There are many ways to find space where none seems to exist. The key is to look and then look again. Glimpse beyond a door, look above the window, peek below a table and put a cabinet in a place you never thought to put it before. Instead of looking around at eye level, look up and down. Think vertical. The air above you is fertile ground for storage.
Using storage cabinets
Dolores Cobb, a New York decorator and self-proclaimed veteran of tiny apartments says, “A tall storage cabinet (96″ tall x 12″ deep x 18″ wide) can open up your floor and wall space and provide limitless storage solutions. She employs such cabinets with or without doors, depending on the available space. “Open cabinets can make a space look bigger. In tiny apartments, I use them on both ends of a small sofa, paint them to match the walls, install new pulls (on doors), then float a small end table in front of them. Sometimes I’ll place a small painting or mirror on the doors they look fantastic.”
Cobb says she gets the cabinets unassembled, often made of pressed wood and sometimes faux-paints them for drama. “In an hour of easy gluing and assembly, you can create enchantment and a much more appealing and organized life!”
If off-the-rack storage cabinets seem a bit dull, Atlanta designer June Oliveri offers an interesting touch. A collector of architectural salvage and ephemera, she says, “Use old doors to customize pre made cabinets.” Her idea is ingenious and beautiful. “Buy cabinets and stack them high. Choose a cabinet that fits your needs at one of the big box stores, and then rummage for some old doors to hang on the front for an artful and beautiful look. Even new shutter doors painted to look old can work in a pinch.” If you are a woodworker, Oliveri advises making a frame for your vintage doors so you get a perfect fit.
Flea market seller and scavenger, Chris Mead of Pasadena, California, is constantly running out of room for all the things he collects. “Floor-to-ceiling diagonal shelves in a corner painted to match or to contrast with the walls are magic.”
A furniture rescuer, Mead also suggests: Transform an old dresser you love but don’t use in your bedroom anymore into a focal piece right in your living room.” The advantage he says is that “you get to keep a cherished object and give it a new life as storage for magazines, books, extra blankets or whatever you need space for.”
Go with a pro
“Some people want perfection,” notes Jean Knight, a home and closet organizer by trade. Today anything is possible. If you want a large closet and don’t have one, call in a closet and storage team to find the space. I have put storage around beds and sofas. I have built in window seats. I have put bookcases and bookshelves around washing machines to make linen closets and it has all been done with pre-fabricated items available at most big box stores.”
Quick ideas and tips
- Think vertical: don’t focus on eye-level solutions.
- Look to corners for hidden space.
- Make great storage from the space above kitchen cabinets.
- Connect two cabinets with a shelf.
- Put a shelf above a window and line it with your favorite books.
- Use your fireplace in off season as a storage area.
- Stack books under tables.
- Buy a cheap campaign trunk, paint it and place it under a table to hide clutter.
- Use flea-market wicker suitcases stacked to hold needed items.