Well-designed storage makes an enormous difference to our homes, so interiors expert Katherine Sorrell takes us through some room-by-room ideas.
Our homes are full of stuff, and each room requires specific solutions. You could do this yourself, plotting on graph paper where doors, windows, radiators and other furnishings will go, making use of ‘dead’ spaces such as under stairs or sloping ceilings, the alcoves either side of a chimney breast or the space below a bay window. Alternatively, interior designers can create an overall ‘look’, but should understand space planning, while architects are suited to more extensive works that involve extensions or alterations, and can help to make the most of your space.
Often the public face of a home, the living room is where you’ll show off treasured possessions whilst concealing less attractive items, so to cope with these twin demands build in storage that includes open shelving and/or display niches as well as cupboards. A central chimney breast with alcoves either side is ideal for shelving above and cupboards below, or run a long, low cupboard along one wall – perhaps incorporating a fireplace or TV in the centre – the top of which can serve as seating or display space. If two rooms have been knocked into one there may be space for shelving or cupboards over the central double doors, or in a small room it may be possible to fit shelving above or around the door or the windows.
Hallway storage is all about organisation – slim line furniture such as console tables or storage benches works well. For a variety of storage types, supplement coat hooks behind the door with shoe racks at the bottom, an umbrella hook, and a shelf at the top. Alternatively, it may be possible to build an under-stair cupboard, kitted out with hooks, shelves and racks.
Custom-made floor and wall cabinets are ideal for storing toiletries and spare towels, keeping surfaces clear, while vanity units with shelves, drawers and cabinets can be built around sanitaryware to cover up pipe work. Alternatively, consider free-standing options such as dressers, cupboards and chests, and wall-mounted pieces like shelves, racks and mirrored cupboards. Pipe runs can be hidden behind false walls of studwork and plasterboard, within which you can punch shallow shelves and cupboards. Do the same when building a shower wall and create niches in which to store shampoos and soaps.
There are four ways to fit out a bedroom: use free-standing pieces that you can take with you when you move (but probably won’t be space efficient); find a carpenter or joiner to make a bespoke room; use a fitted-furniture specialist, whose ranges often feature ingenious storage solutions; or use inexpensive, off-the-shelf elements from DIY shops or storage specialists, and make it up yourself. It’s a question of working out what best suits you, your property and your pocket.
Raised beds with storage underneath are great for storing clothes or toys. Drawers should be easy to open, but with stops that prevent them from sliding right out. Use large boxes, baskets or cupboards for bigger toys, and smaller containers for things like Lego, toy soldiers and paints.