We’ve all been to the local department store and gawked at the next great storage invention. Light-up tubs that sing the Seinfeld theme song? What’s not to love? The problem with these standard cupboards and shelving units is they can clutter your space more than clear it. Fortunately for the cramped homeowner, built-in storage provides an affordable and efficient way to clear your space and your mind. All it takes is a little planning, a little creativity, and a little elbow grease.
Determine Your Need
Storage space for storage’s sake is about as useful as shoes for shoes’ sake. As exciting as it is to organize your home, it’s important to understand what you need to organize before you get started. Take stock of your current mess. Clothes spilling out of the closet? Garage full of spare parts? Toys turning stairs into a treacherous trail? Each of these day-to-day annoyances will help you determine which built-in storage solutions would make the biggest difference. Furthermore, the type of mess you possess will help dictate what kind of storage you should choose. Books require shelves, toys require boxes, and clothes require clothes-rods and drawers. Devise your plan of attack around utility and need and you’ll never end up with excess space.
Evaluate Your Space
Of course, your built-in storage has to go somewhere, so take a look at your available room. Unlike standing storage, however, the space you find may be hidden to the untrained eye. All around your home there is unclaimed space. In thick walls, under staircases, and even vertically in a tall room or garage. Whether it’s cosmetic, oversight, or just plain coincidence, this space has gone overlooked for far too long. That’s where built-ins thrive. Look in these inconspicuous places and imagine shelves, plastic bins for toys, or additional closet space. Even a small desk with a computer can fit beneath a staircase with a little creativity. Next thing you know, your house will seem a little bigger, without changing size at all.
Compare Your Options
With your target acquired and your goal understood, it’s time to evaluate options. In this arena, there are two primary categories: DIY and pre-built. Pre-built storage is useful for a number of reasons. First of all, it requires little to no work on your part, outside of assembly, to turn your empty space into a functioning closet. Second, these options are usually made of metal, making them strong enough to withstand heavy loads and durable enough to justify the money spent. The problem with pre-built storage lies in its limitation. Let’s say your staircase is a bit unconventional; odd dimensions, awkward space, no stud on the back wall. If your catalog of options doesn’t feature a shelf with the right length, or you find yourself compromising space to fit these units awkwardly into the nook, then your built-in storage loses a bit of functionality for the sake of easy installation. DIY options, on the other hand, know no bounds. Do you need a shelf cut to 16 and 5/16ths of an inch? No problem! Simply take out your saw, hammer, and nails, and construct a built-in storage unit that perfectly fits your needs. Of course, therein lies the problem. DIY storage solutions require that you do it all yourself. If you’re uncomfortable around tools, or even a poor craftsman/woman, then your shelving may look ugly, or even fail to support the weight of your possessions. Know your ability and establish a budget before you dig the tools out of the closet. That way you’ll avoid a late-night drill injury when a perfectly good premade shelf could’ve saved you a lot of time and energy.
A lot has been said about shelves, clothing rods, and buckets. These are, of course, only some of the options available. Particularly when customizing your built-in storage, it’s valuable to be creative. What if you hung the children’s jump ropes on a coat hook? How about a shoe rack, hung over a clothes rod, to hold all your cleaning supplies? Divide a space into compartments in order to segment your books and build a more organized library. Your space has specific needs, and your solutions should match those needs in the best way possible.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Finally, a word of advice for the ambitious homeowner: Don’t purchase shelving/materials unprepared. Plan your space. Create the ideal closet or recessed cupboard on paper before you even make a cut. Home organization is about making your life better, and with the tips mentioned here, your days of late-night Lego disasters can be a thing of the past.