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5 Solutions for Living without Closets, From Someone Who Knows

7/14/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: storage, organization, organize, small space, small home

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailFor the most part, Victoria Gazeley has everything she needs in the 650-square-foot restored homesteader’s cabin in coastal British Columbia that she shares with her 7-year-old son. The one thing she lacks is closet space.

Homesteaders didn’t have a lot of stuff—hence, no closets!” Victoria writes in “Closet Alternatives – 5 Ideas for Living without Closets (without Renovating or Spending a Lot)” on her blog Modern Homesteading. Eighty years later, even though she’s pared down considerably and stashed things in her parents’ attic, Victoria needs considerably more storage space than the man who built her little cabin. “While I’m not a ‘collector’ of things—when you live in small spaces, you simply can’t be—I still have stuff,” she says.

Victoria’s frugal and innovative solutions mean she doesn’t have to adulterate her heritage cabin to hide her stuff. 

 storage coat closet 

Photo by Victoria Gazely/courtesy of Modern Homesteading 


Victoria has several armoires, which are ideal for use as office space, coat closets and supply cupboards. “Your best deals can be found on Craigslist and at garage sales,” she says. “While it takes a little longer than just picking one up at the store, you’re bound to find antique treasures, beautiful handcrafted pieces and high-end designer units for a fraction of the price of new.”

magazine storage 

Photo by Victoria Gazely/courtesy of Modern Homesteading 


Victoria swears by beautiful, well built square or rectangular stackable baskets. She picks up big sturdy ones when they’re on sale at her local big box store (fairly often) and smaller, more colorful baskets at Pier 1. She stores her son’s toys as well as knitting and mending projects in African market baskets. “To be able to have little things out in the open without it looking messy is such a gift,” she says. “And things just don’t get lost as easily!”

under stair storage 

Photo by Victoria Gazely/courtesy of Modern Homesteading 


When Victoria renovated her cabin, she left the space under the stairs open to make the main room lighter and airier—and provide storage space. Victoria tacked up fabric pieces, cut to fit the openings, to hide the unsightly bins. “One day, we might frame in the stair risers and put proper doors on the openings,” she says. “But for now, this works, and it didn’t cost a penny outside of my mother’s time to sew the panels. Thanks, Mom!”

front porch shoe cupboard 

Photo by Victoria Gazely/courtesy of Modern Homesteading  


Victoria’s pet peeve is shoes cluttering an entrance way. “When you live in a tiny house, it’s not just annoying, but downright dangerous – tripping and falling where there’s a sharp corner within 2 feet in every direction is not a safe proposition,” she says. Victoria turned the original home’s former food cupboard into a shoe closet that sits on the front porch. “It keeps us tidy and safe, plus it adds to the historical feel of the house and is a bit of a conversation piece,” she says.

linen storage 

Photo by Victoria Gazely/courtesy of Modern Homesteading 


Victoria was concerned about keeping her antique linens and wool blankets away from mice, moths and other pests. Her grandmother’s cedar chest was the perfect solution. “It works out well, but honestly, it could stand to be about 2 feet longer,” Victoria says. “Or maybe I should just get rid of a few things…”

Find more great ideas at Modern Homesteading.

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