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Design ideas for maximum storage

From the Resene decorating blog

Finding enough storage seems to be a common issue for most of us, whether you live in a tiny apartment or a large family home.

Unless you’re the strictest of minimalists, we all need to find space to keep all the everyday bits and pieces you need, and that’s before we even start to think about children’s toys, pet paraphernalia, sports equipment or the increasing shift to working from home.

Here are some ideas to maximise your storage options without just adding more clutter to your spaces. Some ideas may require the input of someone with building expertise, others require not much more than a can of your favourite Resene paint colour or a roll or two of Resene wallpaper.

Storage cubbies - colour block stripes

Practical storage in transitional areas like foyers and patios can be a lifesaver in keeping interiors free of wet clothing and sports gear, and they need not be expensive or take up lots of space.

These three colour block stripes painted in (from left) Resene Cello, Resene Enigma and Resene Quarter New Denim Blue, with matching cubbyhole shelves and coat hooks, look smart against a rear wall in Resene Rice Cake and a Resene Mountain Mist floor. Cubbies from The Warehouse. Project by Annick Larkin, image by Bryce Carleton.

A house shaped bookshelf for kids

The house-shaped bookshelf in this children’s bedroom is painted in Resene Hammerhead, against walls in the slightly deeper tone of Resene Bunting so it creates interest without dominating the small space. Similar-shaped wall shelves are in Resene Breathless, Resene Jalapeno and Resene Hammerhead. Floor in Resene Sea Fog while the wallpaper ‘headboard’ and bedside cabinet drawer front are in Resene Wallpaper Collection LL-05-07-4. The pendant light is also Resene Jalapeno. House bookshelf and hanger from Mocka, rug from Mitre 10, quilt cover, pillowcases, cushion, throw and sausage dog from Adairs, bunny from Allium. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

Divide and conquer

Using shelving as room dividers is an excellent, practical way to add storage, as well as a design feature to your home.

They can be used for storing everything from books to kitchenware or children’s toys, to simply adding extra space to display your favourite things. In small spaces you could paint them in a neutral shade, so they recede into your main colour palette. Whitewashing ply or other timber frames with Resene Colorwood Whitewash, for example, gives them a pared back, rustic finish. Or they can be a way to add a bold design element to your space.

Try a divider frame in mis-matched oblong shelves in Resene All Black then paint the interior of the frame in a combination of Resene Alabaster, with Resene Galliano, Resene Jalapeno and Resene Aviator for a dramatic Mondrian-style finish.

To make your spaces flexible mount your dividing shelves on castors, so you can adjust your spaces for different needs. Just be careful about heavy items on moveable shelves, particularly on non-carpeted floors.

Shelf dividers are great in large living areas to create different use spaces, but they can also work well in shared children’s bedrooms, in bathrooms that include a toilet, and to partition off study or work areas in living areas or bedrooms.

Using a pegboard for storage

A pegboard can be a fun, flexible and practical way to add storage options to any space.

Walls painted in Resene Alabaster, pegboard in Resene Neutral Bay, floor stained in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, storage chest base in Resene Putty with a lid in Resene Desperado, wire baskets in Resene Jaguar and tall case in Resene Cleopatra. Pegboard from Bang Bang, handbag from Citta, tote bag and face cushion from Bolt of Cloth, chair from Freedom. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

Outdoor storage ideas

Outdoor storage ideas can be practical without cluttering up your entranceway or yard.

The large, practical storage box and coat hooks in Resene Poured Milk look classy and elegant on this porch against weatherboards painted in Resene Half Periglacial Blue and door in Resene Blue Night. Door frame painted in Resene Alabaster, planters in Resene Slipstream and Resene Grey Seal and bench seat in Resene Coast. Project by Emily Somerville-Ryan, image by Bryce Carleton.

Build in

Look for areas in your house where you can build in storage compartments that double as furniture. Perhaps a trunk at the end of your bed, that you can upholster as a seat, or a shelf hidden behind a bedhead to store electronic chargers, phones and tablets.

Bench or box seats added to a children’s bedroom, make great storage compartments for toys while giving you and your kids a comfy place to sit and read together. This idea can also work well in entrance foyers or at back doors so there’s somewhere tidy to keep muddy or wet shoes and sports gear.

The other useful way to build in storage is to add shelving to your wall cavities. The simplest time to do this is before plasterboard is put on the walls, so it’s an idea best suited to new builds or renovated spaces. It works particularly well in showers to store essentials like soap and shampoo, but it can be a fun way to add gallery nooks in other rooms to showcase your favourite objects or display books and photos.

For a less invasive version build wide wooden box frames from plywood and hang on the wall.

Built-in furniture can also be a great way to add outdoor storage as well. Create a long garden box seat in a sunny part of the garden. It will give you extra seating for entertaining or just relaxing in the garden, and it can be a great place to store outdoor cushions, fold-up chairs, bats and balls, or garden tools.

If you’re building a deck and you need additional outdoor storage, think about using the space underneath the deck. Box out a space between the deck support posts and hinge a section of the decking as a cover. Depending on what you want to store in it, you may need to give the storage space a watertight lining.


If your best option is simply to add plenty of shelving to a room to add storage, think about how you might paint or decorate those shelves so they become camouflaged into the whole look of the room. This can be useful in smaller spaces that you don’t want to look cluttered or too crammed with furnishings.

Paint your shelves the same colour as your walls so they recede into the background and don’t dominate the room. This also helps draw attention to things that are on the shelves rather than the shelves themselves. For a fun optical illusion, you could even paint a geometric design on the wall, which continues uninterrupted over the bookshelf – or other storage item like a box seat or chest of drawers. Using a fun Resene wallpaper on both the wall and the storage furniture can create the same effect.

Another simple example of this type of storage illusion is to paint a bedhead on the wall behind your bed, then add a slimline shelf in the same colour.

Go vertical

If you have a good amount of ceiling height in your room, make it work for you by raising up key items of furniture to create space underneath. This works particularly well in children’s bedrooms, spare bedrooms or offices, though you might need to engage the help of a builder or someone with furniture building expertise!

Try building a large, sturdy box the size of your mattress, and add a ladder. Place the mattress on top of the platform as your bed, adding safety rails if needed. The box interior underneath the mattress can be used as wardrobe space or even as a study space, freeing up floor space around your bedroom.

To increase the sense of space in your newly created under-bed storage area, paint it a bold contrasting colour to the rest of the room.

Quick ideas:

Look for other items you can repurpose around your home – crates can become shelves, a bookshelf can become a shoe rack. Refresh old furniture with paint and add to another room for extra storage options where you need them.

Resene Poured Milk

Resene Grey Seal

Resene Slipstream

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

Resene Cleopatra

March 06, 2022

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