How to Design a Storage Room

Storage -- you never have enough of it, and half the time the drawers, closets and cupboards need a good clear out to make room for more stuff.

The Closet Boutique

Spices and food storage on a shelf.Spices and food storage on a shelf.
Plan a storage room to address your most pressing wardrobe, off-season, prized collection or personal possessions excess, and be inventive if a lack of space threatens to cramp your style. It helps to clear the area of everything, evaluate your needs, and put back only what has a place.
A large empty walk in closet.

Who needs a guest room when your wardrobe has taken over the bedroom floor, chairs, dresser top and prime real estate throughout the rest of the house? Flip that spare bedroom into a personal boutique and offer the rare overnight visitor your high-end sleep sofa. Bedroom or walk-in closet -- think like a boutique designer for a display of accessible threads and accessories. You'll need high- and low-hanging bars to accommodate coats, dresses, suits, shirts, and separates: shelves for folded sweats, sweaters, active wear, jeans and T-shirts; more shelves for clear plastic boxes to hold shoes and boots, and shelf dividers to keep handbags separate; drawers or closed cupboards for baskets of socks, underwear, and other small items that need to be grouped. A folding three-way mirror and good lighting are non-negotiable; a steamer and a rolling cart for hanging selected outfits and travel clothes are utilitarian luxuries.

Off-Season Under the Stairs

A storage space underneath a set of stairs.

The awkward space under the stairs is a giant tansu chest, a compact storage room, and valuable square footage in need of serious organizing. Side-opening doors make even the pizza-slice back angle accessible. Paint the space a light color and install shelves measured to accommodate luggage, clear plastic bins for off-season clothing and sports gear, holiday decorations and seasonal accessories. Add lighting that keeps everything visible and label every box and chest clearly. The trick to making a compact storage area work is to customize it for the specific items that will live there. Avoid double-stacking on shelves and in cubbies, which hides half the things you store and forces you to unpack and repack shelves to put stuff away. If the under-stair space is deep, rolling shelves pull out for easy access.

Vertical Storage Room

Shelves filled with shoes.

When you can't expand, go up; build a vertical "room" to house your storage and your life. In a tight space, the wall defines the storeroom, with a scaffolding of sturdy shelves and supports that hold large labelled bins for every sort of household good and personal item, hanging bars for clothes, open shelves for orderly racks of shoes or grab-it-and-go sports clothing and T-shirts. A ceiling-hung curtain pulls across the entire wall to hide it from view, and a library ladder on a track moves easily to reach the top shelves. Treat the organized wall like a museum exhibit, with curated goods placed in identical bins so the symmetry creates a sense of order and expansiveness. House office supplies, books and media on a window wall with cupboards and shelves built floor-to-ceiling on either side of the window, flanking a cushioned seat that lifts up to reveal more storage space.

Cool Cave

A large wine cellar.

What you have to store comes in a bottle and isn't happy in the cupboard under the sink. If your wine collection is spilling out of closets and cabinets, create a storage room to keep it at a comfortable temperature and welcome you and your guests for a tasting or a meal. At least one wall should be an illuminated, temperature-controlled series of enclosed shelves for resting bottles, and a few wall-hung bottle holders can display interesting vintages as decor. You'll need dimmable pendant lamps, a small task light over the sink area or uncorking table, cupboards or racks for hanging stemmed glasses, a table and chairs for guests, and a bookshelf for vineyard photography books and various tasting bibles. Think ahead to the day when you will grow your collection, and build more racks than you need as a hedge against overcrowding.

About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .