I have been thinking about storage. This may not be the most arresting first line you have ever read, but it follows that if I have been thinking about it then you might have less thinking to do as I will have, hopefully, come up with some ideas that can help.
Storage is, it seems to me, one of the biggest problems in all our houses. There is never enough. This is partly because we expand our possessions to fill the available space and partly because there is a lot of bad storage around.
So, firstly, some thoughts. If you are starting from scratch designing a kitchen or a wardrobe – remember that you, probably, haven’t stopped buying clothes or shoes. That you may well buy (another) juicer, or some more pans and so you need to create storage that allows space for the things you haven’t bought yet. Or, at the very least, take a solemn vow to adhere to the one-in-one-out principle. Which also doesn’t account for the “I saw it, I loved it, I bought it even thought I didn’t strictly need it” scenario which takes a hard, black heart to avoid.
Extra space accounted for, you also need to know that bespoke storage is more efficient than ready made. This is because you can build it to go up to the ceiling, to fit flush into an awkward space – essentially to hold more stuff.
Of course, if you are renting, or not planning to stay for long, then you have to balance the potential inconvenience of less storage against a piece of furniture you can take with you when you go. This is where modular furniture like Tylko (see below) or USM might be best as you can take it with you and then rebuild or add more pieces to it for a new space.
A word here about vintage. We all know it’s more sustainable and, in my opinion, often looks nicer, but there’s a good chance it won’t hold as much as something new. I have bought several vintage wardrobes some of which weren’t deep enough for a modern hanger so had to be filled with shelves, others which I had to add a hanging rail to. They look great but they may cost you more money to adapt to so think about what you will be using it for and if it will be fit for your purpose in your home.
Once that is decided you can start to plan. Once place I have heard very good things of is Tylko. They have just added wardrobes to their range of sideboards, bookcases, tv stands and wall storage. There are lots of to cover the plywood frame and you decided if you want drawers or doors or open spaces.
Ikea now has a build your own wardrobe tool which allows you to play with various combinations of hanging and shelf space, sliding or traditional doors and pull out rails and drawers. You can even add lights – both internal and external to fully customise your storage. If that feels too scary you can pick one of their wardrobes and simply customise it to suit your needs.
Storage beds can also be a good solution although I found when I had one that I simply shoved all the stuff I wasn’t ready to quite dispose of, but never actually used, into it and ignored it for three years. If you are more disciplined than me then it’s a great space to store suitcases and spare bedlinen and towels. The key is actually that it needs to be somewhere you open on a weekly-ish basis so the light gets in and the moths don’t set up residence which can happen in dark, little used spaces.
When it comes to bookshelves think about your books. If you have mainly paperbacks then they can be narrow and don’t need to take up too much room. If you are using open shelves in the kitchen then 25cm is probably enough for a dinner plate – mine are 30 – installed 11 years ago – and they could be narrower without losing any vital storage space.
Once you’ve dealt with the room design, you need to start thinking about how you will organise things inside your cupboards. One thing I have fallen for several times and urge you not to do the same is the “set”. This invariably means you will use two of them, grumpily find something for the third and two of them are probably not right for your needs so it’s a false economy.
Better to buy the number of of boxes/baskets in the size you need and, if possible, choose square or rectangle so you can stack them.
Another trick I once saw on the tv presenter Stacey Solomon’s stories is that she fixes a bit of net curtain wire high up in her cupboards with clips on and then she hangs her packets on them so she can flick through looking for soups or sauces or whatever else she needs. I saw the same trick done with a tension rod where someone had hung their cleaning sprays. All this uses the top part of the cupboard and saves crowding the floor.
This is where Lakeland can be handy as it’s full of staggered shelves that means you can store tins and see the ones at the back – it’s like tiered seating at a gig. Or what about a lazy Susan in the fridge so you can see all those sauces that are mouldering at the back.
Finally, while baskets are pretty you can’t see what’s in them. Clear acrylic (try Muji or Not A Boring Box) isn’t the cheapest but you can see what’s going on or wire baskets can be good for the same reasons.
Storage is a massive issue I could probably write a whole book on it (… I won’t) but here are some initial thoughts for you to ponder and perhaps some places or ideas you didn’t know about.