How to increase your home's storage
Find the storage space you never knew you had and make room for more with these clever space-saving ideas for making the most of your home's storage potential
We may be living in a digital age, but we seem to have acquired more stuff than ever - and the pandemic hasn’t helped, with and sales of everything from cleaning products and gaming gear to home office and gym equipment soaring during lockdown. If your cupboards are bursting at the seams, this is the guide for you!
With careful planning, it’s relatively easy to get organised and discover space you never knew you had. We'll show you how to to make the most of your home's storage potential, by identifying those unused corners ripe for transformation into storage space. Here are seven ideas to explore when it comes to maximising storage space in your home.
Home storage solution ideas
Tackle the clutter
There’s absolutely no point in addressing your home’s storage problems until you’ve had a major declutter – a task which in itself will free up valuable space. You’ll need to be ruthless, so enlist help if you’re hopeless at making decisions, and put items in one of five piles – keep, sell, charity, recycle or rubbish.
Make the job more manageable by tackling it room by room, and focusing on one area at a time – for example, a chest of drawers or under the bed. We've prepared a guide to decluttering and organising your home to help you out.
Use all the loft space
The obvious place to stash stuff you don’t use very often, the loft should be boarded to provide a sturdy, level surface for boxes. For safe access, fit an extendable ladder that folds back into the hatch. These jobs can be done by experienced DIYers, but there are specialist brands that can complete the task within a day.
Fill the eaves
If the attic’s already been converted or the top floor bedrooms have sloping ceilings, you’ll be reliant on the eaves for storage. Fortunately, they often relinquish a surprising amount of usable space: get drawers, cupboards, compartments and shelves custom built to accommodate the awkward angles and, depending on the roof’s pitch, you might even be able to include a low-level hanging rack and a desk or dressing table.
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Make the most of high ceilings
Does your home have high ceilings? In an open-plan living area, lots of free-standing furniture can make the space feel too busy. By cleverly utilising the area around and above the aperture between rooms, you can really increase the storage capacity without taking up floor space. Consider a combination of display shelving to show off your treasures, and cupboards with doors to hide away your clutter.
Install wall units and open shelves
Open-plan living has brought us multipurpose, light-filled rooms but comes at a price as you’ll have fewer walls to rely on for storage. So, it’s vital to make the most of your remaining wall space by adding fitted units and open shelving. Opt for floor-to-ceiling cabinets so you won’t be tempted to pile things on top.
If you’re installing a new kitchen and don’t already have a dedicated office area, consider integrating a workstation that blends in seamlessly with the rest of the room. Built-in shelving and desks in living and dining areas can be concealed behind folding or sliding doors, which keeps everything neat and tidy, while narrow bookshelves will utilise the space above door frames or above furniture.
Look under the stairs
The under-stairs cupboard is often taken for granted but a clear-out, rethink and refit can work wonders. We suggest divide it into three sections - ideally with its own door - using the tallest section for large items you use most days, like the vacuum cleaner and ironing board, the middle compartment for jackets and scarves, and the smallest one for your DIY equipment and tools.
In an open-plan area, you could expand kitchen storage by creating an under-stairs pantry or adding shelves and pull-out compartments for crockery, glassware and saucepans. Get more ideas for maximising kitchen storage here.
If you're a wine enthusiast, the under-stairs cupboard could even become a wine cellar! And, with a little imagination and decent carpentry skills, the stair risers could be turned into rows of handy drawers.
Explore every little corner
Don't forget that even the smallest spaces can be turned into useful homes for all kinds of items. For instance, if you have a fireplace you're not using, fit it out with shelves, a bottle rack or toy crates.
In the kitchen, you could fill the gap under your units with plinth drawers. Plate stackers, door and corner racks will make kitchen cupboards work twice as hard. In bedrooms, go for beds with a lift-up mattress or drawers underneath to store bulky spare duvets, bedding and pillows. And don't forget that hallways are full of potential for storage space.
In the bathroom – typically the smallest room – slot modular furniture into the spaces under the basin and above the WC, and, if giving the bathroom a makeover, look into building recessed cubby hole shelving between the studs to take care of your showering essentials.
For more efficient bathroom storage ideas, check out our stylish ideas for storing your towels.
Living room storage solutions
Buy a multipurpose sofa
Try a versatile sofa that offers extra shelving space, storage and even a spare bed if you don't have a guest bedroom. If you really want a corner sofa, but worry it’ll leave no room for other furniture in your living room, look for a design with hidden storage such as a lift-up seat which is the perfect spot to store bulky out-of-season throws or magazines, while keeping them close to hand for when you need them.
Choose wall-to-wall storage
In a small living room, keep on top of the clutter by making the most of the wall space. Fitted base units which run the entire width of the room have enough storage capacity to hide your possessions, while display shelving around your TV offers ample space to keep your favourite objects and books.
Kitchen storage solutions
Buy built-in furniture
Fitted kitchen furniture makes far better use of space than freestanding, and flat-pack, self-assembly shelves or wardrobes are the most budget-friendly buys for a straight expanse of wall.
At the other end of the spectrum, a specialist company can tailor make a storage system that makes the most of any room, whatever its size or shape, and is ideal for dealing with awkward angles or pitched ceilings. Internal fittings such as wardrobe racks, rails and drawers that cater to your individual needs will be provided, and you’ll have your pick of colours and finishes.
If you’re undertaking a bigger renovation, hiring an architect to create clever ways of maximising space will be money well spent.
Add clever kitchen cupboards
So often, the corner area in a run of kitchen base units goes to waste but, by adding a pull-out shelving system, you can make full use of the space and access everything easily when you need it.
Space-save up high too with specialist cupboards. This neat, concealed extractor fan is not only streamlined, but it incorporates clever added storage for oils, spices and dried herbs, which are perfectly to hand whilst you’re cooking.
Opt for freestanding units
If you live in a rented property, you may not be able to change your existing built-in kitchen, but by squeezing in a freestanding larder unit you can maximise your storage space. What’s more, you can take it with you when you move!
You could upgrade your dining table too. This contemporary dining table provides storage in its unique under-table cupboards. It’s perfect for storing away drinks and a few glasses. It has an unusual floating effect which gives the furniture a sense of lightness and fun, while the doors and drawers both have soft-close features.
Be clever with space-saving seating
Open-plan kitchen diners are hugely popular right now, but a decent-sized dining table and chairs can eat up valuable space. However, by creating a banquette-style dining bench with storage capacity built-in underneath the seat, you can create much-needed space for stashing your table linens, seldom-used cooking pots or even the kids’ toys!
Bathroom storage solutions
Add a sleek radiator
Make your radiator work harder with a model that offers storage at the rear. This one incorporates shelving for towels and toiletries and a hanging rail for clothes.
Go for vertical storage
We often forget the space behind a door, but this area can offer a useful place for hanging shelves where you can store toiletries and make-up without cluttering up the surfaces in the room. Check out our guide to small bathrooms for more inspiration.
Fit built-in units
In a compact family bathroom it’s essential to utilise every inch of space to keep all the family’s toiletries and paraphernalia close to hand, but out of sight. Fit built-in units to make the most of normally unused areas, such as above, below and around the basin and toilet. Pale-coloured door fronts, glass shelving and mirrored panels are ideal for helping to bounce light around the room and enhance the feeling of space.
The area above the toilet in a bathroom can often go under-utilised. Make the most of the available space by adding a tall, slim storage cupboard that’s ideal for housing spare loo rolls, cleaning products and towels.
Choose floating units
Floor space in a small cloakroom or en suite can be limited, so a spacious yet slimline wall-mounted vanity unit can provide ample room for cleaning essentials and toiletries, while still maintaining a feeling of space within the room.
Bedroom storage solution ideas
Buy a storage bed
A bed with built-in storage will make the most of every available inch. This bed has shelves built into the base and headboard, plus useful hanging space for magazines – ideal for rooms where floor space is limited.
If you live in a studio apartment, space is always at a premium, so choose a wall bed that can be folded away during the day and lowered at bedtime. This design comes with handy built-in shelving but the really clever part happens when you open it – you don’t need to clear your shelves as the ingenious mechanism keeps everything flat and in place!
A practical trundle bed is great for guest bedrooms or a spare room that doubles as a home office. It can be a sofa during the day and a single bed at night while offering ample storage space below in the pull-out trundle for spare bedding or office paperwork.
Add over-bed cupboards
If your bedroom is small and you don’t have much spare floor space for free-standing furniture, then consider installing wall-mounted units on either side and above your bed. You can even incorporate handy bedside shelves, which take up a lot less floor space than traditional bedside cabinets.
Andrea Dean is a journalist specialising in property, lifestyle & interiors