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'Add hanging space under the stairs': 6 important home storage zones and how to tackle them

From your kitchen cupboards to below your bed, it’s time to get zoning.

Image: Shutterstock/MStock00

RIGHT NOW, WE’RE all quickly becoming aware of the way we live in our homes: which areas work for us, which don’t, and what the pressure points are.

Those of us who would usually eat at work are suddenly preparing all of our meals in the kitchen. We’re socialising, via screens, from our living rooms and bedrooms rather than in bars or parks.

Moving within the same for walls for a long period of time has one big advantage: it gives us time to consider how each space functions, and the role of each room.

Now is also a smart time to consider your home’s storage situation.

Where are the natural storage areas in your home? Should there be more of them? From under the sink to those hidden drawers in the base of your bed, what is the best way to utilise each space and thus make your experience at home that bit easier?

There are a number of typical storage zones, and getting a handle on these will have a huge impact on the look and feel of your home. The goal here is not so much to ask ‘what fits in this storage space?’, but more ‘what’s the best way to use this space?’. Let’s take a look at some of the main zones…

1. Under the sink

Everything you need in and around the sink should fit underneath it. Dishwasher tablets, cloths, cleaning products. The key is to store the products in a tray or box that you can lift out of the cupboard to see what you need, as you need it, and remain aware of your inventory at all times. Storing items like cloths and sponges by category rather than firing things in will allow you to fit more of what you need in there and make your cleaning experience that bit easier. Think of it as storage within your storage. Inception storage.

shutterstock_704588869 Source: Shutterstock/Budimir Jevtic

2. Under the bed

Think of what you need access to here. Let’s be honest, we don’t really care if PJs get a bit ruffled, so these – or your sock collection – are a good choice for bed-drawer storage. If you have a bed frame with space underneath, get yourself some IKEA drawer dividers and holders and either stock your jammies in there for easy access OR consider storing your night time reads here, freeing up more space on your bedside table.

3. In the bathroom

There’s scarcely an individual who hasn’t found themselves already sitting on the toilet seat by the time they’ve realised that the last bit of loo roll has been used and not replaced. It might be something you store in a cupboard or pantry downstairs with the best of intentions of restocking each toilet in advance and of course this never happens. Storage options are limited in small bathrooms but look beyond the available floor space. A shelf high above the cistern or even above the door frame can stock several toilet rolls without being in the way or taking from your overall aesthetic. You’ll never be caught out again.

4. Under the stairs

This zone is often a poorly lit dumping ground for coats, mucky shoes and reusable shopping bags. You need to be militant about this space, so I’d recommend starting with a clear-out of anything that’s rarely used or ready for the bin/charity shop. With the shoes you do need to keep here, add a hook on the wall and hang a shoe compartment hanger to make better use of wall space and free up floor space. Do the same with bags and umbrellas – hang them on the wall. Same logic for shoes applies to the coats – we are now coming out of heavy winter coat weather. Can they be relocated elsewhere until the hour goes forward once again? Leave the floor space empty so you can step in to see what you need or if you have a buggy, let it live here and not in your hallway.

5. Kitchen cupboards

Now is as good a time as any to get serious about your kitchen storage. We often give too much priority to things we never use, because they are ‘fancy’. The result is one cupboard dedicated to a tagine dish you use once in a blue moon, while another drawer is bursting with pots and pans. Displaying those ‘fancy’ items or storing them on top of cabinets should free up cupboard and drawer space for the things you actually use.

Be smart about positioning too. Are your cups above the kettle? They should be. Are your pots beside the hob? They should be. Are heavier items – such as air fryers or chip pans – accessible in such a way that reaching for them doesn’t compromise your back? Make notes of what you need and where it would be easiest to access it as you are cooking a meal.

6. Hall stand or hall table

Console tables without drawers for hidden storage look great but they wind up terribly cluttered with keys, post and other items with no permanent home. Even if your hall stand has just one or two narrow drawers, you can organise them in a structured way, and start to make this zone work harder. A shallow container for throwing loose change into, a drawer divider that keeps keys together and wallets easily accessible… these are two smart additions. What do you need access to on a daily basis as you walk out the door? What is currently living there that doesn’t belong there? Can the collection of batteries be relocated? Can you dump last year’s birthday cards? Reclaim every space in your home in a way that makes your life easier.

More: Tight squeeze? How to make a small kitchen feel bigger – without gutting the whole space>

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