Functional Storage Solutions & Tips For Small Spaces

set of stairs, natural wood with white risers.

I am still looking for a carpenter that will build storage space into my stairway. Think of how much stuff can be stored in this under utilized prime real estate! I have 2 inside staircases with 13 steps each! The framework is already built for this great way to make extra storage space.

Small Home

My small home suited me well – until I decided to make and sell art for a living from home. Then things started to feel crowded. I saw where this was going, work spaces were taking over living spaces one bedroom at a time. I finally had to double the size of my house and separate work from home. 

Home and work life

I started working from home about 30 years ago when this option was not as popular, certainly less talked about, than remote work is today. Even with limited space it was my dream come true. As a life long artist my whole life is based on creative pursuits and I did not dislike having media creep into my home space… until I did object. 

Many of today’s remote workers require a home office consisting of little more than a laptop, a lot more manageable than setting up a well ventilated hot shop to melt glass. What to do? I had a tiny home with little extra space. Business was good so I hired a contractor and doubled the size of my home. I recognize not everyone can do this.

First step 

Getting rid of excess stuff is even more important to do for those of us living and possibly working in small quarters. Let’s face it little homes have little storage spaces. I always leaned toward a minimalist style so not keeping a lot of stuff around is my preference. 

Storage containers and shelving

I notice when I help others declutter and organize one of the first things folks do is buy containers and shelves – to contain clutter. This is a real head scratcher to me.

I recommend thinking about storage needs last, after you have gone through your belongings and curated what items will remain in your home. It is almost a certainty storage containers and shelving become a catch all and magnet to collecting clutter.

Here are some ideas on how to manage excess clothing.

20/20 rule

The 20/20 rule is even more important for smaller homes. The 20/20 rule rule says you should consider letting go of an object if you can either replace it for less than 20$ or in less than 20 minutes.

This is a spin on the 80/20 Pareto rule which suggests we use roughly 20% of what we own around 80% of the time. Example: deviled egg serving dish.

What to keep, donate, sell or discard

When I help others bail out from clutter the first thing I do is open 3 separate big, black, heavy mil contractor bags to sort items into. One bag each for donations, stuff to sell and trash bag. One item at a time a decision is made what bag the item will go into.

Clean at last

You have got rid of all the extra stuff and now have a beautiful space ready to make your own! Put some thought into this. What is most important to you? Is cooking your thing? Start in the kitchen. I have a teeny kitchen which suits me fine because I don’t really enjoy cooking. Because I do enjoy eating from time to time I have to cook, plus I am a fussy eater and insist on clean eating, which means no processed foods. 

Efficient and well organized

The most important aspect in a kitchen to me is clean and efficient. I do not want to see stuff on what little counter space I have because I do not want to waste a moment moving stuff to cook and clean. What is important to you? This is the thing you need to incorporate first in your space.

Even a small kitchen can have creative storage solutions. Consider a 4 or 5 foot built in seating bench with a plush fabric cushion on top and deep storage underneath to house all the overflow and less used cooking tools?

Curating pieces

In small spaces it is extremely important to use the eye of a museum curator when deciding what to keep and what to discard. 

Multifunctional Furniture and Storage Solutions

I have 2 Murphy beds in my home in 2 of the small bedrooms that are perfect for the occasional guest. One of these rooms is used as my fiber studio almost daily. For the few times a year a guest stays, there is very comfortable mattress and bed already made tucked into the wall. Just pull down and guests are very happy. 

A Murphy bed is really cool and comes in various sizes, with all kinds of built-in storage compartments. Also for sale are tables that function in a dual manner and there is a type of fold up table called drop leaf table. You can be very creative because you can buy just the hardware and design yourself. This is what I did.

10 Tips and small space storage ideas

Wet vs dry

I prefer to pare down rather than store goods for a couple reasons. One I prefer the look of empty space to clutter. And two living on the coast in a flood zone has taught me dry trash is easier to haul to the town dump than wet trash!


There are organized people that like to label everything. Labels are widely available or you can make your own. I am making labels now to give to the members of our Facebook community.


If you enjoy displaying your collections of things the more aesthetically pleasing way to do so is to show the things in groups of odd numbers such as 3, 5, 7. That is designers rule number one.


Kitchen drawers and cabinet space can be organized with the use of organizers, dividers, and containers.


Garages are an awesome addition to have to your home. I wish I had a garage. If I did you can be sure I would park my car in it! Garages don’t have to be a messy catch all place. Available are very practical systems the provide organized space for everything, from garden rakes, to nuts and bolts and bicycles.

Hang tools

In my glass studio I use pegboard to hang tools. Once on the side of the road I saw a larger size sheet of metal that I picked up and attached to a wall against a work bench. I added a bunch of magnets to metal and the tools cling nicely and are always readily available to me.

Think outside the box!

Don’t be afraid to try creative solutions, they are often the best and always the ideas your friends will want to borrow.

2 minute rule

No matter what task I am involved in I always take a minute or two to tidy up and organize. By doing so my spaces are ready for me the next time. This helps me to maintain a well organized home and work spaces in a relatively simple manner because I am always a couple steps ahead.

Benefits to health

Many studies have been reported about the benefits of living in a clean and organized environment.

Door storage

There are many style of door hooks and door racks to use for out of the way and yet accessible easy storage.

Other storage ideas include:

-Storage ottomans are handsome and well made today and a great way to store extra blankets in a small living room or den, there are captains beds with built-in drawers underneath the whole bed.
-Adding storage baskets to shelves is popular.
-Storage cubes can provide extra seating or using a storage bench as a coffee or side table are great storage ideas.

Some folks use special size covered totes for hidden storage under beds, some have rollers attached, and like I said stairs would be a great place to hide things!
-Another solution is to install floating shelves in corners.

Make your smaller space a comfy nest and uniquely yours. I find there is plenty of space in smaller homes for the most-used items and cozier than homes with high ceilings and a lot of space. Small homes are certainly much more efficient to operate which is good for our planet and wallets.

Also a small home is much easier to organize and maintain because there simply is less stuff to deal with. Less really can be more!

Marj pic

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutterer and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed! We will have a few laughs too!

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