Use Your Walls

By Christine Brun

May 18, 2016 5 min read

If you live in a studio apartment or a micro-unit, storage space is often limited. However, you can carve out a little extra storage space by utilizing the walls of your home. You will find trendy designs and inspiration on websites like Pinterest and Etsy. Most wall-storage designs are based on the European custom of storing items in plain sight, which we began to adopt here in the U.S. back in the mid-1970s. We began to see dishes and glassware exposed on kitchen shelves, when before, it was uncommon to reveal possessions to guests.

If you research European kitchens, you will find many examples of what I call "open storage." Open storage is common in Europe because so many residential units are in very old structures and buildings. The kitchens in these buildings were often designed to have removable cabinet doors. Tenants often brought their own. In fact, lots of kitchens and bathrooms were designed centuries ago, and were carved out in a rather funky space, which differs from the rather repetitive design concepts found in the States. It is also common in Europe to find very contemporary cabinets mixed with vintage wooden shelves, or cabinets that are squeezed into odd places.

The internet will be your friend during your quest for unique storage ideas. To name a few kitchen ideas, you can buy wall-mounted glass jars to hold your spices. There are wire devices that resemble an enlarged piece of honeycomb in which you can store coffee and tea. These designs, among many others, are both practical and decorative. If you have a small cupboard or tiny kitchen cabinets, wall storage will enable you to store more.

I recently found a device made out of concrete shaped like the bottom of a cloud. It was designed to hang on the wall to hold toilet paper rolls. When the rolls are stacked, they form a fun shape. Simply called the "cloud concrete toilet roll holder," it holds between eight and 13 rolls in a unique and fun way. If you Google the name you will find lots of images.

Many people post do-it-yourself wall-storage ideas on Facebook. I recently saw a post that showed how to mount mason jars to a flat board. Each jar held a plant. That way, plants were added to a room without taking up any counter space or furniture space.

Here we see an example of small wall-mounted shelving in a nursery — a fairly popular use of small shelving. I have two little grandsons under the age of six, so I have become familiar with how my daughter-in-law uses shelves in the kids' rooms. When they were in diapers, she hung a shelf right over the changing table so she could easily reach for fresh diapers, baby powder, baby wipes and cream. Now, she uses the shelves for books and a few stuffed toys. Small shelves are perfect for tiny objects and photos, too. Besides a nursery, they can be just as valuable in a bathroom. Bathroom products usually consist of dozens of tiny objects, from tubes of medicine to pill bottles to dental supplies to creams. Shelving can keep these items organized. Makeup and nail polish could even be grouped into small, open containers, lined up on a small shelving unit.

If your living space consists of one large room, such as a studio, place a narrow shelving unit by the door to function just like a hall table would in a larger apartment or house. Keep your car keys, identification cards and glasses in this convenient spot.

A slightly deeper shelf, of about 12 inches, perhaps, can serve as your household charging station (if placed near an electrical outlet). If you have a multi-plug outlet, you may even place a decorative night light there.

Of course, you'll want to choose shelving that pairs with the style of your home. If your look is contemporary, you will want shelving with clean lines. If your style is more traditional, there are wonderful display cabinets about 4 to 5 inches deep in many vintage furniture malls. These cabinets may have originally been designed to display spoons, teacups or collectables, but you have the luxury of storing whatever you'd like.

Options for wall storage abound, so start looking now to find the perfect design for your home.

Photo Credit: Oelef

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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