No room has more pressing need for storage than the kitchen. Along with sink, stove, fridge, and freezer, a place must be found for dried and fresh food, pans and cooking utensils, dishes and cutlery, cleaning things – all the paraphernalia of food preparation.
Do you want your storage units to display or conceal their contents? A kitchen with food storage jars and serving dishes on view is welcoming and practical, through shelves behind cupboard doors need less maintenance. Fitted cabinets or freestanding cupboards? Non-matching, free-standing storage is coming back into favor. Think vertically as well as horizontally – high cup-boards can store the things you use less often.
One lifesaving guideline for planning kitchen and other household storage is to sort your possessions into three categories: essential, useful, and for occasional use only. This tells you how much you need to store, and how to prioritize.
Kitchen Racks and Shelves
Open storage suits today’s more relaxed kitchens, where preparing food is a part of life to be shared with family and friends. While practicality is your first consideration, you want the kitchen to look good too. Storage jars of dried and bottled foodstuffs kept on open shelves are both highly acceptable and visually attractive, reminiscent of the old-fashioned larder stocked with provisions.
Metal kitchen shelving in a Modernist loft performs the same function as the traditional hutch (dresser), storing and displaying dishes and plates, and acting as a sideboard for serving food. Make use of vertical space with wall-racks and rails for stacking and hanging utensils. Hooks, for hanging pots, jugs, mugs, and cups close to whether they are needed, save surface space and are efficient time-savers, too. Do bear in mind that when everything is on show, orderliness is essential – and don’t display items you never use; they will just gather dust.
Your bedroom is your inner sanctum, and because it gets little through-traffic, it tends to be the place where you accumulate clothes, books, magazines, shoes… Yet clutter is the last thing you want in your private space where an orderly atmosphere is needed to help you sleep.
“Before you let anything into your life, you have to let something go” – the feng shui saying is only common sense. So before rushing off to buy a new wardrobe, take a good look at what it is to contain. Anything you can’t remember when you last wore, or that you never felt comfortable in, will have to go. Now you can reward yourself with the prospect of new storage.
Freestanding or fitted wardrobes and drawers, trunks, chests, and baskets are useful and good-looking. Store shoes in drawers under the bed, or in hanging canvas caddies. With bedroom storage sorted, you can sleep easy.
The bathroom is often the smallest room in the house, yet it is surprising how much there is to keep in it, especially for family. At the very least, you need shelf room by the basin for toothbrushes and shaving and washing things, and cupboard space for medicines and other essentials (turn out shelves regularly and throw away out-of-date medicines). Cleaning equipment also needs to be stashed away. In a small shower room, you might install a shelf above the showerhead; a corner cupboard or shelf takes up minimal space. The backs of doors come in handy to hang dressing-gowns, laundry bags, and canvas or plastic holders with multiple pockets. Under-used space above the toilet could hold shelves or bags on hooks.
In a larger bathroom, make sure the furniture you install won’t be affected by a damp, steamy atmosphere. Use windowsills and alcove space to display visually attractive bottles, sponges, and brushes, and hide away the rest. Make use of containers from other rooms: baskets, enamel pails, even a colander where sponges can drain. Facecloths, and string bags holding children’s bathtime toys, can drain from a row of small hooks. Some people like reading in the bath, but magazines have a marked tendency to accumulate – be ruthless in your tidying.
Laundry is hardly a priority for most people planning a home, but it is worth giving some thought to it, since unwashed clothes hanging around the place are a distinct turn-off. Where are you going to store dirty linen: in the bedroom or is there space in the bathroom? Your washing machine and dryer can be in the utility room if you have one, or in the bathroom or kitchen if not.
Washing powders and fabric conditioners kept on a shelf above or beside machine keep the process streamlined. Do you have a clothes-horse or airer for drying washing? If you can hold on to routine of sorting and folding washing as soon as it is dry – keep ironing separate and try not to let it become mountainous – then storing it is no problem.
The storage cupboards you choose will depend on your decorating style: pretty liner presses from France, Germany, and Hungary are perfect for country style, while heavy English wardrobes and side cupboards suit the traditionalist. A modernist living area demands the functional simplicity of boxlike cabinets with minimal handles. A craved piece from India or Indonesia adds dramatic presence to a modern interior, or can be combined with other ethnic furniture and hangings for a more exotic effect.
When shopping for cupboards measure your space first and take your tape -measure with you. Go for the biggest piece you can accommodate but do take into account the size of your door frames, to avoid it getting stuck halfway in!
Boxes and chests are among the simplest of all storage units, and also the most ancient. Once they were made as portable luggage for nomads or merchants, or for wealthy travelers with valuable possessions. Carved coffers were used for storing clothes or linen, while the bride’s dower or hope chest accompanied her to her husband’s home after marriage. Small boxes, sometimes beautifully decorated and with security locks held coins and jewelry. Large coffers and chests are still tremendously versatile storage for books, bedding, or clothes folded away out of season, and double up as low tables in a living room or bedroom. Paint a plain pine chest, or hunt for a craved ethnic one, if it suits your style. Antique or tin trucks and well-polished leather suitcases are much in vogue for use in the same way. Children’s rooms can be made magically tidy in minutes by roomy toy boxes. Bedroom dressing tables look soothingly uncluttered once you acquire the habit of keeping jewelry, hair and manicure things, buttons and pins, sorted into ornamental boxes. Modernists equip their offices with stacked cardboard or metal boxes for files and stationery. Use rough rustic boxes, or beautifully made, oval Shaker ones, in different sizes, color-coded according to contents.