We live in a small house. Having a storage plan can make a big difference. I have found that having a place for everything and everything in its place is not only doable, it can also be done with out sacrificing style. It all begins with a plan. If you don’t have it mapped out on paper you will find yourself carting things all over the house wondering where to poke them.
Here are a few tips that I have found to be useful.
Start by identifying what items you have and what their purpose is.
If it’s not useful but merely decorative can it be made useful? If it has no purpose what so ever but still makes you smile that’s okay as long as the useful and necessary out number the just makes me happy bits and bobs.
Next decide where these items are used most often and put them there.
For example I love tea lights and usually use them in the living/dining area. I have a stack of decorative boxes that look beautiful and also hide my tea lights in plain sight on my side table. I put different scents in their own boxes, easily grabbed when I want a little ambiance. And because they have an assigned place, when I bring them home I immediately place them in their little garages. I also get a great burst of delicious scent when I open the lids.
If you are always trying to find pen and paper and a spare set of readers whilst you are in the living room, designate a small drawer close at hand. Don’t forget to put things back, you will appreciate this small designated space.
Designate a place for a flash lite, lighter, (for the candles and tea lights) scissors, nail clippers, and nail file. You will want these items easily available in the bedroom as well. There will always be an errant string that should be snipped not tugged, and a jagged nail that needs to be filed before torn.
Now that you’ve decided where things are used it’s time to work them seamlessly into your decor. Look around the room accessing horizontal surfaces and cubbies that can be utilized. Get creative. You want things that you use a lot to be easily gotten to. Otherwise you will quickly morph back into putting things wherever you set them.
What goes where
- Living room (where you relax, unwind, sometimes entertain. It should be all about comfort, and a place to recharge)
- Books, magazines, and newspapers that you are reading
- Coasters on tables for coffee cups and beverages
- Throw pillows for getting comfy
- footstools or ottomans (if they include storage all the better)
- Someplace for guests to hang their coats
- Dining area (our house is small so it is somewhat connected to the living room)
- A place for serving dishes, table cloths, the “good china” (I decided that life would be better served if we just used the good stuff for every day. We are worth it. Besides when we are gone and there is only one elegant chippy cup, someone will use it and cherish it the memories.)
- Some great horizontal surfaces allow you to decorate for the season. A place to store those things where you can get to them is really valuable. It’s so nice to walk into a room that has been dressed for the season. Doesn’t have to be expensive and is quite easy if you have a variety of things to mix and match
- Having all the the fancy bits for entertaining handy and easy to get to makes it easy to pull off a swanky soirée
- Kitchen (pretty obvious I realize)
- All things pertaining to cooking, brewing, and cleaning up after
- A not necessarily kitchen gadget place. (note I did not say junk drawer which of course is what I meant.)
- Just enough tools and bits to do simple projects like hanging pictures, unscrewing things etc. a small container that you can put those nails, brads, and screws that you can reuse.
- Calendar, pens, lighter, tape. Scotch tape, duct tape, packing tape, and scissors
- Office/craft room. If it’s productive it goes in here.
- Computer, office stuff.
- Camera stuff, Sewing machines, serger, knitting stuff, weaving stuff, (my list goes on and on)
- personal get yourself ready do your business stuff.
- Candles if you have a tub
- a place to sleep, dress, store your finery, and sometimes your yoga mat
- The garage if you are lucky to have one
- All things outdoorsy and mechanical. Sometimes even vehicles live here. Personally, this is where we keep the elliptical machine. I must say the “Bearded One” visits this contraption more than I.
Now that we have a general map of where things go we need to figure out how to keep stuff handy without making it look, shall we say, cluttered. By selecting furniture that is useful as ornamental we can hide a bunch of stuff in plain sight.
Don’t be afraid to switch things out. If something is not doing double duty exchange it for something that will. An old buffet used as a room divider in my case, works much better than just a sofa table would. You can find real deals at thrift stores and garage sales if you use your imagination. Paint is pretty cheap.
We were given a small wooden farm table that we sawed in half lengthwise and then attached each side to the wall using a ledge hanger mounting bracket. Now we have two horizontal surfaces that don’t take up much room and yet hold lamps, decorative storage containers and seasonal touches.
I love collecting trays. Large trays, tiny trays, rectangular and round, I have quite a few. I use them in almost every room in the house, and when they are not being used they are easily stacked and stored in my converted hutch. By converted I mean that I covered the glass with bead board wallpaper, painted it black, and turned what was once intended to be a chatchkie display into useful tuck it away till you need it storage space.
- I have a small tray that I keep next to the front door to catch mail, keys, and the occasional egg cartons that we need to return to the neighbors.
- I use large trays to corral items together on side tables or ottomans.
- A tray near the kitchen sink holds the compost bucket and the bacon grease container.
- Our coffee maker sits on its own tray with the coffee beans.
House plants live on trays and colorful platters. Anything that sits on a surface can often be found rounded up with its peers on a decorative tray or dish. This not only looks great but makes cleaning or quickly clearing an area a snap.
Trays also reside in the bathrooms. I found a great little serving dish that holds hair pins and clips and it’s matching dessert saucer has become a soap dish.
Another great storage device that allows the thrifty decorator in me to come out is the humble basket. All kinds, shapes and sizes can be found at the local thrift store for a couple of bucks. Baskets look good on shelves and when you are organized can keep things handy yet hidden away.
Baskets in the pantry to hold pasta and beans, partial bags of chips and snacks.
Spices fit well in baskets on island shelves.
Cloth napkins and dish towels are totally basket friendly. You can store those specialty napkins and rings in baskets on top of the hutch. The special silverware also becomes more available when you can just grab the basket.
Big baskets make great shoe baskets, square or rectangular baskets stored on shelves in the closet can hold socks and underwear, even t-shirts will do well nesting inside a basket.
Toy baskets, fabric baskets, sewing supplies, knitting needles and all things crafty baskets. You get the point. Baskets are our friends.
- Use old buffets which have drawers and cupboards as well as display options on top
- Use decorative stacking boxes to hold small quick grab items
- Trays can contain things making a table top look less cluttered
- Old mismatched lap blankets can be hidden away and useful stored in throw pillow cases
- Vintage sugar bowls can hold Q-tips in the bathroom
- Put a large basket by the door to keep shoes and slippers contained and handy
- A vintage ironing board folds away but makes a nice inside/outside buffet serving surface when you need it
- Clever storage bins on industrial kitchen shelving work well to keep the crafty bits neat and tidy
- An old fashioned hall tree is a great place to hang guest coats. It not only looks great, but the under seat storage is a great place to store winter hats and gloves
- Vintage cookie tins work well for storing sewing supplies, bows, ribbons, as well as color crayons for the grandkids
- Glasses, creamers, and small vases are good for holding toothbrushes and makeup brushes