Space-Maximizing Secrets: Making the Most of Dressers & Credenzas

published Feb 18, 2016
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

We do a lot of talking about how to organize the big storage spots in the home — from your closet to your kitchen counters to the pantry and more. But what about those smaller but still vital storage spaces in your home? The stand-alone furniture pieces like dressers, credenzas, storage cabinets and more? If you’re anything like me, these vital storage spots can sometimes get overlooked and become messes.

In general, cabinets, credenzas and other storage spots in the home that are separate from your closets and cabinets can be lumped into two categories: 1) Anything-goes junk catchers that haven’t been given much thought 2) Places filled with things neatly arranged that you thought you would use but that you don’t at all.

In both cases these pieces in the home look great from the outside, but are a bit of a mess on the inside — and certainly aren’t helping your home function any better. Here are some ways you can give an organizational makeover to these case goods so they look better on the outside and inside.

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Figure out what you actually need to store in your case goods

This sounds way too simplistic to be the first item on this list, but think about it. What do you have hiding in your living room credenza? In your bedroom dresser? In that cabinet in your home office or craft room? Are they things you use in the space where the furniture lives? Are they random odds and ends from around the house that have migrated to that storage space during a quick home tidying-up session?

On the other hand, don’t think about why you originally purchased the piece for your home — think about how it would actually be helpful for you. If you bought a credenza in the dining room to store your dinnerware but you end up storing most of it in the kitchen (where you eat most of your meals at the kitchen bar), take over that credenza with your craft supplies or home office if you use your dining room double duty as a work or creative station.

(Image credit: Erin Derby)

Don’t try to make the inside pretty —make it efficient

You don’t have to style the inside of your credenza or dresser like it’s open shelving. Don’t be afraid to maximize every square inch with risers, boxes, hooks, pull-out trays, lazy Susans, spring-loaded drawer dividers, DIY cardboard drawer dividers and more micro-organizing tools to make your furniture piece its most useful, even if it’s not “pretty” when you open the doors or drawers. And because many of these spots are hidden most of the time, don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money on these micro-organizing tools; DIY solutions work great here, too.

(Image credit: Celeste Noche)

Have a seasonal switch-out plan

If you live in a super small space, you might be very familiar with having to do storage switcheroos when the seasons change to make things like winter coats more accessible or luggage out of the way of every day use. So too, can your case goods and stand-alone furniture pieces be treated similarly. If you tend to entertain a lot, for instance, you might do some trading of interior storage to customize your storage pieces during the time when you need to get in and out of there often to pull out servingware. The same goes for any other time in the year when you might be using a furniture piece more heavily than others; don’t be afraid to do a little organization customization if it’ll make the piece —and your space — more functional.

(Image credit: Natalie Grasso)

Put these areas on the regular declutter schedule, too

Just like you might check back in to your closets and rooms on a regular annual schedule to make sure they’re staying in organizing shape, you might consider putting your case goods — your dressers, credenzas and free-standing storage cabinets — on a regular decluttering schedule, too.

Contain the top and bottom clutter, too

Not only can a poorly used and poorly organized interior sap the functionality of a dresser, credenza or other storage piece, so too can clutter on the top and bottom of the piece. It might not affect how much you can store inside, but it might affect whether or not you want to use the piece more often (not too mention make whatever room it’s in feel more cluttered).

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