We grow accustomed to our furnishings and how they're arranged, which can limit our perception of the architecture of a room. Imagine your room empty, or move furniture to another space for a day or two. The radically new perspective will reveal existing niches or areas where built-ins could improve the storage capacity and aesthetics of a room.
Make it made-to-order
In a small space, decreasing the square footage of a room may sound like heresy, but sometimes shaving off a few feet by building a wall of closets or cabinets can solve your storage dilemmas and improve the proportions of a room. Though expensive, custom built-ins utilize space efficiently.
A designer can provide invaluable help in adding a cabinet to a bathroom or building in an entire room, like a den/home office/guest room. Common built-in solutions: closet organizers, entertainment centres, home office workstations, bookshelves, and shelf niches between wall studs in tub and shower areas.
Pick furnishings that hide
Murphy beds, chairs, tables, cots -- anything that folds up and can be stored away, hung on a hook or slid under a bed saves space. From a low-tech drop-leaf table to a high-end, built-in pop-up countertop that conceals small appliances in a kitchen island, your imagination and budget are the only limits to creating double-duty furnishings.
Wall space is an organizer's best friend. Go to great heights with floor-to-ceiling built-in shelves and cabinets (stash a stepladder nearby for easy access), or opt for a sleeping loft in a bedroom. In the kitchen, mount a second bank of cabinets above existing cabinets, or use the space to stash seldom-used oversize items.
Open up the space under a set of stairs and install shelves for books or display items, a workspace desktop, TV cabinet or closet organizing components. (Check with a qualified designer or architect for structural advice before removing any walls.) Awkward areas under the eaves are ideal for low dressers, cabinets or wall-mounted shelves. Alternatively, turn the area into a closet by running a rod from wall to wall and hanging a curtain.
Don't underestimate a small space. A good designer can help you turn impossibly narrow alcoves into functional areas, especially when it comes to small bathrooms and kitchens.
Give a shelf life
Look at all vertical surfaces to see where a shelf would fit: for instance, above a mirror, door or window; a foot or so below the ceiling around the perimeter of a room; or from floor to ceiling between zones in an open concept room.
In closets, on doors and on almost every wall are a few inches of vertical space crying out for a hook for towels, purses, scarves, backpacks, hats, utensils, tools, keys, cups and much more.
Become a closet case
Is your linen closet a luxury and a home office a necessity? If so, transfer bed linens to the rooms where they're used and towels to bathroom shelves. Then have a desktop built to size and installed in the now-empty closet. Add a few shelves above and a drawer unit on rollers below, pull up a chair from a nearby room and you're in business.