Downsizing your home is a great way to cut down on heating and cooling costs, effectively lowering your carbon footprint. I’ve discussed the benefits of downsizing on my previous blog entry, More Space Equals More Waste. As easy as it sounds in theory, it really is a lot of work to pare down your belongings and find a way to fit your whole life into a smaller space. Especially if you are thinking about switching to a “tiny house“.
The good news is that most average homes have a massive amount of wasted space. The items you have now could be multiplied by ten and still fit in your home, if your home was set up to utilize its space more efficiently.
A lot of people have a decent sized ottoman in their living room to put their feet on. As comfy as it is, it’s just a big box of wasted space. Any house with stairs might have a closet underneath, but even that still leaves a lot of unused storage space.
Here are some options that can maximize the usable space inside your home:
Exterior walls have insulation inside them to keep your home loosing heat in the winter or getting too hot in the summer, but interior walls don’t usually contain any. This means that most interior walls can be modified to contain built shelves and cabinets that are recessed into the wall. Instead of just having a plain smooth wall, have a place to store books, decorations or pictures. Add a door and you have a small space to tuck away supplies that you don’t want to have to look at all the time. If you have a small house with a converted attic, you can use the extra attic space behind the knee wall to install a whole built-in cabinet.
Like I mentioned before, you probably have an ottoman that is just a big box of wasted space. Why not an ottoman that opens up to provide a cavern of storage space. The same thing can be done with your sofa as well. Obviously having a hide-a-bed sofa is a great space saver to replace a spare bedroom, but if you have a standard sofa, you are still dealing with a large empty box. They make sofas with hinged seats that you can lift up and use the inside as storage. Also there are sofas with drawers in the front to utilize the empty space that way. Bed frames with drawers underneath, Tables that fold onto the wall and coffee tables that transform into dinner tables. Anything can be custom-built if you can’t find it already made.
One common source of forgotten space is behind doors. The inside of the bathroom door is a great place to hang a door storage organizer where you can put extra soap, shampoo, brushes, beauty products and toiletries. The inside of bedroom doors, office doors, even if you have door to your kitchen, you can utilize one of these to add extra space to store all sorts of small items.
Underneath stairs is another widely untapped source of usable storage space. Most houses have a closet door underneath the stairs that usually gets used as a catch-all for forgotten items. If you have one of these closets, you can use anything from a series of plastic bins to a custom designed organization system. You can install drawers in the front of each stair to use as storage, or you can create a drawer system on the side. It all depends on the configuration of your stairs.
Storage In Deck:
If you’re short on space on the inside of your home, consider moving some of your goods outside. A storage shed is a common addition to many people’s homes, but you don’t necessarily need to go that far. You can buy a small storage bin or build one right onto the side of your house. You can make it match your house and add a lock so it stays secure. On top of that, it can be easily designed to stay dry so all those item you rarely use, like holiday decorations and small gardening supplies, will be out of your precious indoor space. Hanging items like bicycles, fishing or hunting gear in the framing under your deck is an efficient way to keep items up and out-of-the-way. You can also build a smugglers hatch into your deck to store small items as well.
The last place that is commonly forgotten about is overhead space. Garages and utility rooms can have bins that hang from above. Kitchens can have hangers for cooking tools to hang above your head. A stainless steel rack that you hang your pots and pans from will free up more cupboard space for other items. A hanging storage organizer works great in the laundry room to keep miscellaneous items out of the way. Building overhead racks for storage in basements and garages can create a lot of extra storage and keep stored items off the floor which could cause moisture issues.
What brilliant idea do you use to create extra storage in a smaller home? Leave your suggestions in the comments!