Clever storage can transform even the smallest home into a tidy space where everything has its place. And, when done well, the effect can add visual appeal – as well as value – to a property.
Depending on your home and how much storage you need, an off-the-shelf option may suffice. But if you have complex spaces to work with, a professional bespoke furniture expert, or carpenter, could be your best bet.
Simon Tcherniak, senior designer at bespoke fitted furniture company Neville Johnson, says off-the-shelf is the way to go if you’re looking for a short-term solution – perhaps if you are planning to move soon, or if the purpose of the room is likely to change. It’s also cost-effective and flexible, but will also likely be bulky and difficult to simply slot into a space.
“Working with a specialist to create a piece of furniture that seamlessly fits your space can double your storage opportunities without overwhelming the room,” he says. “If you’re looking for a quality finish and an understanding of how to maximise your use of the furniture, we would recommend sourcing a cabinet maker who specialises in furniture, as opposed to a carpenter who specialises in the more structural elements of the home, such as stairs and doors.
“Fitted furniture is a fantastic problem solver, working especially well in properties that have low or sloped ceilings, as the furniture can be designed to perfectly incorporate these features. It’s also a great option for smaller homes and renovated loft spaces, as every inch of space can be utilised to achieve the maximum amount of storage possible.”
Sean Evenett, MD at Newcastle upon Tyne’s Bespoke Interiors, echoes this. He says that, with small spaces, attention to detail is what counts so you can use every awkward corner and “uncover storage places that you might have never thought of”, and be imaginative with your furniture.
“A lot of people forget to use their wall space,” says Evenett. “Installing wall shelving that goes around the perimeter of the room is an easy way to create storage without making the room feel smaller than it already is. Or add a shelf right above the doorframe – this is extremely handy for things you need to store away for long periods.”
Tcherniak recommends making a plan of each room in turn, noting every ‘dead’” area that could be used for storage. Also, consider whether you have the right furniture for your needs – and whether it enhances the room.
“Fitted furniture allows you to work with every inch of a room, ensuring that maximum storage is created for both concealing and displaying items,” he says. “Bespoke cabinetry can be seamlessly integrated, using previously unused space to create visually impactful design features.”
If you have bay windows in your home, he adds, consider installing a window seat to fit into this area. This will create a focal point, as well as providing extra seating and hidden storage for your possessions.
Fitted furniture is often particularly useful in bedrooms – and if it’s well designed, it can help you store all your clothing and accessories in such a way that you can see everything at once and avoid scrabbling around for certain items to wear.
Design company William Garvey recommends installing full-height furniture.
“By doing so, you’ll capitalise on all available storage: display and concealed,” says Bill Garvey, the company’s MD. He also recommends sliding, hinged or bi-fold doors on wardrobes to improve access and save space.
Simon Bodsworth, MD of Daval Furniture, says going bespoke can create up to three times more space depending on application.
“For instance, angled-end wardrobes are typically placed in close proximity to the main door because this type of design creates a free path when entering and exiting the room, as well as maximising available storage space,” he says.
“Our bedroom furniture can be easily adjusted, with heights from 1,502 millimetres right up to 2,750 millimetres, and depth adjustment, too. This means we can effectively plan around chimney breasts, alcoves and back slopes that may ordinarily pose a problem.”
Sonia Pash, co-founder and director of interior design studio TEMZA, advises spending time establishing what you’ll use the piece for and how much space you need for each shelf to ensure it’s fit for purpose.
“Opting for a variety of heights inside the unit is usually a good solution, as it’s likely you’ll end up will items of different sizes that you’ll want to store,” she says. “You can find hidden nooks for extra storage space in the most unexpected of spaces. Don’t discount anything – just a couple of recessed shelves in the walls can go a long way – but obviously, if you can get a full storage wall squeezed in somewhere for your books, that’s ideal.
“Lighting is everything. Some hidden LEDs will set the scene and create a focus point in the whole space. Keep some closed areas for clutter but some open areas for display as well, so your storage doesn’t look too heavy or bulky. With a combination of closed and open storage, you can also hide all the clutter and use open shelving to display your beautiful objects.”