Design 101: Pack it up, pack it in…

With the new year upon us there are decorations to be stored and presents that need a place to live. Is your resolution to get organized and clear away some of that clutter? Here are a few tips from a recent conversation with a stressed out mom. 

Help! I don’t have nearly enough space to put all this stuff away. How do I make more room? 

Let’s start with making the most of the room you already have. A closet with a hanging bar can have a series of hanging “shelves” hung from the existing rod. You would be surprised just how much more clothing you can fit if each piece doesn’t need to be on a hanger.

Pro Tip: You need to be able to see your space in order to work with it. If you don’t have ample light in the closet, consider adding a battery operated puck light. They’re inexpensive, give off very little heat, and don’t require any installation.

I have very narrow closets. If I use all the space where will my hanging clothes go?

Narrow closets can have a rolling clothes rack stored inside to add additional hanging capacity. When you need to get in, roll the rack out and step on in.

Pro Tip: Still need more hanging space? Consider waterfall style “cascading hangers” like retailers use. They’re great for making the most efficient use of space. 

My closets are full. Now what? 

Pick up some long, thin, underbed Rubbermaid containers. Pack them efficiently and you’ll be surprised just how much you can store in them.

Pro Tip: If you can’t find the type with wheels, consider placing the container on a stiff sheet of plastic like a carpet protector so it can be pulled out more easily. And if you do find the type with wheels, be sure to measure the available space beneath the bed so the container isn’t too tall. 

Ok, I’ve filled the closets and packed away as much as possible under the beds. Any other suggestions? 

Put hooks or pocketed hangers on the backs of doors. Robes, towels, hats, shoes, any number of things can be stored that way. 

Pro Tip: Opaque containers hide the contents and make spaces look less cluttered, but transparent containers allow you to find things more quickly. If you really need all that stuff, better to be able to see what’s where.

Any final storage ideas? 

Seating such as a bench or ottoman can be designed with a large internal cavity for blankets, pillows, or other bulky items. Always start by finding a place for the largest items and work your way down. When you get to the end, it’s much easier to find a place to store that extra Chapstick than the duvet insert.

Pro Tip:  The best way to have more space is to have less stuff, but if that isn’t an option vacuum storage bags exist, too.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 37 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at or visit

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