I have a theory that no matter how much space you have, you will fill it. If you live in a small house like me, you might wish you had a bigger house so you’d have loads of free space, but I reckon people with bigger houses just get/keep more stuff to fill their spaces with. When have you ever been in a friend’s house and seen that they have empty drawers or cupboards, just because they have nothing more to put in there?
Here are some suggestions to try, if you’ve decluttered all you can and yet you still feel like you’ve run out of space to put stuff:
Under kitchen units
Do you have accessible space under your kitchen cabinets? I mean, either you have no kickplates or your kickplates are removable? If so, you can create near-invisible, easily accessible storage by putting a big ol’ tray under there, which can be pulled out easily.
Tip 1: Store things which won’t be affected by a bit of dust. I store cleaning products in this tray, and shoe cleaning stuff in another one. I have no kickplates but use these items almost daily, so they don’t get too much chance to develop dust.
Tip 2: Stick a few felt pads on the underside of the tray…it makes it easier to pull out.
If you have kickplates, but they are removable, you may want to use shallow lidded boxes (like small underbed boxes) instead of trays and store things which are rarely used eg: turkey roasting tin, fancy bakeware etc. Because you don’t want to be taking off your kickplates day in and day out!
Inside cupboard doors
If you have any cupboard doors with nothing on the inside, you have not run out of storage space yet! Obviously you still want to be able to shut the door completely, but even the most shallow door-storage opportunity can hold a chopping board, paperwork, gift cards etc. I have stapled sturdy flat document wallets inside two of my kitchen cupboard doors, to hold recipes etc.
A slightly deeper opportunity can take a virtually free pot lid rack, and if you have a few cms you can store spices, gift wrap, plastic bags, cleaning supplies, spare toiletries, socks and underwear…the sky’s the limit!
This wall hung pocket storage from H&M is nice looking as these things go….
But this not-so-nice-looking one is what I actually bought!…
I bought two of them. I got them because the pockets are clear so I can see what’s in them. Also, the stuff they’re made of doesn’t fray so I’ve been able to easily cut them right down the middle to fit my narrow wardrobe doors.
It may not seem like a shallow space like a cupboard door is going to help much with your storage problems, but here’s an example. In your kitchen, let’s say you currently keep your cooking utensils (whisk/spatula/potato masher etc) in a drawer and your chopping boards on a surface, leaning against a wall. Well, if your chopping boards are the type with a hole in them (or if you can get some that do), you could hang them from a hook inside a door instead of leaning them on a surface. You could then use the newly-cleared surface space for a pretty vase to store your cooking utensils. Suddenly you have emptied the best part of a whole kitchen drawer! The utensils thing is just an example, of course. In other words: store the item in the smallest, most cunning space possible, leaving bigger spaces free for bigger stuff!
Use bedside tables in the living room as side tables (end tables)
In your living room, if you have a side table which is just a side table, that’s a wasted storage opportunity. It’s true, the more floor you can see, the more spacious the room will feel. Therefore you’ll be losing some visual space by swapping a delicate four legged side table with an item which is solid almost down to the ground. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and remember nothing reduces the feeling of space like junk lying about un-homed everywhere!
Again, if your coffee table doesn’t have drawers or other storage, you could be missing an opportunity. If you’re thinking “But a coffee table with drawers will only hold small stuff. The thing I need to find storage for is the vacuum cleaner!”, remember the name of the game is to put inside the coffee table some small stuff which came from a slightly larger spot. Keep doing so and in 5 moves or so you will have space for the vacuum cleaner!
In my case, it would work like this:
- Shallow boxes of stationery from lounge cupboard shelf ——>> new coffee table drawers
- Large horizontal items from lounge sideboard deep drawer (folded camera tripod, daughter’s folding toy pushchair) ——>> Lounge cupboard shelf
- Spare blackout curtains from underbed boxes (these curtains get used when guests sleep on the lounge sofa bed) ——>> Lounge sideboard deep drawer
- Rarely used (party) shoes from under stairs ——>> Underbed boxes
- Vacuum cleaner from no-fixed-abode ——>> Under stairs
Just check that everything ends up in a logical place for where it’ll be used Eg: I wouldn’t move the rarely-used party shoes to the sideboard drawer, as it doesn’t make sense to keep them in the lounge!
If you have any outdoor space whatsoever, even a balcony, put a box in it. It can be a medium size box, like this one.
Or a big box, like this one.
I have both of these (one of the smaller box, two of the big ones) and I swear by both types. The contents stay dry inside, and considering that they are plastic I think they are not too much of an eyesore. I got them both from Homebase – I made sure to use one of their £5 off £50 vouchers each time, and also wait until a 15% or 20% off weekend.
You can use outdoor storage boxes to store anything which won’t mind the changes in external temperature and humidity, and will remain reasonably convenient to access. They both have the ability to be locked with a padlock, if that’s something you’d be needing.
In plain sight (but pretty)
Where’s the obvious place to hide your junk? In plain sight! If you think you have run out of places to stash your junk, maybe in reality you have only run out of places to hide your junk. Maybe you’ve still got areas of space “out in the open”, but just nothing pretty to put there. In which case, the question becomes: how can I make my functional stuff look pretty. Can you put bits and bobs in pretty little containers and use them as décor? Can you put them in boxes or attractively uniform files? Can you shove it in a basket, maybe even topped with a pretty cushion as a lid? I could happily have a living room with storage on view like the above picture via Lauren Conrad, even though box files are usually for offices only.
Inside your sofa
Ok, I said there would be 6 tips – I didn’t include this 7th tip as it’s only for those in the market for a new sofa. Nabru sofas have the option for storage inside. They are also totally customisable – choose your size, format, arm style, fabric for removable covers, seat softness, legs, storage/sofa bed etc. They also can be deliverd next day and they’re modular so are guaranteed to fit in any room because they arrive in bits (they offer an assembly service if you don’t fancy putting it together yourself). Brilliant.*
We store my husband’s weights and fitness gear in ours, as he uses that in the front room. (I don’t have a photo of our sofa to show you, as pretty as Hayley and Shaneen’s – above. Even Nabru don’t seem to have a photo of their sofas as pretty as Hayley and Shaneen’s – above!) The under-seat storage can take a lot of weight as it has a sturdy wooden base resting on the floor. The only downside is that the sofa won’t take kindly to being moved once the storage is full, especially if the contents are heavy. I’m not saying it will break – these sofas are very sturdy things – but the storage base may shift about and cause frustration. You have been warned!
*Nope, they’re not paying me to say this! We bought our sofa with our own money after a lot of Googling.