Storage is a key element of any project to organise my clients’ homes.  And even more so in a smaller home like a flat or granny flat, which can become cluttered very quickly if the storage is inadequate.  However, when conducting home assessments, often I have found  that the available space is underutilised. This is particularly true of vertical (wall) space.

Here are some creative and clever ideas to make the most of your vertical space, so that your home provides the storage you need.

Maximise existing cupboard space

Often the vertical space within existing cupboards is not used optimally because the space between shelves is too big. If items are piled too high, they become untidy and difficult to access and manage.  You can create more shelving in various ways:

  • Add additional shelves or half shelves in cupboards where you store many small items e.g. cups and glasses in the kitchen
Create more space by adding a half shelf
  • You can add space saving baskets and racks within your cupboards to maximise the available space.
Add storage racks inside cupboard doors like these spice racks
Buy a few of these baskets that clip under your shelves - try Gelmar, Neat Freak or Builders
  • If your cupboard design allows for it, move each shelf up a bit to make way for an extra one or two new shelves.  Measure carefully and get these cut at a hardware store like Builders Warehouse.
  • The space at the bottom of the hanging part of your wardrobe is often wasted space. Add a couple of shelves to store your shoes neatly.
  • Replace some shelves with drawers for smaller items like underwear.
Add drawers for smaller items and shelves for shoes
Cupboard storage in the bathroom is better than open shelving, which can get cluttered

Bookshelves and wall shelving

  • Bookshelves are a common way to make the most of your vertical space.  Because they are narrow, they don’t make a huge dent in the available space in the room.  And they can go as high as the ceiling.  Bookshelves also add a lot of personality and interest to a room.
  • Floating shelves are another option, but are more appropriate for adding decoration to a room, such as plants, photographs, pictures and ornaments.  Too many things on a floating shelf can look cluttered.

Add free-standing furniture

  • If your built-in cupboard space is limited, especially in the bedroom or bathroom, add some tall free-standing furniture items.
  • Some underutilised spaces (such as the gap between the back of a door and a wall or cupboard) can benefit from the addition of a compact but tall piece of furniture, such as a tallboy.

Use the space behind doors

  • Storage can be created on the back of doors by putting up a few attractive hooks.
  • Check out online organising store Neat Freak for over-door hooks and hangers.

Hang items on the wall

  • The kitchen and the garage are the best places to create storage systems on the wall.
  • Personally, I am not a big fan of hanging too much in the kitchen because it gets dusty and sticky from the steam when you are cooking.  But if you are really short of cupboard space, hanging up pans and utensils can free up valuable space for other items.
Hanging wall storage in the kitchen; a magnetic strip for knives is a great solution
  • The garage is where vertical space really comes into its own. If you are using your garage as intended – to park your car – then there isn’t much space for the storage of gardening equipment, tools, DIY supplies, bicycles, sports equipment and boxes.  So ‘going up’ is absolutely necessary.
  • There are some wonderful garage organising systems available these days.  They are mainly based on vertical or horizontal rails onto which shelving, hooks and other storage solutions can be attached. Check out GarageTek and MyNeatStorage. The pictures speak for themselves.
The peg board is still an effective way to store your tools in the garage above a work bench.

Don’t forget the garden

If you only have a pocket-sized garden or outdoor space, you can ‘go up’ there too. Vertical gardening is a wonderful way to beautify your outdoor space, and could even provide some herbs and salad vegetables for your kitchen.

I hope that these ideas will help you to look at the space in your home with new eyes.  And perhaps to try out a vertical space project of your own.

Vicky Sim
Vicky Sim is a professional organiser based in Durban, South Africa with a passion for helping her clients to transform their space and simplify their lives.

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