18 Brilliant Storage Ideas for Tiny Homes

Following is a guest post by Linda Merrill an interior designer and writer.

Tiny homes can be warm and cozy and are coming back into vogue for reasons both economic and environmental. But they do come with some major challenges in terms of storage space. Here’s a list of 18 brilliant storage ideas that have a big impact on a tiny space:

  1. The under bed area is a great spot to store extra sheets, blankets and pillows or even off-season clothing. Rolling under bed bins are available, making access that much easier.
  2. Wire shelves of all shapes and sizes can be put to use in a myriad of ways. Industrial metal shelving is trendy and useful for storage in a kitchen, basement or garage. Add casters to the shelves for easy mobility.
  3. In most cases, the space under a staircase is wasted space. Custom built drawers installed behind the risers will yield an enormous amount of storage space for clothes, paperwork or craft supplies.
  4. Basket storage is certainly not new or unique and there’s a reason for that. Baskets are attractive, highly functional and flexible in use. Store dishtowels and oven mitts in the kitchen or socks and scarves in the bedroom. Vintage or new, baskets offer style and function in traditional and modern settings.
  5. Old luggage and travel trunks make for great duel purpose pieces. A stacked grouping of luggage can serve as a great looking coffee or side table, while holding the holiday decorations throughout the year.
  6. A metal rod and S-hooks are the makings of a truly useful storage piece. Create a decorative and functional pot rack from copper plumbers pipe hung from the ceiling. Piping can be installed under the kitchen cabinets to hang smaller items or on the back of a closet door for jewelry or men’s ties.
  7. Peg-board is one of the most versatile storage pieces for small to mid-sized items. Julia Child was famous for her peg-board pot rack where each pot and pan was outlined on the board so they could be put back always in the same spot for easy access. This idea could be replicated for smaller kitchen or craft items or in the garage for rakes and shovels.
  8. An old armoire can be retrofitted with shelving to make a great place for storing craft items, linens or flat fold clothing.
  9. Repurpose an old medicine cabinet for use as a spice rack or baking supplies cabinet in the kitchen. Its relatively small size may fit perfectly above a shelf or table.
  10. A wooden, lidded box can make for a great footstool with the added benefit of hidden storage. Simply upholster the outside of the box, add some furniture-grade bun feet for a custom piece that’s attractive and serves not one but two functions.
  11. Clear plastic bins with secure lids are an organizers dream. The secure lid will keep moisture and dirt out and the clear sides will allow you to view the contents without having to pull it off a shelf and open it up. Great for stacking in out of the way spots like attics, basements and garages.
  12. The Shakers were nothing if not practical and organized. Their classic wall pegs were simple pegged dowels attached to a 1 x 4 board and mounted on a wall. These peg racks can be installed inside a closet or along a wall, at a low level for children or at a high level for towels or long coats. The Shakers even hung their iconic ladder back chairs on the peg racks to store extra chairs or to get them out of the way for cleaning.
  13. Fabric is a great asset when finding storage in unusual spaces. Cover an open side table with a tailored fabric cloth and store books underneath. A floor length tablecloth on the dining table will hide all sorts of goodies underneath.
  14. A Lazy-Susan in a corner cabinet will greatly increase storage in hard to reach kitchen cabinets. Great for small pots, pans and lids, or food and spices.
  15. Hanging shoe organizers aren’t for shoes alone. They make use of the unused space behind or on the front of a closet door. And, in addition to shoes, they can store men’s ties, scarves, mittens and hats, craft items or small office supplies like staples or scotch tape.
  16. Storage ottomans are the workhorses of decorative storage. They provide comfortable seating and reclining, a surface for books or trays, plus offer accessible storage for throw blankets, books or games.
  17. In a truly small space, one of the most enduring storage options is a Murphy bed. Just pop it back up into the wall and you’ve got much needed floor space.
  18. Soffit space under stairs or ceiling can offer a great way to sneak in storage. Open up the front of the soffit (retaining the structural elements), finish off the inside and you will have a great place to store books or decorative items.
  19. Of course, if you feel like you’re all out of space or a couple of your possessions won’t fit anywhere convenient, you can always consider storage units for rent. They’ve got plenty of space and will keep your stuff nice and secure.

Linda Merrill writes for Networx.com, and is a professional interior designer. Check out her design services blog.

18 Comments 18 Brilliant Storage Ideas for Tiny Homes

  1. Mary Anne

    I think most of these ideas would not work in a tiny house. An armoire? Ottomans? End tables and coffee tables? Stacked luggage? These ideas would work nicely in a smallish house, but don’t think too many tiny houses have these items or room for them.

    Reply
  2. Zacch

    I tend to agree w/ Mary Anne. I did a Google SketchUp of a 14 x 12 a couple weeks ago using under the stairs to the loft for storage. I’ve seen a complete kitchenette w/ under counter fridge, two burner cooker, and sink w/ a microwave above tucked into an armoire. One door had hanging utensils and the other had a flip down table top. If in that case you used ottomans for seating the storage underneath might work. Any time one’s line of site is obstructed i.e. table cloths to the floor, trunks as coffee tables, etc. the space will feel cramped. Lifting objects off the ground even 3″ will make it feel less cluttered.

    Reply
  3. wyndwalkr

    Along the lines of utilizing a medicine chest for spices, etc. in the kitchen; why waste all the space hidden in the hollow area between the studs of an INTERIOR wall? There you have spaces three and a half inches deep and fourteen and a half inches wide and as tall as you can utilize, of possible shelf storage. Three and a half inches is even deep enough for canned goods.

    I am not suggesting anyone leave studs exposed all over your kitchen, but I saw, in a very old issue of Country Living, a two stud space wide by about four or five foot tall, nicely trimmed out, space, and it was fronted by an old fashioned screen door, for an antique look. (If that’s your thing.) You wouldn’t even need to waste the space of having a door fronting it. Spices and canned goods can be artistic expression!

    I actually know people who think it is gross to store stuff under their beds. What do they think, it’s going to displace the boogy man who sleeps there??

    I’ve always thought those two-drawer file cabinets make useful end tables or bedside tables.

    Reply
  4. Schneb

    Love the cat on the bed–agree with Dave: more photos would be a plus, but with cat(s).

    But seriously–although some of these ideas are more (and some are less) applicable to a truly _Tiny_ House, the general outlook is VERY helpful: making small or tiny houses more practical for those living in larger houses, with all the larger house baggage, is important.

    Also-part of the attraction of a small/tiny house is the ship-like efficiency and cleverness that many of the ideas on the list embody.

    Seems like Tiny Houses are a sort problem-solving approach to so many pressing issues: environmental, financial, consumer-lifestyle, etc. This post is very much in keeping with that problem-solving outlook, so, Thanks, Linda!

    Reply
  5. Josh

    Old luggage and travel trunks make for great duel purpose pieces…

    If I were going to duel with someone, I’d choose pistols, maybe swords… I don’t quite see what good a travel trunk or luggage would have for “duel purposes.”

    Reply
    1. gray man

      … I don’t quite see what good a travel trunk or luggage would have for “duel purposes.”

      re-read the article.

      Reply
      1. jenn

        hah i get it, go back to middle school and you’ll get the pun josh made, ill give you a hint…. grammar

        Reply
    2. alice h

      Ah, but you might need the proper wardrobe for a duel, in which case the luggage would be handy. Also for extra bandages.

      Reply
  6. di

    Live with less. Jusr replace items as needed. A weeks worth of wardrobe, a set of pans / dishes and dry goods could easily fit under a slightly elevated daybed or futon couch. Pull-out boxes / baskets work well, especially for the elderly.

    There is no need to have any other storage area unless you plan on having a stash of items that would be needed to last longer than a week.

    See this article as well: http://tinyhouseblog.com/construction-articles/things-to-think-about/#more-14409

    Reply
  7. etana

    I love the basket idea. Baskets are the easiest way to organize and depending on the basket it can add a beautiful touch to any room. I have a few baskets made by Baskets by Vicky that I use in my bathroom for toiletries, for my magazines, and even in my kitchen for utensils. The website is below please check it out if you are an organizing machine like I am.
    http://vickysbaskets.com/
    I also love the hampers she makes.

    Reply
  8. Mark Sindone

    It is true that a small and compact home can bring about both positive and negative aspects. It is indeed cozy and easy to manage especially for individuals who have a busy schedule. However, storage is always an issue. You can opt to rent storage units at cheap monthly rates or come up with alternative solutions at home. I think the underbed storage is a really smart idea to utilize the extra space underneath it while keeping the mess in. If you do not have an interior storage compartment, you can use storage boxes to be stored away discreetly under the bed. Both ways, clutters do not get shown outside and do not become an eyesore.

    Reply
  9. Jody

    Hi all! I’m currently saving up for a trailer to put my tiny house on. (Tumbleweedtinyhouses.com, fourlights.com, as reference.) It will only be aout 8X20. I’m a female and yes I like my clothes and jewelry. I’m in the process of downsizing everything I have. It’s hard! Some things I don’t want to give up. I need ideas for clothes storage and jewelry storage. I can usually think out of the box but this is really hard. Any feedback would be much appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Jody

    Reply

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