From Built-ins to furniture hacks, here are 10 ways we’ve added hidden and unexpected storage space in our Chicago home.
Stash Your Stuff!
You can never have enough storage space, right? We do our best to live fairly minimally around here, but life requires stuff. That requirement doesn’t, however, mean you have to stare at stuff. Today, we’re breaking down our ten favorite sneaky storage hacks in our modestly-sized Chicago home!
1| The Built-In Storage Bench in the Snug
The built-in storage bench in our snug just might be our favorite IKEA hack of all time. The plan was intricately laid out to incorporate a bench for reading and lounging and tons of toy storage for our daughter. Everything inside is stashed in clear bins and baskets so things can be easily put away in less than a minute. The custom flip-top bin that completes the short end of the ‘L’ shape stores games for kids and adults alike.
2| The Workshop Floating Shelves
The DIY floating shelves in the workshop off of our kitchen have become one of our most popular projects for a very good reason. They’re simple, sturdy and versatile. They’ve shifted through the years to store everything from paint cans, pet supplies, and food purchased in bulk. Paired with the Gearwall system and workbench on the other side of the room, this little workshop is a powerhouse!
3| The Craft Room Desktop Bookshelves
Our craft room has seen a number of variations over the years. Originally, it served as a shipping and supply room for Kim’s pet portrait business. Once we decided to close that division of YBH, it’s been a craft room, decor room, art studio and a family gift-wrapping station. We love that this room shifts with our needs and this current incarnation might just be the best version yet!
The ladder shelf system is designed to sit on the floor, but our sturdy kitchen island-turned-work-bench handles the support role nicely. This wall of vertical shelving swallowed up an entire closet worth of home decor that’s now right at our fingertips.
4| Fauxdenzas Office in the Dining Room
Remember way back when IKEA didn’t realize that people might use cabinet uppers for storage elsewhere in their homes, but we all figured out hacks and work-arounds so we could do it anyway? Well, those days are done and IKEA now offers tons of solutions for shallow cabinets to be mounted on walls at all types of heights in all types of rooms. We’ve got an old-school ‘fauxdenza’ in our dining room that acts as our office command center and another in the family room that hides books and craft supplies. We still love them in all of their floating space-saving glory. Long live the fauxdenza!
5| A Custom Skinny Bathroom Linen Closet
Another favorite IKEA hack is the skinny linen closet in our primary bathroom. We prioritized a double vanity over a proper closet when we remodeled this space, but left a wall cavity at the head of the bathtub open so we could cut down and squeeze in a pre-fab IKEA cabinet. This thin ‘closet’ swallows up a couple of bins of first aid and medical supplies, extra paper goods, cleaning supplies and a handful of tightly rolled bath towels. It’s tiny, but it serves our needs perfectly!
6| A Dresser in a Closet
When we designed our daughter’s nursery 5 years ago (!), we knew we’d need to pack a lot of function into the tiny room. The good news is that the previously-framed closet was generous, and the ceilings were nearly 10 feet tall. Due to the location of the room’s door and windows, we realized that a traditional dresser wouldn’t quite fit without making the layout incredibly awkward.
We also knew we’d need a changing table since we’d be going through an absolute mountain of diapers, so we tapped our friends at MegMade to refinish the most stunning dresser for us. When complete, the dresser fit perfectly into her closet and we built out shelving all around it. It worked fantastically as a changing table and now that diapers are long behind us, we’re still using it to store an entire wardrobe worth of ‘big girl’ clothes.
Bonus: We also framed out a section directly above the closet for two perfectly-sized RTA cabinets! The cabinet boxes were slid carefully into place and millwork was installed around them for a fully custom look.
7| An Upgraded Shoe Cabinet in the Foyer
Is it becoming apparent that we love hacking up perfectly good IKEA furniture and cabinetry? We love IKEA’s sturdy construction and ease of assembly, but we think where it really shines is with customization! While wandering through IKEA about a year ago, we passed by this large shoe cabinet in the ‘handy person’s corner’. It was a former floor model with a few dings and we had a strong dislike for the color, but we immediately saw its potential. After we added fresh paint, custom hardware and a custom white oak top, its like a whole new piece or furniture that suits our entryway perfectly!
8| A Dresser Becomes a Kitchen Island
In our kitchen’s former configuration, the layout was a bit tricky to work around. A large HVAC closet overwhelmed the room and the a cramped wall created a narrow passage into the room itself. Those issues have all been remedied with the new layout but back then, we needed more countertop space than we had room for. A fixed island wasn’t practical since quarters were tight, and we wanted flexibility to be able to move around. The solution? We found a sturdy midcentury dresser and made it our own. A custom maple butcher block countertop left enough of an overhang for a couple of seats and the castor wheels locked into place to keep it sturdy!
9| IKEA Pax for Our Primary Bedroom Closets
Way back when we converted our former second floor apartment kitchen into our primary bedroom with ensuite laundry, we wanted to integrate a trio of windows along the back wall, so we weren’t left with many options for closet placement. After we saw how adaptable the IKEA PAX system is, we designed the room’s layout completely around each of us having our own oversized PAX closet unit. Our contractor framed the wall so the PAX units slid right into place and they fit like a glove. With this configuration, we were able to customize the inner workings of our own closet to our liking – including built-in dresser drawers!
10| Custom Pull-Out Shelves Inside a Standard Vanity
The off-the-shelf marble top vanity in our pink bathroom suited our needs perfectly, but the storage inside wasn’t ideal. The solution we came up with was to create a custom sliding shelf so we could access the deepest depths of the cabinet. We created simple shallow box out of MDF, painted it white to match the cabinet box and added some drawer sliders. Done! We’ve also applied variations on this theme to our slide-out record shelf in our Michigan Tree House. Is there anything drawer sliders can’t do?
PS – We love integrating clever storage solutions into our homes and maximizing space! Check out how we did just that in our small Michigan Tree House, The Two Flat unit 1 Kitchen and unit 2 kitchen. We’ve also created storage out of nowhere that integrated a dog bed and a floating cube!