Simple Storage Solutions

One of the many things I love about my house is how it isn’t all cluttered up with space sucking things like closets.  And linen cupboards.  And closets.  And any storage areas in general.  Yup.

That’s what you get when you purchase a 170 year old house.  A lot of centipedes and nowhere for them to hide.  I mean, unless you count the rubble walls in the basement.  But that’s really more of a party atmosphere for them, rather than a place to hide.

So when you have a house that was only intended to store a bonnet, a pair of lace up boots and some smelling salts,  you have to get creative with storage solutions.

Conversely if you buy a brand new condo, storage is also at a premium.  Basically unless your house was built between the era of Bewitched and Dynasty, chances are you’re out of luck in terms of closet space.

These are a few of the storage ideas I’ve used for the past few years that would work for pretty much anyone, anywhere.




Luggage.  Whether it’s nice vintage luggage like this stacked up in a corner, or your actual luggage in your closet, fill it up.  The top case is my sewing kit, the middle is my secret hiding place for small presents (which I suppose I’ll have to change now), and the lower, big case is for extra sheets and blankets.  I owned these suitcases for 5 years before it dawned on me I could use them for storage.  Because sometimes I’m dumb, and sometimes I’m brilliant.  All depends on the year I guess.




Bookcases were something I brought in when I did my house over a few years ago.  I got them for the sole purpose of storing the ridiculous amount of books I have.  This is one of 3 large units I now own.   BUT … the real storage solution here isn’t the bookcases themselves, but rather …




… all the bins on the bottom shelves.  Each of these wood Ikea boxes holds a ridiculous amount of ugly stuff that would look like a mess out in the open.  Things like tax receipts, craft supplies and a few sentimental items.  Some of the boxes even have smaller boxes from the Dollar store on top (like this one) to keep smaller things like seed packets separated and easy to access.



Moose eh

Slip away the upper seed tray, and underneath are the craft supplies.  5 of these boxes in a bookcase hold a LOT of crap, but keep everything looking neat and organized.




I love these jugs.  They’re among my most favourite things in the house.  They’re just inexpensive enamel jugs from Ikea, but the Scandinavian Modern farmhouse design is perfect.  I don’t have a lot of kitchen cupboards and drawers.  These utensils alone used to take up an entire drawer.  So one day I took every single kitchen utensil I use on a regular basis and put them in the jugs so they’re right at my fingertips beside the stove and freed up an entire drawer at the same time.   (which I’ve since filled with more kitchen utensils and a questionable amount of Tupperware)

This is how the purchase of these jugs went by the way.  (I’m so mortified by this story I’m going to tell it in the third person in an attempt to distance myself from it)

Karen goes to Ikea to buy all 3 jugs.  She decides she’s too cheap so she buys one jug.  The middle sized.  She gets it home and loves it.  At which point she goes back to Ikea to buy the little jug.  It’s so cute, she just has to have it.  Karen returns home with the little jug. A week goes by.  Karen can’t stop thinking about the biggest (and most expensive) jug.  Karen gets in her car and goes back to Ikea to buy the large jug. With each trip to Ikea, Karen buys more than just the jugs of course.   Each time she picks up candles, maybe some lightbulbs, a cute basket, and a kitchen throw rug.  She finds an orchid, laundry baskets, small ferns and modern black candleholders.   Each and every time Karen returns to Ikea she also purchases and eats a hotdog.  If Karen went to Ikea 10 times a day she would have to purchase and eat a hotdog upon leaving.  It’s a rule.  The moral of this story?  Don’t ever go to Ikea.  No.  Just kidding.   If you love it and you know you love it, just buy it.  It’ll be cheaper in the long run.



My house is still the same size.  I still only have enough closet space for a Ricketts cane and a buggy whip … but with a little bit of ingenuity I’ve managed to find space for all of my modern conveniences.  You know … like books.  And wooden spoons.  Heh.

If you’re interested in EXACTLY how to make an Ikea Hot Dog at home … click on my post about it here.


  1. marilyn says:

    i have that magnetic knife thingy from ikea..its mounted on the back of our pantry door aka the “phone booth” . i call it my scare cupboard..if the peeps are pissing you off just whip the door open to display a row of wicked looking knives! they usually back off

  2. Ikea is my best friend. Hot dogs are the AWESOME icing on the cake. Those hot dogs are one of those ‘treats’ that I just know is soooo bad for me, but it is my way of living on the edge. haha.
    I am heading out to the woods today for twigs ( aka curtain rods in the house) …cheap cheap way to make a curtain rod , btw’s ….and MOSS to hot glue on styrofoam balls (from the dollar store). Ohhhh, you would love it here today !
    Happy Spring!!
    Lynne xx

  3. Stefanie says:

    Since I can’t possibly compete with your craftiness, here’s my ikea hotdog story. Long story short: couldn’t fit everything we bought plus infant car seat + pregnant me in the car. So- hubby drove 45 min (each way) to take whatever we brought home while my baby girl & I waited in the cafe. I should mention I hate hotdogs, to a very pregnant me, though they were crack & I had to stop myself at 4. Never been pregnant at Ikea since.

  4. Kim Merry says:

    Your bottom suitcase is smiling at me.

  5. DonnaBoo says:

    Black fronts would be cute painted with blackboard paint. Could doodle pictures of contents with chalk!

  6. Karol says:

    Dang! Someday Karol will make it to Ikea. The nearest one is 2 hours away, an she have never been. Poor Karol.

  7. Wendy@ Salt and Wine says:

    Sorry, I can’t get past that kick-ass metal table in the second pic – it’s gorgeous!

  8. Kerri says:

    Not only do I live in an old home with no closets (oh wait.. I think there’s a 1/4 closet type thing in my bedroom.. it fits a pair of shoes and you can hang a shirt or two.. on a slant so the door can close. I’m going to put glass in the door and turn it into a bookcase. ANYWAY.. not only do I live in one of those homes.. I also live in a city apparently not swarming with people enough to put in an Ikea and I’m too lazy to trek it to Ottawa. So yeah, I’m that much richer I guess. Seriously can’t believe I didn’t think of the luggage thing. It’s already on display not doing anything! Ugh

  9. calliek says:

    Even your bookshelves look like art! I wish I could hire you to come be creative in our place. Our apt is of the early 1900’s era and we have exactly one closet -in the livingroom. It’s about 2 ft wide by 10 inches deep- coat hangers must be hung on an angle in order to close the door. Speaking of angles, can I mention the building itself is built on an angle to the road therefore we don’t have a single right corner anywhere in the place?

  10. Melissa says:

    Karen, did you build the bookshelves, or are they from IKEA, too? My friend swears by the Expedit system and since you are both so clever, you might be in the same furniture organizing camp.

    • Karen says:

      Melissa – They’re a bunch of Ikea “Billy” bookcases pushed together and attached to the wall. I prefer them to the Expedit (have those too) because they’re not as deep so take up less space. ~ karen

  11. Deborah says:

    Excellent storage tips! I have found I need to be creative at our 540 sqft cottage, every inch of space needs to be carved out creatively…our house on the other hand…egads…we have a 20′ x 20′ crawlspace (sans centipedes thankfully)…and I have been in PURGING mode the last few months donating the kids Barbies, My Little Ponies, Ghostbusters & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (SHH! do NOT tell the kids!), children’s books, etc…just SO MUCH STUFF! I HATE STUFF! but at least it is someone else’ stuff now and it is out of my house. Downsizing is like dissecting a frog back in Grade 9, having to forcefully remove yourself from the sentimental side of yourself that feels sorry for the poor froggy only to give in to the ‘what’s this do?’ on the inside of it…

  12. Great storage ideas Karen. I actually have a photo of my Ikea bookcases on my blog today. AND I planned a stop at Ikea, which is across the street from my gym. DANGEROUS!! I can leave without a hot dog or cinnamon roll but it is the ginger cookies I’m hooked on.
    Have a good day.

  13. cruella says:

    That’s how IKEA makes money of course. Very clever. And even when you sussed it all, resistance is futile. (There may be something in those hot dogs.)

  14. KiwiKat says:

    Ikea meatballs mmmmm….and we don’t even HAVE Ikea in NZ!!!!

  15. mel says:

    haha! great.. all my IKEA visits are going down like this. i have to admit you can find me there very often. my parents are totaly confused if there calling ma at saturday afternoon and i am not at IKEA. :)
    oh. and its always at least two hot dogs..

    something i am dying to know: are they selling ridiculously small hot dog buns (less than half the size of the sausage) all over the world? or just here in swizterland?

  16. Shelly says:

    “Gangs and Their Tattoos”??? Couldn’t help but notice your book titles in the close up pic. There’s gotta be a story there. ;) I live in an old house too… Thanks for the great storage tips!

  17. Michelle says:

    God its so true – I’m always a tight arse and buy the smallest or half the set and then regret it when I get home! Thanks for the tips :)

  18. Lucy says:

    Where do you keep your bustle — or did you not have enough room for it? I don’t think it would fit in one of the bins.

  19. Gayla T says:

    Oh, good. I’ve always wanted the recipe for the Ikea hot dogs too. Where is it posted? Great storage ideas. My living room and dining rooms are each 25 X 13 yet they couldn’t figure out where to put a coat closet. The entry area has a bench seat that lifts but you really can’t open that tomb and throw someone’s coat in it. I have some over the door hooks on the door to my sewing room to hang coats on but that is always full of mine. I just can’t think of a decent solution to it and I’ve been here a year last week. No hall or linen closet either. Very strange people, those architects 120 years ago. I wasn’t worried about that stuff when I moved in. I was signing my name to the contract the minute I saw the original stained glass windows in the dining room. I was a Realtor and know better but I’m a woman and didn’t care if it even had toilets at that point. Thankfully it came with one in each bathroom. Wasn’t I lucky?

    • Karen says:

      Gayla – Just click on the “here” where I say “just click here”. Takes you to the recipe. If you can call it that. ~ karen

  20. Maureen says:

    My house is 200 yrs. old and I buy furniture that has storage in it. With dirt floor, teeny basement and no garage it’s a struggle to find some place to even paint something. I have 2 closets. How cool am I?
    ps – centipedes are gross!

  21. Diane says:

    I use some of these great storage ideas at my place too. The real issue is what to do when you have a LITTLE apartment with little to no storage area….

  22. Lisa says:

    I truly LOVE your bookcases. In all honesty though, your bodyless boots kind of freak me out. I fully intend to have replica Art of Doing Stuff bookcases in my house when it is rebuilt. And good geez I wish there was an Ikea less than 8 hours from my home! I need a good hot dog.

  23. Marti says:

    Love those bins! Black: the answer to all my longings. Mmmm! What are you storing in those boots?

    • Karen says:

      Bones. ~ karen

      • Marti says:

        Centipede cellar?

      • Cynthia says:

        Bones… hmmm. Well then those would be Cuboid, Navicular, Filuba, Tibia, Talus, Patella (knee cap) maybe not… 1st cuneiform, 2nd and 3rd. That’s it I’m going to bed. WAIT! Maybe the BOOTS don’t reflect what bones have been stuffed in, I mean are residing there at all. NOW, how do I sleep?

  24. Kate says:

    I have utensil holders, too. Mine are just big jars wrapped in nice paper. They make everything easier. I also really liked the magnetic knife rack that I had in an old apartment. I didn’t really have anyplace to put it in my new house, but then I realised that if you take the back off, you can just stick it straight to your fridge. Some you might have to buy two and attach them back to back, but mine only needed the back panel removed. Saves SO much drawer space, and knives are always to hand.

    • Karen says:

      Kate – We have of those at the cottage. They’re great. I slip my knives in between a tiny space between my oven and fridge. Works great too if you happen to have a small space between your oven and counter or fridge. So basically if you have a reallyyyy poorly designed kitchen with holes and wiggles in it like mine, this solution could work. :) ~ karen

      • missnicoleo says:

        Best idea ever! I have a kitchen with one drawer that fits a box of saran wrap, and a box of Tin foil. The end

      • Shannon says:

        Great idea! I never thought about hanging one on the fridge. I already hung my knife rack on the (one small piece of not-tiled) wall, but now I know where to hang my spice rack! Seriously, who tiles *every* wall in a kitchen?

  25. Jen A says:

    When Jen A goes to Ikea, she always has to get a hot dog too. She usually (perhaps even always) finishes it before opening the car door. She never regrets the purchase.

    • Karen says:

      Jen A – Karen has been known to eat the hotdog by the time she gets to the car. She has also been known on at least one occasion to turn right around, go in through the back doors of Ikea and get another hotdog. In Karen’s defence that was so she could spy on Ikea and get their hot dog “recipe”. ~ karen

      • sera says:

        sera only buys the frozen yogurt cone but also gets ice cream headaches too easily so she does make it back to the car with the cone still in hand, but only so that she can avoid having other people see the mess of napkins she’s needed to use.

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