Secrets from a Small Home: Our Top Spots for Hidden Storage

Thursday February 23, 2017

A few months ago, my good friend Brianne came hunting around for storage tips to help get her SF one bedroom apartment baby ready. Prep for the baby involved losing an entire closet of storage (aka the micronursery) in an apartment that only has two closets.

So, we got to work.

As I spelled out last week, my first piece of advice was to contain everything in storage boxes and bins. Linens, towels, out of season clothing, extra blankets, hobby gear, dog gear. Everything needed proper storage.

But, of course, where to put all the storage boxes, right?

Here’s my rundown of favorite hidden storage locales and the storage containers to use to optimize them.
1. Above a doorway

This works particularly well in small rooms where you won’t even see the shelf above your head as you enter. Aka, the bathroom or random San Francisco tiny rooms.

Brianne took this tip and ran with it, building her own shelf above her bathroom door. Our bathroom shelf holds all extras, medicines, non-daily supplies, and toilet paper. The shelf above our alcoved “sink room” in the kitchen holds all of our Costco-sized paper towels.


2. Under the bed

Ok, yes, obviously, people are cramming things under their beds. BUT, don’t just do that. You have to organize it first. Use a plastic roll-out covered bin (Rubbermaid makes some good options) to contain all your stuff and protect it from dust bunnies. Also by using a roll-out bin, you’ll maximize your under bed storage because you’ll be able to shove stuff even deeper under the bed and be able to easily access it by pulling your rolling bin out.

This is perfect for extra sheet sets and other bedding, as well as out of season clothes. But, seriously, don’t use anything flimsy or made out of fabric or without wheels. Things get dusty and gross under the bed, you need plastic to protect your things as well as make it easy to take them all out and vaccum underneath.


3. Under the sofa

This is a perfect option for city dwellers with small kids. When Bean was small, we could draw out a wire tray full of toys out from under the sofa for her during the day, and then just as easily, stuff it all back in the tray and under the sofa when it was time for bed. Easy and out of sight.

The Container Store’s Elfa drawers are oddly perfect for this job. The 1-runner white mesh drawers are only 3 1/4 inch high, perfect for slipping under a sofa.



4. Under window storage

This was our latest apartment hack. With pretty views out of our windows, we’ve always been reluctant to put furniture in front of them. So, the window area has always been a dead space of curtains and toy clutter. But, putting shelves in front of them took up practically no additional square feet (really, the billowing curtains themselves took up as much square feet as the shelves now do) and more than quadrupled the storage space.

This isn’t exactly “hidden” storage, but it’s storage that can blend into a room without adding bulk or taking away critical square feet.


5. All bookcases and wardrobes should extend to the ceiling

That 3 feet or more of space between the top of a bookshelf and the ceiling is doing nothing for you. Fill it up with additional shelves for seamless out-of-sight storage. (And less awkward dead space above tall furniture.)

And if adding shelves or extensions isn’t an option, well. Then start stacking your storage bins up there. If your bookshelves and wardrobe are tall enough, you won’t even be able to see them up there until you pull out your step ladder. This is our spot for toys that are currently out of the rotation.


the container store boot boxes provide toy storage


Other small home dwellers, what are your storage hacks? Do you have any favorite hidden storage spots?

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