9 Things No One Tells You About Creating Storage in Your Home
Stuck for more storage? Look no further than our pros’ ideas for maximising space – beautifully
From knowing how to make it characterful to tapping into the surprising bedroom spot that could streamline your sleep space and getting out the measuring tape (for your things not your walls), these savvy storage commandments could help you to unlock valuable and useful extra room.
It can be tempting, with new storage, simply to shove clutter into it and resolve to deal with it anon. But start down that route and you’ll soon need even more storage to cope with fresh clutter.
If this sounds familiar, remember that out of sight is often out of mind and your new cupboard/boxes/shelves probably won’t get maximum use. Good storage should also allow you to create some visual breathing space. This is only possible, though, if you declutter first.
Let this example of a home office, designed by Folds Inside, motivate you to have a serious cull. The sideboard here is capacious but, without a pre-declutter, its contents would potentially have spilled out onto the open shelving – which would have been a shame, as it looks so pretty.
In this story, professional organiser Hannah Young advises, “If you’re apprehensive about discarding items during a declutter, [consider] what you’re going to keep instead of what you’re going to throw away. This should put you in a much more positive mindset than if you’d focused on the things you should discard.”
Without discounting the advice in the previous point, do add as much storage space as you can. You don’t have to fill it to capacity, but it’s good to have that option.
A simple way to do this, without creating storage that feels overbearing, is to take fitted cabinets right up to the ceiling or stretch them wall-to-wall. That’s just what designer Beth Dadswell of Imperfect Interiors has done in this kitchen, where a bank of slim storage units makes use of every vertical centimetre.
Shelves or cupboards right at the top are useful for infrequently needed items – in one recent Houzz Tour story, the designer described them as like loft storage for houses without lofts – and can be accessed with a stool or kitchen ladder.
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Storage doesn’t need to be purpose-built. Appropriating an antique or vintage piece can prove not only practical, but characterful, too.
Some examples seen on Houzz include large armoires looking lovely as linen cupboards or kitchen pantries, and a set of glazed shop display drawers used as an island unit. And, of course, the midcentury sideboard was invented for storing serveware and has stood the test of time – it pops up frequently on Houzz.
In this clean-lined kitchen by Blakes London, a table that’s nearly 200 years old is used as storage for cutlery among other things. It was bought at auction and was in a bad state of repair when the kitchen was renovated, so the Blakes team had it bolted to the wall for stability.
Do you aspire to sleeping next to a dainty bedside table topped by an elegant pair of spectacles, an aesthetically pleasing book and a glass of water – nothing else?
In reality, if you’re the kind of person with a teetering pile of half-read tomes, unattractively packaged hand cream, a couple of pens and some fluffy socks you keep kicking off in the middle of the night, then drink in this scene.
The calm, clutter-free space, designed by EMR Architecture, shows how sleekly storage can be added to the wall behind your bed, barely eating into your room’s footprint at all. Closed cabinets like these will conceal all your unphotogenic sleeptime paraphernalia, while the shelf provides room for a flexible display of artworks. Bedside tables – especially those with a drawer or mini shelf, like these – need never look untidy again.
How tidy are you? How tolerant are you of ambient stuff filling your eyeline? The best combination of storage needs to factor in real life to be practical. As such, a mix of open and closed usually works – closed for hiding things, open for adding warmth and interest – but the precise ratio should depend on how you live.
This look, for example, was created by interior designer Celine da Silva for her own home and has a lot of open storage that probably stays looking as pretty as it does in this photo. But you could easily go asymmetrical with this sort of design and only open up on one side.
Read more about this sustainable kitchen makeover.
In interview after interview for our Houzz Tours, designers tell us they question homeowners about what they want to store where, even getting the measurements of particular items.
It’s pretty much the number one rule of winning at storage – which is obvious only when you stop to think about it and shudder at the idea of cubbyholes for your vinyl collection that are 1cm too shallow to contain your LPs, or a high pantry shelf just too short to house the olive oil brand you like to buy.
Start with the stuff and build your storage around it. This idea goes for storage across the board, from pantries to cutlery drawers, utility cupboards, under-bench drawers and media units.
Check out, by way of a beautiful example, this child’s wardrobe designed by Mia Karlsson. Not only does it look inviting (who could resist folding extra neatly with such a lush-coloured backdrop?), the shelves are arranged perfectly for their purpose, too. As needs change, the shelving can be altered (just keep a tin of paint handy for touch-ups).
This simple concept can be a total game-changer, especially in homes where kitchen space is tight.
Do you have space in the hall, under the stairs, in a utility room or even elsewhere in the house to store items you don’t use every day in the kitchen? Fancy serveware, a breadmaker, bulk-buy food… These can all live slightly out of reach.
In the case of this airy, organised kitchen, designer Ruth Milne of Studio Milne, went down this route, creating a bank of base units that stretch way beyond the kitchen.
“It wouldn’t have worked unless we’d banked out that wall with storage,” Ruth says. “The family even use the space under the bench for kitchen things; they like to be quite neat.”
Her trick for fitting in so many cabinets was to use wall units, which are shallower. “600mm base units wouldn’t have [left] enough space around the island,” she says.
See more of this family space that’s packed with storage.
Take this kitchen, designed by Claudia Urvois, as a masterclass in turning tricky spaces into useful storage. The sloping ceiling was no obstacle and Claudia has maximised every inch. The units are mostly standard, but to accommodate the slope, the top cupboards were custom-made. They’re small inside, but still offer useful storage.
Similarly, there’s an extractor fan in the two cupboards above the hob, but Claudia made use of the space that was left. “When you open the doors, there are four very slim shelves in front of the extractor that hold herbs and spices,” she says.
She also created a shallow space in front of a vertical steel, turning it into a bar area. It’s just out of shot here, on the left, but you can see it – and the rest of the kitchen – here.
If you’re feeling as if you need more storage space but have nowhere to create it, linger for a moment over this space-maxing shelving, designed by
These up-and-over cubbyholes have been filled with books, which always look beautiful, but the space could equally be great for displaying other collections, or could be partially filled with slide-in boxes, perhaps painted to match or coordinate, for stashing less attractive items. Time to give your doorways a fresh look?
What are your best storage tips? Share them in the Comments.