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10 Storage Ideas to Steal from an Artfully Organized Apartment in New York City

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Eric Piasecki Kitchen Cupboard

Creative director Matthew Axe is a collector, but that doesn’t mean his home is jam-packed with things. The two-bedroom apartment he shares with his husband, Peyton Hays, is, in fact, the opposite of cluttered. (Don’t take my word for it: For a tour of his beautifully minimalist home, head over to Remodelista and see Quiet, Please: A Stylish Apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens.)

What their home is is considered. Everything has a place and a reason to be there: “If something isn’t useful or beautiful, it goes,” says Axe. Below, he shares how he organizes his belongings and where he stows items that aren’t up to his style standards.

Photography by Eric Piasecki for The Organized Home.

1. Ban flimsy plastic containers.

There’s a plethora of inexpensive yet beautiful baskets, bins, and boxes on the market, so there’s absolutely no reason to corral your things in something unappealing. Picture this space, below, with a plastic bin, instead of a wire basket, holding the dog toys. (Better yet, don’t!)

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Apartment Dog Toy Basket by Eric Piasecki
Above: A wire basket is the perfect storage solution for their dog’s toys, as it’s not only attractive but allows Rusty, their Welsh terrier, to easily find what he’s looking for.

2. Repurpose what you have.

Think creatively and, whenever and wherever possible, repurpose your belongings for a different function. We’re lucky to live in an age when you can purchase anything with the click of a button, but the feeling of giving something old new life and discovering a creative solution without spending any money is just priceless.

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Apartment Couch by Eric Piasecki
Above: Living with a canine means welcoming durable, hard-wearing materials into your home. Axe and Hays came up with an ingenious washable sofa cover, a must when you have a dog who claims every soft surface as a potential perch: They simply folded a denim patchwork quilt in half, using black binder clips to maintain the fold, and laid it on top of their sofa.

3. Don’t overload your hooks.

Wall hooks are inarguably great storage tools, but many of us tend to overuse them. Go through what you really wear or use every day, hang those items up, and stash the rest in a closet.

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Apartment Dog Leash by Eric Piasecki
Above: In the entry of the apartment, Rusty’s dog leash is the sole object hanging from the statement-making vintage hook that Axe scored on French eBay.

4. Take advantage of your home’s quirks.

Every house has them: architectural quirks that may seem like a hassle but if you put your thinking cap on, you may just end up finding surprising benefits. Too-narrow cabinet spaces can turn into storage areas for cutting boards; a deep window casing can mean an opportunity to add a laundry drying rack, and exposed radiators can turn into improvised shelves.

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Apartment Dish Drying Towels by Eric Piasecki
Above: Before moving into their apartment, the couple renovated the kitchen and bath, redid the floors, and gave the walls a fresh coat of paint. But they were conscious of not touching the footprint and original architectural details—even the oddly placed radiators. Here, in the kitchen, a heating pipe becomes their de facto kitchen towel rod.

5. Create stations.

Think about your routine and create stations—a hardworking entry that’s organized to get you out the door quickly, a coffee station set up for easy morning brewing, a bedtime kit with a book, eye mask, and lavender lotion to help you transition to sleep. This way, you don’t have to fumble around for your daily essentials.

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Apartment Tea Service by Eric Piasecki
Above: An avid tea drinker (Axe is English, after all), the tea station in his kitchen includes a Bellocq Tea Strainer, a wood spoon from Hope in the Woods, and black mugs from Soendergaard Design.

6. Look for items designed for small spaces.

There’s a reason that many furniture chains now offer small-space lines: Products and pieces made specifically for smaller residences can make it easier to maintain an organized home. After all, it’s hard to find a place for a shoe rack when your coat rack takes up the entire entry.

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Eric Piasecki Kitchen Cupboard
Above: Axe built up his collection of TC100 tableware by Hans Roericht, which is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, over the years. He loves their elegant, stackable design, perfect for kitchens with minimal storage space.

7. Invest in a sturdy shelving unit.

Well-made shelving units can be costly, but they’re worth the investment when what you get out of them is a ton of storage space and, oftentimes, the showpiece of a room.

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Apartment Vitsoe Shelves by Eric Piasecki
Above: Axe readily admits that his Vitsoe shelving in the study is the priciest item in their home, but he has no regrets about the purchase.

8. Conceal the electronics.

Some essentials are just unattractive and unpleasant to look at. Whenever you can, hide them.

Above: The couple installed a low row of Vitsoe cabinets on the wall opposite their bed to act as a media console. A flatscreen TV sits on top (on the right side), while the more unsightly electronics are stashed inside.

9. Organize with trays.

We love a good tray for organizing smaller items—and for creating a canvas on which to make a pretty tableau.

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Apartment Dental Trays by Eric Piasecki
Above: Axe collects vintage glass dental trays; in the bath, a trio of these trays organizes his toiletries.

10. Use slatted shelves in the linen closet.

It’s such an important feature in a linen closet, yet most of us don’t do it. Install slatted shelves to encourage air circulation and your linens won’t get musty.

Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Apartment Linen Closet by Eric Piasecki
Above: The couple turned a clothing closet in their study into a linen closet, complete with slatted shelves. The slats aren’t attached; each shelf is simply made up of four narrow boards placed on top of molding inside the closet.

Looking for more storage and organization solutions for your home? Here are more good reads:

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