Tips: Storage Solutions for Any Room


The amount of stuff in your attic, closets and garage may seem overwhelming now. Organize it well and you’ll be able to put your hands on whatever you need when you need it. Cruise antique stores, flea markets and salvage shops for storage containers large and small. Kitchen, hardware and office supply stores will also have dozens of storage solutions. And don’t forget to shop in your own home, where great pieces may lurk in your attic, basement or spare bedroom. Any item with drawers, shelves or divided space is a candidate for creative storage. Use the ideas below as starting points.

Look in antique stores for the walnut and mahogany wardrobes from the 1920s and 1930s, which are just as roomy as the faux-French ones of today and significantly cheaper. Or visit an unfinished furniture store and pick up a unit that suits your needs. An armoire can house not only clothes but a TV, a work station for hobbies, a computer or a compact home office.
Metro Shelving
This heavy-duty chrome wire shelving, often used in restaurant kitchens, provides strong, industrial-looking open storage anywhere. Stack with tools, towels and supplies in the laundry room; plastic toy bins in a child’s room; and cookware and bulk food in the kitchen, pantry or utility room.
Wicker or wood, open or lidded, large or small, baskets offer storage solutions for every room in the house. Search out the unusual and beautiful to create a beautiful textural display. Stash rolled towels and bathroom supplies, blankets near the couch or fireplace; use for toy storage, shoes at the front door and classy organizers for shelves of all sizes.
Pocket Wall Files
Great not just for the office but also in the kitchen to hold frequently used recipes, takeout menus and receipts. Use in a child’s room to keep homework and other school papers organized and easy to access.

Pegs and Hooks
Available in many styles and in wood, chrome, iron and more. Useful alone and below mirrors or shelves. Remove towel bars and install hooks along a bathroom wall to hang enough towels for everyone. Great for kids’ rooms so they can hang up jackets and sweaters “all by myself.” Pair with a storage bench in the mudroom or entryway.

Bulletin Boards
Think big: Cover the back of a door or a wide stretch of wall with cork, tautly stretched canvas or foam-core panels wrapped in felt. Notes, invitations, photos and all sorts of other miscellany that would jumble a drawer become a colorful collage when organized on a handsome bulletin board.

Lean a bamboo ladder against a bedroom wall to display a collection of quilts or scarves. Lay planks across the steps of a painted stepladder in the family room and form shelves for books and magazines.

Piano Benches
Even if you don’t own a piano, a reclaimed bench works well in an entryway (with gloves, hats and scarves beneath the hinged lid) or as extra seating in a pinch at party time. Hide magazines, placemats and more inside.

Paint Cans
Buy new paint cans from the hardware store and cover in fabric or wrapping paper. Standing upright, fill with anything from kitchen utensils to garden tools to art supplies. Turned on their sides, cans stack into a pyramid to store mail, jewelry, crayons, shells, seed packets and so on.
Old Pie Safes
The pierced-tin or wire-mesh fronts that once made these cabinets perfect for cooling pies make them ideal storage pieces for towels and soaps in bathrooms, rustic nightstands or as a corner bar in the living room.
Vintage Suitcases
These nostalgic mementos not only look sophisticated, but store projects, photo albums and other stuff, and stack into charming occasional and bedside tables.
Old Trunks
Though not as easily portable as baskets and suitcases, military or camp trunks provide great storage for extra blankets and quilts in a guest room, a spot to sit in an entryway and stash books within, or in a rear entryway to hold sports equipment, extension cords or boots or bulk supplies. Top one with a large tray to make it work as a coffee or side table.
Salvaged Kitchen Cabinets
Appealingly low-priced at salvage shops, no-longer-loved cabinets become instant storage at floor level or higher in a laundry room or workshop. Or remove doors, repaint the cabinet interiors and use as cubbyholes.
Retail Fixtures
Fixtures that once displayed shirts or sweaters for sale are worth searching for, both in salvage shops and at going-out-of-business sales (“Everything must go! Even the fixtures!”).
File Cabinets
Too useful to limit to storing papers, file cabinets can hold caps, gloves and scarves in an entryway, T-shirts or sweaters in a bedroom, or board games and puzzles in a family room. Look for oak pieces in antique shops. Or spray paint a metal model a bright color. Make sure the drawers open and close easily and that locks are disabled so you’re not stuck without a key.
Fabric-Covered Boxes
Whether you cover them yourself or buy them already clad, sturdy boxes covered with linen, chintz, denim or silk will organize everything from CDs to old love letters with a stylish note. Buy plenty—just one or two can look like an afterthought, but three, five, seven or more (an odd number makes a better arrangement) become a design statement.
Glossy Gift Boxes
A row of Tiffany-turquoise or Hermès-orange boxes makes a bright display stacked on open shelves while offering labeled homes for documents or bills you need to save, photographs or office supplies.
Garbage Cans
Buy small galvanized garbage cans with lids to serve as stylish out-of-sight storage for large essentials: laundry detergent, pet food, toys, sporting goods, rain boots—even recyclables and kitchen compost.