Thrive in Small Places: Storage Solutions

Small homes don’t come with oodles of storage room. Old homes are often short on cupboards and closets. Combine the two and you’re left with small closets and few cupboards.

Have you ever wondered just how many items the modern home contains?

Our grandmothers have much to teach us. They didn’t depend on every new gadget that hit the market to run their homes.  Most of the shiny new contraptions aren’t worth the price tag. Carefully evaluate whether a new item will significantly help you become a more efficient or frugal or healthy homemaker before it ever enters the front door. This will dramatically cut down on the need for storage.

Simplicity is best.

Some items, however, are worth storing: Grains bought in bulk or a year’s worth of pasta purchased at a rock bottom price slash the grocery budget. A well stocked cupboard eliminates unnecessary trips to the store.

If you hope to have a large family, it would generally not make sense to get rid of the hand me downs. Storing a “bare minimum” collection of clothes saves considerably over the long run.

A gift stash makes last minute birthday parties or the event that crept upon you unaware (even though it was on the calender for a month) no cause for panic.

But of course, food stockpiles and old clothes take up space. Where should they be stored? There’s the obvious places like under the bed or behind-the-door racks. Here are other ways we’ve made limited storage work.

  • Build a shelf: it doesn’t need to be pretty, just sturdy. Most of my “pantry” sits behind the couch on a rough floor-to-ceiling shelf . Cover it up with a pretty cloth and it actually adds to the decor.
  • Keep the fridge and freezer full: even if something doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge, most items stay fresher. Plus, a full fridge cuts down on cooling costs. Air is more expensive to keep cool than a bag of flour. (An awful lot of food fits into a regular freezer.  If you don’t have room for a deep freeze, prioritize. Meats fluctuate in price considerably. A freezer full of rock bottom priced meat is a good investment. Brown hamburger, add the spices and sauce and you have dinner almost ready to pull out of the freezer.)
  • Use the bathtub: a dirty laundry baskets fits perfectly. The pile of clothes is out of sight but easy to get to.
  • Decorate with storage: Jars full of beans, rice or honey add a cute country charm. Hang your child’s cutest outfits from pegs on the wall.
  • 5 gallon buckets of grain double as sturdy movable stools for a toddler.
  • Fill the trunk: Light weight sports equipment, an umbrella stroller and the return/donate box fit well.

What other places do you store items?

Photo by Eva Schuster

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  1. says

    I have plenty of room but I do agree we don’t need every gadget that comes our way, even though i really want some of them! I also used to keep clothes for the next kid. No more babies for me so I have passed them on to someone else.

  2. says

    Under the bed is a great place for storage of things you don’t use very often, in large flat boxes you can slide out. My brother used to have a square of plywood on casters that slid under the bed, for building Legos on; as long as his creations weren’t too tall, he could slide them out of sight when not playing, instead of having to dismantle them to get Legos back into their boxes.

    My friends who have a very small home installed a shelf around the top of almost every room, just above the door frames. They put all kinds of stuff up there, interspersing the occasional decorative thing between boxes. They have a footstool stashed somewhere in every room so they can hop up and get things off the shelf when needed.

    • anna says

      Thanks for the great ideas Becca!

      I LOVE the Lego idea. I remember as a child spending weeks building a Lego city, only to have it destroyed in hours when company with little kiddos came over.

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