With real estate at a premium, it’s no surprise that many households suffer from a lack of space especially in new homes, whether it’s a desperate need for better storage solutions or making better use of existing space for an expanding family. And whilst some of us will look to physically expanding our properties with extensions, conservatories or loft conversions, these invariably are a big undertaking and a large expense.
Not to worry, there are plenty of other ways you can create more space in your homes with a few ‘thinking outside the box’ tactics. In many cases it isn’t a case of adding space with extensions, but utilising the space you do have more effectively, so it in turn works better for you.
Storage, Storage and more Storage
First things first, let’s take a look at storage solutions. It seems that storage is high on the agenda for most homes and something we can never have enough of. Over a lifetime, we accumulate possessions and sometimes it’s a struggle to throw things away with the justification that “this gadget will definitely come in handy one day” or “these jeans will be back in fashion in ten years’ time”. It’s this sentimental thought process and not wanting to waste anything that can cause cupboards, drawers and even rooms to be full to the brim with unused items.
Of course, this isn’t the case with every household, as many people aren’t prone to keeping everything, but they still genuinely suffer from a lack of storage space. However, there are numerous ways you can keep all your items stored away neatly and in an organised fashion to utilise the space more.
Built-in Storage Solutions
Whilst built-in wardrobes and cupboards aren’t a new phenomenon, the modern designs we see now are far better equipped to coping with multi-functional storage. They are not only a great way to deal with a storage issue, but also can add value to your home and use space more effectively too.
The great thing about built-in storage solutions, is they can be closed units fitted with swing or sliding doors, open style shelving or a combination of the two, so you can fully incorporate your storage into the room. The versatility of built-in storage units allow you to create an area to meet your exact requirements and to make use of even the smallest or oddest shaped spaces. For example, if you have a recess in your home under the stairs, in your lounge or bedroom that doesn’t get used properly, why not create a bespoke shelving unit or cupboard so you can actually use the entire space for stashing away shoes, toys, books or anything you like.
If you’re looking for larger storage solutions, it can be a great idea to opt for a built-in unit that spans across a whole wall or certainly a large part of it in bigger rooms. This maximises the amount of storage space you’ll get with the unit, but at the same time creates continuity, with the unit becoming a focal feature rather than a randomly placed freestanding block of storage. Fitting mirrored doors will also make the room feel bigger and lighter, which is particularly important in smaller spaces.
Modern built-in storage also provides numerous ideas for storing items in your unit too, from compartmentalised drawers for smaller items to hanging hooks and with some designs, you can even create a built-in working desk or dressing table, which makes them perfect for home offices, vanity units or kid’s bedrooms.
Tidy your drawers
Whilst we’re on the subject of keeping things organised, even if you don’t have built-in storage solutions, you can still make a difference to those overflowing drawers in your kitchen, bedroom, lounge or bathroom.
Drawers are a great place for tidying away small items, such as stationary, jewellery, paperwork, takeaway menus and pretty much anything that you want to keep, but don’t want on show. However, in many cases things get chucked in a draw and soon get lost, but you can create simple, organised drawer storage solutions by creating your own draw tidy using small boxes or trays and clipping them together. With a myriad of different sized compartments, everything will be neatly in its place and you’ll find more space for storing additional items as the space is used more effectively.
Brilliant Boxes and Baskets
Other great ways to add additional storage solutions into your home is investing in some good quality boxes or baskets. Storage boxes, along with baskets, are versatile and practical. They come in all sorts of designs – clear plastic, painted wicker, printed cardboard, vintage wood – and a whole host of different shapes and sizes too. This means that you can get really creative with using boxes and baskets as storage solutions in your home. Add baskets to shelving or cupboards, so you can easily store more things on the shelves in the baskets, but they’ll be nice and neatly stowed away in a stylish way, with all items out of view. Or invest in a dual purpose footstool or coffee table that has hidden storage inside.
Also, don’t forget about the amount of dead space underneath large furniture, such as beds and sofas. Make use of that wasted space and choose some shallow boxes on wheels that can easily be pulled out and put away for those items that you don’t necessarily need access to every day. This could be rotating your summer/winter wardrobe, DVD’s, books…the possibilities are endless and so are the sizes of storage solutions available – so you’ll certainly find something to suit.
Another area in many homes that suffer from storage shortages is the kitchen. It’s a place where you need easy access to ingredients, dishes and pans; and whilst a complete kitchen extension or remodel may not be an option, you can make a few tweaks to maximise the space usage to make getting to everything nice and easy. And don’t forget there are decorating and design elements that can make a space feel larger even if it is not, such as light colours on the walls or large white porcelain tiles on the floor that reflect the light back into the room.
Innovative kitchen storage solutions, include pull out cupboards and shelves, rotating corner cupboard shelving and cupboard and drawer organisers that make life so much easier. These clever storage solutions can be added to most existing kitchen units, so you can adapt keep your spices organised with pull out wire drawers, or get to those hard to reach bowls at the back of the corner cupboard.
Another great way to utilise space in cupboards and drawers is with Tupperware and plastic boxes with lids. They not only help to keep ingredients fresher for longer, but stacking tubs and boxes will use more space in your cupboards so you can fit more in, plus they make finding items easier too.
Hang It or Shelve It
A key to getting more space in your home is to create additional floor and counter space. Of course, furniture takes up the large majority of floor space, but you’d be surprised at how much of your space is taken up unnecessarily with clutter. This is where getting items up off the floor and onto the walls can make all the difference.
Incorporating hooks and hanging areas can have a dramatic effect. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hanging your jewellery on hooks on the wall next to your dressing table, rather than taking up valuable space in a drawer, having extra hanging space for coats, scarves and hats or incorporating a hanging area for kitchen utensils or pots and pans that currently take up space on the worktop or in cupboards.
Shelving units can also allow items currently taking up valuable floor space to be stored effectively. It works incredibly well in well used areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, where you have a number of items that sit on the floor or worktops. With some stylish shelving or even a closed wall unit, you can get items such as cleaning products, spare loo rolls, cooking utensils and spices up off the floors and counters and in their own allocated space.
Decluttering = Space
Whilst creating additional space with clever storage solutions is great, it doesn’t always solve the problem of clutter, as you can simply be transporting stuff from one area to another and simply putting it out of sight and out of mind.
This is why if you are looking to create more space in your home, it’s also a good idea to have a good old-fashioned clear out. No one is saying you should get rid of everything, but taking a more objective and realistic approach to your belongings can help to create additional space.
Knowing exactly what you have and where it’s stored will mean you can house your belongings in a more structured and organised way. Sorting through items and categorising them in terms of the frequency of their use, will make sure that the items you need most frequently are easily accessible, whereas things that are used once, maybe twice a year aren’t taking up valuable front row space.
If you’re worried about things going to waste, why not donate to charity shops or friends, as well as sell good conditioned items on classified websites. That bit of extra money could go towards a built in storage unit!
Consider Your Home Layout
It’s amazing that when you live somewhere, you soon become accustomed to the layout of the furniture; and what in many cases was a temporary layout, remains that way for years, despite the fact it may not actually use the space particularly well.
Where you position your furniture, as well as the size and style can play a significant role in how big or small your home feels and the amount of space that is utilised. Choosing the right position, size and style of furniture appropriate for your home can make all the difference to the amount of space you have to live in.
For example, a huge, chunky dining room table that seats 8 people, will swamp a dining room that’s really only designed to fit a table of 4-6 people. In this instance, you may want to consider downsizing to a smaller table that also has the option to expand for more seating as and when you need it. Also, think about the positioning of furniture, do you have your sofa in front of the bay window in your living room? Have you considered how much space behind the sofa is wasted? Moving the sofa against a wall, can open up the room and allow you to use the recessed area more effectively, whether it’s incorporating additional chairs, a coffee table or storage.
When you’re planning the layout of any room, be it your living room, bedroom, bathroom or kitchen, it’s important to think about the purpose of the room and how you spend your time in there, as well as factoring in walkways. These fundamental elements of planning will make sure you create an area that fits your requirements and isn’t a pain to manoeuvre around.
Where you can, position large furniture such as chairs, beds and sofas flush against the wall, as putting them at an angle will waste space. The same goes for freestanding shelving units, dressers, wardrobes and drawers. Also pay close attention that none of these furniture items are impeding access or walkways as this can make a room feel smaller and less accessible. You want to be able to easily come in and out of a room, as well as walk through it without having to negotiate a lot of furniture on the way.
Also be sure that when you’re positioning your furniture that you aren’t overcrowding the room. Sometimes, less is more for creating a well-laid out room that looks spacious and comfortable, so if space is premium in your home, be as minimalistic as you can. Focus on the essential furniture you need in a room first, such as seating, entertainment and storage, then move onto less essential items.
The same rules apply for the size of your furniture. It’s all about choosing furniture that matches the size of your rooms. Unless you have lots of space, avoid large and chunky furniture designs, as these will simply take over small spaces and eat into valuable living space.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for making better use of existing space in your home without the cost of extending. Whether you incorporate clever storage solutions, declutter or reinvest in new furniture pieces, by making some small changes in your home, you can have a really big impact on the space you’re left to work with.