Storage and the ‘4Ds’

by Grace aka costofcollege

Need to Store That? Booming Self-Storage Industry Says No Problem
Extra Space Storage shares surge; investment firms look to cash in

It’s possible to profit from our pack-rat habits.  Why is the self-storage industry booming?

… Some refer to the 4Ds—death, divorce, downsizing and dislocation….

Have you gone through any of the “4Ds”?  How did you deal with storage issues?  Any general tips for taming the storage beast?  Any good investment tips?


10 things to throw away right now

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98 thoughts on “Storage and the ‘4Ds’

  1. I can’t read the article but DH is always saying if only we had started a storage company ten years ago. He deals with loans to a lot of document storage companies as part of his job and he said there are a ton of small companies that have either been bought for millions by bigger outfits or are just doing really really well.

    I hate clutter so have never needed to rent a storage unit. We actually rented a small dumpster at the tail end of spring break and did a big house purging. We had mostly construction debris piled up in the basement from my husband’s projects around the house but there was a few furniture items that weren’t worthy of being donated as well. Our house is now under control.:)

  2. The last time I was unable to access a WSJ article I cleared my cookies of the last 24 hours and it worked to allow me access.

    Atlanta Mom, you’re good. I constantly struggle with what to throw out, and I live with three packrats.

  3. I hope the “Do it Now” option wins. I can add decluttering to my “Do it Now” list! We’re in the middle–not pack rats, but not super organized.

  4. I have so much trouble with this. We’re doing a basement remodel (they’re banging around making a huge racket right now) and we tossed stuff and recycled and took many carloads to Goodwill and there’s still a ton of stuff. And I get resentful and pissy because I have slight hoarding tendencies and I feel like I’m giving all of my stuff away to make room for DH’s dream basement.

    BTW, I think yesterday it was Ada who said architecture didn’t seem like a great career, and I’m sure that if you want a job with a prestigious East Coast firm that’s probably true. But the woman in my neighborhood with an architecture degree and some other design degree seems to be making a comfortable living designing her neighbors’ basements. It ain’t glamorous but it’s a steady income.

  5. This would be one of those things I would look at with the sort of anthropological curiosity through which we might view professional wrestling or recreational mudding if it were not for my in-laws who have leased a storage unit for years. God bless ’em, FIL is just a very sentimental person who lost both his parents relatively young. I’ve been to the Unit once helping him take stuff there. There’s old furniture that nobody will ever use, and a lot of knick knacks and keepsakes. Whatever.

    Public Storage, the largest publicly traded firm in the industry, reported a 7% increase in rental income year-over-year.

    Public Storage is the second-largest holding in my REIT. It’s mind-boggling. It’s second to Simon Properties, operator of shopping malls. The interrelationship of those two is sweet irony. I bought it a year ago when I transferred an old IRA into Vanguard, and the price is still down, but it’s paying a nice quarterly dividend that reinvested at lower prices, so I’m ahead 4% for the year (and it’s still showing a capital loss).

  6. This is the best quote in the article:

    ” ‘Your competition is the dumpster,’ said Christopher Merrill, co-founder of Harrison Street, which manages $7.9 billion in assets.

  7. Ha! I just read the “10 Things to Throw Away Now” article and I have ALL of them. Dang.

  8. Moving next month so we have been throwing lots out and donating lots to Goodwill. We do have a storage unit now to help us pack for the move. I don’t understand why anyone would have one besides temporary, like this. So many storage units now, I agree, should have opened one 10 years ago.

  9. I rented a storage unit once when we were selling a house to make the kids bedrooms and garage look less cluttered. We got rid of it after the move. I use freecycle to get rid of many things we no longer want. I’d rather do that than Craigslist. I need to be better about decluttering, but I’m pretty good. The one thing I need to get rid of but for some reason have not is silk trees. I have one in the corner of two different rooms. I know they’re past their prime, but every time I decide to take them to Goodwill or wherever, I end up taking everything else and leaving them.

    On the list of things to get rid of right now – canned soup! I recently got rid of a bunch that were embarrassingly old.

  10. “ The interrelationship of those two is sweet irony.”

    They should make a movie where the villain is an evil shopping mall developer who builds storage units conveniently located nearby each mall. OTOH, I know of two elderly women who died with ROOMS full of brand new merchandise purchased from TV shopping channels.

  11. One of the advantages of living in a townhouse is that the attic storage fills up quickly with appliance boxes and retired linens or clothing. Do I really need to keep the box the big TV came in? So periodic purges are required. I’ve been through all of the 4 ds in my lifetime. When I discovered as we downsized mom that most of her things were worthless mass market stuff I became more ruthless, but the inability in my neighborhood to just put stuff out for scavenging means I have to get organized about it all.

    I’ll rent a storage unit for my stepson if it is needed to hold his father’s things sometime in the future and for myself if I sell the townhouse first before deciding on a late life destination.

  12. Milo, I finally gave Goodwill some really nice clothes I had hardly used, but didn’t fit any more, styles I would still wear if they did

  13. Moving is at least good for purging stuff. Some of this stuff we moved 2 years ago and I haven’t used…time to toss it

  14. Yeah, but Milo, at least I’m not the one having to make the decision. Goodwill and Salvation Army can do it.

  15. I am total Totebag on this: have rented storage facilities only related to moves (to declutter house to realtors’ standards, which I interpret as “empty”; to store stuff while in apartment/Residence Inn; etc.). I am just way too cheap to pay for my stuff to live in air-conditioned luxury.

    That said, I do totally get the hoarder tendency and have to fight it myself. Sight, touch, smell — they’re all memories. This weekend, I was at reunion. Going down, that part of my life was a little sliver in my mind, a blip in my timeline — an important blip, but a blip nonetheless. Then I walked up to the doors, following the same path from the parking garage that I walked every day for those years, and that blip expanded out like the pig in the python, and my whole life then came back to me, people and places and things I did that had been gone just a few minutes before. I had been thinking about, talking about, planning the trip for months — but none of that triggered the memories like just walking up to the front door.

    So for me, at least,throwing away a t-shirt from a trip risks losing that part of my life, because who knows if something else will trigger those memories. And throwing away things that belonged to my grandparents or stepdad — nope, just not gonna happen.

    My mom does it too — it’s just that in her case, the “storage unit” is known as her grandma’s old house in Florida, which she will never ever ever sell. :-)

  16. DH used to work at Goodwill, he said some of the stuff I would just throw out they can take and re-purpose for poor countries

  17. “Milo, I finally gave Goodwill some really nice clothes I had hardly used, but didn’t fit any more, styles I would still wear if they did”

    Just about everyone thinks that the stuff they give is really nice, and some poor person will be thrilled to get it. It’s not. It’s crap.

    And now, not even the sub-Saharan Africans want this crap:

    used clothing is now the United States’ number one export by volume, with the overwhelming majority sent to ports in sub-Saharan Africa. Tanzanians and Kenyans call used clothing mitumba, which means “bales,” as it comes off the cargo ships in the shrink-wrapped cubes like the ones I saw at Trans-Americas and Salvation Army. The bales are cut open in front of an eager clientele and buyers, who pick through it for higher-value finds.

    Once again, while many Americans might like to imagine that there is some poor, underdressed African who wants our worn and tattered duds, the African used clothing market is very particular and is demanding higher quality and more fashion-forward styles. Paben told me that access to the Internet and cellphones has made the con­tinent fiercely fashion-forward in recent years. “There’s been a change in what you can sell there,” he says, and the bales have to be much more carefully sorted based on style, brand, and condition.

    I actually think the ability to “donate” to Goodwill is probably worse for overconsumption.

  18. I’m hanging on to my suits. I don’t need so many anymore, as my office is now more business casual. I need to purge, but I haven’t done so yet, telling myself that they are all classic styles.

  19. Okay. This is the Totebaggiest complaint I will make today. The construction guys in the basement are blasting classic rock, and the cleaning ladies are trying to drown them out with Latino music, and I’m all, “Gracious, MUST the servants be so loud?” I think I’m going over to the library.

  20. And the construction guys are bellowing along with the radio.

    But I could always STFU and do my own construction and cleaning while listening to Dave Brubeck.

  21. St Vincent de Paul graciously accepts everything we donate, and I have seen some of it in the store afterwards. Trying to sever memories from stuff can be a lifelong struggle , but helping parents or other older relatives downsize can be a come to Jesus moment. Every time I consider hanging onto some marginal item, I imagine my kids having to deal with it down the road.

  22. Considering that Goodwill article, it’s amazing to me that AmVets or Purple Heart of whoever the hell they are is still eager to call your house every few weeks, and leave mailers in your box, that they “Will be in your neighborhood next week!” and they’re willing to send a truck driving around to pick up a couple stray trash bags of worthless clothes.

  23. “OTOH, I know of two elderly women who died with ROOMS full of brand new merchandise purchased from TV shopping channels.”

    My townhouse neighbor is addicted to QVC. UPS rings her doorbell (which sounds just like mine) nearly every single week day. I usually ignore the bell, but it discombobulates my pets.

  24. Milo – I read that woman’s book a few years ago and the image of the Salvation Army clothes compacter trying to deal with all of the clothes stayed with me. I give my nicer stuff to my sisters who use it, but I really try to buy less stuff of higher quality now (although this can get tricky as my old go to brands are no longer as nicely made).

  25. Houston – look to see if there is a Dress for Success location near you. They’ll graciously take women’s suits, handbags, dress shoes. I do a once a year purge of work clothes that no longer fit or I no longer like and donate to them. All the rest of my clothing purges go to Goodwill where I’m sure they are thrown into a dumpster and destroyed.

  26. I used storage units during summers in college, and then my mom got one when she downsized the first time. It took her years to clean it out because she’s a pack rat and every object has a sentimental value. Down to thermal paper receipts where the ink has worn off.

    I keep saying we need to get down to the basement… but we need to get out in the yard and clean it up for spring/summer, need to organize and go through clothes for us and DS, clean the windows, scrub down the house, and everything else that happens this time of year.

    I have started a “throw out” box in the basement. When that box gets full we’ll toss the contents. I also started in the cleanest corner of the basement, sorting, and tossing what we don’t need. My hope is that if I see progress quickly, I’ll tackle the evil parts of the basement.

  27. I got out of holding on to stuff early on. When both sets of grandparents sold their houses and developed their properties into condo buildings, they put their stuff in storage intending to use it. The building construction took so long that the stuff was way out dated and they couldn’t accommodate it all in their new condos. Hardly any of their kids wanted the furniture or linens or china. Some damage in storage. I am a relentless purger of things we don’t need. My kids are periodically given a plastic bag and told to go through and throw out any plastic toys, papers etc they don’t need. I stop at throwing out their current homework.

  28. I won 2 hours with a professional organizer in our school auction. Thanks to small town living, she turned out to be someone I knew so I put off the meeting because I didn’t want her to see the place where we keep our junk. I finally called, and it was a great experience. She never judged, helped me go through so much stuff and I couldn’t believe what we accomplished in just two hours. It was the start to something bigger because we’ve tossed out a lot more stuff since she was here in Feb. DD really likes going through our bins now, and purging stuff whenever we got stuck at home due to bad weather.

    I lived in a 500 square foot studio for a few years so I completely understand the need for storage. My parents had large apartments so I just dumped my stuff there when it didn’t fit in my apt. We became lazy when we moved to the burbs because it was the first time that either of us ever had a garage or attic. Multiple closets, attic, basement and garage for two apartment dwellers – it was like hitting the jackpot. The problem is that we easily we filled it with stuff, and that was before DD arrived.

    We’ve been “forced” via hurricane Sandy, and the renovations to throw out stuff. The hurricane was a shocking, but big wake up call as to how little you really need once something is destroyed.

  29. My mom died when I was 25. My parents had been in the process of selling the house they lived in for 35 years, so we had 3 weeks to go through everything. I had a hard time letting things go and ended up storing a lot in my attic. Then both of my grandmas passed away, and I put more stuff in my attic. Over the last 18 months, I’ve gotten really ruthless about getting rid of stuff – donating, throwing out, giving away. It’s been over a decade and now I’m less sentimental about the stuff in the attic and my Do It Now is to get rid of anything that is left. I dream about moving out of our house and getting rid of 80% of everything and then moving back in, but other than the stuff in the attic, we don’t have a lot of non-kid crap.

    I shudder when I think of going through my in-laws stuff when they die. So many collections, so much stuff. Ugh.

  30. We are frequent purgers but the incoming tide of stuff is huge: kids’ clothes, kids’ toys, books, the papers and drawings….

    I sort and discard or donate clothes and shoes at least twice a year when we put seasonal clothes away, toys quarterly, pantry and freezer and fridge every other month. Medicines quarterly. Garage, attic and basement are cleaned and organized annually. Toys are purged whenever no one is looking :)

    This list is making me feel better about the state of my house, which is still very cluttered looking due to my habit of taking whatever the children are fighting about out of their hands and placing it on the nearest surface none of them can reach.

  31. My ILs downsized from 3,500 to 1,800 sq ft. They were very good about getting rid of their stuff. No storage units. I’m grateful.

    My parents recently moved, but moved into a similar sized house that is closer to my sister. They did get rid of some stuff, but because they have more space, I don’t think they did a serious purge. Luckily, there are only a few things of theirs that I want, and it all can fit in one suitcase.

  32. Sky: You’re in the worst time for accumulating stuff. It gets better.

    Now that my kids are teens, they grow out of clothes much less frequently, which leads to me having to buy, store, and get rid of clothes and shoes. Their valued possessions are now electronic in nature. Everything else, except a few sentimental things (favored books, sports trophies), can pretty much go.

  33. We have too much storage in our house. Every little nook and cranny has a closet, built in storage box, shelves, etc. Plus we have a huge attic. It makes it too easy to not get rid of things in a timely manner. I was in the attic last week for something else and saw 2 old printers up there. Apparently, at the time of replacement, we didn’t know what to do with the old ones, so we started a collection up there. If we have a do it now challenge, getting rid of them is on my list.

  34. I think having attics and basements are the worst for “storing” stuff. It goes up or down and is forgotten. I would say once you get rid of stuff, cordon off that area and don’t put anything more in there. In our current house we have only a garage where we can store things. We park our cars in our garage so that we are not tempted to turn it into a storage facility.

  35. I need to give expression to a big resigned sigh, and don’t want to do it to anyone IRL. Husband just returned from his cardio appt. Good news is that the exercise and meds have improved his echocardiogram and other measures a bit. Bad news is that he went up the wrong ramp in the garage, no harm, but took him about five minutes to back down when he encountered another car. Then he called me from the desk to confirm scheduling on some other appts (good), and we discovered he had some already booked during vacations which he had neglected to record in his paper book (bad). Then he couldn’t find his car and someone had to scour the five story garage for it. (He has a bare bones car no electronic locks). Since his root canal yesterday made his speech a little slurred, I am sure they assumed he was somewhat gaga or stroke impaired and treated him kindly. He did get home in one piece. But he had also forgotten to take his meds today. I didn’t accompany him because he really prefers not to have a mother at his age and I pick my battles. However, I always drive if we are both in the car. Always.

  36. ” I was in the attic last week for something else and saw 2 old printers up there. Apparently, at the time of replacement, we didn’t know what to do with the old ones, so we started a collection up there. ”

    I have at least one old printer in my basement, stored there at the insistence of my H the pack rat. What’s sad is that when we put it there it could probably have been made usable by someone more handy than we, and it includes a bunch of new ink cartridges. But in a few years it will be completely worthless junk.

  37. Printers are so finicky, and the home models are sold on the razor blade model; it seems unlikely that it would be worth the trouble for someone to try to fix one.

  38. Oh, Meme, sorry for that incident. I can see that you have to step back sometimes. I saw this happen with my MIL and FIL, and I foresee either myself or my H in a similar situation.

  39. We are using a storage unit right now. Start to finish it will be exactly 6 months, just what DH said, from when we got the storage unit to when we move. The stuff in there is outgrown kids’ clothes (keeping for my not-well-to-do sibling who has not yet had kids, plus for #3 in future years), a very little of my seasonal clothes, and stuff (mostly DH’s) ranging from boxes of wires to boxes of books to old HS papers (packed in the 90s! Never opened!) to workshop stuff. DH has been grumpy lately because he can’t putter in the workshop the way he used to. I am looking forward to building a garage on the timber property so that all the workshop stuff can go AWAY.

    DH is definitely the hoarder in our family, although I sometimes take too long to get rid of old clothes and shoes. Houston, I recently got rid of all my suits that were 5+ years old. You think they will still be in style if/when you need them, but they don’t look like it – little things like the lapels, jacket length, pant width, etc., all changes and they don’t look right. I got rid of my 2002 Citizens jeans because even though flares/bootcuts are coming back in right now, the shape of them is different and the old ones don’t look correct.

  40. I think the only thing wrong with our old printer was that the ink had dried out, IIRC, and a 10-minute process found on YouTube could have fixed that. But, yeah, in any case it didn’t make sense to store it away in our basement!

  41. I have a special corner of my closet where I stash things that I think I want to give away but I’m not 100% sure. If I haven’t retrieved the item in 6 months or so, out it goes. I used to do that with kids stuff (toys, party favors, crafts, etc.), too. If they didn’t notice it was missing, it was in the trash a month later.

    I’ve had to modify my diet due to health issues and I’ve lost about 12 pounds over the past 5 months. I have one pair of dress pants and two pairs of jeans that still fit. I am looking forward to getting rid of my old clothes (mostly pants) and starting fresh but I’m holding off a little bit longer to see where I level out. I’m going to try the capsule wardrobe concept and just buy a few versatile pieces. We’ll see how that goes.

  42. I have been donating a bunch of clothes because I have lost 15 pounds, and pants that used to fit are way too big, and even pants that were a little tight are now too loose. Right now I am in an in-between state, because I want to lose 15 more pounds, so I can’t really buy too much new stuff in case it doesn’t fit down the road. It is a lovely problem to have!

    We had a storage unit for a few years when we had furniture that we thought DD and DS would want to take for their first apartments. We got rid of it last year by donating “kids” furniture to DH’s nephews who are starting to have babies, and DD took some stuff for her apartment. The most recent furniture we bought for DS’s room can go with him when he gets an apartment.
    I remember my parents did the same thing – they had this unit for about 5 or 6 years until we were all out of college.

  43. “Google tells me Staples will accept and recycle the printers.”

    I’ve helped with drives to collect old electronics. Some of the working stuff, like CRT monitors, was funneled to a non-profit that reconditions old computers and gives them away to poor people. Other stuff goes to a recycling company who pays the non-profit that conducts the drive for the stuff. There’s a lot of valuable metals, notably gold, in most electronics, and it can be harvested. E.g.:

  44. There used to be a Salvation Army location near my home that accepted donations, including old clothes in poor condition, which they told my brother they sold as rags.

    This seems to confirm that avenue exists:

  45. I remember reading a while back that the ROI for building and operating a storage facility is much higher than for building and operating an apartment building.

  46. I wonder how much of the problem is that Goodwill is trying to sell clothes rather than give them away. I asked a local charity whether they want my used-condition little boy clothes and not only do they want them, there’s another charity that will take any that are outside the size range the first charity supplies. Both charities could give away more little boy clothes than they receive, I think.

    Baby WCE was overloaded with hand-me-downs at first. She is no longer overloaded and I offered to share with someone in great short-term need at church who has a same-age daughter so I may end up buying a few things.

    I wish I were Sky in the decluttering/organizing department, but I at least manage to get rid of (or pass down) the too-small stuff at the end of each season. Now I have a collection of toys/books in the attic that the boys have outgrown but will someday be right for Baby WCE.

    Mr WCE is an optimistic packrat. I’m not going to change him so I try to just get rid of my stuff and the kids’ stuff. His shop is his storage unit. Convincing him to get rid of stuff is like pulling teeth, and then he regrets having gotten rid of it when he wants it 5 years later.

    Food doesn’t go bad, other than occasional bananas and cucumbers, because we eat so much.

  47. I was amused by the geography on the Forbes top schools list. There are no schools listed between Carleton and Harvey Mudd/Stanford/Caltech. In what radius could you put 2/3 of the schools listed?

  48. WCE I noticed that and in fact until I got to Harvey Mudd I said to myself that this is an awfully east-of-the-Mississippi list.

    To answer the geography question…+/- 700 miles (10.5 hours) from Sandusky, OH would cover them all (from the Mississippi to the Atlantic). Dropping Carleton, Chicago, Northwestern, ND I get +/- 300 miles from Philadelphia, I think without re-looking the list

  49. Meme, so sorry that you’re dealing with this. My parents, too, seem to slide a little bit each time I see them. When DH gets frustrated, I remind him that 25 years from now, that will be us.

  50. WCE I noticed that and in fact until I got to Harvey Mudd I said to myself that this is an awfully east-of-the-Mississippi list.

    IMO, that’s because the northeast has a much heavier emphasis on where you went to college, and people give more weight to the colleges they are familiar with. Plus there’s a higher population density (about 50% of the people in the U.S. live in the eastern time zone, and another 25% are in the central). So there’s more stock given to those colleges.

  51. DS got accepted to the magnet program. Good thing I didn’t try to help him :)

  52. DD– That’s great news for your son!
    I’ve donated old world clothes to Dress for Success. I know the suits get used, and nice suits, even a bit out of date, look better and hold up better than many of the discount options. I donate most of the kids’ clothes to a local shelter for families. They let people take what they want rather than charging them, so I feel like they get another life helping out kids. Most of my kids’ clothes aren’t worth a lot by the time they’re done with them, though. Play clothes for another kid? Sure. Consignment? Nope. I have a few friends who sell their kids’ old clothes when they declutter, but if I did that, the extra task would mean I’d never get to decluttering.

    I got 2 hours of home organizing at our school auction too. This is a good reminder to call the woman up and see what we can accomplish!

  53. Finn, a third engineer named Tom is moving into the quad cube I share with two other engineers named Tom. I want to get nameplates that say Tom, Tom, Tom, !Tom

    (because my name is not Tom)

  54. Funny WCE.
    Thanks for the reminder on the home organizing business. It is something I could do, when I scale back. For those who have used a professional organizer, do they go all Container Store on you, making you put items that are left in appropriate new plastic bins or does it all go back into whatever you had it in, just less, labeled and organized ?

  55. Louise, I would hire you in an instant. You seem like such a nice person. You wouldn’t yell at me for being a hoarder.

    Denver Dad, yay for your son!

    Mémé, I’m so sorry about your day.

  56. “For those who have used a professional organizer, do they go all Container Store on you, making you put items that are left in appropriate new plastic bins or does it all go back into whatever you had it in, just less, labeled and organized ?”

    Yes. The Container Store bill is larger than the organizer bill. That said, I love her. She helped me with a few problem areas 2 years ago that I just could not deal with on my own. Once she put together an organizing system, I’ve managed to keep up with it.

  57. Meme, I’m sorry too. I hope in a few weeks when he has fully adjusted to the medications things will improve.

    Denver, congrats to your DS!

    WCE, there are duplicates of all my kids names at their schools, so when I want them off the playground I call for Hildegarde, Mortimer, and Sheldon (okay, not exactly that in case a neighbor reads this, but close ;) ). So far, no one else comes running.

  58. Milo, not really a man cave. Though about 1/4 of it will be DH’s woodworking shop. There will be a bedroom, a half bath, a little wet bar, a little living room, and a really small exercise room that will fit the exercise bike and not much else. Because four bedrooms and 3.75 bathrooms for two people just wasn’t enough space. Sigh.

  59. Rocky – Sounds fun, and you’re providing contractors work.

    But you really mean like 8 bedrooms now.

  60. Louise– I haven’t called this woman yet (in May!) but I think her specialty is helping you reuse things you already have around the house for storage and get rid of stuff. But we’ll see how that plays out in practice.

  61. Denver – awesome!

    I love the HH tweets. One thing DH and I noticed when we used to watch it (not so often now) was that the people whose budgets were lower were THRILLED about everything in the houses, while people with higher budgets (esp when you get close to/over a million) were much more likely to complain about paint colors or granite colors or what have you.

  62. @DD — congrats, very cool.

    @Meme — very sorry. A frustrating and depressing day.

    @Louise: when I had the organizers, the first thing they did was help me weed through what could go away entirely, and organize the rest so that it was out and useful. They also re-purposed various “cute” boxes and containers and such that I already had to help organize that stuff (a twofer, since those boxes were part of my clutter problem). Only after we did all of that did they go buy containers for what was left over and required storage. That way we bought only what I needed, and I wasn’t tempted to just chuck everything in a box in the attic.

  63. I’m grumpy about my almost-dead microwave but it’s built-in and I can’t replace it without replacing the associated oven, which I don’t like either and which has a wonky temperature controller, and I need new cupboards which means new flooring because of the new layout which means new carpet, because we want to transition to hardwood through the living room. I think we’re getting close, but the logistics and decisions are daunting. I will be really happy with new, reasonable quality stuff though.

  64. Yes, the magnetron is dying again. We’ve already replaced it once, but microwaves aren’t designed to last for 23 years. When we redesign the kitchen, the microwave will be replaceable as a standalone unit.

  65. WCE, my experience suggests that microwaves have a shorter lifespan than most other kitchen appliances, especially ovens, so my suggestion when you do remodel is to have an open shelf, with its own outlet, for a countertop microwave. That’s what we did with our kitchen.

  66. @WCE: along the lines as Finn, we bought a cabinet that could stack a microwave on top of an oven. Then we bought a $169 microwave and a $150 trim kit, so it looks like a built-in and fits in the space, but is very easy to remove/replace when it dies (ours has already died once in the @10 yrs since we did the kitchen).

  67. For the kitchen remodel I got a really small microwave, just big enough to re-heat a dinner plate, and had it semi built-in. And I bought a replacement microwave that sits in the garage waiting for the first one to die. I wanted to make sure I had one that would fit since it is a non-standard size, and it was less than $150.

  68. We took the opposite approach to BAM. Our microwave shelf is the full width of the cabinet, which is several inches wider than our current microwave, which is the biggest one they had at Costco. It also has several inches of clearance above it. While this doesn’t give us the built-in look, we figured it would allow us to buy whatever is on the market when our current microwave dies.

  69. WCE – If you are not getting a double oven in the new kitchen, I would get a microwave/convection combo. I have the Sharp unit (Sharp used to make all of them, even Viking and Jenn Air). The unit can be installed in a cabinet or put on a shelf. I happen to have have an odd corner where a square word block top cart sits and mine is right there. Other appliances on the lower shelves. Stick on metallic mini subway tiles for the wall behind it. (I was very proud of myself for that installation.) I use it on oven setting far more than on microwave. If I ever get my tiny studio/granny pod, I would have that, an induction hot plate, and an electric kettle.

  70. Meme, I hope your DH is having a better day today.

    I second the advice to get a microwave/convection combo. This appliance is very useful. It saves time on a typical weeknight, and it acts as a small second oven if you’re hosting a holiday or something.

  71. I didn’t know microwave/convection combos existed, so thanks for the comments. I often wish I had a second oven and thought I wanted my new oven to have a small drawer second oven, but a microwave/convection might do instead of a double oven. We also might switch from electric to gas for the range or cooktop but need to check the gas line capacity and installation complexities.

  72. I have double wall ovens, one is regular/convection combo, hence the small microwave that gets very little use. If I only had one oven or a range, I would go with Meme’s option.

  73. My significant other – somehow I hate the word boyfriend at my age – taught me how to heat up some leftovers – especially meat and some veggies – in a large pot of water heated to 140 degrees and the meat in freezer bags. Great for leftover meat. Its like a sous vide method – which a machine would do better but I’m trying not to buy new appliances.

  74. WCE, while looking into the electric to gas switch, I suggest you also look into induction ranges/cooktops. They tend to me more expensive than resistive, but provide many of the benefits of gas, so if you factor in not having to plumb in gas lines, they may be cost competitive.

    OTOH, they may require acquisition of ferrous pots and pans.

  75. WCE – I don’t know if anyone else mentioned this, but I have seen microwaves put in at a below counter height for children to be able to access. I worry about those that are above the stove/oven when your kids might be old enough to be allowed to microwave something, but not able to reach it without trouble.

    It could lead to all sorts of other mischief if they use if for their experiments, but I thought I’d at least put it out there!

  76. Completely off topic, but thank you to whomever (Louise?) mentioned “A Mother’s Reckoning” by Sue Klebold, whose son Dylan was one of the Columbine killers. It’s hard to put down — she is such a Totebag person and suffered through a parent’s worst nightmare.

  77. I read the book after I saw an interview with Sue Klebold and Diane Sawyer. I wish the book was a novel because it is so tragic. I saw on the news that yesterday was the 17 year anniversary of Columbine.

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