22 Must-Have Storage Essentials

Does your home need some storage TLC? You may be missing one of these storage staples to help organize your stuff and clear the clutter.


While pegboard might not seem like a storage staple, it’s actually a great element to take advantage of narrow spaces. Hooks and shelves hung from pegboard are quick-storage ways to keep office, food, or other items on hand.

Want to get organized? Pick the right storage container for the right job and you'll be on your way. Follow these tips for choosing bins, baskets, and more.

Choosing the Right Container

Containers are a storage staple that come in all shapes and sizes. Here's how to choose the right one for the task at hand.

Small Trays and Containers

One of the best ways to keep on top of storage and organization is to group like items together in containers. In a bathroom, for example, look for repurposed containers or trays to gather first-aid, cleaning, or other items. If you can't find a pretty container to match your color scheme, pick a neutral one and add decorative details with patterned tape or paint.

Open Shelves

Inexpensive open shelves are a storage must-have, especially for space-challenged or awkward areas. They enable you to add wee bits of storage as needed in corners or on small stretches of wall that don’t have enough space for traditional length shelves. Another idea: underbed storage, either built-in or added on. That out-of-the-way spot is a great way to stash out-of-season clothing.

Wall Storage

Whether small spots in a kitchen or whole walls in a home office, wall storage systems are a great way to take advantage of vertical space, either for reminders, messages, and notes, or other must-have items -- rolls of papers, hooks, and more. This one uses a narrow shelf as a visual divider between materials.

Dowels and Rods

Dowels and rods are great for storing and organizing lots of small craft items, such as ribbons and washi tape. Suspend them from hooks, or use vertically installed rods to stash string.

Fixed and Hidden Storage

Storage staples can be moveable or fixed; what works best depends on your home’s layout and your family’s lifestyle and needs. This pretty nook is a great example of turning what would have been dead space into storage as well as a pretty, decorative element. Under the bench cushion is hidden storage for extra blankets and pillows, while the hooks at shoulder height offer a few spots for extra coats and bags.

Open Baskets

Open-top baskets are great storage staples for daily-use items, especially pieces that kids use frequently. The color and style can be easily swapped as decor needs change, and baskets work well to slide and hide under tables, too.

Caddies and Labels

Caddies are another storage staple that have a variety of uses, whether stashing art supplies or carrying picnic essentials. Make sure yours has several compartments to divide items. Labels are essential as well -- on everything including crates, baskets, buckets, boxes, and more -- to make it easy to see what’s inside.

Closed Plastic Bins

To divide, conquer, and stack, nothing beats plastic bins with lids, especially in hardworking spots such as basements and garages. Choose fun, decorative colors to punch up the color scheme, and add stick-on letters if you're dividing storage by type or person. Bonus: Plastic totes are easy to transport. Fill a few small ones with toys or games to place in your car for road trips.

Hanging Racks

One of the easiest ways to encourage clutter is to let items such as long-handled tools become mixed-up and jumbled. To find what you need quickly and easily, keep the items in sight by clearing the floor and investing in hanging rods. They come in a variety of widths and with a range of options to organize tools. Use one in the garage, basement, garden shed, or mudroom.

Covered Boxes, Magazine Holders, and Wire Baskets

Odd-shape items don’t make for good storage partners -- unless, of course, they’re paired with storage staples like covered boxes, which can also be stacked. Magazine holders and wire baskets (dressed up with liners) are also great for dividing and sorting and presenting a pretty, decorative facade for open shelves.  

Clear Containers

Made from glass or plastic, lidded or not, clear containers should be a storage staple in virtually every room. In the bathroom, they’re great for grooming supplies such as cotton swabs and bathing supplies. Because they're clear, you can see what's inside and grab the right container the first time.

Multipurpose Furniture

Unlike decades past, today’s furniture offerings are decidedly adaptable to today’s families and lifestyles. This oversize ottoman is a good example: An inset tray corrals magazines and papers and is removable, so it can be transported as needed. Another feature to look for on non-traditional storage staples such as this is open shelves for stacking magazines and books or boxes.

Paper Bins

Whether you work at home or an office, have one child or many kids, you have paper: schedules, bills, news, recipes, and more. Office supply stores are a treasure trove of storage staples, with paper bins and dividers that tuck easily into a kitchen nook or rest on an entry table. For a cute pencil cup, wrap an empty small can in decorative paper.

Bags and Totes

Perfectly portable, bags are actually a great storage staple for busy families. Have each family member pick a different color, or stencil names onto canvas bags for trips to the library, beach, and elsewhere. In very busy weeks, bags can stay in an entry so that they’re easily accessible.


No shelves, drawers, or cabinets in sight? Go for baskets, which are widely available in a range of styles, colors, and sizes. This oversize option is a great way to stash towels in a convenient spot, and handles make it portable.


Not everything needs to be on view, which is the reason that drawers are an essential element of any well-stored home. Before choosing yours, review the depth and height to accommodate any odd-size items such as printers. Dress up off-the-shelf drawers with decorative touches.

Message, Hanging, and Magnetic Boards

Part of any organizing and storage system is keeping track of to-dos and appointments; for that, message, hanging, and magnetic boards are a family’s best friends. They can be used in family spaces such as kitchens and living rooms, or in bedrooms for individual reminders. Magnet boards can keep oft-used items -- here, makeup -- within easy reach, as can repurposed frames and screens.


Like baskets and bins, buckets are another handy storage staple. They’re easy to clean and embellish, either with spray paint or labels. Use them in an entryway to corral cold- or warm-weather gear for kids.

Shallow Trays

Some items in your home might be used in different rooms. Or, your rooms may not have enough built-ins, necessitating storage pieces that can move from spot to spot. Shallow trays (with handles if you can find them) are ideal for both organizing and moving items, particularly in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Storage Combos

Well-done storage also relies on a variety of pieces in order to mix-and-match practicality with beauty. This full-wall system uses open shelves of various sizes, providing a built-in mechanism for displaying a range of pieces and storing some essentials, too. Drawers disguise files behind pretty pulls and fronts.

Over-the-Door Storage

Over-the-door racks and rods are a great way to give yourself a little depth and height. Use them in space-challenged guest bathrooms or in small closets as a way to organize the next day's clothing.

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