Craving space in your home? As many of us aim to live simply in smaller spaces, our need for smart storage grows. Not all of us have walk-in closets, extra storage rooms, linen closets, attics or even garages. With a bit of thoughtful planning, you can add storage solutions to any room in your house to help your home feel more spacious and you feel more serene. Here, we outline 30-plus creative ideas to improve your existing space, put things away and organize your life.
Love Your Living Room
Double-Duty Furniture: Demand that your furniture do more than just sit there and look pretty—many furniture items can offer hidden storage. Think coffee tables with lots of shelves, footstools that store blankets and side tables that house books and magazines. You can also transform a large lidded basket into an affordable and storage-friendly side table by topping it with a solid tray or crate.
Floating Shelves: You may not have room for a whole bookcase, but floating shelves provide extra surface space for books, family pictures and art. Get even more storage space by corralling small items in pretty tins or boxes, then displaying those on open shelves. Group shelves together on one wall or place one near the ceiling to take advantage of unused space.
Built-In Storage: Older homes are praised for their beautiful built-ins; add the same functionality to a newer home by contracting a local carpenter to build a custom storage built-in (it might be more affordable than you think), or assemble modular units together for a similar feel.
Above-Cabinet Storage: Look up! Above many kitchen cabinets is a bit of open space that is going to waste. Use baskets to neatly store seasonal decorations, outdoor dishes, extra linens or serving dishes. You could also use this highly visible space to store beautiful cookbooks.
Pull-Out Shelves: Make the most of your lower cabinets with pull-out shelving. Shelf inserts from home repair stores fit into practically any cabinet and maximize space for pots, pans, small appliances or even pantry items.
Rolling Drink Cart: A stylish rolling cart can free up cabinet space by storing glassware, dishes, drink mixers and ice buckets, and it can be moved to wherever the party is located. Take it into the living room to move the drink-making (and the crowd) out of the kitchen, or roll it outside when the weather is nice. Keep an eye out for vintage carts at antique stores.
Repurposed Dresser Island: If you need more kitchen storage, think about repurposing a dresser into an island. It already comes with drawers and a solid counter surface. Plus, dressers are easy to find at garage sales, thrift stores or through Craigslist.
Hanging Wall Rails: Install wall rails above your countertops to hang small baskets, towels, utensils or containers for frequently used items.
Storage Bed: Elevate your bed with sturdy riser blocks to give you space for storage containers to slide underneath. If you’re looking for a new bed, select one with drawers in the base.
Hardworking Bedside Tables: Find bedside tables that can hold more than a lamp. Store magazines, personal items, jewelry and more in tables with drawers and shelves. Mount reading lamps on the wall to give you even more surface area at your bedside.
Extra Closet Space: If you don’t have enough room in your closet or don’t have one at all, select a functional armoire (often easy to find at antique stores) to store your clothes. Or take clothes from behind closed doors and create a showroom feel with a rolling garment cart.
Luggage Storage: There’s no denying that luggage is a pain to store, so if you don’t have a storage room, your only choices are to go high or go low. Go high: Hang hooks high in your closet to suspend your luggage out of the way. Use a step stool for access. Go low: Store a large suitcase open on the floor of your closet. Put your shoes on a shoe rack and stick it inside. When you need to use the luggage, simply lift out the shoe rack and take the suitcase out.
Seasonal Switch Out: You can double your closet space by thinking in season. Divide out clothes, coats and accessories by summer-only, winter-only and year-round. When spring arrives, pack away heavy sweaters and thermals in sturdy rubber containers; in fall, stash your shorts and sundresses.
Under-Sink Storage: Maximize the space under your sink with drawer inserts or baskets, an easy way to organize toiletries, extra towels, toilet paper and more.
Bathroom Storage Units: You probably have unused space somewhere in your bathroom, either on the walls or between the toilet, shower and sink. Wire shelving units, freestanding or wall-mounted, can create storage space from thin air.
Medicine Cabinets: You can put unused space in your walls to good use by adding a medicine cabinet. Installed in between wall studs, these ready-made units hide away toiletries, medicine or even jewelry. Mirror-faced ones are generally behind the sink, but a solid-faced one can go anywhere in the bathroom.
Hooks Galore: Never underestimate the power of a good hook—on the wall, on the back of the door or by the sink. Any hook is a good hook and will immediately be occupied with towels, robes and clothing that would otherwise be on the floor.
Entry Closet Makeover: Many entry closets are overlooked when winter ends. Make better use of this space all year by cleaning and organizing it by function. Use baskets to group items by season, add hooks for umbrellas and hats, then add shoe racks. As the weather changes, shift daily-use items to make them more accessible.
Mobile Home Office: If you need a home office but don’t have a spare room, consider creating a mobile office on a rolling cart. Store essentials such as your laptop, a printer and important files on the cart, then move it to whatever room is available. When you’re done working, tuck your “office” into a corner or closet.
Closet Dresser Insert: An easy way to make use of an underutilized closet is to put a dresser inside. A sturdy vintage dresser can store seasonal items, linens, stationery, craft supplies, toys or other miscellaneous items.
Browse our recommended products in Nice and Easy Storage Solutions.
First, Lighten the Load
The first step when exploring storage solutions is to filter through your belongings and get rid of things you no longer use or want. Lightening a load of useless stuff can go a long way toward alleviating the feeling of being trapped in a crowded home. After you’ve decluttered and prioritized the items you want to keep, think carefully about how you use them, how often and where. With this in mind, you can thoughtfully select pieces of furniture or storage systems that work best for your life and your own unique home. Learn much more about decluttering in Maximizing Minimalism: Clear Clutter for a Tidy Home.
Whether you are looking for inspiration, ready to tackle a DIY project or trying to hire a professional, these resources will help you get going.
Small Space Organizing by Kathryn Bechen
Need help organizing your space? Take tips in this book from Kathryn Bechen, an expert in small-space living, to make the most out of your existing home with this room-by-room approach.
Decorating & Organizing Inspiration: Tour rooms and organization solutions at stores such as Ikea and The Container Store. See inspiring ideas and then translate them into your own home using sustainable materials, furniture or creative hacks using repurposed materials.
Visual Online Inspiration: Know what you want, but not where to get it? Log in to visual bookmarking site Pinterest to search for furniture, DIY projects and storage ideas that other people have already created. Peruse our Pinterest boards for ideas.
DIY Custom Storage Projects: This Old House offers a wealth of information for DIY projects to add storage to your home. If you’re handy and know how to operate tools and wield a paintbrush, get step-by-step instructions on how to build everything from shelves to tables, furniture and more.
Hire a Professional: If you need more help, consider hiring an organization professional to help implement storage solutions. Find a local expert through the National Association of Professional Organizers (napo.net) and be on your way to domestic bliss.
Bridgette Meinhold is the architecture editor at Inhabitat.com and a freelance writer based in Park City, Utah. When she’s not writing about green design and sustainable architecture, she’s painting in her reclaimed shipping container art studio in the woods.