Breathing Life Into Dead Spaces

by Ramona Creel

Look, Up In The Sky!

Some of the best storage space you will ever find is over your head. Those high, short shelves in the tops of your closets are perfect for hats, smaller luggage, boxes of holiday decorations, and other items you don't use very often. Hang things like cookware and bicycles from the ceiling using special suspended racks. Those sturdy rafters in the attic, garage, or basement are great for heavier items like sports equipment or yard tools. No limits — the only rule is be creative! A metal pole strung between two beams is perfect for off-season, dress-up, or vintage clothing — a large square of netting tacked at the four corners can hold stuffed animals — and some thick plywood laid across your attic rafters will create an entirely new level of storage.

Laying Low

Oftentimes, we focus too heavily on storage that is at eye level — forgetting about the extra space we have near the floor (under the bed, at the bottom of a closet, along the base of a wall in the garage, etc.) However, the last thing you want to do is simply create another pile that clutters up the floor and trips you up. Like any other storage, floor space will serve you much better if you containerize and create some structure. Long, flat boxes are great for subdividing the space under your bed. Shoe racks will help you make the best use of your closet floor. And you can create a ton of additional storage in your basement, attic, laundry room, or garage by lining the base of the wall with low shelves, pull-out baskets, and bins.

Just Hanging Around

Another place to find extra storage is along a vertical surface. Almost anything can be attached to a wall — just be sure to use strong anchors if you plan to hang anything heavy. Give your tools and garden implements a home on a peg board in the garage or basement. Hang see-through mesh bags of toys from colored hooks on your child's wall. If your home lacks a hall closet, create one with an attractive coat rack in your entryway. Put up some pegs in your bedroom closet to make room for belts, scarves, and purses. Hang coffee cups from the underside of your kitchen cabinet shelves. Or store grocery bags in a holder on the inside of your pantry. All it takes is a little creativity, and a hammer!

Shut The Door On The Way Out

And as long as we're hanging things, let's take a look at your doors. While racks on an entry door often look cluttered and junky — an enclosed closet, pantry, or bathroom door can be provide a valuable source of storage space. Just make sure that you attach all organizing paraphernalia firmly — you don't want your racks or pegs coming loose the first time you slam the thing shut! You also need to be conscious of blocking your hinges (putting your hooks toward the center of the door solves this problem). And if you prefer not to permanently damage your surfaces, stick with racks that hook over the top of the door rather than screwing in.

Other than those three rules, your options are limitless. Closet doors are just begging to be used for storage — to hold a shoe rack, belt hooks, purses, or even a jewelry organizer. Your bathroom door is the perfect place for hanging a towel rack or a bathrobe. Putting a rack with shelves on the inside of a pantry door can double your food storage. And if your child needs someplace to hang bookbags and coats, a series of hooks on his or her bedroom door is one of the easiest and most accessible options.

Making Use Of Odd-Sized Spaces

One final word on using “dead space” — don't be deceived by unconventional storage areas. You may wonder, at times, what your builder was smoking when he created some of the closets and cubbyholes in your house — spaces that seem too skinny or short or angular to serve much of a purpose. These storage areas may initially appear useless, but you can always find something to put there. You just have to think a bit outside of the box (or outside of the cabinet, as it were!)

You might be able to fit a bicycle or cleaning supplies in that low closet under the stairs. Or use those tall thin cabinets for cookie sheets and serving platters. If your pantry or linen closet stretches up taller than you can easily reach (but you like to shop in bulk at stores like Sam's or Costco) — add some high shallow shelves for bulk toilet paper or extra canned goods (and hang a step-ladder on the wall so you can get at them when you need a refill!) Never be afraid to outfit a strangely shaped storage space with whatever accessories are required to make it useful.

© Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.