Re: Drastic Downsizing for Village Hearth Cohousing in Durham, NC (Barbara Simkowski)
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2020 08:10:04 -0700 (PDT)
> On Jun 21, 2020, at 7:50 AM, Alan O'Hashi via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] 
>> wrote:
> Barbara - At my place, a third of the basement is taken up with storage 
> space. Forming communities should think about charging for excess storage to 
> encourage people to get rid of their stuff!

I agree on charging for storage. $5 a month is a reminder at least that you are 
using the space.

We had bicycles that were never ridden stored in prime space for years. A 
working group put a note on each bike to be be returned when the bike was 
ridden. No return meant out it goes.

We once had ~10 carseats in the foyer area for temporary storage of carseats 
(for grandparents and caregivers to use) when we only had ~5 children even 
close car seat age and maybe 3 whose seats were used occasionally. One 
everyday. The policy was storage for seats that were used at least every 2 
weeks and a name should be on them. We put all the seats outside in a breezeway 
and ask people to explain how the seat was being used if they wanted to put it 
back. 2 were never picked up at all and a case was made for 3 to go back in the 

Similar problem with strollers and children’s bikes. We have some upstairs 
units with no elevator. It obviously helpful for them to be stored in the 
foyer. But there was room for 1. Then another appeared. Then 2 small bikes 
because the bike storage area was inaccessible for children. This plus 2 carts 
that almost everyone uses to transport groceries, etc., from cars to homes. The 
space was so full that the original purpose as an open spot for boxes and 
groceries on their way upstairs or outside was no longer available.

So any storage has to have guidelines and recurring dates on which everything 
is cleaned out. Storage units are now widely available if people really do have 
things they want to store long term.

Our basement storage is owned by individual units. Some hold baby furniture 
stored for the next baby. Some people save the cardboard boxes from every 
appliance they buy. Why? It might have to go back for repairs. And it sells for 
more on eBay with the original packaging. Some spaces are used for 
winter/summer clothing. But as Marie Kondo says, do you really need that many 

No storage might be extreme. We didn’t didn’t think about planning for a place 
for strollers and kids bikes. One family of 4 had all their bikes, bike 
trailers, trikes, and a fire engine stored in a space others used as a dining 
room or office. We planned for 12 adult bikes and now have ~34 in common space 
here and there, plus more in units or on balconies. I have one stored myself 
that I need to sell but forget about. A bike room could have been designed to 
hold bikes and strollers —each space rented.

Our Take It or Leave It Table in a hallway corner is wonderful for items that 
are perfectly good and someone else might use. It makes it easier to part with 
things. A couple of times a year everything that hasn’t moved is taken to a 
thrift shop. For large items we circulate pictures and people come to pick them 
up outside our units.

We have several charities that pick up furniture1-2x a year. We announce a pick 
up, everyone moves their stuff to the breezeway, members take what they can 
use, and then the truck appears. However, even charities are becoming very 
restrictive on what they will take.

One of the best questions asked by a developing community was “What do you 
store in the CH?” 

Sharon Villines
sustainablecohousing [at]
To subscribe:
sustainablecohousing+subscribe [at]

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.