Words – Will Foster

Photographs – Edmund Sumner

Originally published in the Financial Times


Our home-storage needs keep growing and we are running out of space. How do we create more storage without moving?


Managing your storage can feel like a burden, but it is an ideal design opportunity to streamline your living. I do sympathise with your plight, having to manage the accumulation of “stuff” within my own household. Sometimes I wish I could be as brave as Michael Landy, the British artist who in 2001 destroyed all of his possessions. Start with a thorough edit. A fresh look reveals design opportunities, such as deep drawers at low level transitioning to shelving at high level. Another option is to replace existing furniture with new pieces that provide additional storage. Clever beds with lightweight lifting mattresses, for example, allow access to the entire underside of the bed. If bigger changes are needed, you could use an industrial racking system or kitchen carcass to design an entire wall of storage. Use components that come with multiple internal storage options. If you are a DIY enthusiast you can explore your own configuration with online design software such as the Ikea kitchen planner.

If the storage is on display you should check the dimensions of the space and look into modular shelving systems that optimise the volume. The architect’s eye will always look at the entire volume from floor to ceiling, ground to roof. Most young architects cut their teeth on small retrofit projects, delivering clever ideas for storage and optimising space. If you wish to invest in bespoke design I would look online for up-and-coming architects or contact the RIBA. In my own home, I’ve found a good cull is liberating — and smart storage has greatly improved our lives.