While “tiny houses” take storage planning to an extreme, your typical smaller home still needs accessible, well-planned storage to make it both efficient and livable. Making better use of existing space is a leading trend in home design and usage patterns throughout the home in both remodeling and new construction.

Most people use a back or garage entrance to the home rather than the front door. It’s a great idea for these entryways to incorporate “drop zones”, where everyone can unload their backpacks, shoes, bags, sports gear, and outerwear. Baskets under benches provide both seating and storage. Some drop zones incorporate a dedicated shelf or cubby for each family member’s gear. A tray or shallow box for mail keeps it visible but doesn’t let it pile up too high. As a high-traffic area, a drop zone should be well organized and systematic in order to really work. If one system doesn’t quite function well for a particular family, it will always be best to try another arrangement until settling on one that really works.

Home offices are another area where storage is at a premium as functionality changes. These spaces are often used not only as an office, but for homework, projects, and more. Effective, multi-purpose closet storage can be accomplished by replacing hanging rods with shelving and drawers. A dresser can be repurposed to store project materials for easy access. With multiple users, this multi-function room, like the drop zone, needs to have a workable system that everyone can follow.

In the kitchen, pantry space has become more important as more people cook and eat at home. In large homes, a pantry might be a separate room with plenty of space for storing everything from china to dog kibble. Newly popular smaller homes, generally with smaller kitchens, need to at least accommodate kitchen staples and larger, bulky items that aren’t often used such a large mixing bowls, seldom-used small appliances, and serving pieces. Pantry shelving for food items should be relatively shallow so that everything is easy to find and reach. This type of shelving can even be added to a niche in the wall between two studs.

Smaller homes aren’t going away, and continue to be popular as starter homes and with downsizers. But with efficient, practical storage solutions, even a smaller home can accommodate the needs of almost any family. 

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