The saying goes that if something is not useful or beautiful then it has no place in your home. This is great advice for decluttering, but what do you do with all the useful and beautiful things after a big clear out? The obvious answer is to display the aesthetically-pleasing knick-knacks, and hide the rest, but how? Here are some great ideas to inspire you to be creative with your storage solutions.

Top tip: Sanded and painted pallets are a thrifty storage solution for shabby chic fans.


An entryway needs to be the perfect marriage between form and function; it should be a warm, wel-coming space that sets the tone design-wise for the rest of your home, but it should also be clutter-free with practical storage solutions. A row of hooks or a coat stand is essential for keeping hats, coats and bags off the floor. Consider having a shoe rack, or if space allows, a dedicated cupboard with in-built shelving for shoes and boots, line one shelf with felt to stop the wood scratching expensive soles. Alternatively, invest in dual-purpose furniture like seats with hidden or extra storage.

Staircases are one of the most potential-filled areas of the home for storage. As long as you don’t have open-tread stairs, the riser of each step is prime space for a pull-out compartment. Traditionally, houses had under-stair cupboards for vacuum cleaners, and coats, and while these can still be useful, you can do so much more. Custom-made cupboards and pull out drawers utilise every inch of space, while others opt for under-stair home offices or beautiful bookshelves built to fit the staggered steps.

Living Room

A place where family and friends gather to socialise and relax, your living room is often where treasured accessories are displayed and an open-shelved or glass-fronted cabinet is ideal for this. Make one wall your media wall using either bespoke or modular units that fit around your television and offer a variety of storage options, from display shelves to small cupboards to hide away unsightly cables.

Look around your room for alcoves, these are prime spots for installing shelves, constructing cupboards, or even creating a mini home office, by turning a plain plank of wood into a minimalist desk. Book lovers often look for innovative ways to put their favourite titles on display. Custom-made bookcases over doorways give your room a library feel, or opt for unusual-shaped book shelves for an arty touch.


The kitchen has lots of under-utilised areas perfect for hiding away practical items that don’t deserve sought-after cupboard space. Many kitchen units do not reach the ceiling, so use the space above them for cookbooks, storage baskets or a pot rack for a country-kitchen feel. Free up vital cupboard space by mounting your pots, pans and utensils on wall or ceiling racks such as with this Crate & Barrel collection. You can also store baking trays and cake tins behind the kick-boards underneath the cupboards. If you have any gaps in between appliances and kitchen units then narrow pull-out rods can be used for tea-towels. Inside cupboards and drawers, use these tricks to get organised. 

Hang up a tension rod inside doors for tea towels and oven gloves. Install a rack on your backsplash to hang everyday utensils, keeping them close to hand and freeing up drawer space. Magazine holders are great for stacking cutting boards and cling film and aluminium foil boxes, making them easy to find when you need them.

The trend for open kitchen units is here to stay, making this design a success lies in organisation. Group together your crockery, glasses and accessories by theme and colour.


If you’re in the market for a new bed, consider plumping for a lift-up mattress so that you can store extra linens and pillows underneath. A pull-out trundle storage box on casters is a good alternative.

Look for bedroom furniture that doubles up in functionality; an upholstered ottoman or window seat provides extra seating and hidden storage. Buy a full-length mirror that opens to reveal a jewellery cabinet, keeping all your accessories together. Line one of your dressing table drawers with a magnetic strip at the side, which keeps your tweezers, nail clippers, scissors and hair grips neat and tidy – no more scrabbling around in drawers!

Be varied in your approach to bedroom storage as oversized wardrobes can feel imposing. Hanging or floating shelves are perfect for decorative items, while open shelves are great for books. Divans with pull-out drawers are a great place for keeping spare bedding and extra blankets, while headboard shelving keeps all your night-time essentials close to hand. Use a combination of closet storage solutions: Hangers, drawers, shelving and boxes all help to organise your wardrobe.

Kids' Rooms

Tidying away toys is much more exciting when you think creatively. String up a small hammock in a child’s room or playroom to house soft toys, this frees up floor space, and is a fun substitute for shelving. Help little ones dress themselves by buying or making honeycomb inserts for their drawers, these separate their clothes into t-shirts, underwear, socks, shorts, and makes life easier for everyone.

If you have sliding doors on the children’s wardrobes, paint them with blackboard paint so they double up as a quirky art area. Even cheap and cheerful box bookcases can be made more exciting by painting the wall behind each cube a different colour, giving the room a vibrant patchwork effect. (Image above from Ikea).

Colourful shelving tempts kids to keep their toys tidy, while painting a unit with blackboard paint gives boring storage a new lease of life. Keep messy paints and sharp craft accessories out of reach on high wall-mounted shelves, while soft toys and dress-up costumes in low units are within easy reach for children. This Play and Go Storage bag from Caramel and Sun is a fun and easy way to keep toys tidy (Dh190).

3 of the best display units

From left to right Display case, Flamant, Dh8,880; Bonaldo Babel shelving unit, Western Furniture, Price on request; Elana bookcase, Zen Interiors, Dh4,215.

Images by Istock/Shutterstock