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Easy stockpile-storage solutions

By on April 1, 2010

lazy susan

photo by Rubbermaid Products

Storage space can be a problem. Maybe you’d like to stock up on nonperishable products when they’re on sale, but you’re limited on space. Be creative and find the hidden storage areas in your home. You don’t have to resort to using a trash barrel with a plywood top covered with a tablecloth. If you’ve got storage solutions, share them with me.
Here are a few ideas.

BEHIND FURNITURE: If your desk is against a wall or your dresser, china cabinet or armoire is in a corner, you have space where you can store goods. One reader, Caitlin from California, shares: “I live in a small apartment. My couch is set up where each end is at a different wall, with a big space in the back where the two walls meet at the corner of the room. I have about 15 boxes of cereal, 6 gallons of water, juice and soda with room to spare. I figure no one is going to be looking behind my couch, and I finally have space on my kitchen counters freed up.” At my house, we have a dry bar that isn’t used. It has built-in shelves, and I stack plastic totes behind it. You can find some extra space behind books on a shelf, too. Simply pull the books closer to the edge of the shelf.

CABINETS: Make the best use of the space you have. Invest in pull-out or over-the-door wire organizers. Many supplies can be placed in under-shelf baskets or caddies, on stepped shelving or in racks for canned goods. Or you can make your own organizers. Try baskets, or reuse baby-wipe containers to hold packets or a shoe box to organize spices. Another reader, Anne from Pennsylvania, adds: “If you have wall space, you have shelf space. Maybe you won’t store stuff on shelves, but you could put certain things (like items in the kitchen) on shelves to make room in concealed areas for storage.”

HANGING: There are organizers that can be suspended from the ceiling. A three-tier hanging chrome kitchen basket can give you added counter space. Or try a round, tiered mesh hanging organizer in a bedroom or laundry room.

CLOSET: Slide a Sterlite drawer organizer on wheels inside a closet. Another reader, Amy B. from New Jersey, shares: “The old owners used our home office as a bedroom, so there is a closet in there that had a hanger bar. We pulled out the hanger bar, found a tall bookcase at a garage sale and stuck it in. Voila! Instant shelving for storage instead of an empty closet because we had nothing to hang.”

If you think an open bookshelf is unsightly, simply add a tension rod and a bit of fabric, or use plastic bins or decorative boxes, baskets or tins to conceal your storage items. Or check thrift stores, antique shops or eBay for retro Samsonite pieces. Specifically, mod round cases (hat boxes) and train cases. Use hooks to utilize wall space, use over-the-door shoe organizers, or move bulky coats out of the closet and onto a free-standing coat rack to give you extra space. You can buy Wardrobe Wizard wonder hangers that will double your closet space. Is your linen closet stuffed with towels? Hang multiple towel rods on your bathroom door to free up space.


  1. Anna

    4/2/2010 at 4:03 pm

    We bought 1×4’s and used the cut-off ends of 2×4’s to build narrow shelves for canned goods along the wall going down the stairs into the basement. You can stack canned goods 2 high, a single depth thick. The 4″ doesn’t take much space out of the stairwell because the stairs narrow once you hit the 10″ thick concrete foundation anyways. It is very convenient because you can just open the door (which is in the kitchen) and see along the wall what you have. The expiration date clearly marked on the front of each can so we’re constantly rotating our stock.

    Since the kids are klutzy going down the stairs and sometimes knock cans off the shelf, I thumb-tacked some of that cheap 1/4″ thick white fabric elastic from JoAnne Fabrics between the 2×4 vertical supports. This keeps the cans in place if bumped into, but is very easy to just pull the can out.

    We also build similar narrow shelves behind the door to the basement. Even though the door opens right against the wall, because interior doorways are always double-studded, there is usually enough space for 1×4 shelves (which are really only 3.5 inches) in the little space where the trim goes. You just have to be certain to leave a space for the door-handle to go into when the door opens. Above the stairwell door, we used slightly wider wood (1×5’s) as it’s just enough space to stick extra rolls of toilet paper or some other light item (don’t store cans higher than your head … or you might give yourself a concussion).

    We did the same thing behind the door in the bathroom, only the shelves are spaced a bit more “custom” to fit odd items such as purchased-on-sale stockpiles of toothpaste boxes placed horizontally, shampoo and conditioner, soap, deoderant, toilet paper and feminine hygeine products. It’s a lot easier to rotate your stockpile if you keep things where you tend to use them.

  2. Linda

    4/6/2010 at 9:07 am

    When we moved to a patio home, we had to maximize our storage. So my husband built a platform bed, 16″ high, like the ones in the Pottery Barn catalog. It is queen sized, and has 8 openings to use the entire space under the bed. I bought plastic storage containers from big lots for a couple of dollars apiece, and they slide in and out. The platform is surrounded by a velcroed on bedskirt, so no one has any idea it is not a regular bed. (Bonus: no dust under the bed) It can be used with a regular headboard, though we made our own padded, upholstered one.

    They can be made any size. I just wish it had not taken so long for us to get smart about storage!

  3. Michelle S.

    4/10/2010 at 11:29 am

    Love the ideas in here, especially storing behind books in a bookcase. I never would have thought of that 🙂

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