6 Hidden Storage Ideas - QC Design School

Too many things, too little space—it’s a problem we’ve all had to deal with. From sprawling suburban homes to compact downtown apartments, clutter can be an epidemic. The cure? Get creative with storage that’s hidden in plain sight.

Even if you’re settled in a spacious house, there are definite perks to sneaky storage. Attics and basements are great for storing things that don’t get used very often, like holiday decorations or suitcases, but they’re not so convenient for books, toiletries, linens, craft supplies, or your spice collection. And unfortunately, it’s these everyday essentials that tend to leave spaces messy.

The trick is to start thinking outside the box—literally. For storage solutions that will keep your stuff out of sight yet close at hand, you have to go beyond boxes, closets, and other places dedicated solely to storage. Instead, think about how the things around your home can do double duty.

Wondering where to start? Well, you definitely don’t have to be a professional organizer to love these 6 hidden storage ideas!

1. Space-saving staircases

storage space built into the staircase as designed by a professional organizer

Stairs take up a lot of space. It’s easy to forget sometimes, since we tend to think of them as a fixed feature of the house, but it’s true.

We’ve come up with not just one, but three different ways to turn your stairs into storage space, so that there’s a solution for every home!

  • Build drawers into the steps. Depending on how much storage space you need, you could just insert a single, easily accessible drawer in the bottom step, or you could redo your whole staircase into a series of secret drawers. Aside from a few subtle handles, the finished product will look pretty much the same as it did before, but you’ll find yourself with tons of extra room for storing shoes, linens, magazines, or anything else.
  • Build drawers or a cupboard into the side of the staircase. Turn that often ignored space in the side of your stairs into drawers that are more accessible than those built right into the stairs. Plus, you can up the aesthetic appeal by decorating them as regular drawers, rather than trying to hide them. If you need to store something bigger, try turning that space into a cupboard or closet instead.
  • Put in a trap door. If your clients’ staircase includes a landing, you can use it to create a storage compartment. A trap door in the landing can provide storage space for larger items like duvets, blankets, and pillows, but it’s still easily accessible. Just be careful with the handle—you don’t want your clients tripping over it!

Pro Tip: This goes without saying, but make sure the renovations won’t damage the structural integrity! If extra storage space comes at the risk of a client putting their foot right through a step, it’s just not worth it.

2. The office-in-a-box

home office desk with hidden laptop desk

Is your desk an eyesore? Your home office isn’t something you usually think of as storable, but if your desk is in the way, there’s a simple solution.

Put a desk and some shelves in a reasonably sized closet. To hide it away, you can just open and close the door as needed; if you want it to remain part of the room, just take the doors off, and you’ll be left with an office tucked away in a convenient nook.

And make sure to keep Tip #3 in mind when you’re designing a new space—opting to keep the doors can mean extra space for narrow shelves, bulletin boards, calendars, or other office essentials.

No closet? No problem—using an armoire, cabinet, or secretary desk can get you a similar clutter-free result. A fold-away desk is another option for those who are really pressed for space or just don’t use their desks all that much. You can even find instructions online for making one yourself!

3. Table tricks

This goes for any table, whether it’s in the kitchen, dining room, living room, or even a small side-table in the bedroom.

We’re loving these pop-up storage coffee tables for a sleek piece of furniture with a roomy hidden compartment, but if you’re on a budget, why not try a little DIY? This simple side-table is the perfect place for storing stationary, remotes, phone chargers, or any other small household necessities.

Looking to revamp an existing table? Attaching a shelf just above the floor can provide some extra space for books, magazines, laptops, and more. If you’re worried about the shelf looking cluttered, or if you just want your stuff out of view, try attaching a pretty table skirt to keep everything hidden.

home closet door maximize storage space with hangers

4. Use the whole closet

Yes, we know—your closet (or your client’s closet) is already at maximum capacity. But before you start sending in angry photos of jam-packed storage nightmares, take a minute to think: is that closet really full, or could you be making better use of some of that space?

The closet door is a vastly underused resource. Installing narrow shelves is one way to get back some of that space, but to make it even simpler, just attach some hangers to the back of the door and use them to hold purses, scarves, belts, or tank tops. You’d be amazed at how much easier it is to keep the closet neat when you don’t try to cram everything into one spot.
For closets with a high-up rod, consider installing a second rod lower down to double the space for hangers. If you’re looking for a quick fix, you can even buy an adjustable rod that hangs from the original rod.

5. Skinny Shelves

Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do with a space—like that tiny gap between the fridge and the wall. Right? Wrong.

design blog sliding kitchen storage space for professional organizing clients

All you need is a few inches of space to work with, and you can create a slim shelving unit that slides out when you need it and stays tucked away when you don’t. This is best as a DIY project, since the amount of space you’ll be working with can vary widely between kitchens.

You’ll need to attach a handle to one side of your shelving unit, plus wheels on the bottom to let it slide out easily. Since it’s so narrow, support is an issue to keep in mind. The unit will probably need to be supported by both the fridge and the wall, so just make sure you’re not pulling it out far enough that it can fall over.

Depending on how much space you’re working with, you could use your shelves to store unopened cans, jars, and boxes, or you might just have room to make it into a creative spice rack. Either way, you can make use of that sliver of space and clear out some of your cupboards!

6. Add an art cupboard

No, we’re not talking about a cupboard for art supplies. Art pieces are a decorating staple in any home, but they also take up space that could be used for shelves, cabinets, or closets. Get the aesthetic and keep the extra storage by turning wall art into the front of a hidden cupboard.

To keep this as subtle as possible, it’s best to cut shelves right into the wall. Use hinges to hang your art over the shelves so that it forms the front of the cupboard, and you’re all set—a beautiful piece of art, plus some hidden storage space.

It works just as well with mirrors—in fact, you can often find these ready-made. A standing mirror or one mounted on the wall can double as a space for storing jewelry and other small accessories.

The bottom line? Stay creative

creative storage space using stacked colored crates for home interior

We love these 6 hidden storage ideas, and for each one there’s lots of flexibility for adapting it to the needs of your own unique space. But no one solution will work for every space—and that’s where you come in.

The best way to start amazing your clients with innovative hidden storage ideas is to start looking critically at home features and furniture that are often taken for granted. Of course your clients want a couch for their living room, but does it have to be just a couch? That awkward kitchen layout might seem like a pain, but how can you make it work to your advantage? Like any element of design, storage is all about creativity.

Have you incorporated hidden storage solutions into your design work? Comment with your ideas, and check out this guide on room-by-room organization!

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Darlene Belleau says:

    As a professional homestagers, i often ask clients to create space in their closets by packing their out of season items suitcases if they have them. The result is two-fold, an airy organized closet and things are packed and ready for moving day.

  • Carla says:

    I have an armoire desk that I could technically close up to hide all the mess but of course it is always open. My solution: Containers of all types! Baskets for my office knick knacks, woven boxes for stationery and extra pens, decorative jars and even books (the hollow kind you can use to store things inside). This way everything is tucked away and out of sight and my beautiful containers decorate my space. It is even easy to add color to any area with containers, organization, a little creativity and vision.

  • Ruth Dempsey says:

    Lovely and very clever ideas! My husband and I just purchased our first house and it needs only cosmetic renovation that includes organizing of all the storage spaces. The solutions you’ve suggested are great and I’ll definitely have some those at home. Thank you for sharing these clever ideas, it’s an inspiration to to read from you!

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