21 Tips to Smart Storage – from DIY updates to chic strategies

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Get your strategy on with these super-smart storage options for your home. Chic and stylish doesn’t have to play second fiddle to functional.

Nobody loves to clean. Okay, there may be some taxonomy-loving sadomasochists out there – but for most people, tidying up is time-consuming and dull. There. We said it.

Your home is a moveable feast. Clothing is shed, towels dropped, toys dragged and lost, and cups and glasses migrated to the most alien spots.

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Open storage (image sourced: marcelacavaglieri.com) and Jute & Paper Rope Basket, 19cm, White (Set of 2) from Soundslike HOME, available online at Zanui.

Even the neatest of neat freaks will struggle to keep things straight. (And this is coming from one worn-out spray-n-wipe-spritzing obsessive-compulsive.) But that’s okay. Dirt happens. Clutter is a constant. Because life is for living, innit?

But every now and then an intervention is in order. Here are 21 tips to smarter storage to help you keep your sanity during the day-to-day.

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Images sourced L to R: houseandgarden.co.uk and architectscorner.info

  1. Sorting is your first step

Arm yourself with a series of baskets – one for each area (your kids’ rooms, lounge, kitchen, bathroom) and systematically sort and rehome lost items.

A quick sweep through the house can bring amazing results. And you can just leave the baskets at the doors of the main offenders!

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Paige Round Storage Baskets (Set of 6) by Amalfi, available online at Zanui. Images sourced: babble.com and styleathome.com

  1. Then comes the cull

Yes – even if you’re a hoarder. Your time is now. (See here for telltale signs that this is you.) Smart storage is not possible if you’re still clinging to the vestiges of the past.

Pare back. Your physical landscape directly affects your state of mind – chaos breeds chaos whilst clear space promotes calm productivity. And we could all do with a bit of that. Couldn’t we? 😉

We’ve chatted to the experts about this de-cluttering gig. Click here to get all the tips. But divide and conquer with these four options:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Recycle
  • Rubbish
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Images sourced L to R: demilweb.com and home.useif.com

  1. Rationalise

Tackle one room at a time so this task is manageable. Address what lives here and therefore needs a permanent home and what can go (yes – we’re still on about the culling). Look at what’s living on the surfaces. These are your trouble items.

Make a list if it helps. (We love lists!) Group together similar items to see ways they can be coordinated.

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Images sourced L to R: almlaeb.com and hiddenstorage.org

  1. Analyse your architecture

Consider wasted space (under benches, under shelves or in corners) and how these might be utilised. Nooks provide the opportunity for a little themed storage – a mirror flamed with bulbs for a bit of Hollywood glamour and a shelf beneath it to house your makeup, or a cookbook nook in your kitchen.

Hutches and console tables with shelving underneath maximise narrow hallways and entrances. Or add a curtain underneath. Hooks under your shelving is also a very versatile storage solution.

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House Shelf by Willow & Wood, available online at Zanui.

  1. Consider wall mounting

Think vertically… wall mounting your bedside lamps gives you space on your bedside tables and reduces clutter. Corner shelves and recessed cabinets are great options.

  1. Store essentials at arm’s reach

Accessibility and ease of use is all-important for your everyday essentials. A jute basket with handles is a great spot for housing your nappy-changing needs – portable and open-mouthed for easy-access.

Slim wire baskets are great for creams and perfumes. Pen pots keep your writing needs from going rogue.

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From L to R: Dekorkube R4 Cube Shelves (Set of 4) by Topshelf and Dekorkube (Set of 4) by Topshelf, available online at Zanui.

  1. Opt for high + wide over low and deep

Deep storage is often less practical than it appears. High, wide floating shelves are space enhancing and uber-functional.

  1. Hide away unsightly things like cords in storage cubes

A simple cloth storage cube under your entertainment unit can keep all of your gaming consoles and remotes in one place without the headache of a million cords.

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Ladder shelving – right, Barnaby Ladder Shelf by Amalfi, available online at Zanui, and left, image sourced thisforall.net

  1. Repurpose old tissue boxes to house your grocery bags

This awesome idea prevents that plastic hell from erupting underneath your sink.

  1. Employ magnetic tins to pretty up your organising

This is a super-cute way to keep it neat. Add magnets to vintage or decorative tins and use them to keep your knick-knacks out of sight.

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Left, Dekorcube Tres U Shelves (Set of 3) by Topshelf, available online at Zanui, and right, cork board sports storage, image sourced realsimple.com

  1. Transform a corkboard into a stylish sports organiser

Adhere it to your garage wall and add pins to keep stackhats, shin pads, soccer boots, and the like in check.

  1. Employ a desk-organiser in your boudoir drawer to coordinate your jewellery

If you’re not lucky enough to own a triple-decker jewellery box, or enough gems to make such a thing necessary yet, a standard drawer organiser is a great idea.

This simple solution stops you from spontaneous combusting when you’re trying to dislodge your earrings from your necklaces in a hurry. Also works for organising your cotton buds, travel toothpastes and spare blush in the bathroom drawers.

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From L to R: Cubby Wood Cube Shelf by Topshelf and Teak Tray from Hudson Furniture, available online at Zanui.

  1. Use slim crates or boxes to separate your shelving

Old shoe or jewellery boxes work well here. (Use bull-dog clips to hold them together.) Or alternatively sleek baskets. Separate your smalls using these – one for lingerie sets, one for undies, one for bras, scarves, gym wear, your clutch purses.

  1. DIY your own toy trolley from a crate and make cleaning fun

A simple wooden crate can be transformed with some castors (and a handle if you like), making cleaning up and packing away building blocks and the like a game in itself.

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From L to R: Vintage Crate by The Bushel Box Co. and Everyday Blue Storage Shelf by Willow & Wood, available online at Zanui.

  1. Store your stationery smalls in a spice rack

Whether you opt for a magnetic, rotating or simple style, a spice rack is a great way to rationalise your paperclips, thumbtacks, safety pins, post-it flags, bulldog clips, pencil sharpeners and the like.

  1. Group together organic baskets to create a functional décor feature

A set of three jute or seagrass baskets add texture and shade to your interior scheme. If rustic isn’t your bag, opt for bold, brightly coloured or unusually shaped storage for statement looks.

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Images sourced L to R: realsimple.com and pinterest.com

  1. Add glass jar under-shelving

Superglue/nail the lids of your fave Mason jars underneath your shelving in your home office and house your stationery needs here. This also works in the kitchen and in the shed!

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From L to R: Sundial Basket (Set of 3) from LS Collections and Jute & Paper Rope Basket, 19cm, Grey (Set of 2) from Soundslike HOME, available online at Zanui.

  1. Colour-code your catch-all baskets

Give each member of the family a basket – or drop-box if you will – to collect all their lost items. Task them to do a sweep of the house with their basket and collect their belongings at the end of the week (or day!).


  1. Opt for colour-coded tidy-bags

Like your library bags of old, these cloth bags can hang from hooks in your foyer. They’re easy to make if you’re of a crafty persuasion and perfect for making sure your family tidies away what’s theirs.

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From L to R: Cowry Basket (Set of 3) by LS Collections and Jute & Paper Rope Basket, 29cm, Orange from Soundslike HOME, available online at Zanui.

  1. Hang your handbags on shower curtain hooks

Coordinate your accessories with some curtain hooks. Adding these into your wardrobe is an easy-win. They allow you to keep your prized bags off the floor and in order.

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Left, Hexagon Timber Shelves (Set of 6) by Amalfi, available online at Zanui, and right, image sourced – abeautifulmess.com

  1. Balance open shelving with enclosed

Whilst it’s great to have somewhere to stash your things, chests of drawers and large cabinets can eat into the spatial aesthetic of your room. Opt for ladder shelves and open-frame entertainment units to keep the look light and airy.

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.