Storage Ideas for Small Spaces
And by little things, we mean: junk-drawer items, food-storage containers, gift wrap, craft supplies, electronics, and—all together now—paperwork. Real Simple takes on these supercharged stress triggers, offering ideas for creative clutter containment and maximum relief.
Divide and Conquer a Junk Drawer
Remove anything that doesn’t belong, and toss what’s broken. Then create smart mini-groupings so you can find what you need in a flash.
1. Cut a piece of newspaper to the size of the drawer. Bring it along when you shop for drawer inserts to help you puzzle together a close fit. It’s OK if the pieces don’t fill the space exactly; gaps can hold items like rulers. Stackable bamboo drawer organizers, from $4 each, containerstore.com.
2. Cluster related stuff: matches with (neatly bound) birthday candles, sunglasses with a repair kit, scissors with tape. Reusable three-inch rubber twist ties by Nite Ize, $6 for four, amazon.com.
3. Prop compartments with objects that catch clutter so you’re left with fewer moving parts (literally): a magnetic holder (next to calculator) for paper clips and pins, a pincushion, a magnetic square for tiny screws. Dozi magnetic paper-clip holder, $27, alessi-shop.com.
4. Designate spots for randoms, like mystery keys and tiny toys.
Prop a Paper Zone
Give each and every piece a destination by committing a book-shelf to the cause.
1. Adjustable shelves let you position things at intuitive levels. Billy bookcase, $50, ikea.com.
2. Use a pull-out paper sorter for loose-leaf, computer, and construction paper. Stash stationery in flat boxes. Bamboo paper sorter, $40, containerstore.com. Semikolon document boxes, $25 each, seejanework.com.
3. Label a folder for each family member, plus one for receipts. Parsons desktop file, $30, containerstore.com.
4. Use a spindle to hold coupons. Paderno check spindle, $30.50, amazon.com.
5. Mount a tiny bulletin board for invitations and notices; it will force you to toss old stuff.
6. Position an in-box low, so you can see its contents and kids can deposit school papers. Parsons tray, $20, containerstore.com.
7. Tuck in a front-loading shredder for sensitive papers (pop a hole in the back of the shelf for the cord), and station a bin nearby for recycling junk mail.
Create an Electronics Bin
1. Line a clear rectangular box with a cut-to-fit rubber mat to keep items from shifting. Make sure the box has a lid to block dust. Gift-wrap center, $29, containerstore.com. Grip-It drawer liner, $3, organizeit.com.
2. Customize the box with fabric drawer organizers, creating large sections for bulky items, like extension cords, and small sections for things like cameras. Skubb boxes (white), $8 for six, ikea.com.
3. Put delicate or oddly shaped objects, like headphones, in their own nook.
4. Clamp extension cords to keep them neat. Mega clamp, $5.50, and small cable clamp, $1.50: cableclamp.com for stores.
5. Slip earbuds and other gangly cords under elastic bands to prevent tangles. Separate batteries by size in a divided box. Grid-It! elastic organizer, from $15, containerstore.com. Battery-storage organizer (similar to shown), $5, organizeit.com.
6. Label clear pouches or small zippered bags and fill with easily misplaced minis, like memory cards, flash drives, and cartridges for handheld video games. Clear zippered envelopes, from $3, containerstore.com.
7. Use rubber cord flags to mark USB wires and camera cords; label each with permanent marker (keep a marker in the bin for new additions). Kable Flags, $7.50, organize.com.
8. Give adapters a home so you can find one in an instant.
9. Stash this-might-be-broken-or-obsolete items, like remotes and keyboards, until you have time to test them, then throw out whatever is dead.
Trick Out a Food-Storage Drawer
1. Split the space with a drawer divider and impose order: glass on one side, plastic on the other. Custom drawer organizer, from $17, containerstore.com.
2. Tuck the biggest glass square or rectangular piece in a corner. Find snug spaces for all other angular glassware, then slip in round pieces last.
3. Leave tops on glass containers and stack pieces (don’t nest—glass might stick together and break).
4. Nest plastics, storing sideways if upright is too high for the drawer.
5. Corral small items (like the soy-sauce holders here) in a cup.
6. Store plastic tops separately from their bases, since a seal can create a stale smell. “File” large tops in a desktop paper sorter.
7. Stash smaller tops in a little bin and they won’t rattle around or disappear.
Set Up a Gift-Wrap and Craft Cupboard
1. Use tension rods to hold gift wrap, and pare down to two rolls—one festive, one sophisticated. Paterson two-door cabinet, $349, crateandbarrel.com.
2. Keep wrapping supplies together: Stack ribbons on a paper-towel holder, hang scissors from a hook, and store cards in plain sight.
3. Put tiny items, like beads, in glassjars. When screwed to the underside of a shelf, the jars won’t go missing. Use larger jars for unwieldy items, like rubber stamps.
4. Place markers and chalk in wide tins that make it easy for kids to see all colors at once. Pantone metal boxes by Seletti, $25 each, pantone.com.
5. Store projects such as half-knit scarves in open baskets so you’ll know where to find them. They’ll stay dust-free behind closed doors. Similar bin, $6, containerstore.com.