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.