Whether you’re chasing a busy toddler or are an empty-nester, homes can sometimes feel ready to burst at the seams. But a little creativity and a few repurposed pieces can easily add space and help organize the things you just can’t live without.
Here are ten easy and inexpensive home storage solutions perfect for busy families and households. To start, simply look at your home with a critical eye — this means Look In, Look Under, Look On, and Look Up — to find the space you need, it’s usually there. Here are several ways to make the most of it… with style!
1. Look In – the Closet
A “closet review” is a good starting point for home organization. First things first — clean out and simplify. Get rid of those forgotten 15-year-old jackets. Then maximize the space!
Usually, about two to three feet is wasted in the top of a closet. If things are precariously perched on the over-rod shelf, double this shelf space by adding storage baskets, storage cubes or an additional shelf with baskets or boxes tucked underneath. Not only will you have more space, but it will be much easier to access the things you need.
If you have extra rod space in your closet, add a hanging shelf set right from the bar. This can serve as storage for anything, from linens and towels to mittens and toys. Kids can easily access the lower shelves, saving the upper ones for mom and dad.
The inside door of a closet is a great place to add space, too. An over-door shelf set can store about 100 videos or video games (if you still have a collection), DVDs, and other odds-and-ends. Again, reserve the lower portion for the kids and the upper for mom and dad. Clear plastic or see-through net over-door pockets are great, too. Try one on the front of a kid’s closet door — it’s great for sorting small toys — or on the back of the bathroom door to tuck hair accessories.
2. Look In – a Shelf Unit
A shelf unit can provide quite a bit of storage when fitted with an assortment of storage cubes to accommodate toys, books, clothing, etc. If you have toddlers, be sure the unit is secured to the wall using a furniture strap, and that the shelves are secure in the unit.
3. Look In – Large Furniture Units
Large armoires and entertainment-style furniture can be completely repurposed as desk areas or storage closets. Fitted with installed or freestanding storage shelves, these units add lots of hidden space. Adjustable shelves are available online, or cut them to fit yourself or have it done at the home improvement store, then organize with baskets or storage cubes. You’ll be amazed at the results!
4. Look Under – the Bed
There are all types and heights of underbed storage boxes made to easily store everything from wrapping paper to sweaters to toys. Using this space wisely can be a real space and time saver. Short on underbed space? You can add underbed space to standard bed frames by adding sturdy bed risers to lift the bed, making room for storage baskets and boxes. One underbed toy storage idea we’ve found is an open-top rolling basket for toys and games. These are especially great for small children because they’re easily accessed and toys can be seen, as compared to digging through a toybox. Two will fit under a standard crib or twin bed. One of our favorite underbed solutions is to create a wrap center using two plastic underbed storage boxes with removable lids. Stock one with wrapping paper, gift bags, assorted boxes (flattened) and tissue paper. Stock the other with ribbon, tape, gift labels and other quick gift decorations.
5. Look Under – Leggy Tables
Put a laundry basket under a skirted table for easy storage or quick toy cleanup. Also, try adding stacking storage baskets, hatboxes and luggage-style storage pieces under leggy tables for added storage, these are great decorative toyboxes for family spaces.
6. Look Under – the Kitchen Desk Area
Many homes have an unused desk area, usually in or near the kitchen. To create additional space without installing a new cabinet, add an inexpensive drawer set or a shelf set with storage baskets or boxes. This space is also a good place to keep a household step stool or small utility or craft cart. Just be sure whatever is placed in this area is safe for small hands if you have toddlers.
7. Look On – the Wall
Wall mounted shelves or cabinets are great storage and display solutions. Wall-mounted cabinets in bathrooms and utility rooms add space for cleaning products and toiletries. You can also use inexpensive stacking plastic drawers to neatly organize household tools and gadgets on utility room shelves and for toiletries in bathroom closets. See more ideas for wall-mounted shelves on our Faves! Stylish Shelf Options for Busy Family Homes
8. Look On – Tabletops and Cabinets
Stacking boxes and bins make it easy to stylishly stash all sorts of things that find their way into living and family rooms.
9. Look Up – Above the Window and Around the Room
A simple piece of wood and two inexpensive wall sconces or curtain rod sconces can make a great over-the-window display and storage shelf. A high shelf extending the entire length of the room can add drama and quite a bit of extra space. Use stacking boxes and baskets, photo storage boxes or reclaimed vintage bins to add stylish storage on high shelves. It’s a great place to display fragile collections away from busy toddlers, too.
10. Look Up – Above Kitchen Cabinets
The above cabinet space in the kitchen is often open, especially in newer homes. This area is a good place to store rarely used mixing bowls or serving platters, and can support stacked baskets and boxes filled with things that need to be kept and stored, but not necessarily put away in the attic.
And — Look Out! Storage Furniture Safety Tips for Homes with Small Children
When using storage ottomans and benches, remember that little fingers can get caught in the lids. You can fix this by installing small furniture lid dampening devices or locking the lid down with a strap.