1. Between the studs
Put the space between studs to work by tucking open display shelves into walls. They don’t have to be outdated arched niches. Create clean rectangles or squares. To keep things looking tidy, add doors on the front. Or use piano hinges to mount artwork so it can swing open to reveal hidden storage space. You can even recess narrow drawers into the space.
2. Nothing wasted, something gained
Use space that otherwise would be wasted. Under the stairs is a perfect example. For smaller budgets, add a door to the side and use it like a crawl space, says interior designer Vanja Stepanek of Barbini Design Build in Toronto. Finish the space with shelves and hooks. For those who have more cash, each riser can house a drawer. It is a more expensive project because you’re working with the structure of the stairs, she says.
If you have a staircase that’s open underneath, turn that unused space into a home office by tucking a desk and some cubbies, shelves or file cabinets underneath.
Put the space beside the fridge or between the washer and dryer to good use by building narrow shelves on wheels.
Build a headboard that includes storage space, add a long floating shelf above the headboard or use rows of floating shelves above bedside tables to create extra display space.
3. Look up
Install shelves above doorways to store stuff without using up floor space. Continue the shelving around the room, including above windows and doors to create a loft library.
4. Over or behind
Use over-the-door hooks for extra hanging space. Or add a shoe storage system behind the door. Build floor-to-ceiling shelves in unused spaces, such as behind the toilet or on a wall behind a door.
5. Functional into fab
Stepanek says her friend lives in a typical small downtown condo. It has a long narrow hallway with a bathroom and bedroom doors on one side and the living/dining room at the end of the hall, with large windows beyond. The loft has high ceilings, so Stepanek installed two rows of floating shelves along the full length of the hallway (the side without doors). Stepanek’s friend loves shoes and purses, so the shelves give her the perfect display space for her wearable treasures. It looks cool but provides practical storage space, she says. Art depicting different periods of shoes hang under the shelves to create an art wall. Antique lighting completes the stylish look.
6. Focal point and fun storage
A long basement hall, which had numerous doors along its sides and one at the end, had no focal point. The door at the end of the hall was replaced with a bookshelf on hinges. The bookshelf creates visual interest and storage/display space. Plus the kids love having a hidden room behind, Stepanek says.
7. Lift it up
Where ceiling height allows, put a bed on top of a custom platform. Or build a stage for children. Drawers within the platforms can house camping gear, seasonal items and other seldom-used items.
8. Double duty
An office can do double duty as a guest room by adding a wall-to-wall unit that includes a Murphy bed. Add a desk on the opposite side of the room.
9. Down under
Like building niches between the studs, add storage space between the joists in the floor. Build a box or cabinet to stow stuff.
10. No monsters under the bed
Use baskets or zippered plastic storage bags to use under the bed. Or buy a bed with drawers built in. Another option is a mattress that lifts up on hinges to make under-bed storage more accessible.
11. New uses
In the hallway, switch out a table for a dresser that will provide drawers to store everything from hats and mitts to keys and mail.
12. Double up
A chest that doubles as a coffee table, vintage suitcases stacked beside the couch or bed and ottomans all offer storage space within.
13. Kick off
Toe-kick drawers in the kitchen are great for storing cookie sheets, cutting boards and wire cooling racks.
14. Air space
Floating shelves offer display space. Or hide away items in pretty boxes or baskets for a neater look. Think vertically to find more usable space.
15. Clutter be gone
Before you cram your new-found storage space, try decluttering. Keep only what you need and what you really enjoy. Pace yourself and tackle one job at a time. Don’t expect to do everything in one fell swoop. Mix smaller, easy decluttering projects, like cleaning out your medicine cabinet or makeup drawer, with bigger tasks such as tackling your clothes closet.
16. Map it out
Figure out what you want to store, which room to store it in and what kind of storage you need before you knock holes in the walls.
17. To the garage
Shelves that hang from the ceiling above the car are one solution. Garage systems, which include tool storage, a place for garbage and recycling and lots of space for plastic storage totes, can make the most of your garage space. Again, think vertical storage.