small spaces

Some Actually Nice-Looking Small-Space Storage Solutions

Photo-Illustration: Curbed; Photos: Retailers

In every home we design at my architecture firm, we make a point to talk to our clients about how to provide as much storage as possible. The challenge, of course, is most acute in small spaces, where every square inch is in demand. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a list of solutions — bins, carts, shelves, and crates — to make the process a bit easier.

My first rule of storage is that it should be both functional and beautiful, and everything designed by Japanese brand Yamasaki fits this bill. Among their fantastic powder-coated steel baskets and bins is this slim storage cart with a wood top. Slim, narrow, and good looking enough, it comes in a fully open configuration and one with a closed back that can hide its contents. Just wide enough to store toilet paper and cleaning supplies for the bathroom or ingredients for the kitchen, this cart can be rolled from place to place when needed.

As life has gotten more complicated, thoughts of storage and order have taken up more and more of my brain space, as I imagine that more and more containers will somehow bring order to the daily chaos. We have bins for toys, for ingredients, for Pokémon cards, for socks. Rather than relying on hideous clear plastic bins, I’ve been using felted bins to hide the mess and bring some soft materiality to our bookshelves.

This simple colorful steel table is a WFH champ, transforming from a lap table to an end table to a stool to a standing desk riser. Haworth is a big commercial furniture brand that we use frequently in the tech offices we design around the country, but they, like all of us, have pivoted to remote work. It comes in fantastic shades like coral and hunter, and is attractive enough to be a permanent fixture in a living room.

It wasn’t until I was a fully functioning 35-year-old parent that I had a real nightstand with a lamp and stack of books. Before that, I had stacks of novels and headphones and old mugs next to my bed. If you, too, are short on space, consider a chic wall-mounted floating shelf, which takes a little handiwork to mount but then floats gracefully next to your pillow. I love this one from Audo (formerly Menu) because it resembles fungi growing from a forest tree.

The original Ikea metal cart is such a versatile little workhorse that I’ve seen it used for storage in restaurant host stations, architecture firms, and tiny apartment kitchens. This limited edition cart, constructed from easy-to-clean painted perforated steel and exaggerated wood wheels, has a shapely design-forward form and can serve both as a convenient mobile storage rack and a sculptural conversation piece.


I have a totally unhinged number of baskets in my home, from a massive elephant grass basket for blankets to hyacinth grass baskets for laundry, and I often dream of a ridiculously capacious wicker basket at Roman Williams Guild that could sleep a family of three. But my all time favorite basket, so sturdy and so durable that I now own five, is this Room and Board Bangla basket, woven from sea grass and date-palm leaves. I line up three of them near the front door to hold the mess of shoes and mittens, and I slide them into the base of this Ikea table to make a DIY version of a table I once coveted at the Milan Furniture Fair.

Hay, the Copenhagen-based design studio, is known for its colorful and playful furniture. The studio also brings its fun sensibility to housewares, and its folding crates are a huge hit with architect-y type folks all over the world (I’m on a group text with lady architects in which my friend Birgit pings us when they go on sale!). The crates come in a range of sizes and insane color combinations, pack flat, and stack into a sturdy stack for camping, playtime, or just regular household storage.

Admittedly, this is the least attractive thing I have ever recommended to another human being, but I’ll risk this public embarrassment to save you from clutter. At only four inches high, these flexible, durable zip-up containers can squeeze under very low beds and provide an immense amount of storage. I’m trying to control closet clutter by cycling out my seasonal wardrobe, and these have been a lifesaver in quadrupling the amount of storage in a very small bedroom.

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Some Actually Nice-Looking Small-Space Storage Solutions