Sunday, 21 October 2018

Ingenious Space Saving Small Home Ideas

I once wrote a jokey post about small space living, based on my experiences in my first small flat. I was thinking, though, that I might actually have picked up some useful ideas over the years that could be useful, so this is a sensible post about managing when you don't have much storage space. Our house isn't tiny, it's certainly bigger than that first flat, but it's modern and therefore efficient space-wise, not offering much in the way of storage or, indeed, any surplus space. These ideas make the most of the space you have. There are some affiliate links which give us a small profit if you buy through them, and also illustrate what I'm talking about!

Second Wardrobe Rail

I learned this out of desperation, when I first had my son and, due to space constraints, he shared a room with us for two years. Children are short, for quite a long time, and it will be many years before their clothes reach the bottom of the wardrobe, so consider adding a second rail below the first one, if they have a full size wardrobe, to create a two storey hanging arrangement.

Laundry Bag

I've had this laundry bag forever, it is very tatty, but in the interests of saving the planet, who cares. I'm pretty sure it once said 'Laundry' on it, but thankfully, I can remember what it's for. I hated having a standard laundry basket, because it was so bulky, I never knew where to put it. I tried various other means of carting my washing into the garden to hang out, including a flexible plastic basket that sort-of squished up, and a collapsible plastic box, that used to fold up, but wasn't very durable. If you want to save even more space, you could even not have a basket at all and use a big shopping bag or something. I quite like having it though, it lives folded up next to the washing machine, so I don't have to go looking for it and I know all the washing will fit in it.

Iron Hanger

This one does exactly what it says, it allows you to hang your iron from a wall. I wanted one of these for a long time before I got one, as they seem like the perfect space saver to me. Making good use of your wall space is essential if you want to save your cupboards and shelves for more important items. It seems obvious to me to hang your iron on the unused wall space, particularly if it's clear you never use an iron, but you want to let the world know you do actually own one, should it ever come up in conversation.

Saucepan Lid Hanger

Saucepans take up a crazy amount of space in a cupboard, but if you take away the lids, they all fit inside each other. The ultimate saucepan goal for this purpose is the Tefal Ingenio Range, where they have got saucepan storage down to a fine art. The handles come off, and both the pots and the lids are stackable, so they only ever take up the space of one pan. If this is out of your price range, though, you can spend considerably less on a wall hanger for saucepan lids, leaving your pans free to be stacked.

Folding Table and Chairs

There are lots of versions of folding table and chairs. Most have a little cupboard in the centre to store the chairs in, greatly increasing the floor space in your kitchen or lounge-diner when they are not in use. I used to own one when I had my flat, and they are brilliant for creating much-needed living space, but they do have drawbacks with little ones around as they are not very stable and some can trap small fingers if you are not careful.

Stacking Mugs

If you are not a 'favourite mug' kind of family, stacking mugs are a cute and space saving option. Other ideas for mug storage include under-shelf hooks or a mug tree, if you have enough surface space. Personally, I went with under-shelf hooks, because I am not a fan of kitchen surface clutter, as it makes it more time-consuming to clean and makes the space look smaller. 

Hanging Dirty Laundry Bag

Another item that you kind of have to have, but don't always want to dedicate space to is the dirty laundry hamper. You can opt for a communal one, perhaps in the bathroom or on the landing, but I've found that having individual ones in the bedrooms has been instrumental in encouraging the children to be tidier. If the rooms aren't huge, and you don't want to give up valuable floor space to such a mundane item, consider a door-hanging version. You can also get collapsible laundry hampers, so you can fold them away on that one day that you've done all the washing. Until bedtime anyway.

Retractable Washing Line

This is one of my favourite space-savers. For a while you couldn't seem to buy them anywhere, but I'm glad to say they appear to be making a comeback. Gardens seem to be getting smaller and smaller with new house builds, but the need to hang out washing is growing, with more emphasis on saving energy and money, as well as wanting to preserve the life of clothes by not tumble drying them. I have three retractable washing lines in my fairly tiny garden and they reach the length of it, so if it's been raining for ages, I can dry lots of washing when the sun finally comes out. It's a pretty crazy set up, but when it's all dry, the lines simple disappear into a small housing unit on the wall, so they don't get in the way when I don't need them. 

Wall-Mounted Dish Drainer

There are two different ways to achieve this but, trust me, if you have a small kitchen and no dishwasher to hide things in, it's an invaluable addition to have. The first, and easiest option, is to simply attach a plate rack to the wall above the sink. When you are washing up, the plate rack acts as a dish drainer, with the excess water running into the sink, but it also looks pretty cool as a plate rack too, saving cupboard space and time, because you don't ever have to put the washing up away! For a more advanced version, the dish-drainer cupboard is popular in Finland and achieves exactly the same result, but it's an actual cupboard. In this fairly dreadful photo I took on holiday, you can see the inside of the cupboard in our hotel suite, instead of shelves, there are drainer racks, and when you are done washing up, you simply close the door.

Adding Extra Shelves

In a similar way to adding an extra rail to a wardrobe, it's often possible to add extra shelves, particularly in the airing cupboard. The shelves are usually quite far apart as standard, but you don't actually need such a big gap. It doesn't even have to cost much. We almost doubled the storage in our airing cupboard, using some old wooden bed slats.

You can never have enough space, even if you upgrade to somewhere bigger, you will probably expand to fit eventually, so finding ways to increase your storage will always be beneficial. A good declutter now and again works wonders too. Before you look for more storage options, ask yourself honestly if you really need it all.



  1. These are great tips! I have 3 boys under 3.5 and although there clothes are small we seem to have so much STUFF! I love the idea of the hanging laundry hampers in their bedrooms because we have a ridiculous amount of dirty washing - at least it would spread it out!

  2. The dish drainer cupboard sounds amazing! Not sure how it would ever work in our kitchen, but it certainly is clever.

  3. Fab ideas - I love the second rail idea. Ill have to see if my cousin could do it for me.


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