- Home Decorating
Yes, you can find extra storage space in your home
Storage space in a small home
Here's a strange thing. When I lived in a 1,700 square feet house, I never had enough storage space.
Now I live in just less than 450 square feet and I have closets with empty shelves and kitchen cabinets that are nowhere near full. How can that be?
I know, I was surprised myself when I realized! But thinking about it, I decided that when you live in a small space, necessity has to be the mother of invention; you just have to think of ways to generate more space.
I know that there are ways to find extra storage - even in a tiny home.What's more, I don't live alone; there are two of us and to add to the problem, we both work from home so have work clutter to deal with. (And we haven't killed each other yet. Amazing!)
I'm convinced though that you too can find more cupboard space in your own home. Here are some of the ways - admittedly somewhat eccentric - that I've found to create more space and less clutter. If you have any great ideas, please leave your comments below. I'd love to hear from you.
All photographs © BritFlorida.
Think outside - or inside - the box
This is a close-up of the photograph above.
I love to use various containers to store items and baskets are a favorite because they are so attractive. As you can see, this basket is on a shelf in my bookcase / shelving unit.
Although it's officially a bookcase, the basket holds folded t-shirts. Just because it's called a bookcase doesn't mean that it's just for books. This great unit is our major 'holding' area.
Some of the cubby holes have doors and at the bottom, a few have drawers. They hold so many different items - clothing, jewelry, belts, paperwork, miscellaneous computer stuff - oh, and books!
Notice that I managed to squeeze a book next to the basket - every bit of space should be used in a small home.That being said, one or two of the sections in the bookcase are used purely for decorative items - because we simply don't need to use them for keeping 'stuff'. Less than 450 square feet and we have ample space for two people. What's more, I think it looks good too :)
Tension is good
Tension rods, I mean.
Tension rods are chiefly made to hang curtains and sheers but they are brilliant to add extra storage to your home. This photograph shows one that I have fitted (I say 'fitted', it take probably less than a minute) to the cupboard over my sink.
I don't like to have too many things hanging in the kitchen, because they all need cleaning, but this shows a trivet that I use often and it's a handy place for it to be.
Sometimes, I use the rod to dry tea towels / dish towels; any water can drip straight into the sink. When I'm cooking, it's important for me to be organized in my teeny tiny kitchen so I hang items I will need on the rod before I start to cook.
If I know that I'm going to need a spatula and a ladle, for example, I hang those items so that I won't have to rummage in a drawer.I've also put a tension rod in the cupboard under the sink - about halfway towards the back and near the top.
The handle part of spray bottles makes them hang their nicely and I have plastic sandwich bags hanging there (attached by clothespins) too containing things like scouring pads. It's pretty difficult to make the most of he cupboard under the sink but the tension rod does a great job.
I like light-colored baskets because in my tiny home they are less obtrusive but gorgeous storage baskets are available in so many different styles, colors and shapes. Whenever possible, I buy them in packs of two, three or more, because that way I know that I have instant coordination.
It's true that if every closet in your home is well-organized, you'll be able to use the space a lot more effectively - and as a bonus, you'll be able to find things more easily too.
Here is an example - my pantry cupboard. The shelves are only 16" wide and about the same height as I am so it's not huge. Our fridge's shelves are 17" wide and inside, it's only 32" high. But in these two, we keep all our food for at least a week (we eat both lunch and dinner at home every day of the week).
That's not all, I also have a good supply of tinned and dried goods in case of emergencies - we live in a hurricane-prone area.The fridge and pantry, like all our closets are organized. Our week's supply of fruit lives in a glass fruit bowl on the kitchen counter.
It looks gorgeous and makes it easy to grab an apple. My problem was bread. I don't like to keep bread in the fridge and I haven't got the room for a bread bin or other bread storage on the counter top. But I DO have a slow-cooker there. So our bread lives in there! See point number one in the 'other ideas' list below - there's always a way to find extra space.
Take a butchers
I mean butcher's hooks. Here, the butcher's hook hangs two IKEA soft fabric storage bags in our teeny tiny bathroom. His and hers.
These are located in a perfect position to grab whilst having a shower. We keep just the essential shower stuff in there. But this is just one example of how these useful hooks can be used.
If you go back up to the photograph of the tension rod in my kitchen, you'll see that I use butcher's hooks to hang things there (and on the tension rod under the sink.) They're useful in the clothes closet too for hanging belts and handbags.We have a narrow closet that houses the immersion heater and it has a louvered door.
I use butcher's hooks to hand slim objects there - a sweeping brush and a handy toiletries bag that's intended for travel use.; this holds a lot of cosmetics, lotions and toiletries that aren't used every day - suntan lotion, insect sting relief cream, weird lipstick colors that I'm only brave enough to use once in a blue moon...And yes, it's one of those funky 1940s yellow and black bathrooms!
And more...Click thumbnail to view full-size
- My favorite 'other idea'. Look at those empty spaces in your home. Example: Our refrigerator has a freezer section that's about fifteen inches high. But we don't really use frozen food! All it usually contains, foodwise, is a packet of frozen peas (tasty and valuable to use as an ice pack if you've hurt yourself) and an emergency loaf of bread. What a waste of space. What's more, freezers run less efficiently if they're not full. So now, all my empty tupperware-type containers live in there.
- Sometimes items can be stored under the bed. I don't do this because my friend who is a Feng Shui consultant disapproves of keeping things under the bed. Hey, I'm not going all mystical on you but it's better to be safe than sorry, with my luck! But if you badly need extra space, under the bed is a great place to store extra blankets and bedding. There's no need to restrict under-bed storage to those items though - I know someone who stores her little-used kitchen equipment in a box under her bed!
- Don't store empty bags and luggage - this is such a waste of space. Suitcases are a great place to keep out-of-season clothing or items you only use when you go on vacation. But anything can be stored there - paperwork, CD collections, things you only use for guests (like a blow-up bed), spare towels, spare computer leads and extension wires ... anything! Remember to do the same with handbags - keep items in your handbags in plastic bags so that the contents are easy to remove - hair accessories in one, your gloves in another ... jewelry, handkerchiefs...
- Do you have a drawer full of plastic bags from the grocery store? I used to when I lived in larger homes. After all, you never know when you're going to need one do you? Well, I realized that yes, they do have occasional uses, but not enough to warrant giving up an entire kitchen drawer. So I keep about a dozen. Where? In a large glass jug that lives in my kitchen cupboard. Large jugs, bowls and other equipment are often overlooked as storage spaces. I screw the grocery bags into tight balls and a dozen or so fit into my glass jug. Once it's full, any more plastic bags that arrive in the home go into the recycling bin.
- Don't think that you have to always search for products and items that are described as space saving or multi-functional. Yes, many of these are great but a lot are ugly and don't offer a lot of storage space anyway. (I'm thinking particularly about those over-the-door items and also those tower shelving units that sit above the toilet - some are OK but most are hideous!) In fact, all our furniture and belongings came to our tiny apartment from the 'big house'.
- Keep measurements from your house with you when you're shopping. I keep mine on my iPhone but a simple small notebook does the job equally well. You might see something in a consignment store, for instance, that you think might fit your home. If you have the measurements with you, you can snap it up before someone else does. I keep the measurements of my closets and cabinets. Recently I needed a new chopping board and because I had measurements with me, I bought one that fitted exactly into my kitchen drawer.
- Although I don't like the look of fridge magnets, I have a variety of useful magnetic hooks and slim, small magnetic boxes on the side of my refrigerator. One little box holds oddments such as a corkscrew, the lighter I use to light my morning incense stick (useful to make the house smell good) and those mysterious small screws and washers that I tend to find on the floor from time to time (I know that the minute I throw them away, he'll ask 'have you seen a small screw that I lost?) Another holds business cards - mostly local services I might need.
- Look up! I don't do this because I don't need additional storage but if you have kitchen wall cabinets that don't reach the ceiling, their top surface can be fabulous storage space. Use decorative boxes or baskets to store items there. There's no rule that says that only kitchen stuff should be kept in the kitchen. Use them to store paperwork, spare toilet rolls, old photographs, your manicure supplies, old t-shirts that you're going to use for cleaning cloths one day, socks, books ... no rules! Look at the tops of other furniture too. And if I needed additional storage I'd fit shelves over doors. I will do this one day in my teeny bathroom to hold a few baskets.
- The bathtub can also be used for storage. Our bathroom must surely be the smallest in the universe but I don't need extra storage there. Our bathtub has a shower that we use - we rarely take baths. So at the other end from the shower head, there lives a sturdy, white lidded plastic bin that fits just perfectly, looks good and holds loads of stuff - bathroom cleaning products and various other bits and pieces that you need when showering. When I need to replace it, I'm going to get a much sturdier version so that it will also be a place to sit for washing feet or cutting toenails!
- Keep it tidy. Sad but true - if you keep your home tidy, it looks bigger and you'll be able to find things exactly when you need them. I know that 'a place for everything and everything in its place' is the sort of thing your grandmother would say but it's true!
Stylish magnetic products
Magnetic products are wonderful because you can slip them into the tiniest spaces. What's more, you can move them around to wherever you need them. I use these in the bathroom and the kitchen mostly but I have several magnetic storage items in hooks in the closet too. I have hooks that I use on the water heater tank - that's a great place to dry face flannels and hand towels.
Baskets & boxes
It really doesn't matter what your style of décor is, there are baskets, boxes and containers that will look great in your home and below you'll see a few of my favorites. Like all my favorite storage solutions, they can be used for so many purposes. I use them for clothes, kitchen equipment, paperwork, jewelry, bathroom stuff, spare light bulbs ... a lot more too.
I usually have a couple that are empty (I have two in a closet right now that aren't being used) and yet I'm sure that they'll be needed at some time in the future. I keep out-of-season clothes in a couple of large baskets in my clothes closet. They are so inexpensive too when you consider their multiple uses and look great!
These simple little items make all the difference to efficient storage in my apartment, especially when combined with tension rods.
For example, in a previous apartment I had a tension rod attached to a bathroom window and hung a lot of my jewelry on there using 's' hooks. It looked great, it used an otherwise redundant area of my home and when the light shone through the window it make the jewelry shine and sparkle - almost forming a decorative curtain.