I always seem to be in a state of re-organising and finding new ways to store the many things that go along with homeschooling and working from home…not to mention the usual family life that happens. It can be tricky when you live in a small home, but I have found a few ways to maximise the space in our closets and cupboards, and I thought I’d share them with you, in case you are also looking to store more without having to move home.
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We happen to have a rarity here in the UK: built in closets similar to ones in North America, they are deeper in than I’m used to, and not as wide, but I have managed to get as much usable space out of them as I can.
Last week Phil installed another shelf above the one that is there just above the clothing rail. This will give twice the storage space there, but this second shelf will be used for school and work items that I need to keep nearby but aren’t used on an everyday basis. This will clear up some floor space (certainly everyone has piles of books and boxes on their floors when they’ve run out of room?) in both the bedroom and living room and thus make those rooms feel more spacious and be easier to clean. Phil measured up the space and I priced out the supplies and we are able to have an extra 1.2 meters of shelf space for just over £20, including the shelf, brackets, supporting wood, and screws.
Phil took an afternoon to do the installation while I went through the clothes and other items in the closet and thinned through them; sending some items to the attic until winter when we’ll need the sweaters again, some items will go to charity, and some were simply too ‘loved’ to go anywhere but the rag pile. Just having less clutter makes a space look better, too! Of course, now that I’ve gathered up items from around the house, both shelves are now full, but the closet feels more spacious than it did before!
A chest freezer is tucked away in one along the side of our bedroom closet! This means that we are able to easily make Freezer meals and purchase items when they are on sale and freeze them for later usage. The freezer did cost us money of course to purchase it, but we have recouped it’s value and more with the savings we make buying things on sale and making our own meals from scratch.
In the other closet we have re-purposed a baby/child’s wardrobe (a wardrobe is a piece of furniture that is used as a closet in UK homes that don’t have built-in closets); it was divided in two halves with a rail on one side and deep shelves on the other. We couldn’t sell or give this sturdy wardrobe away because the doors could no longer be hinged properly due to them being designed at an angle and putting weight on the hinges that had several times pulled them out off the hinges altogether. Phil cut a few inches off the bottom of the wardrobe and we were able to slide it into the closet and use it as shelving instead of having to make our own from scratch. They are deep so can hold a lot. And there’s just enough room in the closet to hold a rolling set of craft drawers in front of the rail side so we have even more storage in there, too! And the best thing about this option is that the wardrobe was given to us so it was free!
On these shelves, I organise further by using plastic storage drawers and magazine files to hold smaller items and to keep our packets of watercolour paper, cardstock, and other items tidy and easy to find.
And don’t forget about hooks! Add some sturdy eye hooks on the sides of your closet to hold backpacks, handbags, chunky jewellery, and other hangable items. There were a couple of these hooks already here when we moved in, but I’ve added a few more over time, and they work very well.
In a corner kitchen cupboard I have a couple of wire racks that create a shelf so that I can stack my boxes of tea more easily and fit more in the cupboard neatly. These were Grandma’s racks so they didn’t cost me anything.
I am considering purchasing something like this for under the sink where we store our jam jars and laundry washing items. It would be nice to have the extra dish soap and sponges also kept here.
In the kitchen the kids have a cupboard to house their paints, pencil cases, and some craft supplies (as well as our box for paper recycling). This keeps the messy art supplies in the kitchen to contain any accidents along the way, and they are easily accessible for the kids. I am currently looking for a better solution for the blue box we hold our unwanted paper scraps in until the go out to the curbside each week. I’ve had a couple of ideas but haven’t been able to create them. It may simply move to a magazine file to save space, but I’m not sure.
Back in my office-working days, they had a reorganisation of the processes and found they no longer needed some of the things they used to use on a daily basis and were going to throw them out. I grabbed one of the plastic open-top boxes (I wish I would have nabbed a couple more, but at the time I was in a shared house with no plans of staying in Northern Ireland) and I use it for holding those awkward spice and mix packets. Mine works well, but I love these clear ones that have dividers.
I also have some some other ideas in mind, like using an over-the-door organiser like this one to hold the school and craft supplies that are used frequently to make them easier to access and to free up some of the cupboard space. This would be great for bottles of paint and glue, scissors, pencils, and with the clear pockets the kids could see what’s inside which would also save time – no more lost time spent digging around a cupboard because they can’t ‘see’ what they are looking for.
And there you have it; 10 ways to gain more storage in your closets and cupboards! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. As much as I would love to have bespoke closets built with lots of shelves and ‘proper’ organisation, while I dream of that day I can have such a space, I will be creative and find my own ways of making the best of the space I have for as little money as possible. What are some of the ways you use your storage spaces?