Maximize Small-Space Storage

Use cabinets and shelving in smart ways to create storage in your small spaces.
Maximize Small-Space Storage

Maximize Small-Space Storage

Photography by Maria Alexandra Vettese; Styling by Hilary Horvath

Photography by Maria Alexandra Vettese; Styling by Hilary Horvath

By: Jeannie Matteucci

Compact rooms can feel cluttered and overwhelming without proper organization. Two of the best storage options for small spaces are cabinets and shelving, which provide open and closed storage for all your essentials.

"Open shelves give you easy access to items and I think they work well for a small home office or for decorative items you want to see and enjoy," says professional organizer Janine Sarna-Jones, president of Organize Me Inc. "When used properly, closed cabinets are a way to have less visual noise in a bedroom or living room."

9 Ways to Stretch Your Storage

See All Photos

Grab Wasted Space

Utilize an awkward space under stairs for cabinets, desk space or shelving for storing various home and work essentials. Photo courtesy of California Closets

Look to the Corner

Rail shelves cleverly take advantage of open corner wall space for displaying framed photos and small toys in this young boy's bedroom. Photo courtesy of Room & Board

Photo By: Fuse Box, Capture One PRO

Go Vertical

In a small-sized kitchen, use the space above your cabinets for serving dishes, cookbooks or seasonal items you don't use every day. Photography by Jean Allsopp

Build It In

In this small attic bedroom, drawers were incorporated into an L-shaped window seat to house an assortment of things, including extra linens and wool blankets for the cold winter months.

Raise the Bar

This compact bar unit with open cubbies for wine bottles, a fold-down shelf for preparing drinks, and a drawer and cabinet for closed storage makes small-space entertaining easy. Photo courtesy of Room & Board

Think Creatively

Usually found in a living room or bedroom, leaning bookcase shelves can be a great way to display spices, plants and cooking equipment in a small kitchen. Photo courtesy of Room & Board

Photo By: Room and Board

Take Storage to the Next Level

Look for available wall space in high-traffic areas throughout your house. This staircase features a cubby system built for storing everyday essentials. Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo By: California Closets

Divide Space

In this attic apartment a cubby system with open storage and baskets stores T-shirts and socks, displays memorabilia, and acts as a room divider between the living and sleeping spaces. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Reach Overhead

An open shelf above the sink integrated with closed cabinets adds extra storage in this smaller kitchen. Photo courtesy of KraftMaid

The important thing, says Sarna-Jones, is to consider how your cabinets will be used and what will be stored in them. Whenever possible, go for cabinets with adjustable shelves so you can customize the storage as your needs change. Use plastic bins or drawers to keep small items from being lost or forgotten in the cabinet. Remember out of sight means out of mind. For some people, open storage and shelving may be an easier way to keep track of things.

No matter the cabinet or shelving you choose, designer Matthew Dickamore, vice president of Interior Design for Denton House Design Studio, says make it user friendly. Avoid the mistake of placing too many items on one shelf, have designated areas for specific items and be creative with your storage.

Small Space Design Ideas

See All Videos

"Let your storage be a design element in your space," says Dickamore. "You can find interesting brackets at a flea market to dress up your shelves and the architecture of your kitchen. Stacking a collection of white bowls or plates on a shelf in your kitchen can really look cool. I also love the idea of using decorative items to hold smaller things, like a basket on a shelf in a mudroom for garden tools or a vase that once held flowers to store wooden spoons in the kitchen."

You also want to go vertical in small spaces. Use a tall vanity to increase storage in a small bathroom, or choose a tall dresser over a short one that takes up valuable floor space in a tight bedroom. "I always tell clients vertical lines will make a space feel taller," says Dickamore. "If you can go tall, do it."

Keep Reading

Next Up

Tight On Space, Big On Closet Design

Get ideas for making your closet user-friendly, a key design element in a small space.
More from:

Smart Small Spaces

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.