Maximizing Small Storage Spaces

We have lived in our home about 8 years. It took me about 4 years of that time to realize that I live in a small-ish home. Apparently I was in denial before. The first 4 years we lived here we always had at least one room completely CRAMMED full of junk. If you ever came over to visit in those first 4 years, you would have found at least 1 of the spare bedroom doors CLOSED. You see, we live in a 1320 square foot 3 bed/2 bath ranch that does not have a basement or garage and there's only room in the attic for maybe 10 storage tubs. So naturally, if you keep a lot of extra junk around in a home this size, it tends to take over actual living space. (Some of you may live in much smaller spaces but we both grew up in sprawling farmhouses that are each 2-3000 square feet. It was a reality check to realize we did not have that much space.)

Slowly over time, I began to realize that not everyone has a room entirely full of junk in their home. That was not a normal thing. I did not want to star on the next Hoarders episode. So I realized I would have to do some significant purging in order to have a neat, organized home. It was a slow process that took several years of having about 5 garage sales and hauling junk to Goodwill on a weekly basis, but we did it. And we haven't missed a thing that we've gotten rid of. We are left with things that we truly love and that truly serve us on a daily basis. And we can enjoy the space that we have so much more.

With all the junk gone, we could officially reclaim our closets (and all our rooms!). And that's when I set out to maximize what storage we do have. I realized that these closets would have to "work hard" to contain all that we needed them to and still be functional.

So I spent a lot of time browsing Google Images (before I knew about Pinterest!) and leafing through magazines such as Real Simple for organizing ideas.

Sometimes I would purchase an organizer and then realize that it really didn't do what I needed it to. I made some mistakes along the way, sure. But I'm pretty pleased with what we have now. And I tend to edit our organizational systems as we go. It's not unusual for me to rework things on a weekly basis...

Cleaning Closet. Our water heater and furnace sit in a closet in the center of our house. We really didn't use this closet for anything but then I realized it would make a fabulous cleaning closet. I purchased this over the door cleaning supply /tool storage center on Amazon.

I love it because I can store cleaners and paper towels along with brooms, mops, etc. all in one spot. And there's room in front of the water heater for the vacuum. Now all my cleaning supplies are in one convenient location!

Nursery Closet. Over the course of the past year, I have reorganized Levi's bedroom closet a bazillion times. This is what I've settled on for now. I took these plastic drawers that we already owned and sat them on top of the bottom shelf in the closet. Then I printed labels identifying what goes in each drawer. (We realized typed words somehow register more in Dave's mind than handwritten!) I love the clear drawers because I can contain diapers, wipes, crib sheets, toiletries, blankets, shoes and socks, hats, etc. but still be able to see the stuff.

Then underneath the drawers in the closet I placed a 3 tier bookshelf for Levi's toys, books and stuffed animals.  At one point we had this bookshelf out in the open of his bedroom but since we're putting our home up for sale we thought it would be good to eliminate the visual clutter in the room and hide this away in the closet. It's great because you can close the door and not see it. Plus, it is a fun little hideout for him to play in. We often play peekaboo with the closet door!

Master Bedroom Closet. When we remodeled our master suite, we were able to completely change the floorplan of our master bath and closet. However, we were not able to add any space (as that would have taken away from our adjoining master bedroom or laundry room). So it was a tradeoff but we ended up opting for a smaller closet so we could have a larger master bath.

Therefore, I was determined to make the most of the small closet space, which is accessed through the master bath. We chose not to put a door on the closet but to hang up a sheer curtain panel on a tension rod instead. I found this lovely green one with a brown geometric pattern at Garden Ridge for just $14.99. It adds sophistication and color to our otherwise neutral bathroom.

We installed adjustable shelves/hanging rods in the closet that way it can be customized and evolve with our needs. On the right side of the closet we installed linen storage for the bathroom and placed a cute hamper underneath for dirty clothes. We also mounted 3 hooks to the wall for wet towels.  

We have 2 levels for hanging clothes on hangers on one side of the closet. And one high level for hanging longer items like dresses and suits. Another thing we did was buy white wooden hangers from HomeGoods. I love the uniform look (although my hubby insists on keeping that black suit hanger you see out front!)

I also had this Mary Kay jewelry organizer from my sister-in-law sitting around. I nearly took it to Goodwill because I always had jewelry boxes sitting out on my dresser and didn't think I needed it. But when I decided I didn't like that cluttered look of the top of my dresser and got rid of the jewelry boxes, I put all my jewelry in here. Turns out I love how it can fit right inside the closet out of sight.

Laundry Room Closet. Our laundry room (where we typically enter the home) is basically a hallway with just enough room for the washer/dryer and chest freezer. We could mount some hooks on the wall on the right side of this photograph below but we both feel like that clutters a space to have hooks with bulky bags and coats hanging on them. Plus as narrow as this walkway is, we know from experience that we end up bumping into those items hanging up and either knocking them down or scratching the wall up. Still, we needed somewhere to drop things off when we come home. (Generally stuff ends up on top of the appliances and that's a constant frustration...)

So, there is a small closet that contains the water softener. Most people wouldn't think you could do much with that tiny utility closet. There's only about 16" wide of actual usable space. We decided to make the most of this closet. We keep the diaper bag, gym bag, and Dave's lunch box on the top shelf as well as an umbrella, water softener filters and my extra purses. And we installed an ironing board/iron holder on the side wall. And there's just enough room to hang a couple coats inside the closet!

We also added over the door hooks to the closet door to hold my purse and anything else that needs to go out with us (shown here is another bag of things to go to Goodwill...)

Spare Room Closet. We used to use our guest bedroom as an office. During that time we kept a lot of things such as scrapbooking supplies and board games in the closet. I purchased an inexpensive brushed nickel wire shelving unit to store the supplies in an orderly fashion. I just loved opening up the door and gazing at the order!

We are no longer using that room as an office (because we condensed all our office stuff down to a computer armoire and wicker storage ottoman in the family room...woohoo! but that's another post...) so now we use the closet for all our remodeling supplies/tools (on the same wire shelving unit).

I used a hodge podge of containers for all the supplies. And then typed up labels for them. It may not be the prettiest closet but considering all this stuff used to be strewn about our family room, it's an improvement.

There's a container for screws/nails/misc. hardware, another for tape and glue, another for caulk and stain, another for sanding supplies and another for paint brushes/rollers. Then there's all the paint cans. And another container for spray paint cans.

On the floor we have, on the left, a container with a tool bag in it for things like hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, tape measure, etc. and a Bosch tool bag, on the rigth, for the drill, reciprocating saw and impact tool.  It's so easy to find what we need now when working on a project!

Hope you all have enjoyed peeking into our closets. No secrets here...What ideas do you have for maximizing your small storage spaces?

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