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Image / Living / Interiors

How to find new storage spaces in your home, according to an interior designer


By IMAGE Interiors & Living
17th Jan 2024

HK LIVING

How to find new storage spaces in your home, according to an interior designer

Interior designer Deirdre O’Connell knows that storage is an issue in so many of our homes. Luckily, there are clever ways we can add more, without compromising on the space in our rooms.

As life develops, storage needs develop. From clothes to suitcases, sheets and blankets to yoga mats and dumbbells, bulbs, wrapping paper, shoes, coats, colossal amounts of toys, copious bikes, books, scooters, ski gear, festive decorations… Simply put, the more storage, the merrier we all are.

American homes and apartments are blessed with walk-in closets and functional basements. Here, not so much or indeed, not at all! And so we must squeeze wardrobes and storage alongside fireplaces, under the stairs, up into attics and under the beds.

Generally due to budgets, storage plans in the early stages of a new home or a move are red-lined. Storage solutions can fall between the building tender and the interior fit out, and are easily cut. For families moving house, new wardrobes and storage quotes can be eye watering.

With that in mind, when you have the money to invest in storage, give it some thought. Seek advice or search online for ways which will suit your home. From a designer’s point of view, finding the balance between what is effective storage and what looks beautiful is essential.

Nail your built-ins

This hallway built-in bench seat by Deirdre O’Connell, Dtale Interior Design has a leather padded seat, it conceals a radiator, has under bench storage for shoes and bags, has a small opening for books, and the top serves as a counter for home décor.

Take time and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are planning new built-in storage. 

You should already know what the style or feeling of the room is to be, and the aesthetic of the built-ins will form a large part of creating this. 

Work with a professional supplier or interior designer to draw up the storage. Consider the widths and heights available, sometimes going ceiling high gives great extra storage though it’s harder to access. Overcome nooks or strange recesses as part of the planning.

Are you hoping to include the TV or an electric fire? Is there a radiator behind to be allowed for, or is lighting required, will the curtains still open fully?

Consider open and closed storage. Having open cavities means keeping this section neat and tidy. Closing a door over can quickly hide the mess inside, though a space to show styled books and ornaments is warm and homely.

Give attention to the internals of the storage. The number of clothes rails, shelves, drawers etc. Focus on the functionality of the doors and front panels, how do they open and close, are they sliding or swing doors? Are you accessing bench storage from the top lid or drawers underneath? 

Once you have nailed the functionality of the new built-in unit; consider the finishes, colours, materials, the door style and the type of handle. Work with your supplier as they will have a range from which to choose. Anything more detailed or custom, will require a joinery supplier, and your interior designer can bring new ideas for the aesthetic.

The freedom of free-standing furniture

storage ideas
Free-standing furniture in a bedroom adds character and charm. This room, by Deirdre O’Connell, Dtale Interior Design, has nods to mid-century modern with a vintage teak four drawer sideboard.

Many of us grew up in homes with old style kitchen dressers, chests of drawers and those chunky TV units. The modern way is to use built-ins for all this storage, but don’t forget freestanding furniture. 

Stylish sideboards and chests of drawers come in every shape, style, and size. The advantage of being able to buy them off the shelf, move them around rooms, bring them with you when you move, upcycle them, or sell them on, is invaluable. There are gorgeous antique cupboards, chests and tables at auction, and the pass-me-on furniture market is alive and well!

A small detail, like choosing slightly wider bedside lockers with two or three closed drawers is a terrific piece of storage on both bedsides. Add a storage bench to the end of the bed to balance the width of the bed and bedsides, and you have a gorgeous bedroom set-up with ample storage. 

Hidden and concealed storage

A custom TV bench offers storage underneath, while offering space for extra sitting or a worktop to play. The back wall is panelled out with plenty of valuable space for belongings, as well as a small open bookcase to style. By Deirdre O’Connell, Dtale Interior Design.

Three painted wooden hooks on the back of an internal door (painted the same as the door) is a great, disguised storage measure. Towels, coats, clothes from the day, it’s a good room tidy and is totally hidden when the door is ajar.

Consider using a gathered fabric panel to cover openings – like under a counter or sink vanity, a patterned textile cover adds colour and softness to the finish. The same idea goes for glass panels in wardrobe doors – hide away what’s behind them by adding gathered fabric panels. 

Bed base storage offers ample space and is relatively easy to access. The ottoman bases or frames with drawers are great for less used items like suitcases or blankets.

In the sitting room, a deep upholstered or wooden ottoman in the centre of the lounge serves as a footrest, coffee table and quick storage for books and toys.

In terms of steps this Spring, tackle your storage bugbears one at a time. It will help you consider the detail and what you really need, and it’s more manageable logistically and financially. As ever, getting new storage in will require some sort of a clear-out, cleansing the body and mind as well as the wallet. Good luck with it!

Deirdre O’Connell is an interior designer specialising in creating charming and individual homes. Visit dtale.design  or follow on Instagram @dtale_interior_design.

This article was originally published in February 2023.