Storage: 10 Dos and Don’ts For A Calmer, Tidier Home
Get storage wrong and it can add to, rather than solve, your clutter problems. Stay on top of it by giving these rules a whirl
Shoes don’t have to only go on shoe racks. This fabulous bespoke MDF storage wall divides a hallway from a living room, and is used to hold everything from high heels to books and framed photos. Painting shelving a dark, dramatic colour (here Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball) gives it a more elegant effect that’s smarter and less workaday.
Under-bed trolleys and boxes designed for the purpose definitely have their place. But a bed with integrated storage underneath might suit you better, like this stylish wooden example.
Not only do drawers neatly integrated into a bed base mean fewer dust bunnies accumulating, they’re easier to access and look tidier, too. This option works especially well if you’re mainly planning to use it for spare bedding.
Get creative under the bed. Here’s how
Open shelves can look lovely in kitchens and give a feeling of space and added personality, but they aren’t for everyone. If your mismatched china collection is less vintage tearoom dream, more charity shop shocker, then they may not work. And, of course, there’s the matter of dust and general grease and grime generated by cooking that can collect on bottles and jars.
This clever folding door offers the best of both worlds: the stylish wooden shelving looks chic, but the doors hide mess when things get less than tidy and protect from general dirt.
There comes a moment in every household’s storage strategy when one has to confront the truth: however clever and well-designed your storage is, some stuff just ain’t going to fit in. You might hope that smart storage will conceal your hoarding habit, but ultimately you’ll just spill over.
Instead, be realistic from the start: a generously sized storage wall, as seen here, can hopefully help you hold a large chunk of your books and files in one place, reducing the potential for clutter elsewhere.
Don’t want built-in storage? Here are some great freestanding ideas
Part of the art of living more stylishly is getting joy from everyday items. This cute white pegboard is a stylish, flexible way to turn ordinary kitchen utensils into something less dreary. On a practical level, it also means you can access slotted spoons and scrubbing brushes easily, and it will hopefully help you edit out those less-than-lovely old scouring pads and past-it wooden spoons.
It’s all too easy to be taken in by the new season’s pretty patterns and interesting colours. But it’s often easier – and ultimately more stylish – to commit to one simple, neutral style of basket, box or lever arch file. Otherwise your clashing storage ‘solutions’ can actually just end up adding to your clutter problem.
Yes, plain wicker, rattan, clear Perspex or buff cardboard – all great neutral solutions – might seem a tad dull at first. But they help create an ordered, uniform effect, as seen in this simply effective hallway. (The same rule also applies in kitchens: investing in 12 identical glass jars rather than a hotchpotch of mismatched containers may ultimately be a better bet for stashing pasta and rice, depending on your personal style.)
Also, it might be a no-brainer, but before you buy, do check your storage baskets and boxes are actually big and sturdy enough for the things you want to put in them.
Storage should be practical, but it can also be stylish. This fabulous painted vintage metal filing cabinet is a case in point. However, before you invest in freestanding sideboards and cabinets, do think hard about what you’ll actually use them for practically. An empty sideboard equals a lot of space sacrificed for somewhere to just balance vases and lamps.
Yes, every clutter expert and wardrobe mistress on the planet advises it. And for a reason: if your shoe, shirt and dress collection is larger than your closet space, then packaging up summer or winter clothes is really the only solution that makes sense. There’s no point hogging precious shelf space with flimsy vest tops in January, in the same way a drawerful of thick jumpers is redundant in July. Vacuum-packed storage bags banished to the loft or stashed under the bed make brilliant sense.
If you don’t trust our (admittedly unpredictable) weather, then keep a few trans-seasonal pieces back to cover you for those emergencies.
Nothing brings down the look of a bathroom faster than a motley collection of half-used shampoos and moisturisers gathering around the rims of basins and baths. A large bathroom cabinet will conceal all your less-than-lovely cosmetics secrets, meaning you can just leave out a few special potions and lotions, giving the impression of upmarket pampering. Look for height, as with this mirrored model, to maximise your storage space.
You don’t have to be apologetic with your storage, or make it ‘disappear’. If you want to install shelving, being bold and stretching it right across a room may actually work better than dedicating one smaller, but less organised, zone. Really map out the dimensions of the room you’re working with, and consider what it can comfortably accommodate.
In this Scandi-chic study area, wide shallow shelves mirror the wide, shallow desk below, as well as the parallel lines of the horizontal tongue and groove. In a simple, all-white scheme like this, rows of books can add welcome colour and character.
In the past, shallow drawers that sat above cabinets were standard in kitchens. But the modern trend for a stack of deeper drawers can make more sense and offer greater flexibility.
Deep drawers can hide a multitude of sins and provide homes for things that you might once have assumed only belonged in wall cabinets or even fridges – here they’re being used for bottles of wine, water and even spare lemons ready for G&T o’clock. They’re also great for storing big saucepans and casserole dishes. As it’s easy to see the contents, they can also help to keep things organised (minimising your chances of stumbling across that tin of sardines you last saw in 2007). You can buy drawer inserts and dividers for the function that suits you.
When choosing units, try out drawers in showrooms: look for quality, soft-close mechanisms that you find pleasing and easy to use, and that won’t easily slide shut on fingers. And when planning dimensions, really think about what you’ll use each drawer and cupboard for in daily life.
What storage rules do you live by? Share your photos and ideas in the Comments below.