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15 Tips on How to Organize a Small House With No Storage

There's often much more storage space in your home than you think – even in small spaces. It just takes a little out-of-the-box thinking. Check out these 15 ideas for creating more storage in your small spaces.

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behind the door storage shelves laundry roomFamily Handyman

Behind-the-Door Shelves

To turn an overlooked, unused space into an easy storage solution, build a set of shallow shelves and mount it to the wall behind your laundry room door.

To start, measure the distance between the door hinge and the wall and subtract an inch. This is the maximum depth of the shelves. We used 1x4s for the sides, top and shelves. Screw the sides to the top. Then screw three 1×2 hanging strips to the sides: one top and bottom and one centered. Nail metal shelf standards to the sides. Complete the shelves by nailing a 1×2 trim piece to the sides and top. The 1×2 dresses up the shelf unit and keeps the shelves from falling off the shelf clips.

Locate the studs. Drill clearance holes and screw the shelves to the studs with 2-1/2-in. wood screws. Put a rubber bumper on the frame to protect the door. Looking for more styles? Here’s our list of different types of shelves to organize your home.

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Install a Shelf and Clothes Rod

Laundry room shelves are a great way to extract more storage space out of your home, and this hanging rod project will save you hours of ironing and organizing. Now you can hang up your shirts and jackets as soon as they’re out of the dryer – no more wrinkled shirts at the bottom of the basket. You’ll also gain an out-of-the-way upper shelf to store all sorts of odds and ends.

Just go to your home center and get standard closet rod brackets, a closet rod and a precut 12-in.-deep melamine shelf. Also pick up some drywall anchors, or if you have concrete, some plastic anchors and a corresponding masonry bit. Fasten shelves to the wall and add the closet rod for instant laundry room storage.

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Tight space wire shelves garage storageFamily Handyman

Tight-Space Shelves

Wire pantry shelves aren’t just for pantries. They’re perfect for any wall where full-depth shelves won’t fit: garages, laundry rooms, utility rooms, etc. The perfect space-saving shelves solution.

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Household hints vertical kitchen cabinet storageFamily Handyman

Make the Most of Skinny Spaces

In a small kitchen with little storage space, you can make even narrow filler spaces work harder by installing a vertical pegboard rollout. Kitchen designer Mary Jane Pappas typically recommends 18- to 30-in.-wide rollout drawers for cabinets.

But there is one type of rollout that makes good use of narrow spaces, even those only 3 to 6 in. wide. Pappas says that pullout pantries– single tall, narrow drawers with long, shelves, drawers, baskets or even pegboard – can be an efficient way to put skinny spaces to work.

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shelfFamily Handyman

Stud Space Cabinet

When you can’t find a convenient nook for a set of narrow storage shelves, you can often create one by recessing the shelves into the wall itself. Choose the location for your shallow shelving unit before you build the project to make sure it will fit. Start by looking for a space with no obvious obstructions.

Next, locate the studs with a stud finder. Some stud finders can also locate electrical wires and plumbing pipes inside walls. When you’ve found a promising spot, cut a 6-in.-square inspection hole between the studs. Use a flashlight and a small mirror to inspect the stud cavity for obstructions. You often can modify the size of the cabinet to avoid obstructions.

When you find a good space, mark the perimeter of the opening and use a drywall keyhole saw to cut it out. Measure the opening and subtract 1/4 in. from the height and width to determine the outer dimensions of your behind the door shelves. For standard 2×4 stud walls with 1/2-in.-thick drywall, build the cabinet frame from 1x4s that measure 3-1/2 in. wide (see illustration). If your walls are different, adjust the depth of the frame accordingly. Then add a 1/4-in. back.We screwed 1/4-in. pegboard to the back so we could hang stuff from pegboard hooks.

Add casing that matches the trim in your house. Drill holes into the sides to accept shelf supports. Shelf supports fit in 3mm, 5mm or 1/4-in. holes depending on the style. Install the cabinet by slipping it into the opening, leveling it and nailing through the trim into the studs on each side. Use 6d finish nails placed every 12-in. along both sides.

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suitcase storage clothes rolled upSvetlana Cherruty/Shutterstock

Use Your Suitcases

If you already have a few unused suitcases around, they can be suitable for storing seasonal clothes (and won’t take up any extra room). Roll common clothes like shirts, sweaters and pants into loose bundles before storing them. They take up less room this way, and can breathe easier.

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over the door shelfFamily Handyman

Over the Door Bookshelf

Build a display shelf over the door to show off your knick knacks, books or to add storage space to a small room. As a bonus, if you increase the height and depth of the “box” that forms the core of each shelf, these shelves can double as valances for window curtains or blinds.

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Build Rollouts at Ankle Level

Turn wasted toe-kick cavities into clever flat storage space for serving trays, cutting boards and baking pans. You can build under-cabinet drawers with in just a few days.

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Under-Cabinet Storage Racks

Pull-down racks give you instant access to kitchen essentials without the clutter of spice racks or knife holders. When the cooking is done, the rack swings up against the underside of the cabinet. You can buy ready-made racks or buy a pair of hinges and make your own wooden rack to hold knives, spices or other small items that take up counter space.

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Family Handyman

Easy Spice Rack

Small spice containers use shelf space inefficiently and are difficult to find when surrounded by taller bottles and items. Use a small spring-tension curtain rod to create a simple rack for spices. It’s easy to install and strong enough to support the spices.

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Install Expandable Shelves in Cabinets

Expandable or pullout shelves are an easy way to add extra room to help organize your kitchen without changing anything else. This is a relatively small project and you can typically find a very good pullout shelf accessory for around $50—or you can make your own.

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Joist space storage wire shelvesFamily Handyman

Joist Space Storage

Don’t waste all that space between joists in a basement or garage. Install wire shelving to the underside of the joists. An 8-ft. x 16-in. length of wire shelving and a pack of plastic clips (sold separately) costs about 20 bucks. Don’t forget that wire shelving also shines on walls.

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Easy Ways to Expand Your Closet Space

Closet Nook Shelves

Salvage the hidden space at the recessed ends of your closets by adding a set of wire shelves. Wire shelves are available in a variety of widths. Measure the width and depth of the space. Then choose the correct shelving and ask the salesperson to cut the shelves to length for you. Subtract 3/8-in. from the actual width to determine the shelf length. Buy a pair of end mounting brackets and a pair of plastic clips for each shelf.

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Two-Story Closet Shelves

There’s a lot of space above the shelf in most closets. Even though it’s a little hard to reach, it’s a great place to store seldom-used items. Make use of this wasted space by adding a box type shelf above the existing one.

Buy enough closet shelving material to match the length of the existing shelf plus enough for two end supports and middle supports over each bracket. Twelve-inch-wide shelving is available in various lengths and finishes at home centers and lumberyards.

We cut the supports 16 in. long, but you can place the second shelf at whatever height you like. Screw the end supports to the walls at each end. Use drywall anchors if you can’t hit a stud. Then mark the position of the middle supports onto the top and bottom shelves with a square and drill 5/32-in. clearance holes through the shelves. Drive 1-5/8-in. screws through the shelf into the supports.

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Double-Decker Closet Rod

All you need to gain a lot of hanging space in your closet is two metal closet brackets and a length of closet rod. If your existing closet rod is at least 66 in. from the floor, there’s enough space to add a second rod below it and still hang shirts and slacks. We placed the top of the rod 35 in. from the floor, which allowed just enough room to hang two levels of pants. Locate studs on the back wall of the closet with a stud finder. Then attach metal brackets to the studs. Use a level to align the brackets along the top. Space the brackets no more than 32 in. apart.