I’ve been binge watching “Tiny House Nation” recently and have become obsessed with how they maximize space. Even living in a 1200-square-foot home, I still want to implement some of their ideas. Why not make your big home feel even bigger? Great storage solutions also allow you to make your space look as beautiful as possible, too. I think that when we have a lot of space, we can get in the habit of thinking, “I can be lax with the way I store things—I’ve got lots of room.” Suddenly, your home looks more like a warehouse than a thoughtfully decorated home. Just because you can put things all over the place, doesn’t mean that you should. Or, perhaps you have a minimalist partner, and if you don’t find a way to store things well, he’ll go nuts.
Making good use of the space and finding smart ways to store things can also mean that you don’t have to give away beloved belongings. While I don’t want to encourage any hoarding tendencies, I know that, when space is tight, sometimes people can be forced to give away things they actually still love and use, just because they don’t have the space to store them. But that simply doesn’t have to be the case if you know certain tricks to maximizing storage space.
Tiny homeowners have to be good at using every single inch of storage space. Necessity is the mother of invention, so those living in those teeny, tiny spaces come up with some pretty incredible ways to pack things away, without feeling like they’re living amongst clutter. While some of their tricks can require some power tools and perhaps a professional, it could be worth it if it means giving your home a sleek appearance and storing things in a way that feels functional and efficient. Some tricks are actually quite simple, and don’t require much effort. Here are tiny house storage tricks you can use in any home.
Put storage in stairs
What are you doing with the space beneath your stairs? Probably nothing. There is a lot of wasted storage space under there. If your staircase is by your front door and you like to have a shoeless home, this could be a good place to store your shoes. But you can also put the many things you need, right before heading out the door, there, like sunscreen or dog leashes.
All seating should be storage
If you’re furnishing your home from scratch, consider making all seating storage. Buy benches with storage beneath them. Buy couches with storage built-in. Or, if you get a slim couch that sits on legs and has space beneath it, you can put baskets under it for added storage.
Use murphy beds for guests
If you have a second bedroom that you don’t necessarily need to be a bedroom all of the time—maybe you’ll mostly use it as a home office—then don’t put a big, permanent bed in there. Use a murphy bed, instead. You can even get one that has a fold-up desk attached to the outside. When the bed is up, fold the desk down. When you need to bring the bed down, fold up the desk.
Add shelves, inside of shelves
You may have some very tall cabinets, and are just using the “floor space” of those, but there are several inches—if not feet—of open air above them. Add shelving within these, so that you can add multiples levels of items, without piling items on top of each other.
Use baskets to make drawers
If you have a lot of open shelving—like cubbies or simply spaces beneath benches, TV stands, or desk wings—add baskets. You don’t want everything you store entirely exposed, so putting things in baskets, within open storage, can make your space look tidier.
Use the bottom of shelves
If you have floating shelves, remember that you don’t just have to use the tops of these surfaces. You can attach hooks to the bottoms of these for hanging items. In some tiny houses, residents turn these into floating spice racks, nailing the caps of mason jars to the bottom of a shelf so they can simply screw the jars—full of spices—to the underside.
Add over-door storage
You’ll want to do this inside of rooms, so hallways and exteriors don’t look cluttered, but over-door hooks and other storage items can be very useful. The inside of your door is just wasted space that nobody really looks at. So put some hanging hooks over your closet door, and hang scarves, hats, or purses there.
Invest in drop-leaf tables
Remember that there is a lot of versatile furniture that can be folded down to half or one quarter of its size. Find a good drop-leaf table. You can fully extend it when you have plenty of guests, drop down one side when you don’t need much room, or drop down both sides when it’s just you and your partner dining.
Use stools and benches
When it comes to chairs, consider using more stools and benches rather than full-backed chairs with arms. You may want one good, comfortable chair that has a high back and arms for, say, your desk area. But for bar stools and dining area seats, consider using one long bench on one side of your dining room table. This tucks fully away beneath the table when you don’t need it.
Put your toilet in a bench
If you have a small bathroom, consider that empty space on either side of the toilet. It’s not doing much. You can build a board around that that can serve as a shelf for things like candles, toilet paper, and a potted plant. You can even add shelves beneath it to keep toilet bowl cleaners and similar items.
Ladders plus high shelving
In a tiny house, you can’t have tons of shelves jutting out from the walls at eye level. Every inch of space counts. So, what tiny house owners do is put shelving very high, and just have a ladder, so they can keep the lower parts of walls clear, and just climb up to get their stuff off the high shelves.
Make most walls a cabinet
If your home is low on storage, it may be worth it to hire a carpenter to turn some of your big, empty walls into storage. If you have a lot of hollow walls, those could easily become cabinets. Don’t just cover all walls with artwork. A one-time construction project could quadruple your storage space.
Use hanging storage in the kitchen
Add hanging grids from which you can attach little hooks, and store tons of pots and pans—so long as they have hanging loops. Add a bar under your oven hood. Hang spatulas and dish towels there.
Put your desk over your bed
If you don’t have two bedrooms but want a home office, consider a dorm-style desk/bed combination. You can have a one-level bunk bed, with a queen or full-size bed on the top, and put your desk beneath that. If your home has tall ceilings, then all of that space up there is underutilized.
Buy foldable items
Those who live in tiny houses don’t have the luxury of buying full-size items, so they discover the wonderful world of foldable and miniature items. There are foldable brooms. Foldable mops. Miniature toilet plungers. Ask yourself if you need the largest version of every cleaning item.