Inspirational storage ideas and expert advice

Beautiful storage solutions to add to your home

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Need more storage? Add one of these beautiful built-in solutions to your renovation project and create a place for everything in your home.

Expert tips

  • ‘Fitted furniture can maximise any small or awkwardly shaped space. Statistics show that 75 per cent of bedrooms in the UK currently have freestanding furniture, and could increase their storage capacity.’ – Graham Jones, sales and marketing director at Trend Interiors
  • ‘Assess what kind of storage you need. For example, if you have a lot of bulky seasonal clothing to store, look for a wardrobe with extra-deep shelving.’ – Rachal Hutcheson, bedroom design expert at Sharps
  • ‘Houses are frequently built without airing cupboards. Count the number of bedrooms and people you have – a double room will require approximately one cubic metre of storage for linen and towels.’ – Niki Schäfer, director of Niki Schäfer Interior Design

Freestanding Advice

  • Freestanding pieces are a flexible choice if you’ll be moving in the near future, as they’re the easiest to move to your new place.
  • If your living room is small, or you have alcoves either side of a chimneybreast, a freestanding wide bookcase can create a storage wall for low cost as it’ll fill the space well.
  • Plan out what you’ll be storing before you buy, so you don’t end up with overflow before you start, and don’t forget to leave room for more if you have a growing family.
  • Allow for decorative items on open shelving to create a visual pause. Packed out shelving won’t add to the relaxed atmosphere in a living space.
  • For heavier items, such as TVs, buy purpose-made furniture – bookshelves aren’t made to take the weight

Whether you’re building an extension, knocking down walls or completely renovating your home, it can be all too easy to focus on how much space you’re creating rather than how to put it to good use. The average family home has shrunk by two square metres in the last decade*, leading one in five homeowners to modify their property to make more space. Storage is key in any project – not only as it can determine the shape of your room and your budget, but also because it will impact on how you use the space.

Finally, try to factor in future storage needs – will you need the same amount in five years’ time? If you are starting a collection or working from home and think that you’ll require more space down the line, choose something that can be added to or modified.

Make use of walls

Whether you have a separate dining room or a table and chairs as part of a larger space that’s dedicated to meals, good storage is essential for crockery, cutlery and tableware. If a traditional dresser seems too formal, or takes up too much floor area, try wall-mounted cabinets. Not only will they keep large expanses of the floor visible, making a compact room appear bigger, they’ll often look streamlined and more modern than freestanding furniture.

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Choose a natural timber veneer and you’ll also add warmth and interest to your scheme. Measuring H38xW60xD40cm each, these six wall-mounted Besta? shelf units with doors, seen here in Marviken White, are £45 each, and contrast with the walnut veneer Stockholm cabinet, H107x W90xD40cm, £300, and matching chairs, H76xW58xD50cm, £100 each, all Ikea.

Design a walk-in wardrobe

Spare rooms and small spaces are ideal for conversion into an accessible walk-in wardrobe or dressing room. Alternatively, if you’re turning a loft into a bedroom, try leaving room for a walk-in wardrobe and maximise the space in the eaves. As you won’t have to allow space for internal doors to open, you can set the rows far closer than with conventional storage. Don’t just stick to hanging rails either – full extension drawers, pull-out racks and shelving can be tailored to suit any article of clothing, from underwear to shoes.

Take the units as high as they’ll go, as less accessible shelves can be used to house infrequently used items, such as clothes for special occasions, and pieces that damage easily, such as hats. Walk-in wardrobes from John Lewis of Hungerford start from £6,600. Measuring H200xW200xD300cm, this design is made from painted Medite board, and the total project cost £11,500, including delivery and installation.

Make the most of a home office

Even when installed in a striking renovated property, storage can be a feature in its own right. Choosing a bespoke solution allows this home office to work around the exposed stone walls of a manor house, wrapping around protrusions and adapting to the uneven surface while including drawers, cupboards and cubby shelving.

1 Chiselwood Peckett St

Created to accommodate the sample books and materials of an interior designer and provide a practical desk area, the unit is made with Tabu ash veneered timber panels and differently sized open shelves in Petrol Blue ash, with crocodile skin-effect vinyl on the doors and LED backlighting to illuminate the frame. Wiring and cabling for electronics has also been built in. Measuring H270xW440xD66cm, this home office solution was designed in conjunction with interior designer Sophie Peckett. A bespoke office around this size starts at £20,000, including installation, from Chiselwood.

Indulge in a hobby room

With crafts more popular than ever, the latest storage need is for hobby materials. Instead of squeezing everything into a sewing box or overcrowded cubby, dedicated shelving, drawers and cupboards – with plenty of work space to boot – will create a place for you to focus your passion. These Rialto acrylic-faced MDF units in high-gloss Cappuccino, with modular tiered shelving in Oyster, match a generous 300cm desk area with soft-close drawers, great for a homework area.

11 CROWN RIALTO Cappuccino LS Oyster

Available in alternative styles and colours, this layout, from the Lifespace range by Crown Imperial, costs around £3,400. From left: desk units, H72xW43xD65.5cm; L-shaped corner unit, H72xW70xD70cm; two shelves over corner unit, H143xW50xD35.5cm; third shelf unit, H217.5xW50xD35.5cm; fourth shelf unit, H217.5xW47.5xD35.5cm; last shelf unit, H217.5xW50xD18.5cm.

Build smart bedroom furniture

Most bedrooms are ripe for filling with smart storage but it’s important not to let the space become crowded. Restrict built-in wardrobes and cupboards to a couple of walls and choose pale colours in a compact area – with mirrors if it’s a north-facing room or lacking large windows. Further provision can be made with low-level solutions, such as bedside cabinets and end-of-bed cupboards.

5 Trend Bedrooms GEORGIA_MAIN

If opting for a large amount of cabinets, choose simply designed classic doors, such as this Georgia furniture from Trend Interiors. Two single wardrobes, H226xW50xD60cm; bridging unit cupboards, H44xW80x D45cm each; two bedside tables, H54.5x W60xD45cm; three-drawer end-of-bed unit, W120xD45cm; mirrored wardrobe, H226xW60x D60cm; double bed and headboard as shown would cost around £4,388.

Extend your kitchen space

Kitchens come with lots of storage needs, so if yours is overflowing, try continuing the cabinetry into another part of the room or an adjacent space. Underneath the stairs is ideal but good access is vital for regular use.

8 Silderobes Pure White Glass Kitchen with Interior

Sliding doors don’t require any floor space to open out into and won’t get in the way, and they can also be tailored to fit the stairs area and finished to match the surrounding room. Part of the kitchen/interior range by Sliderobes, this unit has 4mm framed Pure White glass doors, with Tobacco Walnut MFC shelving. Measuring around H210x W360xD66cm, prices start from £1,500, with this unit costing around £5,640.

Create innovative shelving solutions

Understairs shelving is a smart way of reclaiming the room below the treads, but concealing it with doors isn’t the only way of creating a modern look. Combining open shelves with compact drawer units forms a flexible bank of storage that’s smart enough to show off but able to accommodate the items you want on display, as well as media gadgets, remotes and game consoles.

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This system uses moveable shelves supported by a set of stanchions that can be adapted to suit as your storage needs change. In textured Sawn Oak and Natural Cashmere MFC, it measures H260xW324xD50cm and costs £2,155 from Brilliant Project.

Install a bespoke design

Removing a chimney breast frees up extra space but, if you’re keen to keep it as a focal point or heat source, make the most of the alcoves either side by fitting bespoke wardrobes. Not only will they fill every spare gap, they can be sympathetically designed around skirting and cornicing, so work well in a period property.

6 SHARPS AFTER-28484-doors openEdit-Edit

It’s also easy to tailor the fittings inside to suit, whether it’s drawers and shelving or double runs of hanging rails. These wardrobes from Sharps, H265xW100xD74cm, cost from £2,000, including delivery and installation.

Divide up an open-plan layout with shelving

Open-plan rooms look stunning and feel spacious but removing walls can leave you with fewer options for shelving without resorting to freestanding furniture. Reinstate part of a wall with tall shelving and include some drawers below, or some low-level seating with integral storage. Not only will it maintain the light, bright feel of the room, but it will be helpful when zoning the area, neatly dividing it between living, dining and kitchen spaces.

2 Schmidt Appartement BERGHEIM_014

Elsewhere, locate some extra shelving behind sliding doors or add flush-fitting built-in cupboards. This dividing unit is in Arcos 1 in Kashmir Grey and Caneo, and measures H250xW400xD51cm, costing around £7,000. The Arcos sliding door in Nutmeg (in the background) measures H250xW207cm and features internal shelving, H237.5xW107xD30cm, from around £1,300. All from Schmidt Kitchens UK.

Choose pieces that are multifunctional

With the right styles, spare rooms can be made to fulfil a variety of functions, depending on whether you need space to work or have a houseful of guests. A hideaway bed in the same finish as home office furniture is a neat feature, with cupboards that can serve alternately as filing cabinets or clothes storage.

9 Betta Living Esprit Home Office Nocino Bed

Finished in versatile White Mid-Sheen and Nocino, well suited to either a work or sleeping space, this Esprit MFC Home Office from Betta Living can be customised. Shown, from left: tallboy adjustable shelving, H138x W120xD57cm; double cupboard, H74xW80xD57cm; three-drawer cabinet, H74xW50xD57cm; single wardrobe, H220.5xW50xD57cm; corner shelving system, H138xW54xD57cm; adjustable wall shelving, H72x W50xD33cm; up and over cupboard with CD store, H72xW80xD33cm; bespoke desk; hideaway double bed, H57xW160xL220.5cm, and plinths/skirting in 18mm MFC. Prices start from £1,858 based on a guide layout of two 50cm single wardrobes, two bedside cupboards, two single cupboards and a dressing table pelmet.

Plan the best playroom

Toys, craft materials and games can be tricky to store due to their different shapes and sizes, so keep everything to hand and visible without clutter by fitting brightly coloured shelving with low-level angled storage boxes at the base. This scheme is in a converted loft, so it’s naturally light, making the rainbow of shades used to paint the open shelving really shine.

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If light is lacking, try adding LED strips or lighting at the back so you can always see the contents. Designed to grow with its occupants, this playroom, H250xW300xD40-60cm, is finished with wall-mounted storage and a height-adjustable built-in desk made from lacquered MDF. Barbara Genda Bespoke Furniture costs from around £1,200 per metre.