What do you really need?
In a similar way that designers tackle the client brief assessing a projects feasibility, you must set the stage identifying what is fundamental to your storage needs and the practical function of your new space. De-cluttering may seem a burdensome and often emotional task, it’s a necessary step to ensure your new finely tuned storage facilities do not immediately overflow. You need to assess what really matters. Stop hoarding those old books you never read! Cleanse yourself from all those previous years of your life hidden behind cupboards! Enter the shed and furnish the charity shop with gifts.
- Keep what will serve your life. Lose the baggage
Living in small spaces and hoarding mentality do not mix well. Psychologically this will lead to mental, emotional, and physical anxiety. Financially you will benefit by removing surplus items from your life. Keep all that you truly need and nothing that blocks your path to self-actualisation.
- Assess the space available to you
Visually survey your home and identify areas that can be transformed into storage solutions without impacting on living space and walk-able access routes. These can be spaces between spaces; nooks in the hallway; voids hidden behind staircase panels; unused space above cupboards. Let your ideas run and take the best solutions forward.
Bespoke storage solutions
A popular solution to hidden storage in small apartments is transforming an internal elevation in its entirety. Think of how public libraries efficiently store books, the aisles are often stacked floor-to-ceiling maximising floor space. Consider if there’s an internal wall in your home that can accommodate 500-650mm deep storage and still allow the space in front to function without impeding on doorways or circulation. This is a typical depth to hide storage behind sliding panels painted and detailed to match wall finishes so that storage is completely hidden. It’s very important to note construction work of this scale can be hazardous and you should always seek the advice of a professional trades-person and not attempt any of these alterations on your own.
Custom storage solutions can also be found at high level, however accessibility for all users and safety should always be your first thought when implementing high level storage. What works for you may not be safe for other members of your household. Safety and ergonomics are key. Seeking professional advice is always best when it comes to any form of construction work. Custom storage solutions when designed and installed correctly can add a dynamic quality to passive spaces in your home.
Bespoke storage at Hatton Garden, London
courtesy of Ernest Tsui Architects + Partners
Minimum storage for new dwellings (m²)
UK National Technical Housing Standards, 2015
What are your storage requirements?
There’s no one-size-fits-all when designing creative storage. There are minimum guidelines (see data from UK National Technical Housing Standards, 2015) however in small ‘existing spaces’ it really depends on what you can practically and reasonably fit into your home. You need to strike a balance between essential and desirable. Taking an honest look at what possessions you really need is important when living in small spaces, which is a positive over those with larger homes because you get to focus on what really matters. Once you have an idea of essential items and ejected the cat, calculate the shape and total volume of storage you need and plan the internal layout around this geometry to suit.
Detailing & Finishes
To create truly hidden storage finishing details must seamlessly blend into the room. Storage panels that match the colour of surrounding walls; storage metalwork in dining areas that match kitchen units in open plan spaces. Continuity and clean lines are paramount when designing small spaces for living. This is very much a minimalist approach which isn’t always to everyone’s taste, however in small spaces the benefits are clear. There’s a feeling of zen when everything is located effortlessly in your home.
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