Suggestions for space saving furniture please.
February 22, 2010 4:17 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite space-saving pieces of furniture or furniture related items?

I've lived on my own for a long time and have always rented apartments that provided me more than enough space for my stuff. The time has come to move in with my boyfriend who owns a house, but not a very big one. We both have lots of stuff and things so me moving in is going to be a challenge in space utilization. I've never had to utilize space or even think about it so I really don't know where to start. I need some specific suggestions, tips and recommendations of space saving furniture related anythings. Thanks!
posted by MaryDellamorte to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Oh and I don't like the idea of having to rent a storage unit, but if it has to come to that, I will.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:18 PM on February 22, 2010

rolling bins that fit under the bed and hold out-of-season clothing (ie sweaters in the summer, etc)
posted by kthxbi at 4:21 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ottoman storage
posted by juliplease at 4:23 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Was just coming in to second kthxbi's suggestion of rolling bins that fit underneath the bed.
posted by saveyoursanity at 4:26 PM on February 22, 2010

Ottomans with hidden storage are awesome at containing living room clutter.

Some kind of modular organizer system for your closets: there's a dozen or so brands of varying quality/cost but any of them are better than just a wood dowel.
posted by jamaro at 4:27 PM on February 22, 2010

Something to store shoes in that also hides them.

An Ottoman bed.
posted by selton at 4:27 PM on February 22, 2010

In a small living area, your best bet is to make sure you're using vertical space efficiently: that way your stuff can live up near the ceiling, leaving space for you to live on the ground. If you're buying shelving units, be sure to get ones that reach almost to the ceiling; also, consider installing a row or two of high wall-mounted shelves in any rooms with unoccupied wall space. That last 2' of space just under the ceiling goes completely un-utilized in most rooms, and you can fit a lot of stuff up there if the room is properly laid out.

Same goes for closets: most of them have a single shelf up top, but about 2' of headroom above the shelf, so you can effectively double your horizontal storage capacity if you put in a second row of shelving.

If there's a garage, consider installing hooks so you can hang seasonal items (bikes/decorations/whatever) from the ceiling.
posted by Bardolph at 4:29 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine has an awesome coffee table that converts into a dining table.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 4:29 PM on February 22, 2010

It’s probably trending out of style (or already is), but I’m still in love with wire shelving (generic Metro shelving). You can get it at decent prices used if you’re willing to spend some time garage-saleing(sp?) or visiting business/restaurant supply houses, or you can buy it at Storables. It’s damn near infinitely configurable, and having the perfect shelving system for a given room is key to storing items properly. Easy to put away means no excuses! And it reconfigures perfectly in a new area should you move or change the layout of a room. You aren’t limited to chrome finishes either – white and black are available, other colors are a little harder to find – but you can paint it pretty easily after a roughing it up and applying primer.

In other storage news, visit an IKEA – you don’t have to buy anything but you can get a million clever ideas for storage in small places.
posted by terpia at 4:32 PM on February 22, 2010

Forgive me for trying to solve the implied problem rather than the stated problem, but if you're moving your stuff into a building with someone else's stuff, and you plan to do this for the long run, shouldn't your top priority to be getting rid of stuff, most especially the duplicate stuff, rather than treating it as an excuse to shop for more stuff? Doesn't your boyfriend already own furniture?

That having been said, the obvious solutions are probably the best: everything should serve more than one purpose, storage and something else; items should be lightweight and movable so that you can reconfigure living spaces as needed; when in doubt, think vertical; if you're not sure where it goes, the answer is you didn't need it.
posted by majick at 4:36 PM on February 22, 2010

Majick, why do you assume that I'm not already getting rid of stuff? I'm actually getting rid of a lot of stuff. He does own furniture but he's not attached to any of it in any way so we're looking to see what we could replace it with.

Moving on...we're definitely planning an Ikea trip in the near future and I really like the idea of putting a second top shelf in the closet and putting shelves up near the ceiling. Also those ottoman beds look pretty cool, I didn't even know something like that even existed.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:45 PM on February 22, 2010

It's maybe more work than you will think it's worth, but if you are willing to take on a larger project, there are a bunch of ways to design lots of storage into small spaces. A really good example is these amazing stair shelves. Apartment Therapy (and similar websites) has a ton of examples of amazing built-in storage options, like this one, for example, and lots of articles about furniture with storage designed in.
posted by Forktine at 4:56 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

A headboard with shelving/storage in it, so you don't need night tables maybe. Modular closet stuff, as already mentioned, whatever works best for you (personally I'm a fan of those grid-like pull-out shelves that act as cheap mix-and-match dressers, plus rows of door hooks and hanging floating canvas cubbies in the actual closet). Those shoe holders that hang on the inside of doors are popular, if that's your thing. Think vertical for storage--the tallest book or media shelves you can get, etc. And floating wall shelves! Maybe those ottoman things that are stealthy magazine/remote holders, though I can't vouch personally.

If you have the will and the funds, you might consider floating your television instead of having a gigantic media chest thing or table to have to put it on.

In the kitchen, Ikea has lots of good stuff--those magnetic strips to hold knives and ladles against the wall, those little cups you hang off hooks to store utensils or whatever, carousels in the cupboard, etc. Apartment Therapy has tons of ideas for smart space saving in the kitchen. Hooks for everything possible like mitts etc. Hanging racks for pots and pans. A hanging mesh basket for fruit if you're short on counter space.

Your dining room table has the potential to be your desk if you have a few things already in place like only using a laptop, wireless internet if you need a connection, having a discreet place nearby (I use a built-in curio with cupboard doors on the bottom, but people swear by those CB2 and Ikea locker-like filing cabinets and credenzas) for your printer or fax or whatever hook ups and other office supplies. I thought I was the only one who did this until I recently re-read an Ina Garten book and found her mentioning she does it too.

Use your decorative items in utilitarian ways, too. Pretty baskets double as remote or mail/keys/wallet holders, etc. If you get a useful wall calendar custom-made with photos you cherish, then you don't need to hang those pictures (double duty!).

If you have semi-outer space, like a laundry foyer or unfinished basement or shed or garage, consider moving things you might not normally think of out there.
posted by ifjuly at 4:59 PM on February 22, 2010

Bardolph mentioned this, but I'll say it again, go vertical. Not only putting shelves near the ceiling, but consider putting them above the windows?

After you've displayed everything you can on shelves, go under, under tables as well as under the beds. Tableclothes on corner tables hide a lot of things. I have those plastic drawers under a corner table and no one's the wiser. You also might consider putting some kind of storage under your clothes in the closet. I have a bookcase in my closet and it fits just fine. Also, if you raise your bed, you can store more under it -- two bins instead of one. :)
posted by patheral at 5:05 PM on February 22, 2010

Just went through household merge hell myself. A few suggestions:

- Keep only sets of containers/bowls/tupperware that nest within each other. Dump all the odd-sized stuff unless it's incredibly good quality.
- Dump all the non-standard glasses and adjust heights on the shelves to optimally fit what you do have. Measure and have new shelves cut if any height is wasted in the existing shelving.
- Use your fridge space for useful stuff rather than just sticking paper on it. Magnetic paper towel holders are awesome and can be found for cheap in Daiso stores or other japanese places.
- If you have access to a decent high speed digital copier, copy as much paper as you can to digital form and store it on a DVD-R. It'll be easier to search and won't take up any room.
- Place storage cabinets above the toilets in the bathrooms for toilet paper, cleaners, etc.
posted by benzenedream at 5:35 PM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

You can use an antique trunk or footlocker in place of a coffee table, nightstand, endtable, etc.
posted by scratch at 5:50 PM on February 22, 2010

When my sister moved into a place that had room for a bed or a dresser (but not both) she bought a Captain's Bed. This one is similar to hers. She was able to get all of her dresser clothes into it without having to shove the dresser into the closet, and she keeps nightstand stuff on the headboard shelves.

When my husband moved into my 500 sf apartment, we went to the garage storage section of Home depot and bought shelves similar to these to line up against a wall. We put all of the stuff we don't need every day in bins on those shelves, and I made a curtain to cover it all up. The couch went up against those shelves instead of up against the wall. It made our living room narrower, but a lot less cluttered.
posted by dogmom at 6:25 PM on February 22, 2010

I live in a 550 sq ft apartment. I have a drop leaf Leksvik table from Ikea, which is probably my best purchase. I usually have one leaf out, and this is good for eating with my boyfriend. I can lift the other leaf up for a dinner for four, or when I break out the sewing machine.
posted by mlo at 6:35 PM on February 22, 2010

Not exactlt furniture, but.... the treads on my stairs are hinged -- every single one flips up, to reveal about 3 ft x 8" x 8" of storage space (partially broken up by a support in the middle). Totally sweet.
posted by kestrel251 at 6:52 PM on February 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

My flat is pretty small and I went through the same struggle when my girlfriend moved in. These ideas have all been mentioned upthread but I thought it would be interesting to collate a few as I've applied them.

In the kitchen the microwave goes on top of the fridge-freezer, stuff like kitchen towels, porridge and cereal goes on top of the microwave. The built-in cabinets only had one shelf in them meaning there was lots of wasted vertical space so I added a second. Again, they don't go all the way to the ceiling so you can put more stuff on top.

Stuff doesn't need to be kept in the packaging it comes with and can often be decanted into modular storage. Modular tupperware is awesome. Modular Joseph Joseph stuff is double awesome.

Extra shelves also added to the built-in wardrobe. Floating shelves put above the bed and toilet/sink. Mirror/cabinet in bathroom. There is so much stuff under the bed you wouldn't believe.

I have lots of books. Ikea's Billy bookcases are the cheapest and sturdiest around. They are also pretty deep and the back is just hardboard so I've put my TV on one of the shelves. Again, more stuff goes on top of them since they don't reach the ceiling.

Dropleaf tables are brilliant, as are foldable chairs. Likewise sofa-beds.

The boiler room was complete deadspace. I've added shelves above the boiler, in front of it and to the right. Stackable boxes, the hoover, clothes driers and other things fill the space to the front but can quickly be moved to access the deeper stuff.

With all that vertical storage space, you will want something to let you access it. Foldable steps are handy. If you get a nice stool you can use it as a small table for a vase or whatever. If you get a high-ish stool or certain types of steps they can double as a spare seat fro the dinner table.

I have a pouf which might seem extravagent when space is at a premium but I essentially use mine as a coffee table which feels nice on your feet, plus you can get them with storage inside and, again, they can double as chair.
posted by ninebelow at 3:48 AM on February 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who created a desk that folds up and hangs on the wall; it looks like a box attached by its bottom to the wall, and has a hinge so that everything stays on the wall except the writing surface, which drops parallel to the ground. He's looking to sell it, but the only place I've seen where he has it is on his Facebook page. If you're interested, me-mail me and I'll find away to get you a look at it. It's made of limed white oak.
posted by troywestfield at 8:43 AM on February 23, 2010

There are various awesome modular storage systems like String which you can buy foldable desk units for. I just make sure the dinner table is clean though.
posted by ninebelow at 2:17 AM on February 24, 2010

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