When we bought our first home, we were so mesmerised by the gorgeous country-style garden and quaint, eclectic interior that we didn’t notice the main bedroom had no built-in-cupboard. Strange, but true. All it had, was a teeny-tiny walk-in-cupboard, for hangers only, and a mouldy, too shallow, in places door-less, DIY cupboard-cum-day bed around the window.
So, almost three years later, we set out to do some DIY of our own and transformed the four-square-meter walk-in hanging closet into a legitimate walk-in-wardrobe.
Creating additional storage in your home is about fitting as much as possible into what limited space you have available, which is usually as tiny a space as possible.
At the same time, it’s about creating a sense of peace and order in your home. If you’ve ever packed a cupboard, you’ll know all too well that these two objectives tend to be at odds. Knowing where to find what you need without having to unpack everything else, while keeping it looking tidy. All in limited space. It’s a delicate balance.
Here’s what we did
Our bathroom has a Victorian-Industrial feel and we wanted to bring that into the adjoining wardrobe with as little effort and material as possible. This meant giving the space a fresh coat of white paint once all the old fittings were removed, and using pre-cut, unstained pine boards.
We paired these two neutrals with black, industrial-looking brackets and matt black curtain railings to serve as curtain rods.
Finally, off-white woven baskets served perfectly to sort tall stacks of clothing and other odds and ends.
From a décor perspective, the baskets also softened the hard wood and metal surfaces, and added a warm touch to the wardrobe.
5 Tips to make the most of a small cupboard
#1 Keep it simple
Don’t be tempted to rush off to your nearest home store and buy the first storage solution they offer.
Sometimes, you have to plan in order to keep things simple, which is why you need to draw some plans, take measurements (at least three times!) and have a fully formed idea in your head before buying a single thing. When measuring your shelf height, be sure to add enough space to get your hands in there to slide baskets or remove a piece of clothing from the bottom of the pile.
Then set off to the shops to find the best suited, most timeless pieces to achieve your goals, like pre-cut wood and pretty storage baskets.
In order to keep it simple, we also decided not to install doors, which is where the baskets came in handy. Not only do cupboard doors create so much more margin for error with a DIY project, but they also push up your costs, take up space and can get in the way when you need to decide what to wear in a hurry.
#2 Make it easy to keep it tidy
In part, this relates to the colour scheme you select. If you’re making the most of an already cluttered space, lots of jarring colours definitely won’t create the sense of peace and order you’re after.
If all neutrals strike you as too bland, you can always add a colourful carpet and light fixture when you’re done.
High stacks of folded clothing can also become real messy real soon. This is another place where the baskets come in very handy. If you pack the most frequently used items in easy to reach places, the baskets can hold those thick jerseys that tend to make the pile topple or items like socks and underwear that need to be contained.
In addition, open baskets keep things looking clean and uniform by hiding all the different colours in the wardrobe. Labelling your uniform baskets allows you to find what you need at a glance. Laminating the labels allows you to change them when you change things in your cupboard around.
If you can’t see what you have in your cupboard at a glance, you’re going to be frustrated, late and untidy. This is another reason why one should opt for lighter colours on the walls and shelves.
Getting an interesting light fixture is a great opportunity to play around with the décor if you feel the space needs a bit of pizzazz. No matter the fixture you get, however, make sure it has a strong lamp that gets to every corner.
#4 Leave no wall unturned…
Unless you’re adorning it with a beautiful artwork, of course, think of ways to use every inch of the wall. Be careful, however, not to put shelves on every wall if that will leave too little breathing room.
If that’s the case, rather consider hooks or railings that take up less space, but allow you to hang anything from tomorrow’s outfit or your bathrobe, to shoe racks.
Another surface that can be re-used, is a door with a mirror mounted on the one side. If you happen to have an open space directly opposite this mirror you can mount one on both sides to get a dressing-room effect.
#5 Dual purpose items
These are items that take up the space of one thing, but serve the purpose of two. For example, the little ottoman in our walk-in-cupboard serves as both a seat when you do your make-up or put your shoes on, as well as a step to reach the top shelves.
It looks pretty, unlike an unsightly step-ladder, and you don’t have to keep hiding it away and unfolding it again. Being able to reach your top shelves with no effort at all, means your cupboard is much more likely to work for you.
If you need help fitting a whole lot into tiny spaces, and want to make it look good at the same time, get in touch with me for a consultation.