Few of us live in a home where we have all the space we need. We all tend to accumulate so much stuff – just vast amounts of stuff – throughout our lives, that it feels like we’d need a couple of mansions just to be able to hold it all.
You might be thinking: “well, people just need to be better about decluttering if they don’t have enough space!” – but that’s not always the case. There are some things in our homes that we have to have there, so we’ll always need to find a space for them. They might not be exciting things that bring us joy, but that doesn’t mean that they’re junk that we just need to get rid of.
What kind of items fit into this uninspiring but necessary category? Well…
- Anything to do with DIY. Even if you’re not a keen DIYer, it’s only the foolish among us that don’t have a few tools on hand in case we need to fix something. Screwdrivers, wrenches, power tools, sanding paper – they all need space. If you don’t have a large garage space you can use to store them, that still means that they have to go somewhere.
- Spares and extras. We all know that things will break, so we need spares and extras in case they break at an inopportune time. This category includes things like batteries, phone chargers, USB leads. They might not be the most interesting of things, but if we suddenly find ourselves needing one and not able to locate one, then it can spell a big problem.
- Seasonal items. If you’ve managed to find a use for your huge beach parasol in the midst of winter, then more power to you – but for most of us, some items are only usable for one or two seasons a year. As no one wants to have to go and buy everything anew at the beginning of each season, that means that you’re going to have to find a home for those out-of-season items while you wait for the calendar to change again.
- Little necessities. Most households have a habit of accumulating a stockpile of little necessities. This includes things like spare staples, a hole punch, paper clips, rubber bands, blank cards that can be pressed into service if you realize that you forgot a birthday. It’s all stuff, but useful stuff that it would be a shame to dispose of.
So, all of the above (and much more besides) needs to find a home. That can be tricky if you have a small space to work with, or seem to have outgrown the space that you have available.
The thing is… you might not have outgrown the space that you have. If you have a smaller home, then it might not be as insufficient when it comes to storage as you initially thought that it was.
When you look around with new, informed eyes, you might find there is more space available than you ever imagined. You just haven’t been looking in the right places.
#1 – Height Is Your Friend
Even if you don’t have particularly high ceilings, you can take advantage of the height of any room – and you definitely should.
There’s two reasons for this. First and foremost, the more you utilize height in a room, the bigger the room is going to look. When we enter a room, our eyes are naturally drawn upwards – if the space is being used correctly in our vision, then everything appears more spacious.
Secondly, height should be considered because it’s often a criminally underused area.
For example, in the room above, you can see the space that’s available when you look up. There’s space above the window, above the desk area, even above the doorway. Is it a lot of space? No, but often, the stuff we need to find a home for isn’t very big either.
So take advantage of all this space, using shelves and storage boxes to make sure you’re utilizing the height to its best advantage. And bear in mind that with any open wall space you have, floor to ceiling bookshelves will offer you storage space galore and increase the aesthetic of the room.
#2 – Behind Doors
How often do you close all the doors in your home?
If your family is anything like the standard modern family, the answer is probably… not often. We leave doors open, especially in communal living areas, as we move in and out. The door being left open also has a tendency to make the room feel bigger. Some doors – the bedroom and bathroom predominantly – will be used for the intended purpose, but for the kitchen and living areas, they’re probably open more than they’re closed.
Why does this matter? Because there’s lost space there, tucked behind the back of the door. The easiest way to make use of this is with a door rack, which are traditionally used for storing shoes or bathroom products, but can be used to store anything at all. This, for example –
Might be primarily intended to be used in the bathroom, but as you can see, it can be used for storing cleaning products or even outgoing mail that would otherwise be cluttering up the surfaces.
If you’re worried about the door suddenly being used and dislodging items, then manufacturers such as Superiormaker offer heavy-duty door stops that can prevent a door being closed carelessly. Hold doors open with a stop, and then you don’t have to worry about knocking into them or closing the door suddenly – it’ll remain firm in place, protecting your belongs.
#3 – Hang ‘Em High
The kitchen is one of the most storage-thirsty areas of the house. There’s a lot of equipment that you might need one day, but which will spend much of its time waiting to be used rather than in action. It’s still useful, but it’s not useful on an everyday basis… yet you still have to find a way of storing it.
One of the best ways to free up the storage you already have is to remove pans from cabinets. Pans don’t sit well in cabinets; they’re bulky and take up more space than they ideally would. That’s why many people choose to have a pan stand; this, however, has the obvious disadvantage of just taking up more floor space. It’s an option, but there’s a better one: hanging them.
Constructing an overhead storage which will allow you to hang pans is surprisingly easy if you want to DIY. You can also buy premade options which you’ll just need to secure into the ceiling. There’s no reason why, with a bit of tweaking, you couldn’t use this kind of storage for utensils too.
With the pans out of the way, you have the rest of the cabinets to work with. This is an effective method of coping with kitchen storage, which can also look surprisingly stylish if you blend it with the rest of the decor.
#4 – Hidden Furniture Storage
Furniture takes up a lot of space. To an extent, it has to; that’s its purpose, so that people can sit on it and use it. That’s going to take up a lot of the floor space you have available.
However, one of the best changes you can make if you want to improve your home storage is to switch to furniture with hidden storage. There are so many options available, from beds with drawers in the base to an armchair where the seat lifts to reveal storage beneath. It’s the same useful piece of furniture, but it’s got a hidden extra.
Somewhat inevitably – as it’s performing two functions for the price of one – this kind of furniture tends to be more expensive. If this is a problem for you, then you can scour for secondhand options – or just try and replace each item piece by piece. Chairs are a particular godsend for extra storage, but don’t overlook dining tables (which can have slide out drawers beneath to store tableware) either.
Alternatively, you could adapt your existing furniture. As an example, you could take a kitchen chair like this:
… and attach velcro fasteners to the underside of the seat. Stick velcro on any small item you need to store – pencil cases and stationery items work best for this – and then attach them together. You can do the same for your desk chair in the office.
On A Final Note…
All of the above don’t make huge changes, with the possible exception of the furniture. That’s intentional. Focusing on the space you have and squeezing what you can into it is the key to making sure you’re making the most of what you have. Combined together, the above can make a big difference to the amount of other storage you might need.
If you do use these methods, it is worth keeping a list of where items have been stored. When you spread things around your house by squeezing into each bit of space, it’s easy to lose track of where everything has gone. A simple document you can access with your phone or computer will suffice. When you need to find something, you can just search within the document and it’ll show you where it’s kept. It’s simple, effective, and ensures you get the most out of your new storage options.