Is your home out of storage space? Getting ready for potential future emergencies is challenging. It takes knowledge, skill and a whole bunch of stuff! But preparing is especially difficult for those of us living in apartments, condos or townhouses. The problem (or challenge if you’re the glass half-full type) is obvious. Where the heck are we supposed to put all our stuff?
Storage space for life (let alone disaster supplies) comes at a hefty premium to those living in and around urban areas. In London, a city with astonishingly high housing costs and incredibly restrictive building codes, people wishing to create more space have little alternative but to dig down at huge expense. They’ve even coined a term for these homes, iceberg houses.
I’m fortunate. The castle I call my home is a two bedroom condo on the third floor of a three story walk-up. Aside from an extremely small storage unit in our basement, that’s really it when it comes to space. And while I enjoy preparedness, I don’t like it staring me in the face. Storing preps is relatively easy, even for those in studio apartments, if you don’t mind stepping over / around things. But stepping around boxes and bags on the way to the shower isn’t fun. I want to be able to have guests over and enjoy my home. Not stare at a wall of stacked canned goods or eat on a table supported by water barrels.
While renting additional storage outside your home as a workaround to “create” additional storage is possible (and something we’ll explore further in a later post), let’s call that off limits for today’s purposes. Better to spend your money on preps to get you and your family through difficult times anyways. Last thing we all need is another monthly bill.
Before we look for “hidden” storage space in our homes, a couple to-dos. First, take some time and get rid of things you don’t need. Be ruthless. If you don’t need it, it’s time to trash, donate or sell it. Second, you can probably do without a few of the things you kept. Be ruthless! Third, spend some time reorganizing what you decided to keep. That should free up a lot of space. Still out of room?
Here are 10 ways to create more storage space in your home:
Under The Bed – Storing items under the bed is pretty common, but a lot of what’s under there is rarely (if ever) used. Clear that entire space out – tossing the unwanted and putting what is there elsewhere. A queen size mattress is over 33 square feet. Then turn that into cubic feet by buying some bed risers. If you want even more space, or don’t want to raise your bed with risers, check your box spring mattress. Guess what? Many of them don’t even have springs! Yep. They’re really just hollowed out cages. Just remove the thin fabric and you’re good to go!
Under Furniture – Grab a flashlight, turn your couch and chairs over, and peek in. Many pieces of furniture have fabric which, when removed, will reveal a good amount of space. Then find box(es) that match the dimensions of the void, slid your preps in and place the furniture back on top. Out of sight with peace of mind!
Behind Books – Most of us have shelving lined with books we (never) read. Those shelves are typically much deeper than necessary. Just pull your books to the front and make use of the space behind for cans or other items.
Backs Of Shelves – Same idea as with bookshelves, but especially relevant for extremely high shelving. Think back to the last time you stood on a chair to get at something in the far back of your highest shelf. It’s probably been a very long time. That’s why you put that thing there. Instead of using that space for something you likely don’t need, clear it out. You’ll still have the front of the shelf. A lot of space can be created around your home just by moving things to the front of your shelves.
Under/Behind Built-In Drawers/Cabinets – Many built-in drawers and cabinets have 4-5″ of space from the floor before you hit the base of the bottom drawer. If you have built-ins, just check the bottom to see if there’s a space below. If there’s useless cover below the drawer or cabinet, and you’re desperate for some hidden space, you can cut an access hole to get at that precious space. If you have an old school desk, check under its drawers too. We recently replaced our dishwasher and I discovered we have roughly 10 feet of hidden storage that’s 1 1/2 feet deep and 5 inches high. Pop out a couple access panels and we’re in business.
Behind Doors – There are hundreds of products (racks, shelves, baskets, hooks and even cabinets) available on the market at relatively little cost. Most use tension or hooks that require no tools for installation and do not damage the door in any way. Their compartments and small shelves eliminate the need for containers and are ideas for food storage.
Under Sink Shelving – If enclosed, the space under your kitchen and bathroom sinks can be a good place to find more usable storage space. Many cabinets don’t have built-in shelving, something easily remedied with some inexpensive shelving. As there’s always the potential for a leak, choose wisely what you put down there.
Hanging / Drop Ceilings – If you have those old school 2′ x 2′ tile ceilings, grab a ladder and take a peak. The metal frames holding the tiles are anchored along the walls and suspended (typically by wire) on the interior of the room. The bad news – they don’t hold much weight, so it’s a risk to throw something flat up there to create a shelf. It’ll work well (and create a TON of room) for light items. The good news – do you see joists? If so, you can install ventilated shelving which can support quite a bit of weight. This link shows it in action. The cavities between ceiling joists are perfect for small to medium sized boxes and bins.
Vertical Space – Coming in a close second to under the bed storage, efficient use of vertical space is likely the best bang for the buck when it comes to creating additional storage space in your home. A ton of vertical space goes unused. I noticed this first in my home’s closets. We have pretty high ceilings, but the highest shelves are several feet below them. Stacking items all the way up on those top shelves has added a lot of storage space. You can also make use of that space by installing shelving inside closets above the doors, heavy duty hooks (good for packs, sleeping bags and other items that don’t stack efficiently) and ceiling mounted shelving / racks. If you live in an apartment and aren’t allowed to drill holes, check out adhesive hooks which don’t damage walls and can hold 3-7 1/2 lbs.
Build Shelves In Your Walls – If you need to create even more space, why not do it in the walls? This solution requires some gumption and will take a day or two. But provided you have (or can borrow) the necessary tools the materials cost will be minimal. If you’re interested in storing food I think the project could be modified pretty easily to accommodate vertically stored canned goods.