Over the years it’s easy to accumulate many items, treasured for their memories or possessing valuable attributes; things just too important to get rid of, but no place to adequately store. If the house you are planning to build (or the one you are currently living in) is just too small to accommodate everything you hold near and dear, then it’s time to get a little resourceful. Whether you’re planning to build a new small house or renovate an existing one, here are some creative ways to find extra space to resolve your storage problems.
Stairways up or down, almost always provide valuable extra storage space for shelving, cabinets or closets. For example, a one story house with a staircase down to a basement and no second floor will provide room for raised cabinets or closet space at the opposite end of the stairwell, accessible from the main floor. The bottom of the cabinet or closet will need to be raised or sloped up to allow the required headroom on the other side as you go down the stairs. Depending on the depth of the closet, the usable space for a standard 8′ ceiling house will allow up to 7 feet in height and 3 to 4 feet in width.
If the stairwell is not accessible from the end, a smaller, modified storage space can be achieved from either side (opposite the doorway end). This can yield an interesting staggered arrangement of shelves or niches for displaying your favorite knickknacks. The height and distance of each niche would correspond to the headroom for the stairway behind the wall.
Door and Window Headers
The blank space above doorways and windows (if curtain valances are not used) can be a great spot for bookshelves or even small cabinets snuggly fit up against the ceiling. The shelves can also be continued down both sides in areas where they will not be affected by a swinging door. This can be an attractive focal point, framing a doorway or window in a den or study. In addition, low cabinets with seating on top can be located under windows, completing the framed look.
Upper Room Corners
This same idea can be applied to walls above inner corners in rooms where there may be furniture below but nothing above. A large, attractive corner cabinet works well in a bedroom and may even be carried across, above the bed wall, providing a place on the underside for recessed lighting. This arrangement is also suitable for a home office above a corner desk.
Second Story Knee Walls
The attic eaves behind short knee walls resulting from second story sloped ceilings are an ideal location for built-in storage. By varying the height, depth or style of the built-ins, an attractive and useful display of cabinetry and shelving is possible.
Accessible Attic Storage
Many homes with attic space above the main living areas have small scuttles for access, sometimes located in a closet ceiling and, more often than not, very difficult to utilize. Installing a pull-down staircase (also referred to as a folding ladder) in the ceiling of a hallway or attached garage (if available) should be a high priority. These handy hide-away staircases can make access so much more safe and convenient. They provide great storage space for seasonal items such as holiday decorations or other once-a-year items.
If there is no place to locate the stair unit without it becoming an eyesore, and you have a basement, install it in the ceiling of the stairwell leading to the basement. The unit should run parallel to the existing stairway with the pull-chord accessible from the top basement stair landing and go up from that point. When the stairs are pulled down, you can climb up to the attic. When the pull-down staircase is closed upward into the ceiling, you can access the basement.
Whether you are planning to build a small house or renovate an existing small home, small house plans can present a challenge when it comes to adequate storage space. With some careful planning, you can come up with creative ways for achieving additional attractive and convenient cabinets, closets and accessible attic storage space for all your favorite things.
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