Organizing—it’s a never-ending quest. Our desire for tidy, puttogether homes requires a lot of vigilance, but also creativity. We’re forever pushing back on the constant creep of our belongings from their appointed storage location to “all over the house.”
Culling your belongings with popular techniques such as KonMari or Swedish Death Cleaning can only get you so far. At some point you need to assess your storage options and, if lacking, address.
Just because a home is large doesn’t mean it has adequate storage. And even smaller homes can be deceptively creative when it comes to sneaking in storage opportunities.
To create the most elegant and seamless storage in your home, invest in built-in cabinetry. That could be building out a unit against a living room wall to store books, DVDs or toys—maybe leaving room for a mounted TV to create a media room. It could be allocating a wall in a dining area to install cabinets to store your plates and glasses. Or it could be creating built-in cabinets and drawers against a bedroom wall to store clothes. As long as you have suitable wall space, and the funds, you can hire local craftsman to build out custom storage that will blend right into your home.
In addition to wall space, ask yourself if you can cut a hole in a wall and take some space from a garage or attic space on the other side. You can carve out space to create nooks and recessed storage.
One natural area that is often underutilized is beneath the stairs, where drywall can be removed, and shelves and doors can be built right in. Some other areas to build in recessed spaces include bathroom linen cupboards and storage cabinets, dining room china hutches, kitchen pantry and appliance garages, and bookshelves. You can even build out space between dormers in an attic room. You can also build around a large window, installing shelving and cabinets on either side, and adding a bench underneath the window, which can be both a reading nook and hidden storage.
Entryways may provide some unused space that can be repurposed for storage, including a built-in unit with a bench, hooks and shelving to store coats, bags and other daily use items. Take time to assess all the logical areas in your home for potential storage. Can you upgrade a kitchen island, enlarging and adding storage? Can you add built-in storage on either side of a fireplace?
Built-in options can also go beyond cabinetry and drawers. You can hide a bar area behind sliding doors, and reveal it when company arrives. Or you can build around a recessed area to stash a folding desk and a laptop for a hidden office space.
If custom builds are not in the budget, you can sometimes approximate the look and feel of custom cabinets with large-scale furniture and storage options from furniture stores like IKEA, which will allow you to purchase a bank of identical bookshelves or closed storage shelves that can be attached to a wall for safety. The uniform appearance can give the look of custom cabinetry for far less. A bank of bookshelves divided with a matching TV console or buffet can give the same tailored look as built-ins for significant cost savings. And it will provide some attractive, practical storage. Dressed up with a few interesting objets d’art, both built-ins and custom or semi-custom cabinetry can offer valuable extra space, while also displaying your style
Bins and baskets
If you want the storage without the permanence of built-in or attached cabinets, you can purchase large-scale furniture that can double as creative storage. Large shelving units—especially ones with square, box-like shelves—can be fitted with decorative baskets that house toys and crafts, and they are often great to store vinyl records or books. You can also use galvanized steel tubs or canvas-covered storage boxes for a different feel, depending on your decor. These items are especially useful in living rooms and dens, where you may need to tidy fast. From the outside, they will look crisp and uniform. Inside, you can store whatever you want quickly, without showing the clutter.
In kids’ rooms, look for light colored furniture like white or silver and outfit it with storages boxes in fun and energizing primary colors, or color code to your child’s favorite color palette.
You can also achieve a great design look with mounted shelves using the tried and true method of taking shelves all the way to the ceiling to maximize that vertical space. Place multiple shelves in unused or underutilized corners or nooks, add decorative storage and create a floating storage unit that doesn’t take up floor space.
Extend this idea to living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, dens, kids’ rooms and even laundry rooms. Install shelves that allow you to add baskets and bins for storing everything from detergent to dolls.
In bedrooms, if you have the space, you can also purchase armoires and wardrobes, which will hold your clothes but also allow you to move them around if you redecorate.
While wardrobes and computer cabinets are functional and practical ways to camouflage storage, they can be bulky, and not particularly original. If you’re looking to make a design statement, seek out furniture that does double-duty providing excellent storage while still being eye-catching and stylish.
Don’t settle for a basic boxy buffet. Instead, choose something with texture, pattern or color that will stand out in your dining space. A lacquered or mirrored finish adds shine to your design. Intricate fretwork on the doors, ornate period detailing, or sleek midcentury lines can set the tone for your dining room.
Choose coffee and side tables made of unusual materials but also with hidden drawers or shelves that will make a statement in your living room while still offering storage. Drum tables come in a range of finishes, from hammered metal to salvaged wood, and are a great place to store toys, throws, and pet supplies. Luxuriously upholstered ottomans, decorative benches, and occasional tables with shelves can all add both style and storage.
Beds with drawers underneath are fantastic for storing blankets or off-season clothing. And beds with bookshelf headboards are great for extra bedtime items. Both are especially useful in kids’ rooms. Kids’ rooms can also be expanded by going vertical. You can buy loft beds with room underneath for a homework space or extra storage.
Need a mudroom? Buy some sports lockers and build them into the garage or just inside the garage door, giving your family a fun and practical place for shoes and coats.
Maximizing existing space
You should also take a look at your existing closets and pantries and ask yourself if you are really using the space to its full advantage. Similar to installing bookshelves, you should be using all of the space, from floor to ceiling.
Ask friends for recommendations or do an online search for local professional closet designers, and call for a consultation. They can share ideas and price out a revamp of your space. Storage systems like Elfa from The Container Store, or closet organizers from home improvement stores can also be installed, either professionally or DIY, to transform a mediocre closet into a fantastic wardrobing space.
Similarly, pantries can be more than just shelves in a closet. You can add hanging door racks for spices, or additional shelves with bins, if that helps organize your items better.
Scour your local stores for creative storage products that you can use. Your kitchen cabinets may be able to hold more than you think, if you hang wire plate holders under the shelves to stack additional dishes or hang mugs above platters. Add risers and stackable shelves to lower cabinets to store more pots and pans. Drawer organizers may also help contain clutter—especially if you have deep drawers where you can add another tray.
Most people have probably maximized their rough attic space for storage with plastic bins to keep clothing and other items clean and stacked. But you may also be able to better leverage your garage, especially with storage racks mounted to the ceiling. You can use sturdy, airtight plastic bins to store clothing or offseason coats, and these can be really great for luggage.
Out in the open
Sometimes it’s not long-term storage, but quick-fix solutions, that help you contain your daily disarray. Can you install a bank of hooks at your entry to hang purses, coats, bags and keys? That will help keep the clutter controlled.
Hanging kitchen racks can help you showcase your cookware, giving you easy access to pans and pots while also freeing up cabinet space. A collection of copper cookware will add some charm to your kitchen, and keep them handy when you want it. Do you have some decorative or seasonal items you love but only use infrequently? Display them on top of kitchen cabinets.
With an array of ideas and options for storage, ranging in price from high-end custom builds, to statement furniture that combines storage with style, to easy-peasy solutions from your local hardware store, there’s no reason not to get your home organized. All it takes is some creativity and a commitment to making your space as put-together as possible.