Storage solutions for a small house

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How do I create storage space in my kitchen? I don't have a pantry, just a few cupboards where I store plates, pots, and pans. Another cupboard stores spices, sugar, etc.

Then in the bedrooms, the wardrobes are lined against a wall and open into three small compartments. The first one is a narrow space where you can hang clothes. The second and third ones are divided into three deep shelves each. Please help!
Catherine

Under-Bed Storage

Add small castors or wheels to an old drawer. It will slide easily under the bed for additional storage. A set of small castors runs about $2.50 at hardware or discount stores. This is great for children's rooms and seasonal storage.
Shaunna

Key to Small House Storage is Organization

If you have a basement, you can set up a couple storage shelves as an "overflow pantry." If not, utilize the space you have first by cleaning out your cupboards. Take a serious look at the items you use every day and keep those handy. Pack up serving plates, silver, china, and things only used for special occasions. These fit nicely under beds and are handy when you need them. Also take a serious look at the cooking "gadgets" you own. If you don't use it, get rid of it! You'd be amazed at how much more space you'll have after re-organizing.
Dawn

From Coat Closet to Pantry

When I moved to my condo, the small kitchen barely accommodated my dishes and cooking supplies, let alone food supplies. Catherine does not say whether she has a coat closet, but if she does, she can do what I did. I had one next to the kitchen. I measured carefully and went to the local lumber yard with my measurements. They cut shelving to measure, along with one by twos. I removed the clothes bar, attached the one by twos to the wall, being careful to use studs for strength and my level and tape measure to be sure the shelves were level. (If you don't have a level, a small glass of water might do.) Then I painted the one by twos and my shelves. When they were dry, I set the shelves on the one by twos. And I had a pantry! If the next owner wants a coat closet instead, they can remove the shelves and put back in the clothes bar.
Barbara in Wallingford, CT

Creating Storage Space Throughout Your Home

We live in a small bungalow and have increased our storage space with the following ideas and tools:

Kitchen

  • We purchased a wooden kitchen cart with two doors to keep in my mudroom that is adjacent to the kitchen. It added two shelves, a drawer and additional counter space. You can purchase this at a very reasonable price at a Big Lots store. Mine was less than a third of the price other stores were asking!

  • We purchased under-shelf platter and tray holders for additional space inside my cabinets.

  • We purchased a magnetic knife holder to hang on the wall under my cupboards. It freed up a lot of space by eliminating the need for a knife block on the counter or the use of a drawer to store knives.

  • We reclaimed a dark, rarely used corner cupboard by installing an adhesive LED light inside. Once we could see in there, we found that we made better use of the space for baking sheets, muffin pans and cutting boards.

  • We greatly reduced the number of different cleaning supplies that we use to free up space underneath our kitchen sink. Most cleaning tasks can be accomplished with ammonia, white vinegar, and bleach. Never mix ammonia and bleach!

  • We use a roll out kitchen trash container in the cupboard under our kitchen sink to free up valuable floor space in our small kitchen.

Bedroom

  • We purchased ultra-slim flocked hangers, which doubled the space in all of our very small closets!

  • We use bed risers to increase under-bed storage space for seasonal and less frequently-used items.

Bathroom

  • We recycled the wooden baskets that clementines are sold in to organize and store personal items (makeup, razors, tweezers, brushes, etc.) in the cupboard under our small sink.

  • We installed a hook on the back of the bathroom door to hang our blow dryer so that it doesn't take up valuable space in the linen closet.

  • We installed a double towel bar in the bathroom, which holds two bath size towels in just a little more space than a single towel bar.

Entire House

  • We use 20% of our items 80% of the time, and the same goes for our clothing. So why do we keep that other 80% around? We use the FlyLady's system to de-clutter our home of items and clothing that we no longer use, which frees up plenty of space for the items and clothing that we do use! Her plan also makes keeping up with housework chores much quicker and simpler! Check out her free website for yourself at http://flylady.net/pages/FLYingLessons.asp.

Christine in Endicott, NY

Hang Your Pots and Pans

You could definitely benefit from a pot/pan rack that hangs from the ceiling if you have space for this. It is a huge space saver for your items (usually large items) that would otherwise be put in your kitchen cabinets.

Also, try wire racks that attach to the inside of cabinet doors. They make them in all different sizes and will hold a variety of things. Some hold pot/pan covers, some are small enough to hold spices, etc. In my situation, we are lucky enough to have a pantry, but it's not huge. To stretch our space, we attached two of these large racks to the inside of my pantry door and it holds a ton of items. It's also wonderful because all the items are visible and easily accessible.
Abigail

Double or Triple Your Existing Space

The best way to double (or triple) your kitchen storage space is to use the "dead space" that's already there. In the kitchen, I've added cup hooks to the undersides of the cabinets and those handy, expandable shelves to give myself two surfaces instead of one. All of my dish and pantry storage is double-decker. Another kitchen space saver is to buy drinking glasses that stack; IKEA sells them very inexpensively! Drawer dividers organize utensils most efficiently. If you have a broom closet somewhere (even if it isn't in the kitchen), consider adding shelves to it to make pantry storage. I keep overflow canned goods and staples in a plastic bin in my basement.

A similar concept works in the bedroom closet. Double shelf space with expandable shelves. If your shelves are very deep, look into installing sliding drawers that you can pull out to gain access to the stuff way in back. If folded clothes storage is more important to you than hanging storage, buy the fabric "shelves" available almost anywhere. They work great for sweaters and other things that take up a lot of room. Shoes can be stored on one of those hanging racks available for the back of the bedroom door. Alternately, shoes (or even off-season clothing) might fit in a chest at the foot of the bed. Under-bed storage is also ideal for those purposes. Removing non-seasonal clothes to a basement or storage locker can instantly give you 50% more space!
Glenda

Hidden Treasure Storage

One of the best tips I've ever heard about clearing out closet/storage space was to place any extra linens between the mattress and box spring of the bed. I now do this for all the linens and it has cleared two shelves in one closet!
R

Get Most Storage Out of Your Square Footage

Until recently, we lived in a mobile home and storage space was at a premium. This is what I did to get the most storage out of my square footage:

  1. I placed a large decorative basket on top of my fridge. In this, I stored bulky, but light items like paper towels and cereal. This cleared up my cabinets. You can also do this in the bedroom on top of the wardrobes.

  2. Place all surplus canned goods in another room. I can quite a bit and so I had to store large amounts of food. I used shallow boxes to organize my canned goods under each bed in the house (one flat for apple butter, another for green beans, etc.) You can also store seldom used objects under your couch! I kept my good silver stored in its box under the couch. I also have an old-fashioned milk can filled with plastic bags. Nobody knows that it's storage; they think it's decoration. If it's empty, fill it, and if it has a skirt, hide stuff under it.

  3. With canisters, use the space on top of counters and above cabinets to store everything from noodles to sandwich bags. The canisters are easily reached and decorative too. The counter is for everyday items, but above the cabinets, I store items that are used only occasionally. I use old crocks. If you cover the items with plastic wrap, they won't get dusty up there.

  4. I believe that if you can't find it, then it's not worth having. You can use boxes to subdivide larger spaces into smaller ones. I have a large box that all of my plastic lids sit up on end in. It's much easier to flip through a small box than to dig through a large drawer to find the piece you need. My spices are the same way. The tops are labeled so I can find things at a glance. Also, hang up anything you can. I store extra gift bags by folding them flat and putting them in the biggest bag. That big bag gets looped over a hanger and stored in the closet.

Because I store things in unconventional places, I keep a list of what is stored where taped up on the inside of my kitchen cabinet. This eliminates searching and makes life easier. I hope these tips help. Small spaces are a challenge, but it can be done!
LK

Economical Storage Solutions

There are a lot of options for adding storage space. And most are fairly economical. (It's not in my nature to suggest anything that would cost a lot to implement.)

Under the bed may seem like a strange place to put food, but without cupboard space, it's certainly doable. Acquire a few plastic "under the bed" storage boxes. They are about 6-8" deep and can really hold quite a lot of food. They come with lids, which will help keep the dust bunnies out. If you have carpets, just get the plain ones. If you have hardwood floors, you may want to get the ones with wheels so they slide out easier (or you could just put little felt tabs on the bottoms and they'll slide pretty well).

Make a fake table. Purchase a plastic garbage can (30-35 gallon size), a round particle board table top (this would be great to find at a garage sale or thrift store), and an "accent table" table cloth. Find another use for the lid that comes with the can (bird bath?) and top the trash can with the table top and the table cloth. Voila! Several cubic feet of storage space that looks pretty.

Buy or make an ottoman with storage space. They are really not much more than an upholstered box with wheels.

Purchase inexpensive utility cupboards. If you have room, these can provide a lot of much-needed storage space. Look for sales or find one at a garage sale.

If you own your own home, another option would be to build shallow shelving between the wall studs. I've seen this done with doors and without. I've also seen shallow shelving built as a unit and hung on the wall of a kitchen, a very inexpensive option that held dozens of cans and boxes. My friend thought it was ugly, so she hung a little curtain over the shelf to hide the food.
Valerie

Take the Next Step

  • More great great ideas for simple living in Dollar Stretcher Tips enewsletter. A twice weekly look at how to live better for less!

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