Small Space Storage Tips—From People Who Live in Tiny Homes

Small Space Storage Tips—From People Who Live in Tiny Homes

Shelby Deering
May 6, 2018
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

In any home, large or small, storage tends to be one of the top gripes. There's a good chance that your basement — if you even have a basement — is filled with needless items that you've collected over the years. You've probably lived through the experience of donating several coats in your closet, so you can, um… make room for new coats. And let's not even discuss that clutter that currently resides under your bed.

It happens to the best of us, which is just one of the reasons why more and more people are turning to a minimalist lifestyle that's lighter on stuff. The frontrunners of this movement? Tiny house owners, who have had to part with many of their possessions in favor of no mortgage, a simpler life, and the freedom to pick up and go whenever they like.

If you're struggling to fit one. more. thing. in your small space, look no further than these words of wisdom and minimalist practices shared by longtime tiny home owners.

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Make "stick to the essentials" your new mantra

Before moving into their tiny homes, many people purge their belongings, bringing only the necessities and things that give them joy. And typically, they don't rent out storage units before making the move. "We travel with basics: clothing, kitchen items, books, and some toys. We do have 'decorative' items in our home, but they all have a purpose or meaning behind them," says Kate Oliver, Founder & Designer of The Modern Caravan. She advises, "Live with what you need and brings you happiness, or get rid of it. This is one of the best things about living tiny: you really learn to edit what is in your life."

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Try and blend storage into the room

Storage can be blended seamlessly into a room through vintage finds or providing hiding places for your belongings. This is what Rebekah Carey, stylist, designer, and freelance writer, has done in her own tiny home. She says: "Our Murphy bed hides our mattress when it's up, our cabinet next to it holds clothes and is painted the same color as the bed and walls, and our vintage metal locker is our pantry."

See more of her space here: A Couple & Three Dogs Share a 200-Square-Foot "Bitty Berkeley Bungalow"

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Consider something custom to maximize every inch

Sometimes in order to have storage that really, truly works, you have to go the custom route. Tiny house designer and builder Shalina Kell constructed her own storage solutions in her tiny home, but you can always hire a contractor if needed. She explains, "My couch is a storage unit, as well as my table. I built drop-down cupboards in the ceiling of my kitchen and there are drawers in all of the stairs. I built pull-out pantries on castors in the kitchen which hold all of our food, larger kitchen items, and our TV trays and folding chairs." She also suggests, "Break up storage spaces into smaller compartments with dividers, boxes, or small bags."

Weave function into your décor

As Whitney Leigh Morris of The Tiny Canal Cottage knows all too well, space in a tiny house is precious. She also loves décor, so she's cleverly brainstormed ways to bring storage and décor together. "Going vertical in a small space is a no-brainer," she says, witnessed here in a bookshelf that surrounds her bed. "It's not just about items like vertical bookshelves, shoe hangers, and mug hooks. You can also go vertical when finding a home for items like your musical instruments, hampers, accessories, nursery items, plants, beauty supplies, office supplies, and so much more." She also believes in decorating with practical items, like reusable shopping baskets, books, linens, kitchen goods, guitars, and herbs.

See more of her space here: Whitney and Adam's Live/Work Canal Cottage

Be mindful & keep things away from your eye line

Jenna Spesard of Tiny House Giant Journey has a rule when it comes to storage: "If I bring something new into my home, I have to get rid of at least one thing to make space for it." It's paid off in the form of a streamlined collection of stuff — but for storing the items that do take up residence in her home, she's gotten creative. She suggests, "Store items high and low. Keep your belongings out of your eye line," which is what she has done here with her difficult-to-store snowboards.

(Image credit: Pat Piasecki)

Thrift and think unconventionally

As the owners of a film, theater, and set design company, Chloe Barcelou and Brandon Batchelder have some atypical items in their tiny house—like props, tools, and costumes—which is why they created expandable spaces and travel with a mobile shipping container. Based on her experiences, Chloe recommends "thinking outside the box" and using "unconventional materials." She says, "Admittedly, I find most of my favorite storage solutions like hat boxes and stacking trucks at thrift stores or flea markets. We've decided to use vintage footlockers we found both free and cheap at flea markets, turning them into hanging armoires on our wardrobe walls."

See more of their space here: An Incredible, One-of-a-Kind Expanding Tiny House

Use every square inch

Joshua & Shelley Engberg, owners of Tiny House Basics and authors of the best-selling book Tiny House Basics: Living the Good Life in Small Spaces, gave away many of their possessions before moving into their tiny house. The two have stretched every available spot in their home to accommodate for storage. Joshua says their top small-space storage solutions include mounting decorative storage items on the wall, using lazy susans to access the corners of the kitchen, and adding "multipurpose furniture like an ottoman that serves as storage to hold gear, games, or even blankets."

Small Space, Big Possibilities

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