There’s no storage rule that says every square inch of a shelf must be crammed full of stuff. In fact, that’s a quick way to lose track of items and to create unwanted visual clutter. Instead, try alternating vertical and horizontal elements. If one section of a shelf has several books or containers, give the other side some visual breathing space with a photo or other collectible.
Relying on One Type or Size of Storage
Not everything you own is the same size, and not every type of storage you need should be either. A mix of sizes and types can help you quickly solve storage dilemmas and find more visually pleasing solutions for odd-shape items.
Ignoring Narrow Spaces
There's a lot of storage usefulness that can be eked out of tight spaces. In this small living room, for example, a full-size side table would have overwhelmed the adjacent door and the traffic pattern. A storage-smart solution: a narrow table with a surface for a lamp and drink, plus a bottom shelf perfect for stacked boxes.
Making Storage Too Deep
There’s often an impulse to make storage as deep and as big as possible, to gain enough room for present and future items. But sometimes it’s OK to resist that pull in favor of narrower storage. The advantage is two-fold: You can often gain extra storage spots in otherwise ignored areas, and with fewer items, your storage has less chance of getting cluttered and disorganized.
Passing by Overhead Spaces
There's a ton of potential storage square footage above head height and in a range of rooms: closets, kitchens, baths, even above headboards. Take advantage of it for both display and storage; use built-ins if the room is more public in nature or flexible systems for private areas.
If your family members can’t reach what they need, they’ll ask for help getting it -- and be unable to put it back, too. To solve that problem, include storage that’s accessible for all: books on low shelves or racks, clothes at arm’s length, and cabinets stocked with daily necessities.
Cluttering Up Your Drawers
There’s a reason a junk drawer is called a junk drawer: It’s usually the repository of all those things we don’t want, or don’t know how, to deal with. And if you’re not careful, all your drawers can quickly become clutter magnets. Instead, give yourself (and your junk drawers) a break, with organized spaces that rely on smaller trays, dividers, or other containers or bins.
Not Subdividing Storage
Even narrow closets or cabinets can quickly become a storage nightmare, with a hodgepodge of items with no order. Luckily, bins, containers, trays, baskets, and the all-important labels can quickly restore storage calm. Subdivide by color or type of item, and label shelves, too.
Choosing Single-Purpose Furniture
The best storage pieces are those that enable multiple ways of organizing, using, and disguising items. That's true even for the smallest of elements in a room, such as a nightstand in a bedroom. The best versions include hidden storage, long-term spots such as open shelves for favorite books or other items, and daily-use surfaces.