Around the House – Three Easy Approaches to Maximizing Your Storage

around the house-maximizing storageAlmost every design client I’ve had has requested more storage. Though I create detailed built-in bookcases, expansive walk-in closets, and customized office spaces for my clients, we can’t all bring in carpenters and designers to solve our storage needs.

Right, Create a wall mounted shelf for spices to free up kitchen cabinet or drawer space.

Spending two years with my husband in a 630-square-foot city apartment forced me to get creative with my own storage, and I learned that there are some relatively easy ways to increase your home’s storage space without bringing in carpenters or breaking the bank. While nothing beats a fabulous walk in closet or walls of shelving in a spacious basement, these three approaches to storage can help you maximize the space you have.

The first step is to make the most of the storage spaces you already use. Start with something as simple as your cabinet drawers. Stackable dividers take advantage of the full depth of your drawers and virtually double the amount of things you can store in each one. Next, take a look under your kitchen and bathroom sinks: a shelf with a pull-out drawer will double your “square footage” in these cabinets, and prevent you from losing things to the farthest back corners. I started with just a shelf in the cabinet under my sink, because it was less expensive than the shelf with the drawer. But I quickly discovered that items below the shelf were forgotten if they weren’t right in front. The drawer eliminates this issue and is well worth the extra cost. This solution works in all cabinets – not just under the sink!

People also tend to store things under their beds. This is a fabulous, otherwise wasted space, but, like the back of a cabinet, items stuffed under there can often get lost forever. Make sure you can easily retrieve things from under the bed by creating moveable storage bins. Attach a small wheel to each corner of a shallow dresser drawer or crate. Label the sides of each drawer, and it will be even easier to find and roll out what you need. This also makes pulling the drawers out to vacuum under the bed much easier! By employing these methods to maximize the spaces you’re already using, you can store more items and easily access them when needed.

The second step is to search your home for new unused space in which to store things. Doors are my go-to spot when looking for unused space. The inside of closet and cabinet doors are perfect, often overlooked places to attach wire baskets, mountable mail sorters, hooks, and bulletin boards or cork tiles. Baskets hold mittens and hats inside coat closets, hairspray and brushes in bathroom cupboards, and oven mitts and dishcloths in kitchen cabinets. Cup hooks are great for corralling dog leashes and car keys, while mail sorters and bulletin boards are perfect for tacking up paperwork. Hanging lightweight things on the inside of the door frees up your shelf and floor space, and has the added bonus of “disappearing” when you close the door.

Don’t limit yourself to the door itself – look up! Over a doorway is a great place for a sturdy shelf on brackets, as we rarely use that space. This type of shelf is great for items you don’t use that frequently, since you’ll most likely need a step ladder to access it. An over-the-door shelf in the bathroom is a great place for extra cotton swabs, shampoo, and toothpaste when you buy these in bulk, and it frees up your drawers for items you use every day. In an office, stash extra ink cartridges and printer paper. Try to group like items together and store them in matching baskets, bins, or boxes. Be sure to label each box clearly, so you can just pull down the one you need. This method of match-and-label ensures that you can easily access the products you’re storing while keeping the shelf looking streamlined and organized.

You can also store items in matching baskets or pretty boxes on top of tall pieces of furniture, like a dining room hutch, or under side tables flanking a sofa. Choose containers that blend with your décor, and they’ll become pretty additions to your space instead of just storage.

My final approach to maximizing your storage is to display attractive items, rather than store them. We’re conditioned to put things away, but many items we tend to keep out of sight actually make lovely accessories. Jewelry becomes attractive artwork when it’s displayed in shadowboxes on your wall, and a dresser or vanity drawer becomes available for socks. An open spice rack mounted on the wall or a magnetized one affixed to your backsplash will free up valuable kitchen cupboard space. Stack hardcover books under table lamps or even place a large pile of them under a side table as an accessory, and you’ve freed up shelf space on your bookcase. Pull out a few of your colorful extra blankets from the linen closet; stack them in a pretty basket in the guest room and drape one over the back of a chair. You can now use that newfound closet space to store unattractive things, like extra paper towels or light bulbs. Take inventory of your items in storage, and you’ll likely find that some of them are pretty enough to keep out all year long.

[blockquote class=blue]Kitty Burruss is an interior designer, wife, and new mother. The “new mother” part means that she now needs storage on a whole new level.[/blockquote]

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About the Author: Kitty Burruss