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Rehab Diary: Finding Storage in Unexpected Places

As architects who have a penchant for being organized (are there any who don’t?), my husband and I are on a never-ending quest for more storage space. After living small in London for 10 years with our two sons, we sleuthed for more space last year and upgraded our kitchen, taking the opportunity to create as much storage as possible. Come have a look—we managed to find storage in the most unexpected places.

Photography by Kristin Perers.

Ground Floor

Our modern London townhouse has three floors, each is 500 square feet, with sleeping at the top, working and reading in the middle, and everything else on the ground floor. The first floor acts as the engine room of the house—it’s where cooking, dining, meeting, laundering, ironing, newspaper reading, and even ping-pong playing (on the dining table) take place—so it was important to us to create a place for everything, and that it all be easily accessible. Of course, the better you are at putting things away, the more effective this strategy is. Are you listening, my beloved teens?

The tall kitchen cabinets that extend from the front of the house to the back are visible immediately beyond our entry.
Above: The tall kitchen cabinets that extend from the front of the house to the back are visible immediately beyond our entry.
While our galley kitchen runs the length of the house, the sizes of the kitchen cabinets vary according to use. In Sleuthing for Space in My Kitchen, I discuss how we found more space without extending the kitchen.
Above: While our galley kitchen runs the length of the house, the sizes of the kitchen cabinets vary according to use. In Sleuthing for Space in My Kitchen, I discuss how we found more space without extending the kitchen.
The vents at the top of the cabinet doors hint at what is behind them.
Above: The vents at the top of the cabinet doors hint at what is behind them.
 The cabinet doors open up to reveal the laundry area, complete with washer, dryer, and sink—an adapted version of my fantasy laundry room. See more small laundry rooms in 9 Favorite Laundry Rooms with Storage Ideas to Steal.
Above: The cabinet doors open up to reveal the laundry area, complete with washer, dryer, and sink—an adapted version of my fantasy laundry room. See more small laundry rooms in 9 Favorite Laundry Rooms with Storage Ideas to Steal.
Above, L to R: A Before shot of the laundry room shows our open shoe display; the same shoes are now hidden away behind cabinet doors.
Above, L to R: A Before shot of the laundry room shows our open shoe display; the same shoes are now hidden away behind cabinet doors.
My husband has hats, lots of them. I don’t begrudge him his hats because he needs them for good reasons, but they are not easy to store. We used to hang them on the wall going up the stairs, but they kept falling off when people brushed by them. Our new solution: We installed Commercial Kitchen Draining Shelves from Alco–8½ linear feet of them in the entry hall. The shelves work well not only for hats but also for hanging the incidental coat (our coat closet is always filled to the max), as well as dry-cleaning, dog leashes, and anything else that needs a temporary home.
Above: My husband has hats, lots of them. I don’t begrudge him his hats because he needs them for good reasons, but they are not easy to store. We used to hang them on the wall going up the stairs, but they kept falling off when people brushed by them. Our new solution: We installed Commercial Kitchen Draining Shelves from Alco–8½ linear feet of them in the entry hall. The shelves work well not only for hats but also for hanging the incidental coat (our coat closet is always filled to the max), as well as dry-cleaning, dog leashes, and anything else that needs a temporary home.
In the entry hall, things remain pretty much the same as before, despite the fact that the entire kitchen area on the other side of the gray wall was completely overhauled.
Above: In the entry hall, things remain pretty much the same as before, despite the fact that the entire kitchen area on the other side of the gray wall was completely overhauled.
My husband earmarked a sliver of the wall in the entry hall for keys, transit cards, headphones, and other miscellaneous small items that are so easy to misplace and yet so important. He went to Habitat and devised a solution from what was there (he’s annoyingly good at this)–he combined white metal DVD shelves with acrylic storage boxes (both are no longer available at the store).
Above: My husband earmarked a sliver of the wall in the entry hall for keys, transit cards, headphones, and other miscellaneous small items that are so easy to misplace and yet so important. He went to Habitat and devised a solution from what was there (he’s annoyingly good at this)–he combined white metal DVD shelves with acrylic storage boxes (both are no longer available at the store).
I have a friend who thinks Bill and I are deluded in believing we can reduce the essence of teenage detritus into one box each. She may be right, but at least our boys know where their keys, phones, and wallets are (most of the time).
Above: I have a friend who thinks Bill and I are deluded in believing we can reduce the essence of teenage detritus into one box each. She may be right, but at least our boys know where their keys, phones, and wallets are (most of the time).
Closets in London, if you have any at all, tend to be small. Two rows of Shaker pegs absorb the overflow of scarves, bags, and jackets, and are particularly useful during the winter. To read about how I used the pegs in Connecticut, see How Shaker Pegs Saved My Summer Sanity.
Above: Closets in London, if you have any at all, tend to be small. Two rows of Shaker pegs absorb the overflow of scarves, bags, and jackets, and are particularly useful during the winter. To read about how I used the pegs in Connecticut, see How Shaker Pegs Saved My Summer Sanity.

Middle Floor

On the second floor, where we read, work, and watch TV, we installed the 606 Universal Shelving System by Vitsoe to maximize space for our ever-growing library.
Above: On the second floor, where we read, work, and watch TV, we installed the 606 Universal Shelving System by Vitsoe to maximize space for our ever-growing library.
 The best thing about the Vitsoe shelving is that it can come with us when we move. Because it’s a modular system of interchangeable parts, we can add to or subtract from it as needed.
Above: The best thing about the Vitsoe shelving is that it can come with us when we move. Because it’s a modular system of interchangeable parts, we can add to or subtract from it as needed.

Top Floor

When we moved our bed into an awkward niche in our bedroom, we took the opportunity to integrate overhead storage into the headboard and we added drawers to the base of the bed for luggage.
Above: When we moved our bed into an awkward niche in our bedroom, we took the opportunity to integrate overhead storage into the headboard and we added drawers to the base of the bed for luggage.

Trying to maximize your own storage options? Here are 7 Space-Saving Hallway Storage Solutions (that don’t require an in-house architect). And if you don’t have room for bedside tables, see New & Noteworthy: Wall-Mounted Bedside Shelves, Color Optional. Got a garage? See Gardenista’s 10 Easy Pieces: Garage Storage Units.

N.B.: This post is an update; it first appeared on Remodelista on March 28, 2014.

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