Small Space Design: Clever Organizing Tips for Maximizing Storage

In 2020, we all spent a little more time at home than we anticipated: working, cooking, exercising, relaxing and rejuvenating. This extended time under the same roof has underscored the importance of creating spaces we don’t simply tolerate, but adore.

For city-dwellers, those with homes that feature uncommon ceiling lines, and for those simply looking to maximize storage in smaller rooms, we’ve compiled some clever (and quite possibly life-changing) organizing tips and storage ideas for small space design to help you feel less confined and more in-love with your homey nest. From reconsidering key pieces for bedrooms to maximizing your bathroom storage, you’ll find a variety of solutions and ideas for breathing easier in your spaces. Our recommendation: select a few solutions that work best for your unique functionality requirements and space restrictions.

Ready to rearrange? Let’s get started.

Small Bedroom Storage Ideas 

If you’re feeling more chaos than calm as your head hits the pillow each night, here are a few of our favorite small space storage ideas for bedrooms that may help reduce visual clutter. 

  • Layered Shelving and Mounted Nightstands
    When adding extra floor space is impossible, go vertical. Take advantage of layered shelving units that can even stretch across the entirety of your bedroom perimeter. From books and clothes to bags and accessories, this is an easy way to maximize storage in a small bedroom. For added corner floor space, try mounting your nightstand.
  • Clothing Racks and S-Hooks
    Hanging s-hooks in your closet or on a clothing rack is a great way to save shelf space, essentially doubling the surface area of your closet rod. You can also opt for a clothing rack to save shelf or closet space. 
  • Wardrobes
    If your bedroom square-footage allows, add a wardrobe for enclosed clothing storage (or to create a dedicated closet in rooms where one does not exist). 
  • Storage Benches
    We love incorporating bed benches into bedroom design. For those starving for storage, opt for a storage bench to tuck away extra bed linens and off-season items (while also creating a comfortable sitting or reading space).
  • Shelter Your Shoes
    To free up closet space and reduce the look of a cluttered bedroom floor, add cabinets with drawers specifically designed to store shoes, or mount a shoe rack on the back of your door. 
  • Store Your Jewelry in Your Mirror
    Yes, you read that correctly. Find a mirror that doubles as a cabinet to hang or store jewelry inside; a secret compartment for your most treasured pieces. 
  • Store Blankets in Your Bed Frame
    Cubbies and shelves installed inside the bed frame itself, often at the foot of the bed, are perfect for tucking away extra linens, throw pillows, books, and more.

Small Bathroom Storage Ideas

small bathroom storage ideas
Photo: Joyelle West.

Even the smallest bathrooms can be converted into your own private home spa retreat. We’ve chosen a few of our favorite storage ideas for small bathrooms below.

  • Hang Hooks
    The cardinal rule in managing small space storage: look up. Take advantage of the vertical space — both high and low — that your walls provide. Easily hang hooks for towels, decor, and everyday bathroom items to maximize floor and cabinet space.
  • Shelves, Shelves, Shelves
    When it comes to smaller bathrooms, the space between the top of your door and your bathroom ceiling is prime real estate. Add a shelf above the doorway for neatly rolled or folded extra towels, especially if you lack a linen closet, and keep a step stool nearby for easy access. For extra storage, stack shelves above the toilet, or hang a cabinet with hidden shelves within.
  • Go for a Spin
    Install a Lazy Susan within your bathroom vanity to easily store and find your cleaning supplies. You’ll find yourself straining less to reach to the further corner of your cabinets. 
  • Store Loose Items in Baskets
    This won’t be the first room for which we’ll recommend adding a basket or two. Arrange baskets of towels above cabinets or on window sills, or next to the toilet to store items like toilet paper. 
  • Contain Everyday Items in Trays
    Jazz up your soap dispensers, soap trays, toothbrush holders, and other countertop essentials with an organized tray. We love a woven jute tray for a neutral look that complements a variety of color palettes. 
  • Bathroom Bar Cart
    A bar cart is no longer just for beverages. Rethink the purpose of this utilitarian piece for extra everyday item storage in the bathroom, from towels to toilet paper, makeup, cleaning supplies, and books for a decorative piece that doesn’t take up a large amount of real estate.

Small Living Room Storage Ideas

small living room design

The living room is a great place for relaxation and reading. As these at-home activities are all the more important these days, here’s how to make a small living room feel less confining and more comfortable.

  • Consider Multi-Purpose Pieces
    Incorporate an ottoman that can be converted into a table or opt for an iron side table that doubles as a bookshelf. Maximizing space in living rooms is all about sourcing versatile two-in-one pieces.
  • Custom Wall Units and Built-In Bookshelves
    A wall unit that perhaps covers one entire wall can make for a great family investment. Place books, decor, lamps, blankets, and the works, while adding a key piece upon which to anchor your space. Similarly, a custom built-in bookshelf can be another great way to save floor space and fully take advantage of your walls. 

  • Floating Shelves
    Not into the built-in look? Try floating shelves, which can be an easier, less costly way to keep essential living room items organized.

  • Embrace Baskets
    Here, baskets make their triumphant return to our list of favorite storage hacks. Add a few baskets on bookshelves and under side tables for storing books and magazines, blankets, and for keeping loose items like children’s toys and dog toys out of sight. 
  • Dressers: Not Just for Bedrooms
    Adding stylish dressers to living rooms and entryways can help you hide loose items. In turn, freeing up extra space can make your room feel larger.
  • Multi-Purpose Pieces
    Multi-purpose pieces are key in any space, and are great storage ideas for small living rooms. Similar to double-duty furniture, coffee tables, ottomans, and side tables with extra space are often made with built-in shelves for storage.
  • Use Antiques for Storage
    Antique or vintage toy chests, for example, could make for excellent and interesting living room storage units. Even smaller tabletop items like antique jewelry boxes can help keep small, loose items out of sight.
  • Opt for a Glass Coffee Table
    A glass coffee table with metal finishes is a great option for a less bulky, more airy living room look that seems to trick the eye into believing your living room is larger than it appears.

Small Kitchen Storage Ideas

There’s nothing worse than attempting to cook in a kitchen with so little usable counter space, you feel like you’ve taken up the sport of plate juggling. Here are six helpful tips for maximizing space in small kitchens.

  • Try a Pegboard
    Pegboards with plenty of hooks are easy ways to store pots, pans, utensils, gadgets, towels, and more directly on your wall, freeing up cabinet and counter space. We love this idea for showcasing sets of cookware in fun colors: think candy-apple red, cream-colored ceramic wares, or even cookware in copper tones. Paint your pegboard a pretty shade of clean white, or add a pop of color from your space’s overarching palette for a lovely complement. 
  • Fold Up Your Table
    A folding table that attaches to your wall and folds up when you’re not using it can be a clever way to add much-needed counter space for food prep, with the option to store it away when not in use. 
  • Take Advantage of Top-of-Cabinet Space
    Have baskets, bowls, appliances, extra glasses, or other kitchen items that you don’t use on the regular? Stow them away up above your cabinets, just be sure to keep a step stool nearby, and give this space a good dusting every so often. 
  • Magnetic Knife Hanger & Magnetic Strips
    No room to store a knife block? No problem. Hang magnetic strips above your stove or kitchen counter to conveniently hang these essentials. Similarly, add magnetic strips or hooks to the bottoms of your high cabinets, or to the sides of cabinets, for an unconventional way to keep everyday kitchen items organized and within an arm’s reach.
  • Mirror, Mirror
    Mirrors are wonderful decorative elements that help make a space feel larger by bouncing light around the room. Even a small mirror can make your kitchen area feel bigger. 
  • Use a Utility Cart
    Free up space in your pantry and cabinets with a rolling utility cart, which can even include a folding cutting board or countertop for added meal prep space.

General Tips for Small Spaces

For a few parting tips on maximizing small areas, we channeled Architectural Digest for universal ideas that can be applied to any room for a more spacious feel. Here’s what to keep in mind before you head off to source for, declutter, rearrange, and reorganize your tiny spaces: 

  1. Paint your room in shades of white, creating a larger and more open feeling.

  2. Don’t shy away from sourcing full-size pieces for your small space furniture. It may be counterintuitive, but smaller pieces can actually make the room itself seem smaller.

  3. Display your art slightly above eye-level to give the illusion of a tall ceiling.

  4. Plan, but also edit. Make a plan by sectioning off your small space, but don’t forget that when you bring something new in, something else should go. 

Now, go forth and maximize your space. Happy organizing!