Adding and/or optimizing storage space is a straightforward concept in larger spaces, but that’s certainly not the case when you live in some of the Bay Area’s smaller apartments, townhomes or bungalows – especially when your home’s footprint was designed 50 years ago or more.
Smaller spaces require smart design tricks and multi-use furnishings. The combination of these two things will ensure your smaller home offers enough storage for your belongings – assuming your possessions are maintained in moderation of course…
Step One in Optimizing Storage Space Means Eliminating Things You Don’t Need
The first step in creating more storage is to ensure you aren’t hanging on to things, furniture or furnishings you don’t love, need or use anymore. For many of my clients, this is by far the most difficult and complicated part of the entire design process. If you live in a small space, however, this purging and cleansing is imperative.
Take pictures of sentimental items you’ll never use or display again for posterity’s sake and then pass the “real” versions on to someone who will. In the meantime, I recommend reading, Creating Space in Your Bedroom Closet, and, Getting That Kitchen Organized. Both posts share similar themes, and the tenets and tips shared in each can be applied to any room in the house. There’s no point in spending time designing or purchasing/building specific furniture pieces to house stuff that doesn’t need to be hanging around anymore.
Think About Built-Ins
The interior spaces of your exterior walls need to be insulated to conserve energy in the home. The interior walls, however, might be able to be co-opted into storage space. In many cases, you can gain at least 12- to 18-inches or so, optimizing storage space and storage depth by designing and building shelving or storage niches right into the interior wall spaces. The additional woodwork or painted trim will also boost your interior’s appeal.
This use of interior wall space takes an expanse of unused air space and makes it significantly more functional as you make it into:
- Built-in book and display shelving
- Medicine cabinet and toiletry storage in the bathroom
- The back half of built-in cabinetry, minimizing the air space/square footage required to stick out from the wall’s surface
- Your movie or music collection
Built-in shelving and storage will also be more appealing to future buyers down the road.
Swap-out Dysfunctional Furnishings
When you live in a small space, it’s essential to furnish your home with multi-purpose pieces. This includes things like flat trunks that serve as both coffee tables or end tables as well as storage for out-of-season throws, pillows, and accents. Perhaps your window can be augmented with a window seat and a hinged cover that will store serving plates, china, or other useful items that aren’t required on a daily basis. That decorative serving cart or tea cart you inherited from your grandmother can become the home bar, freeing up much-needed kitchen cabinet space. An ottoman should open to store books or blankets, can be used as additional seating when guests are over and can be topped with a stylish serving tray when required for an end table or coffee table.
The more you take advantage of functional furnishings that accommodate storage, as well as day-to-day furniture needs, the more streamlined your home design, will be. Custom furniture pieces are often the ideal way to go because they’re built to suit your household’s specific design, needs, and dimensions.
Take Advantage of the Corner Pockets
Are your corners sitting empty or largely unused? This is a waste. From furniture designed to fit into corners (bookcases and entertainment centers come to mind) to relocating plants from a straight wall location to a corner pocket, using corners or other difficult spaces effectively will add extra space to your main living areas.
Use Customized Cabinet and Closet Design
I can’t speak highly enough about the wonders of custom closet and cabinet design. While the initial price tag may seem high to you, the payoff is invaluable. These companies, such as the tried-and-true California Closets will analyze what you have (preferably after you’ve done the sorting and purging recommended in Step One) and will be able to transform your closets and storage spaces into personalized wonders where there’s a place for everything and everything has its place. By using every square inch of your home’s cabinets and closets, you will be able to store much more than you were before, and it will all be neater and tidier to boot.
Taking the time to optimize your storage space will enhance your overall interior design by creating more space and cleaning things up. The result is a more functional home and one that remains uncluttered as a result.