already hired a moving company for hauling your life to a new house, why not check with them to see if they offer storage, too? Most professional moving companies offer warehouse storage--with the same experienced staff to help you organize your stored boxes and furniture that packs the truck for your move.

If you're moving out of the country, you'll need a place for any boats, jet skis, or motor homes that are too big to go with you. You can store those vehicles, and again, you can simply park them on the premises or garage them inside--it's up to you.

Even if you're not moving, you might need extra space--if you've inherited some things, if you've got a fledgling who's back in the nest--any number of things can happen that necessitates more space for a while. Or, if you're thinking of moving and decluttering your house, you'll want to create the illusion of hardly-lived in space, so out of season clothes, small furniture you fall over at night, and the stuff you need to generally live your life, all need to go to storage until you move.

Moving - Moving BoxesOnce you have decided where to store your items, the next thing you need to consider is how to pack them for safe storage. The trick to packing crystal, china, and other easily breakable items is to wrap everything individually. You can do that with several kinds of padding or insulation, it's really up to you which you prefer--as long as plates and glasses are adequately protected against bumping against each other, use what works for you. Newsprint (as opposed to newspaper, newsprint is the plain brownish paper that comes in large sheets at any moving supply or big box store), bubble wrap, Styrofoam peanuts, foam padding--any and all will work, but you'll find that mixing and matching depending on the individual item works best. Choose small, heavy duty boxes for fragile items. Be careful that you don't wrap too tightly; things need a little air space inside the wrap.

Some additional things that need special care when going to storage aren't always things that you'd consider.

Here is a short list:

  • Albums--Yes, they are making a comeback. If you're a collector you know how valuable they are, and if you're a casual listener who likes listening on a turntable you know how hard it is to find replacements. Albums that are going to storage for any length of time need to be in a climate and humidity controlled facility.
  • Clothing--Cotton clothing and most synthetic blends are hard to damage. You'll need to wash and iron whatever you store, but for the most part it comes out the same way it went in. Wool and wool blends need to be packed with an overabundance of mothballs, cedar blocks, or both so you don't unpack more hole than sweater. Moths aren't as much of an issue in colder climates, but throwing in a few mothballs never hurts.
  • Shoes--Leather shoes should be in a humidity controlled environment, especially in an area where humidity is high. They'll mildew when it gets damp or humid, and when it's dry and cold the leather cracks.
  • Art--Art is in the eye of the beholder, so you're going to be as careful of your kid's kindergarten drawings as the curator at the Met is of his on-loan Picassos. For the kiddo's art projects, get a large flat plastic box, and layer the pages between acid-free paper. (You can get it at a craft store.) For framed prints, you can either stand them up against the wall and cover them with sheets, beach towels, or moving blankets, and they'll be okay. When your art is real, have the paintings professionally crated and packed, and use climate and humidity controlled storage. Since the frames of many older pieces are as valuable as the paintings themselves, protecting them is crucial.
  • Mirrors--Like art, many older mirrors are in extraordinarily valuable frames. Treat them like the works of art that they are.
  • Chandeliers--Take off the crystals, and wrap them in a big zip lock bag. Keep the hanging hardware and crystals in a box, and either have the lighting itself crated, or wrapped for transit and then hang it in storage--most units have bars across the ceiling for that purpose.

And of course, we know that you have great intentions of going through all those boxes of college papers and cancelled checks from 1996 and getting rid of all the junk. Fortunately, A-1 Freeman Moving Group will always have storage for you, until you can get that done.