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Wall Real Estate

picture of stair storage

Are you thinking about spring cleaning? We did some cleaning and organizing earlier this year, before my yard and gardening chores became my huge time consumer. One of my goals was to make use of some space for storage in our garage that was not being used to good advantage. We have a lot of storage space in our attic, but getting stuff up and down the narrow ladder can be a pain. By being able to store more in our little garage, I will be able to reduce greatly my forays into our attic to get this, that, or the other item(s) that we need. There are lots of great space saving ideas out there for using space that would otherwise go to waste — like the drawers built under the stairs in the picture above. But in this post I'd like to focus on wall space for storage.

One area of our garage that we had been using for some storage is a little alcove that is three and a half feet wide and seven feet long. There were three flimsy shelves there when we moved in. We had things sitting on those shelves as well as on the floor under them, but most of the space was wasted. It's such a narrow space that we cannot store big items there easily. I thought it would be the perfect place to have new shelving to maximize the storage. When I weighed the time and expense of building wooden shelving for our garage, I thought it would be better stewardship to buy some shelves that were on sale at Lowe's. Two sets of the shelves fit there perfectly, and here's a picture of that area now with an unbelievable amount of stuff stowed away.

picture of our alcove

We have a fairly narrow one-car garage, but there are still several other places where I can use other sets of shelving to give us more storage. Here's a picture of one area I redid after we liked the updated alcove so much.

picture of our other garage shelves

The shelves allow us to use that space to better advantage and still be able to open our car doors. There's a lot more wall space in the garage that I plan to use for other kinds of storage with hooks and/or pegboard as time and money allow. I must say that what we've done so far has already saved me at least a half-dozen trips up that ladder to our attic. 🙂

When it comes to wasted space in our homes, it's walls that would give us added real estate for storage. I've seen some shelving lately that looks nice or even cool, but it's more decorative than functional.

picture of shelving

picture of shelving

Here's one that's just conceptual — definitely unique, but not efficient.

picture of shelving

Here's a neat idea on one website — someone took an old printer's drawer and turned it into shelving to store lots of craft items.

picture of shelving

Here's a great idea for a small apartment — a table that folds up into a wall hanging.

picture of picture table

And here's a way to hide a bed in a small room.

picture of hide a bed

Kitchens can be a problem, especially if the cook loves gadgetry and does not have much storage space. One solution is to hang things on the wall.

picture of kitchen storage

One company that has terrific ideas for maximizing space is IKEA. In previous posts I've mentioned our going to IKEA in Detroit when visiting our daughter and her family, and people have asked what kind of store it is. This might be a good time to talk about IKEA.

Here's a picture from their site, advising customers to "think vertical."

picture of kitchen

Since it is more her domain than mine, I have asked my wife to guest write her impressions of IKEA:

IKEA is a Swedish company and many of the designs have a "different" feel from things that you typically see at other stores. Many of the products are designed to make the most of limited space and you can get lots of ideas for improving the organization and efficiency in your home. Many items are relatively inexpensive. I would say much of the furniture is not designed to last for a lifetime, but it would be a great place for someone who is setting up a first apartment to go for ideas and basic functional pieces.

In the stores they have some sample living spaces of varying sizes to show how their ideas allow people to get the most from even a very small space.

We have friends who teach at our university who had IKEA remodel their kitchen this past year. I don't have any "before pictures," but here are the "after pictures" they shared with me.

picture of kitchen

picture of kitchen

picture of kitchen

picture of kitchen

IKEA did a great job and our friends are very happy with the results.

I'll end with some IKEA humor — a set of instructions for assembling one of their products. (click on the image to see a larger version)

picture of IKEA instructions - thumbnail

Are you a fan of IKEA? What do you like most or least? Do you have any ideas to share about using wall space for storage?


"Iceland's last wish: to have its ashes scattered all over Europe." - anonymous market analyst

=^..^= =^..^=

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

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13 Comments on “Wall Real Estate”

  1. #1 Nancy
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 8:19 am

    We have a type drawer hanging in our livingroom on the fireplace wall. Not only is it a great place for small bits of bric-a-brac, but it is also well designed to display my prized collection of dust.

  2. #2 b.j.
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Love that comment, Nancy! I should just make a decorative sign for my house that says something to the effect of “please do not disturb prize dust collection. Special scientific dust study in progress!” haha

    I live in a mobile home, and I have NEVER seen a place get so dusty so quickly!

  3. #3 b.j.
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I could really use some of those ideas from IKEA or wherever in my single-wide trailer. I am printing off this post as a reminder to me! Thanks Rob!

  4. #4 Barbara H.
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I had seen the printer’s drawer idea before and actually found one at an antique shop we visited while in TN for spring break, but for various reasons didn’t get it. I am wishing now I had.

    I’ve never been to an IKEA. I wish they had them down here.

  5. #5 Rob
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 11:39 am

    @Nancy – We share your (dis)passion for collecting dust, but we have many other ways of displaying our collection.

    @b.j. – Glad you will get to make use of the post in the future.

    @Barbara – We have two IKEA’s within 3 hours of here — one in Charlotte and one in Atlanta. We’ve never been to either since it’s a closer drive than that for us, once we’re at Meg’s house.

  6. #6 Nancy
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 11:53 am

    B.J., when we homeschooled our daughter, the standard reply to anyone pointing out our cobwebs or other indoor wildlife was, “Don’t touch that! It’s a science experiment.”

    Feel free to adapt for your purposes. 🙂

  7. #7 Rob
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 11:57 am

    @Nancy – I’m reluctant to ask what your “other indoor wildlife” was … but, hey, I’ll go for it. What other creatures shared your abode with you, besides spiders, that is? BTW, I’ve always wondered how cobs spin those webs….

  8. #8 Nancy
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Well, of course Charlotte and her kin, and there was the Golden Retriever who was an official member of the family. Then there was the occasional roach who trekked across the living room mostly when company was present, a tiny mouse or two in the basement, a squirrel in the attic . . .

    Mind you, I fancy myself to be a pretty good house keeper, but I think even Martha Stewart could be challenged by the standard fare in South Carolina in an older home.

  9. #9 Rob
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    @Nancy – Gotcha … all the standard fare for South Carolina. Phew!

    Martha Stewart’s staff would have their work cut out for them here, for sure!

  10. #10 Laura
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Great post! Thanks for all the storage tips! I’m definitely thinking through maximizing space use these days since I’ll be transitioning into off-campus life soon! 🙂

  11. #11 Rob
    on Apr 24th, 2010 at 5:41 am

    @Laura – Glad to hear it, Laura. I was hoping it would give some ideas to people doing spring cleaning or moving to or living in smaller quarters.

  12. #12 Ann
    on Apr 24th, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    I’ve recently moved, but to larger quarters. My old mobile home was 12′ x 55′. This newer one is 14′ x 70′. I did a lot of de-cluttering in the process and still have more to do. However, I do have a lot more space plus a very large shed. For the first time in my life, I have all of my books on shelves. There are none in boxes for lack of shelf space.

    Visitors from bj were here (i.e. Charlotte) a couple of days ago. They asked where the IKEA store is. I told them that I HATE to shop and I have no clue where the IKEA store is. They said that if I hate to shop then I would not like IKEA. I’m willing to take their word for it.

  13. #13 Rob
    on Apr 26th, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    @Ann – IKEA is shopping, and I don’t like shopping much at all. But I have to say that it’s more enjoyable shopping for me than most places are, mainly because, as Becka says, there’s a different feel to it. Many of the things they carry have a special little twist to them that makes them unique. I guess you won’t know if you personally like it till you try it.