19 of the Smartest, Sexiest Storage Solutions We Saw in 2019
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It might seem a little odd to describe a storage solution as “sexy,” but that’s simply the most apt description for these 19 ideas we saw and loved this year. From small studio apartments filled with smart ways to maximize space, to hidden ideas for those items you don’t want to see, to solutions worth sharing because they just plain look good—these are the best storage ideas I saw in house tours in 2019.
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1. This incredibly sexy broom and cleaning supply closet
Jessica and Tyler Marés incorporated functionality into the plans of their house renovation… all the way down to the tiniest detail. “If not the whole kitchen, then the broom cupboard pullout, hands down!” explains Jessica of her favorite DIY in the house. “It was pure imagination that dreamed that up, and I’m still shocked sometimes that it came out exactly how I imagined it.”
2. This brilliant bookcase/banquette/divider/storage cube
Though lived in—and designed by—a professional architect, this 450-square-foot studio apartment in New York shows just how much a small space can work for yo when it’s designed well. From the submission: “New York-based interior architect Sandy Wen has turned a plain studio into an extremely spacious apartment for a young artist couple in New York City. It uses a simple yet elegant wooden structure in the renovation of a midtown studio with layers of natural light and outdoor views.”
3. This incredible DIY bed and storage loft
In this open-plan Philadelphia apartment, the renters were able to not only create a lofted bedroom area, they crafted—out of humble OSB board—both a storage closet and a bookshelf. This sort of project takes skill and vision, and the time and energy involved in creating it is worth it for the amount of storage and function it creates.
4. This reading nook that transforms into a guest room in less than a minute
This small, renovated Barcelona apartment has a great hidden gem… a cozy little narrow reading nook that can be transformed into a guest suite thanks to a neat, compact Murphy bed. Hiding an entire guest room in plain sight—if that’s not smart storage, I don’t know what is.
5. This refreshed, formerly bland apartment with terrific (temporary) updates
It’s not easy moving into an apartment that you’re renting, but Marleen and her boyfriend were able to take a space they don’t own and personalize it. A lot of the work they did was in the kitchen adding storage and function. “They had a huge brown cabinet above the sink so I took it down, painted the wall, put up temporary backsplash decals and two long shelves above the sink for more storage and books. Over the last two years, I’ve put in a lot of work—all temporary and very cost-effective since I’m only renting.”
6. Every inch of this 225-square-foot apartment is well organized
Whitney Thayne has FILLED her teeny 225-square-foot apartment with smart storage ideas. “I’ve always been a fan of creatively using organization to make the impossible happen,” Whitney wrote. “At 225 square feet, this apartment has been one of my ‘biggest’ challenges, and has more or less felt like life-size Tetris. Truly, the smaller the space, the more you have to dream up space-specific techniques to function.”
7. This cute entryway that adds beautiful storage to a small home
Good storage doesn’t have to be hidden. Oftentimes, great storage is the kind that maximizes the space you have in your home, even if that’s just open wall space. Sara, an architect and the founder of Home archiLAB, filled her bright Madrid rental apartment with modern DIY projects and smart purchases. In the entryway, the shelf is from Muymucho, the mirror from Woodies Ireland, the hanger from H&M Home, the baskets from Sklum and a local shop in Valencia, and the rug is from Natura. And it all comes together to create a cute decor composition that also functions as needed storage.
8. These neat custom built-ins
Built-in furniture and storage—particularly when done beautifully—can maximize a home’s available space like nothing else can. And the built-ins found in Kevin Morin’s house, all crafted by Ali Alamolhoda of Alamo Finishing, are very inspiring. Particularly of note is the beautiful bookshelf/window seat combo.
9. This space-maximizing 400-square-foot Brooklyn apartment
Jackie Cantwell is an artist, co-founder of SHIM Art Network, sound meditation practitioner, facilitator of Medi Club, musician for The Big Quiet, and founder of Camp Remember, and with such a busy and creative life, it’s amazing that she’s been able to do it all in her 400-square-foot Brooklyn apartment. But she tackled the organization and decor of her small home brilliantly, adding in tons of storage ideas. With only one tiny closet for the whole apartment, she had to get creative when it came to storage, like in the bedroom, where matching boxes from IKEA are used for art supplies.
10. These beautiful wallpapered closet doors
I’m including interior designer Jess Diab‘s pretty Los Angeles home in this round up as a reminder that you can just improve the look of your storage, too; it doesn’t always have to be about trying to fit more stuff in your home. She added gorgeous wallpaper to her closet doors, and while it may not have added extra room to her home, it did greatly improve the look of her space.
11. This small studio apartment’s easy, elegant divider solution
Anytime you can make a furniture piece work double duty in a small home, the better. And Channing Foster did an amazing job in her 600-square-foot studio apartment, when she created an elegant room divider that also doubles as attractive storage.
12. This houseboat has one of the cutest tiny house kitchens… and great storage solutions
Jennifer Hutter, her husband Bodhi, and their 19-month-old son Ryder all share this 400-square-foot houseboat they remodeled themselves. And the biggest renovation may just have been the teeny kitchen. It’s ample enough for all of the family’s needs and features great small-space solutions.
13. Using your fridge as storage space in a small kitchen
Raechel and Ryan Lambert are basically small-space experts, having lived in an organized, functional 240-square-foot studio apartment and their most recent home, this slightly-larger-but-still-small 400-square-foot Hell’s Kitchen studio apartment. Both homes have inspiring organizing and designing ideas, but their NYC home also has the kind of storage idea that’s so simple you might never have thought of it before: if you buy your dry goods in bulk to save money but struggle to find space to store them in your small kitchen, don’t overlook the storage power of your fridge!
14. This bold, colorful, and well-curated built-in
It perfectly fits the TV set, is filled with plants and collectibles, and also makes a lot of room for hidden storage, too. Chelsea Ellis painted the cabinetry in her Australian home’s living room, and she also updated them with brass handles by Lo & Co, too.
15. These affordable shelves that look like pricey built-ins
Dana McMahan‘s sprawling 132-year-old renovated Victorian house is filled with a lot of delightful design details, but it also hides a great example of how to fake built-ins: paint any old shelf the same color as your walls.
16. This tiny house’s storage that’s reminiscent of serene Japanese tea rooms
This 160-square-foot tiny house made from natural materials is simple, minimal, and serenely beautiful, but also a great reminder that even the most affordable of materials can make for stunning storage when designed intentionally.
17. This hidden jewelry closet
There’s certainly plenty of inspiration to take from Kate Beebe’s maximalist Cincinnati loft apartment (including a brilliant bar setup), but I was particularly charmed by the hidden jewelry storage behind a large mirror near her entryway. Even if you don’t have a big collection of jewelry you need to store, this idea could be translated for whatever it is you need to make room for.
18. This magical DIY TV-hiding cabinet
Though this large family home in Utah has adorable DIY projects in every room of the house, there was one smart storage idea in the living room that can’t be ignored. Laurel Harry‘s husband is a woodworker, and created one very cute, very clever, “magical TV stand that lifts the TV up when we want to see it, and down when we want it out of sight (we call it the Harry Potter TV stand because our kids think it is that magical!).”
19. These clever storage ideas for a very narrow kitchen
Nancy Knight loves to cook, so she says making her 320-square-foot studio apartment’s kitchen usable was a priority. “I added the IKEA shelving to store a collection of Italian pottery, I added a tension rod and S hooks to the bottom to store my pots, pans, dish towel, apron, and extra kitchen tools. I also added a wall rack to hold the pot lids. I had to think of vertical space for storage to make this kitchen work. I installed a pull-out garbage and recycle bin under the sink, added a paper towel holder under the sink and put extra cleaning supplies there, and of course a motion-sensored light. I have found that in a small space just having light is a big plus and just makes me feel better to be able to see.”