Outdoor Storage Solutions
As the warming weather draws people outside, patios, decks, porches, and yards take on the function -- and fun! -- of indoor living spaces. Here are some ideas for stashing everything you need to live it up in the great outdoors.
Everything In This Slideshow
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Hang 'Em High
Don't overlook the vertical space on a porch or patio -- it's ripe with storage possibilities. Both high and low shelves made of weatherproof wood and metal stack scads of bulky items outside. A jaunty clothesline lifts bags and other lightweight gear so the items catch the breeze.
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Vintage locker bins, readily available at antiques malls and thrift stores, are no strangers to use and abuse, making them ideal storage containers for slipping beneath an outdoor bench.
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This gorgeous bank of built-in cabinetry (complete with a sink and scads of storage) resembles an old-fashioned butler's pantry, but it was crafted specially for a sheltered patio rather than an indoor kitchen. Barn-style hinges and hardware, plus a slate countertop -- impervious to moisture and abuse -- nod toward the pantry's rustic function, and a pair of doors can enclose the area to protect it from inclement weather.
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Carved into a massive limestone block and capped with a removable teak lid, this rugged outdoor coffee table hides a delightful surprise inside: a drink cooler! No wonder the sofa and chairs are gathered around -- it’s party central.
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Nubby baskets with handles serve the same purpose outside as they do in: carrying items from one spot to another and corralling bulky pieces so they stay tidy. This big basket collects cushions and throws for cozying up on a couch or chair. Because they are susceptible to rain, keep baskets in a sheltered spot, such as a covered porch or patio.
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A tall kitchen hutch needs only a tweak or two to be suitable for the outdoors: a coat of exterior paint (the zanier the color combination, the better!) and a chicken-wire inset (rather than glass) in one cabinet door. Hooks on the doors and inside the cabinet extend the hutch's usefulness to hang gloves and hand tools, while a large base shelf stows a big metal bin of potting soil and tall rain boots.
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Just about every surface of this hutch is put to use. On the side, two metal coat hooks tame an unruly garden hose.
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Hide and Seat
This cheerful bench -- softened by a striped cushion -- provides more than a burst of bright color and a comfy seat on the deck. Its hinged top allows bulky outdoor items, such as garden tools and potting soil, to be stored inside.
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This dinette set does double duty: The chairs scoot right into the table when not in use, so it looks and functions like a buffet.
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As well-appointed as an indoor kitchen island, this outdoor version features everything an active family needs for alfresco dining: plastic cups, plates, and silverware; napkins and towels; and bins for trash and recycling.
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Worn and Weathered
An antique buffet might be too shabby for the breakfast nook, but its chipped paint and warped boards feel right at home on a patio. Plates and dishes of food cluster on its tabletop, while the lower shelf holds baskets filled with other essentials.
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The garage often collects overflow from both the house and yard, so it's essential that this transitional space be tidy and organized. Modular storage units -- with a mix of closed-door cabinets, open shelves, and sliding drawers -- gather indoor and outdoor necessities in one compact space. Slat-wall paneling, often used in retail stores to display merchandise up high, puts an otherwise blank stretch of wall to good use holding hand tools and extension cords.
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Off the Wall
Inexpensive rubber-coated hooks elevate folding chairs and plastic buckets for handy -- and eye-catching -- storage in the garage.
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Grab a Cold One
A kitchen cart goes outside with ease thanks to rolling casters. An insulated cooler fits perfectly inside, keeping icy-cold drinks within reach, while open slots at the base stash bottles and plates. The cart is sized to snug under the outdoor kitchen's countertop, where a spritely curtain conceals it from view.
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Tote-able Garden Tools
A humble plastic bucket blossoms into an indispensible garden caddy with the addition of an oilcloth apron wrapped around its rim. A hand shovel and other small supplies slip into the pockets, while items with long handles and more bulk cluster inside the bucket.
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Perfect for Potting
A potting bench crafted of reclaimed, weathered wood offers a work surface for gardening tasks, such as repotting plants or starting seeds.