One of the reasons that I strive to live in a minimalist manner is because I know that the more stuff I own, the more energy it takes away from my goals to live simply. Life is hard enough without the financial, emotional and physical commitment to inanimate objects and so I find it very freeing to not have that extra weight on my shoulders. Despite simplifying, there are still basic essentials that need to be stored and when you live in a small space, it takes some savvy trickery to utilize every inch in an efficient manner.
You may have seen or read about the “tiny house” movement, people who have chosen to shed a majority of their personal belongings to live in very, very small apartments, cabins, refurbished buses, houses and micro-dwellings of ingenious origins that are typically under 500 square feet. It might be a challenge but if you think about it, it was only 3 ½ million years ago that we lived in caves. Ok, our lifestyles have changed but the point is that we can truly exist with less than we think we can in much smaller spaces. Identifying the nooks and crannies is a great place to start, here are more tips:
• Look for unused upward space. Think of it this way, typical laundry baskets that are low to the ground take up more floor space than a tall round or square hamper. Tall bookshelves may suit your space more so than short, wide shelves even if you have to use a step stool to reach the top shelf.
• Check out the back of doors for the possibility to hang an over the door rack with hooks for coats, towels, pajamas etc. Over the door shoe racks or shelves can be used for a lot more than shoes such as toys, cleaning supplies, dry goods or basic tools and home improvement supplies.
• Under beds is usually a good place to store shoes, out of season bed linens or clothes, board games and puzzles or large art projects. I prefer people to use super large plastic bags like Ziplock, Space bags or shoe storage bags instead of a hard plastic container that is awkward in size and unwieldy.
• There is more thought going into ottomans, benches, built in cupboards, under the stair cupboards, platform beds, and even coffee tables. Builders, architects and contractors are looking at blueprints harder to see if there is an opportunity to sneak in a drawer, an extra few shelves or a little cupboard. Remember all those wall safes hidden behind pictures in tv movies? That’s the theory behind some of the new medicine cabinets that look like a flat mirror but open up to reveal plenty of shelving, albeit it narrow. Watch out for quality with ottomans, trunks or benches that are supposed to support the weight of an adult even though they are mostly hollow.
• I love the new trend in hanging mirror cupboards that may be swallow but open up to reveal lots of hooks for hanging jewelry. I’ve seen some cork boards that are covered in a pretty fabric and just use clear push pins for hanging necklaces and bracelets, inexpensive and utilizing upward wall space.
• Decorative boxes, pretty bins with lids so they stack, old suitcases, or graduating trunks can hold keepsakes or photos that rarely need to be accessed but would look lovely on the top of a secretary, armoire, on bookshelves or just stacked neatly under a table.
Finding sources of hidden storage can sometimes be easier to find for people other than the homeowner who can look at things from a different point of view. I’ve often heard homeowners say “I never thought of it that way!” or “wow, look at all we fit in here because we’re storing things differently!” Wherever you’ve discovered a little extra space, remember not to overstuff it, always leave a little wiggle room. If you enjoy visual inspiration online, check out hidden storage ideas on Pinterest, there are lots of posts showing unique ways to keep your stuff!