I remember with some embarrassment how excited I was about our house before we moved in. Walking through the spaces, imagining how spacious most of it seemed. The full bath was admittedly tiny, yet just across the hall was a big linen closet. Many of the spaces seemed full of potential. Using the spaces wasn’t quite as simple. Whether you realize the space limitations before or after you move in, you still want to make the most of what you have available.
When you space is physically small, the first thing to consider is going vertical with your storage options. Although many of our rooms are small, the taller pieces make the most of the available height – from our over 6 foot tall bookshelves to the tall and narrow “lingerie” dressers. In the bathroom, we had a new medicine cabinet and matching cabinet installed over the toilet – creating some good depth and enclosed storage options. Using the vertical space can mean furniture although it can also be simply installing some things onto the wall higher up. Is there room for a stand-alone pantry? Remember if you go vertical, keep in mind how easy or hard it is to access those things on top, and opt to store lesser-used items in the hard to reach places.
When dealing with a physically small space, one of the main tasks is to figure out what is critical to have in the space. What can live elsewhere? In our tiny bathroom, it felt luxurious when we got the cabinet over the toilet installed; we suddenly had this additional storage space. Only the frequently used items live in the bathroom, and the rest are divided between the linen closet and the half-bath upstairs. The bedroom linens don’t live in the linen closet at all – it made more sense to store those upstairs closer to the bedroom in a chest we have. What absolutely needs to be kept in the limited space available to you? Where can you store the back-up items or lesser-used items?
That linen closet I was so excited about is too deep and the fixed shelves too far apart for our ideal use. To deal with this, I started with those items that could be stacked in front of each other – the towels have two stacks, so once we get through the front stack, it’s easy to access the second stack. This is surprisingly not uncommon – I have seen this too frequently, it makes me wonder what people think when designing closets.
There are several options for making the most of closets and pantries – consider a Lazy Susan, maybe even a double tiered one – these can be especially useful in closets or pantries that go around corners, which can be challenging to use effectively. Any tools that are double-tiered can be useful, as long as you don’t need to get behind it for things. Depending on the items and placement, an under-the-shelf basket can help utilize the space well. Often what helps is to put the front items into baskets, bins, or containers of some kind. If you use this, you can pull out the container in one movement and easily get at the things behind them.
I’m a big fan of thinking non-traditionally. Where can you store things that aren’t a “normal” place? I’ve shared before how I purged some shoes to make room for the partial bookshelf in the bottom of my tiny closet – this isn’t where you’d typically think of putting books. I’m currently using part of a bookcase to store office supplies – they are behind closed doors so it’s not obvious and they’re in a different room from the printer and mail supplies. You’ve probably heard or seen people storing various items in their hutch – from photo albums or kids art supplies, not your traditional table linens, china, or silver. We sometimes think of under-the-bed storage as an option – and with the canvas bags this becomes more of an option when your bed isn’t high enough for the traditional bins. You can apply this same idea to under your dressers and other furniture – and keep it relatively hidden.
One of the popular ways to store things is to use the basement or attached garage. I’ve seen people install virtually floor to ceiling shoe racks – using both non-traditional storage options and thinking vertically. The basement and attached garage can also be useful for those back-up items – you move things from there into your home when needed and stock back up to the garage or basement.
There are such a plethora of options for how to make the most of your limited space. Of course, you need to make sure you have exactly what you need and use – there’s frequently an opportunity to purge, even if it’s just a handful of things. We almost have too many options for storing things – it can be tricky just sorting through them. Also, you want to think about how you use things, make things work for you – despite much acclaim for storing cleaning supplies where you use them, this is often problematic when you have limited space. Can you embrace the challenge to make the most of the space you have?
If not, call me! I now offer virtual organizing. 😉