Well-planned storage can give the most hectic household a serene and smoothly-run air. To have a place for everything, most people need twice as much storage as they think, even if they’re strong-minded enough to get rid of things that are never used. So, avoiding preconceptions (like jumpers having to go in a chest of drawers), decide if you need something fixed permanently or movable, what you need to store, in what rooms, how various storage schemes might affect those rooms, and how much you can afford.
Here are a few guidelines: allow children at least as much storage as adults; razors and medicines should be stored out of reach of children; you’ll need summer storage for eiderdowns and blankets; cups should be stored resting on their sides; brooms and the vacuum cleaner needn’t be stored in the kitchen — after all, you use them everywhere.
This is the cheapest, simplest and most versatile storage. Check that the wall you want to put shelves on is sound and solid, and doesn’t have any pipes or cables hidden in it. Measure the weight and size of what you want to put on them. If the contents on your shelves are going to remain the same you won’t need adjustable shelving — just brackets attached directly to the wall. Otherwise you’ll need wall-mounted uprights, with tracks or lots of sockets for movable brackets. The heavier the load, the more supports you’ll need. Shelves come in a variety of materials and in standard widths to fit brackets. DIY shops will often cut them to any length you want. Light plastic drawers with their own runners can be fixed to the underside of a shelf. You can make your own shelving with planks supported on bricks arranged in double rows, 90 cm (3ft) apart. Whitewood bookshelves or stacking bins are other alternatives.
Freestanding storage, like wardrobes and chests, tends to be less efficient than the built-in type. If you’re in rented accommodation, you’ll probably have to rely on it. Old tin and wicker trunks can be a godsend too. A basket by the kitchen door for slippers, a bag hanging on the back of a child’s door for dirty clothes, metal rails on castors (such as those in the clothes shops) — a simple and inexpensive idea can often help, In an old cupboard with deep shelves that are wide apart, you could fix a narrow shelf between two old ones.
When you’re short of space — in the bedroom or spare room perhaps — it may be best to devote an entire wall to storage and have very little furniture. You will have to give careful consideration to the space needed. Decide what you’ve got to store and which type of doors would be best. Sliding doors save space but there will always be a section inside the cupboard that you can’t reach. Wide, hinged doors need a lot of clearance. Narrow, hinged doors will make it more expensive because you will need more of them. Hinged, concertina doors will need a slightly deeper cupboard to fold into. Louvred doors are available in a wide range of sizes and are inexpensive.
These enable you to build up your storage, using units of standard height, depth, and perhaps several different widths. They’re often chipboard veneered, but there are various different finishes. Metal storage is usually intended for the office, but could provide a cheap alternative. Not all systems turn a corner well, and prices vary enormously. It may be worth using the same units throughout to give continuity.