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1.This document is FCS 3127, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida C ooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: April 2000. First published: May 1989. Revised: April 2000. Please visit the EDIS Website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.eduThe Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences is an equal opportunit y /affirmative action emplo y er authorized to provide research, educational information and other services onl y to individuals and institutions that function without re g ard to race, color, sex, a g e, handicap, or national ori g in. For information on obtainin g other extension publications, contact y our count y Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of F ood and A g ricultural Sciences / Universit y of Florida / Christine Ta y lor Waddill, Dean2.Marie S. Hammer, professor, Housing/Home Environment, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extensi on Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.FCS3127Using Space Wisely1 Marie S. Hammer2Storage space is an important part of planning a new home, or remodeling or reorganizing an existing home. Analyzing your current storage situation can offer ideas for more effective home storage. Ask yourself these questions. 1) Does your space seem to be clos ing in on you? 2) Do you get frustrated and angry when trying to find things you want? 3) Do articles fall out of closets when you open the door? 4) Are scattered articles around your house or yard creating a safety h azard? 5) Do household members a void putting items away saying there is no place to put them? 6) Do you park your car outside because the garage is full of stuff? 7) Do your children need to learn to be more organized? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you should analyze your existing space and look for strategies to manage it better.STORAGE PRINCIPLESThe following suggestions for the versatile use of storage space may simplify your planning. Store items in areas where they are most commonly used. Store items together that you use together, including those you use often. Store frequently used items at the most convenient height, usually according to the height of the person using them, and according to the weight and size of the item. For example, children are more likely to hang up their clothes if they can reach the clothes rod. Store items where they are easy to see, reach and replace. Allow for air to circulate in the area. Store items where they will not be damaged and where they will not be a safety risk to the user. Keep your storage system flexible to adjust to changing needs. Use multi-purpose items, such as a hassock that converts into a bed.
Usin g Space Wisel y Pa g e 2April 2000Figure 1 Create an attic storage space. Plan your vertical space as carefully as you do your horizontal space. Use wall space, closet and cabinet interiors and even the backs of doors with space saving items. Plan storage for interior spaces that is not only functional, but also decorative. Use all available space do not waste it. Plan storage size and depth to fit needs for each area, based on the size and shape of the items to be stored. (See Table 1 )Table 1: Common Depths Re q uired for Stora g eItems to be stored4"8"12"16"20"24" Bathroom supplies, equip. Bed, foldin g Beddin g Bevera g es, food in cases Books Business papers Christmas decorations Cleanin g supplies Clothin g in drawers Clothin g on han g ers Clothin g on hooks Dinnerware Drawer files Electric fans Glassware Infants' equipment Lu gg a g e Ma g azines Radios Sewin g equipment Toilet supplies Tools (most hand-held) Trays, platters, bowls UtensilsSTRATEGIES THAT MAKE THE BEST USE OF SPACEStructural Changes Home remodeling now ex ceeds new home b uilding and many families fix up instead of trading up. Homeowners elect to remain in their homes: equipping closets more efficiently; modernizing kitchens and baths; adding porches and greenhouses; converting carports and garages; rem oving or changing walls; and adding safety features for older persons. Analyze your needs and your total space. Try to think in terms of cubic footage, not just square footage available to you. You may want to consider making minor structural changes by removing walls, doors, adding skylights, creating usable attic or loft space, redesigning awkward closets or a pantry, or upgrading the storage capacity of a utility or laundry room. (See Figure 1 .) Windows can be removed and converted to wall storage space, or double-hung doors may be replaced with more windows or French doors. Wall space between studs may be hollowed out and used for shallow shelves or inset cabinet space. Removing walls in your home and reallocating space is popular. For example, converting two small bedrooms into one large room with a dressing room and luxury bath, may be a solution to your space dil emma when children move away and the smaller bedrooms no longer serve their original purpose. Often you can make better use of your available space simply by reorganizing.
Usin g Space Wisel y Pa g e 3April 2000Figure 2 Well-planned storage utilizes all available space. Note the pull-out cabinet storage unit which is ideal for storing canned goods, other kitchen items.Figure 3 An entire wall is carefully designed to accommodate the needs of a young child. As the child grows the space can be adapted with minor changes to new uses. Creating Unique Storage Many pieces of furniture or cabinetry areche sts, seat ing, and beds (platform or bunk). Popular specifically designed to serve as storage a chest ofbuilt-in furniture looks trim, saves space, and, if drawers, dresser, some headboards, desk, armoire, cedarincluded in a new or remodeled home, saves the cost of chest, china cabinet, credenza, bookcase, large basket orfurniture. Built-in furniture should be designed to trunk. complement the area. The style s hould blend with other Consider space-efficient furniture that can be built-the wall. R ecessing the bottom of built-in furniture a in, stacked, knocked down, folded, deflated or rolled up. few inches above the floor makes it s eem to float, Also, consider mobile furniture, carts and storage piecescreat ing the illusion of more floor space. Every nook having parts that move, pull out, or fold down (forand cranny can be put to work. (See Figure 2 ) example, a slant top desk, a mobile work and servingOrdinary furniture sometimes can be converted into cart, a breakfront that opens up for serving food, tablesbuilt-ins by sawing off parts such as legs, adding false that not only open up, but also raise and lower from dining level to coffee table height). Consider some storage pieces that can be moved from place to place a light fixture that can be clamped onto any protruding surface like a bookshelf, or slipped into brackets on the wall. Often safety factors and efficiency make furniture on wheels or casters desirable, such as a cutting block, a television or even a piano. This is especially desirable for the handicapped and the elderly. Select tables, desks, and chests with many drawers and shelves, if possible, instead of open bottom furniture with long legs and one thin drawer. Choose a chair with an ironing board on the back, a bed with drawers or with a trundle beneath it. An inflatable air mattress requires very little space to store and can provide a comfortable bed for gue sts. Built-Ins Built-ins include bookshelves, closets, cabinets, and furniture and the colors and trim should be similar to fronts such as a molding to fill in a gap in space (for example, between two bookcases), painting furniture the same color as the wall or using the same wall covering. Built-ins often provide customized storage for specific items. (See Figure 3 ) A window seat with drawers, chest or container storage beneath it, can serve as a reading nook, offer extra sleeping space, and supply storage space for hobbies, bedding, out-ofseason clothes, shoes and boots, or even as a visitor's chest of drawers.
Usin g Space Wisel y Pa g e 4April 2000Figure 4 Commercial storage components can be designed into customized storage systems that accommodate every need. Figure 5 Good storage ideas abound for little investments of time and money. A similar built-in for the kitchen can provide bench seating around a table, with storage space beneath for bulky or seasonal items, such as a turkey roaster, punch bowl or picnic basket. Storage and Organizer Units An endless selection of inventive gadgetry makes it possible to utilize every inch of space to suit your lifestyle (See Figure 4 ) Products to improve closet storage efficiency include wire basket systems, clip-on baskets, shelf dividers, corrugated boxes and chests, vinyl bags of assorted types, plastic stacking drawers, stow-away bins and chest of drawers, and a myriad of boxes, Recycle/Reuse Materials to Save Money containers, and baskets; available to s olve almost any space dilemma. Also, custom des igned and do-ityourself storage systems can help solve your unique needs. Various components can help reorganize kitchen and bath cabinetry, pantries, utility/laundry rooms, closets, garages and carports. A variety of hooks and racks can be used to store tools, exercise equipment and even household accessories. Decorative storage chests are available in fiberboard, plastic and inexpensive but sturdy cardboard. They are designed to fit under a bed, on the closet floor or upper shelves, beneath a desk or on brackets on the wall. Colorful modules or cubes and ventilated bins add storage space and cheerfulness to a room. These products are available in mass-market outlets such as drug stores, department stores, hardware stores, building supply stores and specialty shops. Specialized storage businesses have emerged which analyze storage areas and then design units that maximize available space. Commercial pr oducts are available in a wide price range. By grouping items or using them creatively, they can become a decorative aspect of the home. For example, several kitchen towel racks can be arranged attractively on a wall and used to display unusual fabrics or gift wrappings. Well-designed storage space can be functional as well as look smart and decorative. Temporarily or for children, you may want to use make-do's rather than costly items. (See Figure 5 ) A large garbage can may be covered with a round plywood top, draped with a round skirt and pronto storage for a variety of household items. Ladders or step stools topped with shelves or a flush door table top provide storage space, display area, desk or work surface. Use flat-top trunks for end tables, coffee table, make-up table, linen storage; cover the top with foam and slipcover or upholster it and use for seating.
Usin g Space Wisel y Pa g e 5April 2000 Adding legs and cushions to a door or other flat Acquire translucent furniture an acrylic or glass board makes a bench, bed or sofa. Casters maytop dining table or coffee table, or a glass block also be used in place of legs. Without the cushions,room divider. you have a movable plant stand to display collections, books or records. Purchase down-sized furniture or use two small Bricks (stone, concrete or glass) and boards can bechairs are less bulky and thus, visually expand used for bookshelves, shoe shelves, end tables,space. coffee tables and plant stands. Use five-sided cubes for a number of things. Asame color family. Use bright a ccents and texture basic 15-inch cube made of plywood can be ato add emphasis. coffee table, an end table, a storage unit, a cushioned seat or almost anything you like, and in Use wallpaper with small patterns. any color because it is easy to paint or enamel. Brightly painted cubes lined up along the floor of a In the bedrooms and other areas that use large child's room will hold books and toys. Stack thempi eces of furniture, repeat the same fabric on all of up in your family room to hold books, small TV,the major pi eces. Or consider us ing space-smart stereo equipment, and decorative objects. Stackedsleeping/storage units that fold up during waking units can be used for a two-faced room divider withhours, especially in a child's room where play space open sides facing either way.is n ecessary. Storage containers can be made from boxes, tin Paint wood trim the same color as the walls. cans, baskets or other recycled containers. These can be painted, covered with self-adhesive paper, Careful arrang ement of lighting will help eliminate wallpaper, fabric. Sturdy old tables, che sts orshadows and a void the dark corners which make a storage units can look attractive throughroom s eem smaller. (Small lights nestled under refinishing, painting, application of self-adhesive plants help to open up space.) paper or upholstering with easily-cared-for fabric. New or used filing cabinets may be used in a designed accessories to avoid a cluttered look. variety of ways to provide an abundance of storage. Store unused a ccessories and rotate them for Cover them with fabric, wallpaper or a coat of paintdecorating variety. to make them more attractive. the light in the room. Opening Existing Space Once you have identified your storage needs, you Use easy-to-obtain items in unusual ways to serve can plan your vertical and horizontal space to create as storage. Painted baskets serve as storage for illusions that open space visually. items that are not used on a regular basis. Storage Here are some simple ways to stretch space functional. (See Figure 6 ) visually: Keep window treatment simple. Mini-blinds of the same color as the room, shades, shutters or simple fabric window treatments visually consume a limited amount of space. sofas instead of one large sofa. Armless sofas and Keep wall and furniture colors light and all in the Group small wall accessories and use a few well- Use mirrors to give an illusion of depth and expand can be designed to be decorative as well as
Usin g Space Wisel y Pa g e 6April 2000Figure 6 Use items in creative ways to provide more storage. Arrange furniture for a smooth traffic flow and to avoid damage by other furniture or doors. Start by arra nging furniture in corners of the room and around the sides of a room, or cluster them in a tight conversational grouping in the center of the room. Include storage strategies as part of your decorating theme. Space is costly! By planning your space strategically, you can minimize maintenance, provide more options for space use, have safer surroundings, and reduce frustration and stress.ReferencesNew Complete Guide to Home Repair. Better Homes and Gardens. Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, IA, 1997. New Decorating Book. Better Homes and Gardens Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, IA, 1985. Jenkins, Joyce H. and Willis, Naomi H. Control Clutter for Greater Home Satisfaction. Clemson, SC Cooperative Extension Service. HM leaflet 652. Jenkins, Joyce H. and Willis, Naomi H. Storage Strategies. Clemson, SC Cooperative Extension Service. HM leaflet 268.