Lifestyle

Small storage ideas from 3 expert organisers

Stuck on finding smart small-storage for the key rooms in your home? Our experts help streamline your spaces with stylish solutions for sorting and stashing the little things.
small laundry layout storagePhotography: Ess Creative

A streamlined home is always on the wish list, but taming clutter when you’re time (and space) poor can be a challenge. And that’s when the little things make a big difference. From a row of glass jars in the pantry to chic baskets in utilitarian zones, stash your stuff in style and create a sense of harmony at home with clever small-storage ideas that fit seamlessly into your spaces.

Kitchen storage ideas

Organise with glass jars

Feel like a kid in a candy store with an emporium-style display of assorted glass jars in your pantry and drawers. “Clear glass jars are a perennial favourite as you can instantly see what you need,” says Tahn Scoon, interior designer and founder of Tahn Interiors. “It’s common to use them in the pantry, but they work just as well in shallow drawers. If anything, it’s even easier as you see all of your jars at one glance, rather than just the front row.”

Black pantry cupboard and shelving.
(Photography: Anson Smart/Armadillo / Styling: Steve Cordony)

Use wicker baskets

Take a tip from the Parisian handbook and embrace French-style baskets to conquer clutter, without sacrificing on style. “Invest in good quality baskets to store all the extras, back-stock, snacks and to hide ugly packaging,” says professional organiser Sarah Shanahan. “Zone the pantry and store ‘like with like’ items together. Determine what is used regularly and the rest can be stored away. For example, you could keep a NutriBullet blender in a labelled basket with all the attachments included for easy access and less visual clutter.”

“Odd-shaped items should be stored in baskets or grouped together to cut the clutter.”

– Sarah Shanahan, professional organiser

Reduce benchtop clutter

Sure, that 15-piece Japanese knife set and top-of-the-range food processor might boast of your culinary skills, but unless you’re using them daily, you don’t need them on constant display. “When styling kitchens, I like to clear everything away and just add a few beautiful pieces in a considered colour palette,” says Tahn. However, creating clear and calm surfaces shouldn’t mean making mess where you’re stowing away those appliances and utensils.

“Keep drawers and cupboards tidy with internal storage,” suggests Tahn. “The Orga-line range from Blum is brilliant, or try Howards Storage World.” Then, when styling, remember the three Fs: “Food, foliage and fabric!” says Tahn. “That might mean a potted plant, a bowl of pomegranates and a linen tea towel.”

(Photography: John Downs)

Add tiered shelving

Having pantry items at eye level creates a satisfying visual face front and minimises food waste (think of what lies neglected at the back of your cupboard). “Tiered shelving for cans instantly creates order and calm,” says Sarah. “And Lazy Susans and turntables are great for giving easy access to everyday spreads and sauces while adding a bit of fun, meaning you’re more inclined to use them.”

Choose matching containers

Give your kitchen cupboards a glam makeover by replacing clashing brand packaging with a clean, neutral alternative. “Decant dry ingredients into airtight matching containers and label everything,” says Sarah. “Find a good-quality container style that you like, which is in your budget, and use it on repeat to instantly add style, order and calm. Don’t forget to label the containers so everyone in the house can identify the food.”

White contemporary kitchen storage cabinets.
(Photography: Shania Shegedyn)

Fix hard-to-reach places

Low spaces, such as bottom shelves, often fall victim to neglect and clutter. Create simple solutions in small, hard to reach spaces with pull-out baskets that are kind on your back. “Try a side-mount wire basket kit for your internal cabinet,” says interior designer Anna Giannis. “It’s great for deep cabinets that are hard to reach. The wire structure is also ideal for under the sink, because it is easy to clean and prevents damage to your cupboards from spills.”

Living room storage ideas

Use your furniture

Turn design features into hidden storage solutions, such as a plush sofa that conceals a pull-out compartment for linen and board games, or a coffee table that stores coasters and remotes. “One of my favourite tricks when decorating living rooms for families is to use a storage ottoman,” says Tahn. “It’s nice and soft for kids to play on, and gives you somewhere for toys when they’re done.”

“A storage ottoman gives you somewhere to stow the kids’ toys.”

– Tahn Scoon, Tahn Interiors
Living room with black vertical detailing and bookshelf.
(Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Add a decorative tray

Marry form and function in this communal area with a statement tray that gives the illusion of an effortlessly tidy space – pair it with a striking coffee table book or sculptural vase to create a sophisticated vignette that also houses your everyday items. “A tray on the coffee table in the living room is also a must for those smaller everyday objects like remotes,” says Sarah.

Bedroom storage ideas

Maximise floor space

Elevate your storage options with a raised frame or dual-purpose bed to maximise your floor space. “Deep drawers are perfect for storing bulky winter items and spare bed linen without losing floor space, however, I’d caution against cheap solutions like plastic containers as they tend to become a bit of a mess,” says stylist Tahn.

Bedroom with black and white furnishings.
(Photography: The Palm Co.)

Organise with shoe boxes

Create cohesion in your wardrobe with shoe storage that elevates your favourite pumps to pride of place. “Clear acrylic shoe boxes are great for not only creating order and easy access but protecting your shoes too,” says Sarah. Labelled boxes can also be used to store loose accessories like hats and scarves.

Keep jewellery safe

Sparkling jewels laid out on your dressing table might give your bedroom the Hollywood touch, but it’s not the safest solution. “Store expensive pieces of jewellery out of sight in airtight labelled tubs or jewellery boxes with a key,” says organiser Sarah. “Keep most-used pieces in organised jewellery trays for easy access.”

melbourne 1920s bungalow main bedroom dresser
(Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Ruth Welsby)

Think outside the box

Investing in storage solutions doesn’t have to mean spending big; instead, look for inspiration around your home. “A wine rack makes a good mini cubby system for your scarves, or attach a decorative curtain rail with some shower curtain rings to the wall and tie them to that,” Anna suggests.

“Swap out your wardrobe seasonally to reduce visual clutter.”

– Tahn Scoon, Tahn Interiors

Bathroom storage ideas

Opt for freestanding shelves

Stepping into your bathroom should create an instant sense of calm, and a rust-proof shelving unit to store towels provides the perfect nod to the spa-sanctuary aesthetic. “Freestanding shelves are a great option for storing bath towels for a relaxed, luxe vibe,” says Sarah. “However, if maintaining the folding is a problem and it starts to look messy, invest in foldable storage hampers or baskets. Use on repeat for instant style and order.”

Bathroom with timber vanity and storage.
(Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Categorise and colour-code

When everything has a place, organisation becomes routine rather than a chore. “Invest in acrylic trays, tubs and dividers, turntables with sides and baskets to sort items into ‘like with like’ categories,” says Sarah. “For example, cotton buds, soap and bath bombs should all have their own areas. Colour code the areas for instant aesthetic impact and store less-used products below in drawers and cupboards.”

Go for vintage pieces

Bathroom storage need not be dull and uninspiring; create small design statements with vintage or upcycled items for maximum impact. “Try something a little unexpected, like using a vintage white and gold sugar bowl and creamer set to store cotton balls and buds. Perhaps even add a matching saucer for your soap,” suggests Tahn.

classic bathroom with green floral wallpaper
(Photography: Chris Warnes / Styling: Melinda Hartwright)

Don’t be afraid of plumbing

While essential, plumbing pipes are unattractive and can take up a large amount of your bathroom cabinetry. Make the most of an awkward space with a smart basket configuration. “Store infrequently used items behind the drain pipe and add a pull-out basket to each side of the pipe,” advises Tahn. “It’s much easier to pull out a basket to look through than rummage around in a low cupboard.”

Laundry storage ideas

Hide away hampers

Getting on top of your laundry can feel never-ending but there are ways to take control. “The most unattractive item in the laundry is the dirty washing, so either integrate a laundry bin into your cabinetry, or splash out on the nicest laundry hamper you can find – preferably an opaque one with a lid,” says Tahn.

Laundry with checked flooring and black storage cupboards.
(Photography: Anson Smart/Armadillo / Styling: Steve Cordony)

Add a stylish hanging rail

Get the most from your home’s smallest workspace with stylish solutions to lighten the load. “A hanging rail above the sink is one of the handiest additions to a laundry,” says Tahn, pointing out that, these days, there are a stunning array of ones available that will upscale your laundry’s aesthetic appeal. Go one better with an extendable version that accommodates more garments for rainy-day drying – it will minimise the need for ironing, too. You can even give it a dual purpose when it’s not in use: “If it’s long enough, you can pretty it up with a lush hanging plant,” adds Tahn.

small laundry layout storage
(Photography: Ess Creative)

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