Small Space Storage
I live in a little house. It’s both a blessing and a curse for someone who loves to accumulate family heirlooms and vintage pieces as much as I do. A blessing, because the lack of square footage keeps my tendency to “collect things” in check and a curse because I’ve already stepped over the line and have had to get resourceful and a bit creative in an effort to fit everything I have.
There’s the fan-backed chair that was my Grandmother’s, the rocker from my other Grandma, and the lady’s chair that belonged to my Great-Grandma. A pie safe, bedroom suite, side tables, benches and much more also reside here in addition to those things we had when we first moved in and while it’s wonderful to be the keeper of these special pieces, it means we’ve had to take a hard look at how best to use every square inch of space and to do so
without moving into a bigger house within a minimal budget.
The answer for me has been to step back and look at my furniture, accessories, and hard space through different eyes. What is it that I need? How can I store all of the things I must in such a way that they are organized and accessible without being visible. (That’s a biggie for me.) I want the casual country Better Homes & Gardens look in my house that is, unfortunately and in reality, packed like sardines in a can.
So, how does organizing a LOT of stuff in a small space happen?
Look at what you already have and how it’s being used — not just furniture, but decorative pieces as well.
For years I moved an old sideboard around in storage before I realized it was the perfect island for my tiny kitchen. A good scrubbing and an old cutting board on the top and I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s perfect in its imperfection, is an ideal fit, and stores all of my pots and pans inside while my cast iron skillets hang across the back. It wasn’t intended as an island, but it’s functional, suits my decor, and I love how it looks.
We needed seating along one side of the pool table and, much as I would’ve loved a plain bench, we needed storage down there. Solution? An old dresser that we both pretty much hated and was destined for the curb. Remove the legs, add an old folded blanket across the top, and use the drawers for extra storage space. Problem solved!
(For the record, I still hate it, but I plan on trading out the hardware for something more suited to the rustic décor we have in that room.)
And, what about that empty space UNDER the pool table? Rough drawers from an old workbench with cheap casters attached – toys stored.
This piece has served us in several different capacities. First, it was a dresser with high spindled legs, three long drawers, and a large mirror. We no longer had a need for it, but I hated to get rid of it because it was part of a set. We opted instead to cut off the legs and the whole top drawer, reattach the top and use it as a coffee table so we would have storage space in the living room. Only recently we relocated it to the family room to act as a TV stand and house DVDs.
Furniture is only one option for storage space.
Consider your décor – your accessories. If you live in a small house, you might not have the luxury of having pieces for the sole purpose of aesthetics. For what other purpose can they serve while still acting as accent pieces?
This old picnic basket is huge! It belonged to my parents and I love it but, like anything else, it takes up space. Even though it’s stored up high, it holds extra medical equipment that we keep on hand and is easily accessible when needed.
The crock was my Grandma’s. My mother actually made pickles in it! In my house it stores tablecloths and napkins.
There are tins that store photos and tools, baskets that keep important papers, cleaning supplies, and paint bottles organized, and wooden boxes that hold canned goods and electronics. My milk can holds extra bags of flour and sugar. All of these vessels/containers are visible in my home, but not their contents, which allows for me to have the things I like and/or need without the clutter and disorganization.
And, don’t forget the hard space in your home.
Sometimes there is an area that is just not being used to its potential and can easily be converted into a functional, usable storage space. We had two clothes closets in our home that fit that bill.
The first was in our smallest bedroom that we had converted into my sewing/craft room several years ago. I wanted a space that I could store every single craft item I had and in such a way that it was organized and accessible. Once we got all of my sewing and embroidery equipment moved in, however, I realized that there simply wasn’t enough room for anything else and I still had all of my painting supplies and extra craft materials. Because shoving it all in the closet would just be more of the same mess we were trying to avoid, my sweetie designed a fabulous little workspace INSIDE the closet using an old door and some shelving we had stashed in the shed. Some pegboard on the back wall and it’s perfect! Meant to be a closet – now a teeny tiny paint studio.
Functional and on a dime!
It’s not Pinterest perfect, but it allows for me to have almost all of my crafting supplies organized, hidden away, and easily accessible. Plus, I can actually work on small projects right in the closet if necessary and close it all away when not in use.
The other closet is on our first floor and, in fact, is the only closet in the whole downstairs, meaning, it was the only place to hang one’s coat. We’ve complained about this little, virtually useless excuse for a coat closet for twenty plus years and FINALLY did something about it. After accumulating every single extra kitchen appliance and item we needed to store, took measurements and laid it all out, my hubby then designed and built the perfect little pantry closet in what had before been wasted space. I couldn’t be more pleased because it allows for everything to be organized and at hand, but out of the kitchen cupboards, and off the counters as well. We don’t miss the coat closet one bit!
NOTE: This pantry closet is so small and so awkwardly located, that I really couldn’t figure out how to even photograph it! Essentially, it’s a closet tucked inside a closet — only about 24″ wide and 20″ or so deep. No worries! Works for me!
I think you get the point here. In a nutshell, think outside the box when it comes to finding storage in your small home. Look at what you have in a different light. If you have to search for furniture pieces, go up not out. Look for something that is tall and thin. One large piece in a room that can accommodate your storage needs is far better than several smaller ones!
Start small – one closet, one corner, one room at a time.
Search your home with new eyes and see how you can repurpose things you already have. If there’s nothing that suits, Thrift Shops are one of my favorite places to wander and acquire pieces on a dime. Remember, you are looking for something adaptable to your storage needs.
Is it the right size and shape? Does it fit your budget? Fabulous! Is it hideous? No worries! This is where you need to put your creative hat on.
Ask yourself what it would have to LOOK like in order for you to be happy to have it in your home. Is it just the color or finish? The solution may be in a little sandpaper and a quart of paint. Hate the hardware? Not an expensive upgrade. Dirty? Scrub it!! So many people miss out on quality, solidly-built furniture because they aren’t willing to put a little effort and elbow grease into making it their own. Like that set of storage tins and that sturdy basket, but hate the color? A can of spray paint in the hands of someone who knows how to use it is truly a beautiful thing.
Be creative! Be imaginative! Be brave!
Here’s my final tip. Decide EXACTLY what it is you need to store BEFORE you go randomly looking for storage pieces. Take measurements. Be specific. It’s easy to wander through a store and grab because you like it and think it will be great for storing “something” only to find that what you had intended to put inside doesn’t fit or that the piece simply doesn’t suit your need. Then you’re left with just one more thing to store on top of all the things you originally intended to store!
Don’t be that storage container hoarder who accumulates excessive storage pieces to store their storage pieces. Don’t be that person…
Do all things decently and with order. 1 Corinthians 14:40