Content Updated October 3, 2007
Buy or build furniture that is functional for everyday use but also has built in storage.
Even if your current furniture is perfectly fine, if you’re not attached to it, and it doesn’t add to your storage space, you may want to consider replacing it. Always buy tables (end tables, nightstands, coffee tables) with drawers or cabinets or at least a shelf or two. Buy bunk beds with built in bookshelves, drawers, and cubbies for your kids. Consider buying armoires instead of open bookshelves, so you have a place to hide your clutter, or buy a hutch bookshelf if you want to display items in addition to having storage space. Use chests (toy chests, blanket chests, hope chests, large trinket chest) as decorative items, footstools, or tables, so you can store items in the chest and still use it on a daily basis.
Buy or build closet, cabinet, and drawer organizers.
You can buy cheap wire organizers or pay a little extra for something elegant. It doesn’t really matter what you choose as long as it works for you. Use these organizers to take advantage of vertical space. Instead of having one clothes bar in your closet, try splitting your closet in half and having one half filled with shelves from floor to ceiling while the other half has two clothes bars (one on top of the other) with a shelf overhead. Instead of just piling everything up on the bottom of your cabinet (no matter how neatly you try to do it), put in some shelves and now you have twice area to place items in. Use small baskets or drawer dividers to organize your desk drawers, utensils , junk drawers, make up, hair accessories, hobby items, tools, or anything else you have in drawers. It will help you find things when you need it, avoid putting in junk that doesn’t belong in that drawer, and let you know exactly when you simply don’t have room to buy just one more thing. If you have deep drawers, you can put two drawer organizers on top of each other (with lesser used items underneath). There are even organizers you can put on your cabinet door (such as to hold your curling iron, electric razor, or hair dryer). Search the Internet for organizers or visit a local home supplies store to get lots of ideas.
Decorative baskets, bins, and buckets (cans, tins, planters, and such) can be used to decorate a room as well as provide storage space.
I have seen this technique over-used (walked into a house and there are baskets and little decorative jars fill with stuff everywhere, floors, on top of the television set, and on every possible horizontal surface; it just looked like clutter galore), so you need to carefully consider where these items will be placed and ensure that you don’t over do it. They work well on bookshelves, on top of desks, dressers, end tables, nightstands, entertainment centers, and just about any other display surface, but they need to fit into your decor. For example, I have a medium sized flower pot, topped with fake flowers, where I hide all of my remote controls in my nature-inspired living room; the flower pot and fake flowers mask the unsightly pile of remotes, fit into the decor, and still allow instant access to the items.
Look for organizers and storage items that can fit into unused spaces.
One of the most popular of these organizers is the under-the-bed box (great if you don’t have a bed with drawers beneath it). Use hooks on the backs of doors (especially in bedrooms and bathrooms).
Give up those CD and DVD displays and invest in a disc organizer book instead.
I know that there are people who pride themselves on their huge music, movie, or software collection and absolutely must display them in a rack designed specifically for that purpose, but for the rest of us, these racks just waste space, so get a disc organizer. There are large ones and small ones as well as different colors and textures. Instead of holding onto the entire space-wasting case and packaging, these organizers only hold the actual disc (and some supply a place for the paper inserts that come with the discs but you can always store those in an empty disc slot if you don’t have such a design). One book can easily hold over 100 discs in a neat, compact, and organized way that can nicely fit onto your bookshelf (now you’ll have space for all of your books).
Reduce out-of-season storage by using items that change with the seasons.
This doesn’t exactly create storage space, but it definitely reduces the amount that you need. I know some people who have special blankets, pillows, curtains, rugs, fake plants, and you name it for every season. Of course, the problem with this festive way of decorating is that it requires out-of-season storage. If you’re such a person, try using things like slip covers over pillows and comforters rather than having separate pillows or comforters. Add seasonal foliage to your decorating (the real stuff that you can use or compost when the season is over, not the fake stuff that takes up storage) instead of relying on changing your curtains, rugs, and so forth. (Festive baskets of seasonal fruits make excellent seasonal decorations, and you can eat it in your favorite seasonal recipes too.) Consider decorating your holidays with homemade, edible decorations; for example, decorate your Christmas tree with cookies, candy canes, strings of cranberries and popcorn, and other goodies (classic Christmas decorations that are always in style) rather than boxes of ornaments that are probably out of fashion anyhow (making such decorations is also a great way to celebrate the season and fun for kids); only keep the ornaments you have an attachment to in your “Christmas Decorations” box.