Somehow, most homes never seem to have enough storage space, no matter how much planning goes into them. But even in a tight space, a little bit of lateral thinking can make a world of difference. Take a lesson here from the folks who have to fit whole lives into tiny spaces: on the open road and at sea.
Solving your storage problem
And what’s the lesson? Look high and look low. Once we start really looking at the whole space we live in, it’s pretty obvious that most of it is air. And while it’s not a goal to fill all that space to bursting, it does help if the contents of your cupboards don’t attack you when you open the door. The boatie and caravanning principle is all about looking at those empty spaces with fresh eyes.
Get creative with shelving
A shelf above a door in a utility area such as the laundry offers you instant storage for suitcases, almost out of sight but easy to reach. Shelves in the under stairs space in a townhouse can be turned into extra linen closet or an excellent wine cellar. And look behind your doors too, where narrow shelves can boost your pantry or laundry space – after all, they only need to be as wide as the cans and bottles you buy. If there’s a kickspace underneath your cupboards, it may be possible to replace it with a shallow drawer, perfect for large platters.
If you are renting, most likely a major new fixture isn’t an option. Flexibility is everything in this situation. Bookcases, for example, don’t have to be for books. They can become kitchen shelves – they come in all heights and widths and intrude only slightly onto the floor space. Because the shelf space is shallow, a bookcase can actually be very convenient for pantry items, cutlery and stacks of crockery. Just be aware of the weight you plan to store as some of the flimsier flatpack options might not hold up under the weight.
And talking of the shed – how about a shelf or two in there? If you’re not too sure where everything is then it’s back to the hardware store with you, this time for modular, powder-coated metal shelving racks. Once hard to find, these units are now everywhere and very affordable. Best of all, they’re assembled in about as much time as it takes to heat the barbecue and some of them don’t even need an allen key to get the job done.
Effective storage and smart shelving
Before you pick up your hammer, think it through - it’s only good storage if it’s convenient and accessible.
Infrequently used items can be stored up high, down low or in the shed but if it’s something you use often, keep it close and easy to reach.
Plan to store large and heavy gear no higher than chest level. Accidents happen when you have to wrestle heavy or awkward items out of high cupboards. Use cantilever brackets for shelves with heavy loads – they are stronger than angle brackets.
If your shelves will be a feature in your room, consider the finished look before you start. The classic proportions of small at the top graduating to larger and taller shelves at the bottom always work well. Better still, opt for a system with adjustable shelf supports so you can customise individual shelf heights to fit your changing needs.
Is it pretty? Then consider storing it in plain sight. Beautiful platters, bowls and pretty boxes can add a personal touch to your décor. Displaying your collections of jugs or vintage tools on top of a cupboard, for example, can save valuable storage space elsewhere, while boxes or baskets can hide a thousand awkward-but-useful bits and pieces.