10 sneaky spaces for extra storage

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | November 15, 2016

home organization

You've read every home organization book on the market. You've thrown out and given away most of what you don't want or need. So why are you still tripping over stuff? You lack storage solutions.

Running out of room to put things is more common than you'd think. You could look for a bigger home, but first consider a less radical approach. You may simply be out of ideas, not places, to stash what you need where you need it most often.

Untapped storage solutions exist in most homes. Great places to put things can be hiding high, low and everywhere in-between the roof and the foundation.

Find additional storage space above, below and beyond

Aside from the obvious areas to store large boxes in attics, basements and garages, many of these alternative storage solutions can be bought ready-made at discount stores, repurposed from flea market finds or created from inexpensive building supplies. Some require relatively minor renovations and make fun weekend projects for DIYers.

  1. Garage ceiling. Get your excess belongings off the floor and up in the air. You can build a loft or buy ready-made ceiling storage for the garage.
  2. Above doors. If space is tight, sturdy shelving above and around door frames could be your answer. What you store there may depend on where the door is -- front foyer, mudroom, bedroom, porch -- so make sure your shelves are sturdy enough for the task. Extra towels stacked or rolled on a shelf over the bathroom door weigh a lot less than books.
  3. On top of wall cabinets. If your kitchen cabinets don't go all the way to the ceiling or bulkhead, a row of pretty baskets can hide items you don't use all that often but don't want to hunt for when company comes for dinner.
  4. On doors. Need a place for hanging dish towels so they don't fall on the floor when you open the oven? How about for the bath towel hanging on the shower curtain rod that gets wet while you shower? You can find over-the-door hooks, towel bars, spice racks and baskets that slip over the top of cabinet doors, closet doors and bathroom doors. Cabinet door spice racks also make nifty bathroom catch-alls for cosmetics and other tiny items like dental floss, eye drops -- whatever you use daily that takes up valuable medicine cabinet or countertop real estate and tends to get lost easily. Holsters for hairdryers and other styling tools can be built into the inside of vanity cabinet doors.
  5. Between wall studs. If you have an empty stretch of wall that spans two or more studs, you have potential shelf space. You could go for the obvious solution -- some floating shelves or baskets are easy enough to buy and install on the wall. You can also create recessed shelving that doesn't protrude into the room's space by cutting out a section of drywall. Avoid areas with plumbing, or electrical wiring (typically near outlets). Build and finish a plywood box to fit the space and hold the shelves. You can leave the shelving open, or mount a hinged door, mirror or framed picture over it.
  6. In tight spaces. Even if you have only a few inches between the fridge and the cabinets, you may be able to install a narrow pull out pantry or broom closet that you can roll in and out. Finish the front in a paint color, stain or veneer and hardware to match the rest of your cabinets.
  7. Kids' rooms. Spice racks mounted inside closet doors make ideal picture-book shelves where you can display the covers facing out for the little ones to identify their favorites easily. Avoid mounting them to furniture that can tip over if a child tries to climb up the racks. Double hang closet rods that hook over the stationary rods not only add storage but make it easy for children to reach and dress themselves -- plus learn to put away their own clothes. A sturdy wall hook for each child, either in their rooms or in the mudroom, can keep backpacks from adding to a mess underfoot. Buy or make a fabric or mesh hammock for a corner of the room to corral stuffed animals.
  8. Under the stairs. Staircases hide many cubic feet of space that can be used in a variety of ways including pull out storage, extra closet space, cabinets, shoe racks, pantries, wine coolers and bookcases. If you are fortunate to have stairs in your house, do not let this potential storage space go to waste.
  9. Under the cabinets. What's under your kitchen cabinets behind the kick plates? Usually, nothing. Adding drawer storage there makes room for everything from baking pans and cutting boards to pet feeding stations.
  10. Under the floor. Small houses often make use of the space under the subfloor for compartments to house sporting equipment and clothes. You may not want to cut up your hardwood living room floor, but the floor inside a small closet is fair game to create this type of hidden storage.

Your house has more available space than you might ever have imagined. Unless you're going minimalist, why not use it to its full capacity?

About the Author

Iris Price is a single Baby Boomer whose antidote to a lack of retirement funds was to launch a long-delayed career as a writer. While others her age concoct bucket lists and travel the world, she bought a new-construction home and obsessively creates lists of must-have home improvements and personal realization goals. She specializes in writing about home services and self-motivation.