Small Home Storage Tips, Tricks, and Ideas
Two years ago I wrote a post in panic after buying our 880sqft home, when I realized there was minimal storage, especially when compared to our previous larger home. We got rid of a lot of our possessions but even the practical everyday items were difficult to fit into such a small space. We had to get creative on how we stored and organized our home.
Here are all our small home doings for creatively maximizing the limited space.
Without a doubt the kitchen is the heart of our home. If I could instantly change one thing about our home, I would have a bigger kitchen. But we don’t. So here’s how I’m making the most of it:
Counter space is precious…
1. Swap your counter top coffee maker for a french press that can be stored in a cabinet when not in use.
2. Ditch the microwave and use the oven, or a toaster oven can be half the size of a microwave. More on this in my other post: Three Major Appliances You Don’t Actually Need.
3. Ditch the dishwasher and have less plates too. Ever had the thought cross your mind that you needed to buy more plates and cups so that you had ones to use while the rest were in the dishwasher? We went the opposite route and have fewer plates and no dishwasher. Washing by hand isn’t as bad as you think, especially when you only have the number of dishes that you actually NEED. We have just 8 of everything (and we buy durable Fiesta dinnerware), except silverware I keep about 12 of everything. Has it ever been an issue? Nope, never. In a small house we’re not hosting huge holiday gatherings to need the extra numbers anyway. Another tip for making no dishwasher easy: Have durable, reusable, personal waterbottles for each family member. We love Klean Kanteen and got our kids their own smaller bottles, so they keep tabs on where it is and they can fill it themselves. Easy, independent, AND less dishes to do? Yes please!
4. Stacked fruit storage– saving that precious counter space!
5. Use a drying mat instead of a drying rack for easy storage when not in use. A lot of times the mat was just a place to set wet dishes while washing, and then I would hand dry, or leave out overnight to dry and put away first thing in the morning. We have two that we alternate between, like this one on Amazon.
6. Store appliances under the counter (in this picture we used a wire shoe rack to make a shelf). Keeps them off the counter when not in use! It might be cluttered under the counter, but it’s not cluttered where everyone can see!
7. Make the most of deep cabinet space by installing pull out shelves and pull out trash can/recycle bin combo in cabinets. We got ours from Home Depot or Lowes but you can also find them on Amazon (see pictures below). For the pull out shelves we cut a 1/4″ board to fit on the bottom so nothing slipped through the metal bars.
8. Hanging baskets inside cabinet doors to hold towels or boxes like sandwich bags and cling wrap. **Some cabinet doors aren’t the right material or construction to support these/allow for the door to close. I had to try and return a couple before I found the one in the picture that worked. I think I got it from Home depot or Lowes but they’re also on Amazon.
9. Add wire shelves to cabinets to maximize storage space of dishes and dry goods. I found these at TJ Maxx or Marshalls but here it also is on Amazon.
10. Stackable dishes AND cups. In the above picture notice that all the plates and bowls neatly stack together. Consider also choosing cups that stack together to save space. We started with simple Klean Kanteen stainless steel cups, but I also fell in love with Green Steal (pictured below) for the kids. Super cute and no fear of breaking!
11. Put your food on display Open spaces above cabinets can work great for storage and naturally draw the eye upwards, making your room feel taller. I saved large glass jars and half gallon mason jars and filled them with bulk pantry staples like grains and beans. One is even filled with metal cookie cutters. Other items displayed for us are the cookie jar and drink pitcher when they’re not in use, and even our bulk purchased honey.
12. Make your own custom storage shelves. We added two floor to ceiling canning shelves in the hallway to the laundry room. Yes they made the space narrower but it’s a low trafficked area and can be blocked from view with a curtain. See our full post on how these were built: DIY Shelves For Mason Jars (Canning).
13. Light it up. Add under cabinet lights to brighten counter areas making them feel more open. We got the ones pictured below from Amazon and they were super easy to install and made a big difference.
14. Pick a table with expanding leaves. This way we can keep it small, but expand when needed for company or projects. We chose a simple one from IKEA.
1. Swap the TV for a projector. Get a nice enough projector and this idea can really work and will probably give you a much bigger screen than your previous TV. I LOVE it because it means I can store the “TV” when not in use. With kids this means out of sight, WAY less in mind so the nagging for watching shows dramatically reduces and the play increases! Ceiling mounts are also an option if you want something more permanent. We purchased this one. It has an HDMI for plugging in a Firestick, Roku, or even a laptop, so we didn’t need a DVD player.
2. Make your couch double as storage. In my opinion, couches are poorly designed…all that unused empty space underneath that just collects dust, cat toys, and the unmatching sock. So we built our couch to be one of the largest storage areas in our house. Not only is the space under the cushions all storage, but we built the arm rest and entire back of the couch to be storage as well. Someday I’ll get around to a post of how we built it (though we never fully completed it). For now though, here’s a few images!
1. Custom built bunk beds. We used shorter and narrower mattresses than a standard twin (IKEA has a range of sizes at affordable prices). We built the bunk from floor to ceiling, planning ahead for toy storage underneath. We added built in book shelves and made them with enough height clearance to be able to sit up comfortably in them, doubling as reading nooks. Kids picked out their own paint colors and curtain fabrics for personal touches and privacy from siblings. Future additions entail reading lamps and mini fans.
2. DIY kids hanging wardrobes. No closet space and no rooms for bulky dressers? We built simple open ‘wardrobes’ for our kids that have cubbies for folded clothes, bar for hanging dresses and coats, and a shelf for shoes. See the complete post on how we built them HERE.
3. Custom bed frames. We maximized storage in our bedroom by building our own bedframe. This meant no boxspring required AND we built it taller than standard to store totes, water/foodbricks, and five-gallon buckets underneath (we buy a lot in bulk read more about that on my post HERE).
4. Custom clothing storage in mini ‘walk-in’ closet. There was no way we were going to fit all our clothes and shoes in the master bedroom closet as is, so we built our own storage shelves, cubbies, and hanging rods to fit the space. We used inexpensive 1/2″ plywood and a nail gun. It isn’t super pretty, but it is functional and we managed to fit both his and hers wardrobes inside the space.
*Will add picture soon!
5. Re-shelve kids toy closet. First we picked out the size totes we needed for organizing and storing all their toy sets. Then we built shelves, with spacing determined by the tote heights and whether single or double stacked. This was a huge space saver for the kids and really helped to reduce toy mess by keeping everything organized in labeled totes.
1. Put a shelf above bathroom door for storing towels. We used scrap wood for this with the intention of re-doing it later to make it look nicer (surprise, 3 kids, we never got around to doing that, haha).
2. DIY pallet toilet paper holder. Stores extra rolls in plain sight. Used recycled pallet board.
3. Vanity storage. I used the the same wire racks shown above in the kitchen cabinets, for creating “shelves” and storing more in the cabinets under the bathroom sinks.
4. Recessed medicine cabinets. Replace flat bathroom mirrors with recessed medicine cabinets for more storage.
5. Consider smaller sink sizes. Ikea has a great selection of narrow sinks, ideal for small spaces. While we haven’t gotten to this, I have plans to swap our sink out for a narrow rectangular one that would free up more space. Of course that would mean I would lose cabinet space, but the trade off seems worth it to me as the bathrooms are quite cramped.
Other Places and Spaces:
1. Hang up your shoes: Having no mudroom and no closet, we keep a few pegs by the main door for hats, seasonal coats AND shoes. Keeps things neat and flush with the wall. Future goal is to make this a little nicer looking with routered edges and wood stain, plus an extra one for the kids. But you get the idea.
2. Ditch the dryer. Dryers are really not necessary, and the more you think about it, the more silly they seem. Read more about my thoughts on this in my post: Three Major Appliances You Don’t Actually Need. We replaced the dryer with a similar sized chest freezer so that we could maximize buying in bulk and preserving food in season from local farms.
3. Front-loading washer. We purposefully bought a front loading washer so that we didn’t have to leave space above the unit for lifting the lid. We cut a 1″ thick piece of plywood to lay on top of washer, giving us a nice flat space for storing laundry items that didn’t shake everything off during the spin cycle.
4. Under shelf hanging baskets for potatoes and onions. We have one of those white wire storage shelves along the walls of the utility/laundry room. I hung several wire baskets from the shelf for holding pantry items like potatoes and onions. Pardon the horrible picture of bagged potatoes, but you get the idea! (and yes, it is partially bungie-corded in place, haha)
5. Additional closet re-shelving. In the third “spare” bedroom closet we added custom shelves for a printer and craft supplies with space underneath to roll in a file cabinet. Things that would of normally taken of floor space and been an eyesore, could now be stored out of sight.
Do you have any additional storage tips and tricks that you do? Let’s here them! Comment below!
Hi there! I’m Kaley, prevailing parent and wife, but also just me; stubborn lover of DIY everything, outdoors, and chocolate. Read more about myself and my family under the “Parenting” > “About My Family” tabs.