How We Use Vertical Space to Maximize Storage

posted by Andrea | 02/13/2019

vertical space

It probably goes without saying that purging is the BEST way to make more space… it’s always the first thing I recommend if you’re trying to better organize and simplify your spaces.

However, if you’ve already purged and still need more space, utilizing vertical space is the way to go! 

Here are several ways WE utilize as much vertical space as we can!

In Our Mudroom:

Not only did we maximize the space in our mudroom closet to store things from the floor all the way up to the ceiling, we also use over-the-door shoe organizers on the inside of each door for hats, scarves, gloves, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, sunglasses, and various other items we frequently need when we’re heading outside.

Click here for more pictures of our mudroom.

 

In Our Living Room:

We found a pair of bookcases for free on the side of the road right after we got married. I painted them — and we’ve been using them for storage in various places around our house ever since.

We currently have one in the living room to store toys and books and one in our extra storage closet upstairs. We also hung our TV on the wall and had my uncle build us that TV cabinet to decoratively store blankets, DVD’s, VHS tapes, etc.

Click here for more photos of how we store our toys in our Living Room.

In Our Office:

We installed shelves made from old barn beams in our office — and use them for decorative items, books, and my collection of black picture frames. We also utilize all the little nooks and crannies of the cabinet above our computer desk for office supplies and other decorative items.

Click here for more pictures of our offices area.

 

Our Game Closet: 

We have a cute little closet tucked under our staircase, accessible from inside the office. It’s a fairly awkward space, but thanks to a few freebie shelves, we’ve completely maximized the amount of storage we have

Click here for more pictures of our game closet. 

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In Our Pantry:

We ordered a couple extra shelves for our pantry cabinet so we could place the shelves very close together — and thus, maximize the amount of things we were able to comfortably store inside.

I realize it’s not magazine-worthy — but it is practical and efficient!

Click here to see more pictures of our pantry.

 

In Our Kitchen:

In the rest of our kitchen, we ordered our cabinets so they went all the way up to the ceiling in an effort to minimize wasted space. Yes, I need a step stool to access the top shelf, but it’s a great place to keep things we only use a few times a year!

Click here to see more pictures of our kitchen.

 

In Our Bathroom:

Our bathroom is actually quite small — but even still, we have really made use of the vertical space by installing built-in open shelving, which we use to store extra towels, paper products, and toiletries.

We also put hooks on the wall to hang towels (we don’t have any walls that are big enough for a towel bar and our door is a pocket sliding door) and we use the area over the toilet for decorative items.

Click here to see more pictures of our bathroom.

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In Our Half Bath: 

When we renovated our half bathroom off the kitchen last year, I knew I wanted the cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling again… and boy am I glad we made that decision.

These cabinets have SOOOOOO much storage — I currently use them for extra paper products (plates, napkins, bags, paper towel, toilet paper, etc.) random craft projects I don’t want the kids to get into, and some of my bulkier kitchen appliances (ones I don’t use all that often). 

Click here to see more pictures of our half bathroom. 

In Our Hallway:

When we were renovating our main floor, we took the opportunity to make a very large built-in cabinet in our hallway. It’s right off the bathroom and is a very convenient place for us to store medicines and other First Aid supplies that we don’t want our kids getting into!

I realize not everyone could just knock a hole in their wall — but this is honestly one of my favorite storage spaces.

Click here to see more pictures of our hallway.

medicine cabinet

In Our Closet:

We have a very normal size reach-in closet — not a lot of extra space. However, Dave and I both easily fit all our clothing into this one closet (and even have a couple empty shelves to spare!)

The main reason we’re able to fit so much into our closet is because we used every bit of vertical space — including adjustable shelves, various bar heights and extra shelves tucked in on top of each bar.

We also use over-the-door shoe organizers on the insides of our closet door to store scarves, belts, and other accessories.

Click here to see more pictures of our master closet.

In Our Bedroom:

We have a ladder in the corner of our bedroom that I use to store various accessories. I also use it as a drying rack for any small items I don’t want to put in the dryer.

Click here to see more pictures of our bedroom.

 

In Our Kid’s Closets:

All of the closets in our kids’ bedrooms are funny shapes and sizes, so we had to get creative to maximize the storage space. We did so by installing hooks at lower levels, using baskets and bins for outgrown clothing, and hanging shoe organizers from the bar to store smaller items.

I’ve also added shelves or used smaller organizing items inside of armoires to provide more storage in their bedrooms.

Here are various posts about our kids’ closets: 

In Our Basement:

We use a couple heavy-duty metal storage shelves to hold the items we store in the basement.

We were able to configure these shelves so our organizing bins fit perfectly in between shelves, and so the shelving units fit perfectly under the heat ducts in the corner of our basement.

Click here to see more pictures of our basement.

In Our Garage:

Although our garage is mostly empty to make room for our cars, we have really maximized the storage space we do have by hanging tons of things on the walls.

We use the Monkey Bars storage system to hang very tall cabinets and a couple organizing units on the wall. This gives us plenty of storage space and leaves the garage floors clutter-free.

Click here to see more pictures of our garage.

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In general, I don’t feel you need to be super organized or overly creative to come up with space-saving ways to utilize your vertical storage. You also don’t need a big budget! However, you DO have to be willing to try a few times before you settle on the best way for you.

For example, after we renovated our kitchen, it took me a couple of months of moving things around before I decided on the “best” way to store items in our cabinets, in our pantry, and in our refrigerator (and to this day, I still change and tweak things on a regular basis).

This doesn’t necessarily mean my previous storage ways were “wrong” or “bad”; they just weren’t as efficient as they could be.

Similarly, any time I rearrange the kids’ bedrooms, move someone to a new bedroom, bring out a new season of clothing, get rid of too small clothing, or get a new piece of furniture for their rooms, I take a few minutes (literally just minutes) to evaluate if there are any other, potentially better, ways of storing and organizing their things.

It’s also worth noting that there’s not “one right way” to store anything — please don’t feel like you must implement all my ideas in your own home. They are just ideas to spark your imagination and creativity! 

Do you have bare walls in your home that could use a few shelves or a bookcase to create extra storage?

Could you add an armoire or other tall cabinet to store items that otherwise don’t have a home?

Do you have room in your closet to add a few extra shelves or a hanging shoe organizer?

Can you install hooks or an over-the-door shoe organizer on the back of your doors?

Can you add another shelf in between the current shelves in your kitchen cabinets, your pantry, your closet, or anywhere else?

There are SO many ways you can use vertical space to maximize your storage…

What other ideas do you have?

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19 comments

  1. Avia

    02/13/2019

    We are in the process of a kitchen remodel and will be installing cabinets that go to the ceiling. I am really looking forward to getting some of that “seldom used” stuff up and out of the way!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you will LOOOOOOVE the cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling. This was the best decision we made in our kitchen. Yes, I need to use a step stool get reach up there, but the top shelf is the perfect place to store items I don’t need all that often but still want to keep handy! Good luck with that kitchen reno!

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  2. Anna

    02/13/2019

    Okay crazy question….you have lots of baskets, storage bins, etc. Do you know what goes in them or is it just to hide the clutter? Also does everyone else in the family know what goes in them to stay organized or since you do most of the cleaning only you really know?

    Just wondering. I find i don’t use bins and baskets for organization very well…more to catch clutter and do a quick clean up.

    Also are they labeled?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Our bins and baskets are not labeled — I can’t handle that type of perfectionism!
    And yes, they all serve a purpose to hold and organize our stuff — I wouldn’t spend money buying baskets just for show 🙂
    Finally, yes, everyone in our family knows where everything goes and usually does a pretty good job of putting things away.
    For example, the cars, trucks, trains, etc. go in one bin, the action figures go in one bin, stuffed animals in another bin, dolls and accessories in another, balls in another, musical instruments in another. When/if the baskets get too full, we purge to make more room.

    [Reply]

  3. Nina

    02/13/2019

    Thanks for sharing the various ways you use your vertical space.

    When we moved into our rented apartment some years ago (that has some built-in closets in the hallway, but not other closets) I spent a long time planning our new wardrobes, two tall PAX from IKEA. One for the large hallway and one for the bedroom to hold all our clothes. They go up all the way to the ceiling and give us a lot of extra storage space. As someone who doesn’t like a lot of visual clutter I also find it helps to have a lot of stuff behind closed doors. To keep a home tidy it really does help to have a space for everything.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve heard awesome things about the PAX units from IKEA — I’m sure you’ll get great use of those!
    I’m with you on the dislike of visual clutter, so I’m always looking for more/better ways to store and hide our stuff!

    [Reply]

  4. Rhonda

    02/13/2019

    That has been the best part of the interior designer I am working with – she has helped us figure out more vertical space and it makes a tremendous difference on the organization of our home. I am sometimes surprised at how “empty” some of our space is (not that it needs to be full). A full-wall built-in bookcase was our best purchase in 2018. The next project in our lower level involves some floating shelves she recommended off Etsy (they aren’t the most economical, but we were also looking for something on the wall to make a “statement” display). Thanks again for sharing your little tips!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Fun! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to work with an interior designer! I told Dave that if we ever build a house from scratch, I want to hire a designer — however I very much doubt we will ever build a house 🙂
    Your shelves sound great!

    [Reply]

  5. Ashley Orfe

    02/13/2019

    I love the many examples you give of how to use walls to store things! This is especially good for those like myself living in apartments! I love using command strips to hang things – anything to give us more counter space in the kitchen or more floor space!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, apartment living definitely requires creative storage (and Command Strips are probably your best friend right now!) Thanks for sharing what works for your situation!

    [Reply]

  6. Julia K

    02/03/2016

    I have several plastic “shoe drawers” in my pantry and use these to store tinned cat food, herbs & spices, cake mixes and desserts. The same shelf also has two plastic “sweater drawers” – one containing savoury crackers and the other sweet biscuits. They all stack on top of one another so the whole shelf is utilised. It is much easier to slide open a drawer than have to root around in the back of a deep cupboard.

    We run a home based business and my husband built in a 2 door cupboard. I use a lateral filing system to store all our business files for the past 7 years (Australian Tax Office requirement), and all our personal paperwork. The system has coloured tabs so files are easy to find. I see similar systems in doctors’ offices for patient files. The next shelves all house plastic drawers which contain all our stationery. It is great having everything in one cupboard and the drawers are so much more efficient than the former file boxes I had there.

    [Reply]

  7. Lynn

    02/02/2016

    I am just amazed by the pictures of your basement and garage! I don’t have a basement now, but I grew up with one and it was always a mess (still is!). I am inspired to work on decluttering and reorganizing my garage!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha, I grew up with a really mess basement too, so I vowed I would never have one!

    [Reply]

  8. Kaitlin @ The Mom on Purpose

    02/02/2016

    I love how all of your ideas are so practical and easy to implement for everyone! I feel like so many blogs anymore are very unrealistic for the normal family. Yours is one I can always count on finding very useful ways to organize! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kaitlin — that’s my goal!

    [Reply]

  9. Bonnie'sMama

    02/02/2016

    Hi Andrea,

    Could you tell me your thought process as you decide how to arrange things in a cabinet or the closets or the armoires in the kids’ rooms, even a desk drawer? I mostly mess around with containers and things until I get it all in (yes, after decluttering and putting away things that belong in other spaces), but I’d love to know what strategies you use and things you try to be aware of. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — that’s a loaded question!

    Honestly, I think it would be impossible for me to get my entire thought process when I’m organizing any specific space into words — sorry! It would totally depend on what I’m organizing, who it’s for, how much of it they have, what types of containers I have on hand, where I’m organizing, what the space will be used for, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

    There are so many variables that go with every single organizing project that, like I mentioned earlier, my thought process would be almost impossible to detail into words. Plus, my thought process in one specific project would most like be VERY different than it would be in another project… so even if I could detail my thought process for one project, it might not even be helpful for another.

    Does that make sense? Sorry I can’t be of more help on this one — but there truly is not “one right way” to organize anything — so hopefully by just sharing some of my ideas and pictures, that will give you a place to start.

    [Reply]

  10. Brenda

    02/02/2016

    Hi, 1 quick question. In your mud room closet, do you change out the stuff in the over the door holders for the seasons? I think my youngest would have gloves and hats all over the place all summer if I left them accessible. I have to hide the bin that I put all the winter wear in or he would wear his snow gloves all summer. We compromise with a few pairs of the thin stretchy gloves for the summer.

    I love the kitchen pantry and cabinets all the way to the ceiling. These are on my dream kitchen list. How do you deal with returnable (deposit in MI) cans and bottles? We don’t have a garage to put them in. We use a big cardboard barrel right now, but it wouldn’t fit in my dream pantry/kitchen closet.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    No, we don’t swap anything seasonally (mostly because I don’t like to monkey with that). In fact, the other door of our mudroom closet is all summer/spring stuff that also stays out year round. Our kids don’t mess with it — so it hasn’t been an issue. However, if that would be an issue for you, then I think it’s probably wise to rotate for the seasons (or compromise like you do!)

    As for the recycling, we just have a grocery bag that we put pop cans in and bring it to the store regularly to return. It doesn’t take up much space. Other than that, we don’t really do any recycling because our garbage company charges a ridiculously high rate for recycling.

    [Reply]