Maxwell says: Fake a foyer by stationing a console table next to the door (a waist-high shelf works, too). Then hang a mirror and hooks for bags, jackets, and keys.
About Maxwell Ryan: Maxwell is the founder of Apartment Therapy, the uber-popular website devoted to stylish living in small spaces, who recently added BHG contributor to his resume. Look for his column, "Apartment Therapist," in the magazine several tiimes a year!
Maxwell says: A commercial-style pot rack is a win-win-win. It saves space, makes your gear accessible, and looks restaurant chic.
Maxwell says: A tray of pretty toiletries on the toilet tank makes a bathroom more personal and luxurious. Plus, it's just plain handy.
Doors and Windows
Frame a doorway with bookcases or shelves to turn wasted space into storage. Spring for built-ins, or get the same function with freestanding units. This solution works best for less-frequently used passageways, such as pantry or laundry room doors, rather than main entries. The shelves will affect traffic patterns and how you can manuever large items through the doors (so if you're going the built-in route, make sure it's not around a door you may need to move large appliances or furniture through; freestanding shelves can be moved for these instances).
Doors and Windows
Seat and Storage
The space around windows can also be tapped for storage, as well as extra seating. Built-ins allow for customization, but you can also get this look with tall freestanding bookcases and a bench. To create a built-in look with freestanding pieces, take careful measurements to ensure you get pieces that fit just right, and look for bookcases that go to the ceiling.
Use a wall-mount desk to stash jewelry and bedroom extras. The cabinet can be outfitted with hooks to corral necklaces, and the flip-down desk can act as a vanity table. A unit like this folds up neatly, concealing any clutter, and takes up only as much space as is needed to mount it on the wall. To find a similar unit, search for wall-mount desks or wall-mount laptop desks online.
A wall-mount desk also works well in an entryway or mudroom. You can rest your laptop or tablet on the flip-down desk to do last-minute e-mails and schedule or weather checks as you're heading out the door. The cubbies can house pens and paper for jotting notes.
Frame chalkboards, pegboards, and magnet boards to form an all-in-one bulletin board for your walls. For message boards, cut pieces of thin wood to fit into picture frames and coat with chalkboard, magnetic, or dry-erase paint, or cut sheets of metal and cover with thin fabric to use as magnet boards. Similarly, cut squares of pegboard and outfit with hooks and cups to organize keys, writing utensils, and pads of paper. The frames will provide an orderly, unified look to the message boards.
Work and Play
When space is tight, look to walls for organization and storage. Many different materials have a wall application and can be utilized for message centers and information organizers. Stick-on cork tiles craft an instant bulletin board. Use colored tapes to mark off squares to create zones for specific projects or to-dos (chores, work, school, etc.). Here, a ledge separates the cork bulletin board from an expanse of chalkboard to create an art space for kids in this adult office. The wall-mount rail systems corral chalk, art paper, and hooks for tote bags.
Stairway to Storage
Look to the space beneath your stairs to add function. Consider what purpose would best suit the room where your staircase is positioned. For example, if your staircase is between the living room and dining room, turn the space into a buffet or bar area. Guests can grab drinks and appetizers while they mingle before dinner.
If the space beneath your stairs is already being tapped for storage, albiet disorganized storage, take it to the next step with storage units that fit beneath your staircase to help streamline storage. A custom built-in, like this shelving unit, will maximize space, but you can get a ready-to-assemble version by scouting out shelving units that are available in different heights. Buy a taller unit that will fit beneath the top of the staircase, and a shorter matching unit to tuck next to it.
Full-size closets can often be squeezed beneath straight-run staircases if there isn't another staircase beneath it. But for L-shape, or return, stairways, there isn't enough height for a closet. Rather than leave it unused, carve out the space beneath the landing for drawers to store sporting gear and shoes in an entryway.
Backs of Doors
You might not use table linens in an everyday setting, but when an occasion calls for pulling out tablecloths and cloth napkins, leave your iron behind. Infrequently used linens often get buried on a shelf or in a drawer, causing major wrinkling. Drape linens on the bars of an over-the-door towel rack to keep them looking freshly pressed and ready for company.
Backs of Doors
Do cleaning products end up in a jumbled mess beneath your kitchen sink or at the bottom of a cabinet? Move your cleaning supplies to a more easily accessible spot by installing caddies or bins on the back of a door. Organize the compartments by product type, and you'll know exactly where to go for the floor cleaner, dusting spray, or whatever you might need.
Closet Work Space
If a closet isn't doing you much good as a storage space, turn it into something you will use, such as an office or a crafting zone. Outfit the space with a desk and plenty of storage. To make it even more functional, add outlets for lamps or hardwire a pendant fixture to provide adequate task lighting.
Finding extra storage in a small living room, where space is already limited, is tricky. To make space for a bookcase, move your sofa away from the wall a foot or two and slide a bookcase behind it. Use the top shelves for frequently used items, and stash seasonal items on the hidden lower shelves.
Shave time off your laundry-sorting routine by adding built-in sorters. Place mesh bags on hooks on the wall above your laundry hamper for socks and undergarments. On laundry day, you can just pick up the bag and toss it in the wash. Placing both socks in a bag when you take them off means fewer singleton socks.
Bathrooms often have small footprints but plenty of unused vertical space. A tall but narrow cabinet can be used to store toilet paper, towels, and toothbrushes. Look for a model that has both closed storage (such as cabinets and drawers) and open shelves to both conceal items and provide easy access to everyday items.