Condominiums are convenient residential dwellings in urban cities where residential sprawls are being taken over by high-rises and commercial developers. They are, however, tiny. Nineteen square meters for a studio is the norm, and anything higher is already considered generous.
Condominiums do an excellent job of dressing up sample units and showing that tiny spaces can also accommodate large furniture. You walk into a showroom and find a six-seater sectional in a 10-square-meter living room, or a queen-sized bed in an equally tiny bedroom. They are impressive to look at, and you immediately imagine yourself living in such stylish lodgings.
Once the wow factor wears off, however, and your practical sense kicks in, you begin to notice one thing: condos have very little space for decent shelving and storage.
The limited floor space makes it difficult for people who aren’t minimalists to stow their belongings and keep their condo unit neat and clean. Have you noticed how most showrooms play up the comfortable beds, but seemingly forget about the cabinets, drawers, and shelves? It’s because when you have a queen bed, there’s often not enough space for a bedside table, vanity, and a wardrobe.
So how do condo dwellers solve their storage and shelving problems that are sure to arise soon after moving into their units? Below are some answers.
The key to designing storage systems in condo units is to go up, not sideways. You need to reserve your floor area for furniture and appliances. This leaves you with shelving systems that utilize wall space instead.
- Floating shelves – These are excellent for condos because they are neat to look at and easy to install. You can actually do it yourself; all you need are the right materials. Floating shelves consist of wood or steel panels (the shelves) with supporting dowels that you drill into the concrete wall. With no visible wall supports or cabinet doors, floating shelves are excellent storage spaces for things you frequently use, like bath towels, personal care products, hats, and bags.
- Joint-less steel shelves – Industrial-style shelving and furniture rarely go out of style, being the choice storage system for minimalists and avant-garde interior designers. They’re sturdy and blend well with most interior design themes, so you’re covered practically and aesthetically. You might even get your local home depot to customize one for you. Alternatively, your interior designer could commission one from furniture makers who specialize in custom steel pieces.
- Floor-to-ceiling mixed shelving – If you really want to have shelves, build them from floor to ceiling to fully maximize the vertical space. Don’t worry about not being able to reach the top shelves; you can always use the topmost cubbies for seasonal items, like winter clothes, costumes, old toys, packing materials, luggage, and the like. You can also play things up a bit by getting your contractor to build the cubbies in different sizes to further maximize the space. You’ll be able to store small items and large objects while reducing clutter.
- Hanging storage – Got a high ceiling? Maximize the overhead space with hanging storage. These are common in the kitchen, dining area, and bathroom. What’s great about hanging storage is you can be as creative as you like. Here are some excellent examples:
- Use chains and hooks to hang baskets or trays from the ceiling. You can use these in the bathroom or your children’s nursery.
- Hang a metal mesh grid high over the kitchen table and use hooks to hang pans and pots from it.
- Nail bottle covers to the bottom of an overhead cabinet and twist the glass bottles in place. These hanging containers are excellent for storing small workshop materials, like nails, screws, and hooks. You can also use this storage system for dry spices in the kitchen.
- Screw wood pegs to the wall with narrow gaps in between, just enough for the stems of wine glasses to fit and slide through.
Maximize Nooks and Crannies
Some condo units have irregularly-shaped rooms with nooks that aren’t large enough for appliances or furniture. Instead of leaving these spaces empty, hire a contractor to customize storage systems that will occupy them. Even the irregular spaces, like the narrow gap between a pillar and a wall, can be maximized for shelving.
For example, a floating staircase leading to a loft has plenty of space beneath it. Instead of merely stacking your belongings haphazardly on top of each other beneath the stairs, build cabinets or shelves that conform to the staircase’s shape. Shelves with cubbies in different shapes and sizes will work best in this space.
No matter how large or tiny they are, you’ll find something to stow in the optimized storage spaces (e.g., a vacuum cleaner in a shelf four feet high and TV remote controls in cubbies that are only a couple of inches wide).
Other nooks and crannies you should consider for possible storage additions include:
- Behind your refrigerator or dishwasher – A narrow, pull-out rack for spice bottles and other slim kitchen items is popular as it is a space-efficient kitchen shelf.
- Bottom kitchen cabinet doors – Similar to the staircase shelving concept, you can maximize the spacious bottom cabinet that hides your sink’s plumbing by installing racks or hooks on the inner sides of the cabinet doors.
- At the bottom of your bed – Pull-out drawers beneath your bed are more convenient, neater, and cleaner than having multiple plastic tubs tucked in the empty spaces.
- Directly beneath your kitchen or bathroom sink – Triangular shelves, makeshift or custom-made, helps maximize the area immediately around the plumbing. Use them to keep cleaning products and materials out of sight.
- Attic ceiling – Level out the sloped ceiling of your attic by installing custom cabinets or shelves.
- If you have large objects that need storing, like a decorative vase your mother bought or a medium-sized appliance that doesn’t fit in your kitchen cabinet, put them out in the open instead of stashing them. Place the vase on your center table or the floor beside the TV stand, and dedicated a spot on your kitchen counter for your large rice cooker or fancy coffeemaker.
- Don’t build shelves and cabinets too deep. Make this a rule of thumb: you should be able to reach the back of an overhead cabinet while standing on the floor. Likewise, you should be able to touch the back inner panel of a bottom shelf or cabinet without having to crouch or lie on your stomach.
Consider these tips when designing your condo unit. The more shelving you have, the less cluttered your living space will be.