Maximizing Space With Under Bed Storage

Tiny house owners are all too used to the struggle of making space. If you’re a bit low on real estate to start with, finding room for storage generally requires some ingenuity and elbow grease.

One of the best ways to fit some extra items in is to head under the bed. An awful lot of homeowners either ignore or improperly use this valuable bit of space – a major mistake when you’ve got so little to spare.

Don’t let that be you. Learn to make effective use of all the potential storage spots at your disposal. When figuring out how to best outfit your bed, there are a few things to keep in mind.

What Will You Store?

Always answer this question before busting out the jigsaw. And give it some careful thought – you’re dealing with a surprisingly premium area. You might not think about it too often, but items stored under a bed are actually getting a pretty good deal.

Possessions relegated to a garage, shed, or outdoor storage unit will be feeling the effect of the elements, primarily moisture. If you’ve ever retrieved paperbacks after a stint in storage, you’ve probably seen what mildew can do to fragile belongings.

But if you stash those those same books under your bed, they’ll be in a climate-controlled, pest-free (hopefully) and largely friendly environment. Plus, they’ll be close at hand, where they’re less likely to be stolen, and can be easily accessed if you want to see them.

Consequently, I’d recommend using that under-bed area for favorite books, paintings, clothing – anything you want nearby and safe. Heck, even wine wouldn’t do so poorly. Cellars are normally in short supply for tiny houses, so setting up an impromptu wine rack would be a nifty way to store bottles.

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Simple Storage

Once you know what you’re going to be hiding away under your bed, you’re free to start figuring out how exactly you want to set things up. Head online, and you’ll see a plethora of options.

The most basic, and the cheapest, are large, clear-plastic tubs. And if you’re just sticking some old paperbacks out of sight and out of mind, they’ll probably be adequate – most Big Brand Beds come with enough room for these relatively flat items. Maximize your storage room by taking a tape measure to your bed, figuring out its approximate footprint, then buying a selection of tubs that will snugly fit into that space.

Shoe cubbies are also great if you know you’ll just be tucking your footwear away. Given how easy these are to haul out from under the bed, they’re actually a really, really good alternative to space-chomping shoe racks.

My favorite option? Grab a roll-away container. These are hefty, and also really easy to get at when you need to.

Questions of Design

Now, none of the above options are what I’d call beautiful. Fortunately, they’re also incredibly easy to hide – just get a nice bed skirt and drape it over the sides. Problem solved.

If you’d like to actually incorporate storage into your bedroom aesthetic, then you’ve got a few options ahead of you. I rather like the look of wicker bins. Not quite your thing? Maybe some solid-colored ones would fit a little better; again, there’s a lot of variety out there.

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Actually getting these to fit under some beds can be a chore. A quick fix: bed risers. These little plastic add-ons can jack your bed up by a few inches, giving you the space you need to fit all but the largest buckets down there.

Going the Extra Mile

Some homeowners don’t stop there though. I’ve seen some really lovely DIY bed storage solutions out there. Enterprising hackers have used dressers (Ikea seems to be every house hacker’s favorite brand) as boxsprings, simply placing mattresses on top of them.

Even cooler: full-on builds that incorporate cubbies, painting racks, and even secret hidey-holes into the foundations of a bed. While these options definitely require a little more handiness and design acumen, there’s no denying how gorgeous some of them are.

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But you don’t have to be great, or even good with your hands to take advantage of under-the-bed storage. If you’re currently sleeping atop nothing but dust bunnies, then it’s time to change that. The sooner you start fully using that space, the sooner you’ll be uncluttering your already tiny house.

John Miller is an experienced home improvement expert, and a regular contributor to design and construction blogs.

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alice h - April 22, 2015 Reply

That’s an interesting approach to a semi lofted bed in the first photo. If you’re tucking one into the narrow end of a tiny house you could substitute tansu steps coming out the front for the bookshelf and ladder and still have use of the storage space. It wouldn’t stick out too far since you only need a few steps compared to a higher loft. The spaces farther back could be for seasonal clothes or spare TP or other long term storage.

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