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Inside Places

Itty Bitty Spaces, Part Three


Three weeks ago, “A Faithful Reader” asked about ways to store possessions out of sight in small living spaces. I broke up my response into three columns: “Under Places,” “Over Places” – and now, for the final installment of this three-part series, I will present ways to acquire more living space by putting things “Inside Places.”

Sometimes it just takes getting uber-creative. What follows are my Top 7 Inside Places:

Juli Shulem

Stairs:We all know something about utilizing the space under a stairway, a large area perfect for storage of luggage, bedding, and other bulky, rarely-used items. But it is the perfect hiding spot for so many things! Do containerize smaller items, and consider putting shelves with doors there, too.

Click to enlarge photo

A less-thought-of storage idea with regard to stairs is …stair drawers! A flight of stairs is potentially a tremendous set of drawers! You can have them built in and keep items from nearby rooms in them, for easy retrieval. “Where’s the tablecloth?” “Oh, it’s in the third stair.” After the funny looks are over, you will surely get more than a few impressed looks. Imagine having half a stairwell filled with spare drawers! I think this should be a standard building protocol.

Walls: You can also build right into walls, between the support studs. I had the drywall cut out of the space in my bathroom wall and installed a medicine cabinet. Medicine cabinets are shallow enough to fill the space very well. This works best inside walls, where there typically are not insulation issues.

Furniture: There are often spaces inside of furniture that you you may already own, or that you can acquire, that fulfills two purposes. Ottomans, for example, can be handy storage units. They not only provide a surface for books, remotes, or your feet, but they can store spare blankets, DVDs, electronics and other items used in that particular room.

Beds can offer additional storage also. There are bed frames with drawers built in below where you can place pajamas, spare linens, or even bedtime reading material. Additionally, some headboards have built-in storage space behind hinged fronts, offering a safe, out-of-the way place for keepsakes and other items that are not so much needed as wanted.

If you are looking for a new side table or hall table, aim for something with drawers in it. Solutions.com offers such tables, and they are quite effective.

Trunks and Baskets: Sometimes, a piece of furniture or a storage piece designed for the express purpose of holding stuff is exactly what you need. A trunk placed in a sitting room, bedroom, or den can offer loads of storage while adding creative flair to your place. The same applies to a series of lidded baskets that can be filled with items and nicely disguised as objets d’art. In general it’s best not to pile other things on top, as lifting the lids generally takes a bit of effort as it is. However, I have seen a large, sturdy box-basket on it’s side providing a make-shift cupboard as well as a nifty night table!

Oven: If you have two ovens, or even one that goes relatively unused, you can store large pots and pans inside of it. Don’t go all Sex in the City and store clothing in there, but non-flammable kitchenware is logical and works!

Nest & Tidy: Often the simplest solution is the best. Look for ways that smaller things can fit inside larger things: nesting. Bowls, boxes, and plastic food storage containers can all fit within one another. Refolding, relocating, and refitting how items are put away in a cupboard or drawer can give you 20-30% more space without removing anything. Open a drawer or door and ask yourself “Can this stuff be put away more neatly?” and go about taking care of it right away.

If you missed the previous two articles about hidden storage space, find “Over Places,” and “Under Places” in the archives. Watch next week for what to do to get organized upon returning from a trip.

Ask a question for the column and I will address it at the appropriate time. Email questions to Coach Juli at jshulem@gmail.com, with “question for column” in the subject line, and they will be answered right here.

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