13 DIY storage ideas for narrow spaces

You can still make the most of narrow spaces (Picture: Getty)

Hallways, alcoves, and galley kitchens can look amazing, but these narrow spaces in homes often end up neglected.

Recent research by Stashbee’s revealed that 21% of Brits are in desperate need of extra storage room but cannot afford it due to increasing costs.

And with skyrocketing house prices and space at a premium, it’s important to make the most of your home – including those awkward nooks and crannies.

You don’t need to completely remodel or knockdown walls, either.

With some creativity and a little DIY know-how, you can transform previously unused areas into practical yet stylish spaces to work, play, and store your things.

For those of you struggling to create more room in narrow spots, we’ve got expert tips and ideas to spark your interiors imagination.

Use vertical space with shelving

Regardless of the floor space you have in a room, you should always factor in how you can utilise the walls.

Next’s study of the internet’s most-asked home design questions revealed that thousands of us are looking to make our homes appear more spacious.

Ellie Newman, Trainee Designer at Frame Homes, provided her tips, saying: ‘Vertical spacing is important! Try and utilise your wall space.

‘You don’t need to fill every space that’s free in your room, as this will make your room look way much smaller than it is. It’s easy to do, so just be careful and think before you buy ornaments, plants, etc.’

Modern Floating Bookshelves with Books, a Plant and Decorative Box

Floating shelves don’t look bulky, but add much-needed storage to a narrow room (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

For a minimalist storage solution, try putting up floating shelves and displaying keepsakes. Peg boards can be customised to your needs with wire racks and hooks.

If you have more to store, go for a ceiling-high bookcase or built-in library shelving – they’re slightly more imposing in a small room, but allow you to make your books and mementoes a focal point.

Invest in multifunctional furniture

According to Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture and Choice: ‘Using multifunctional furniture is key for maximising storage space and keeping unnecessary clutter out of sight and out of mind.’

Rebecca recommends looking for ottoman beds, footstools, and benches with hidden storage, which will double up as furniture and somewhere to put away your things.

A sideboard that converts into a desk gives a room a new purpose, and there are plenty of similar innovations in the market.

From coffee tables that turn into lap trays to laundry bins that look like chairs, get you some furniture that can do both.


Even if you don’t have the time or inclination for a clear out, just removing clutter from your line of sight will create the illusion of space.

Nomita Vaish-Taylor, Founder and Editor at yourdiyfamily.com, says ‘Leave space empty and your room will instantly look bigger.

‘Keep clutter at bay – nothing makes a room look smaller than having lots of stuff lying around.’

This can be done easily without needing to scale back. Place a slimline basket somewhere inconspicuous, then you can hide items like shoes and coats – which often look messy left out – from view.

Make use of doors

Now you’ve levelled up your walls will shelving, it’s time to show yourself the door.

The experts at Space Station say: ‘The back of the door can be well utilised by hanging a shoe organiser. This makes an unused part of the room useful and can divide items up, creating a well organised system.

‘Higher level storage is also key for nappies, muslins and other items that need to be kept out of reach of little ones.’

They also recommend installing cabinetry or shelving above your doorway, where you can house everything from beauty products to soft furnishings.

Not confident enough with your DIY to give joinery a go just yet? Baskets and wire shelves that you just hang over a door – no tools required – can be purchased inexpensively from most homeware stores.

Don’t neglect corners

Think about the narrow room you want to do up. Is the furniture encroaching on floor space? Have you automatically decorated the way you would in somewhere bigger?

In an awkwardly-shaped room, the pieces and techniques that work elsewhere may look oversized and unnatural.

A corner shelving unit provides extra storage, but if this would still be too large, affixing single shelves to the wall saves extra space. Floating corner shelves cost less than £10 each in most hardware stores, and can be painted in complimentary colours to the rest of a room to blend right in.

Opt for light colours

Speaking of colours, how you paint your home can impact how cramped it feels.

Zara O’Hare In-house interior design consultant at Land of Rugs, says: ‘One of the best ways to make a small room look (and feel) bigger is to paint it in white or off-white colour.

Keep decor light and bright and make use of corners and nooks (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

‘Why these colours work so well is because they reflect light well, making your room seem naturally bigger.’

Although a lick of paint won’t increase your square footage, choosing neutral colours will make the space you have appear roomier when filled up.

Try a mirrored cabinet

Reflecting light helps open up a room, something mirrors are great for.

That said, you don’t want to waste precious wall space if you’re short on storage, so head to the bathroom department for a smarter solution.

A mirrored cabinet that doesn’t protrude too much from the wall will be inconspicuous to others, conceal unsightly knick-knacks, and create a spacious feeling.

Bring in a bench

Hallways are among the narrowest parts of a home, often too thin for standard cabinets and drawers.

To make corridors that aren’t wide enough for bulky furniture seem less bare, interior designer Kane Hughes from MyJobQuote, recommends a bench.

He says: ‘You can place a bench at the end of a bed for additional storage in the bedroom or perhaps bring it into the living room for extra seating.

‘As well as this, benches come in a variety of textures and designs to match the aesthetic of your room. For instance, a woven bench will bring out the natural, earthy tones in a room.

‘The bench is an understated, versatile piece that can add dimension to any room.’

Carefully measure the room before purchasing one, or give making your own a go by tweaking this handy guide to building a side table.

Lift your curtain rod

Kane continues: ‘Strategically placed curtain poles can help you create the illusion of a much taller room with wider windows.

‘Install an extra-long curtain rod, keeping it at least two to four inches below the ceiling, so the rod or hardware does not hit. This will trick the mind into thinking part of your wall is really glass. Then add curtains that drape down to floor-length.’

Living room

Seating, storage, use of vertical space AND a mirror? Full marks (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Not only will this give the appearance of a bigger room, you can use the hidden spots behind the curtains to tuck away unsightly items when guests come over.

Hang what you can

Hanging planters from the ceiling is common practice over on interiors Instagram, drawing the eye upwards and adding intrigue to a sparse space.

Give this a go if you want to make a narrow spot seem more cohesive to the rest of your home – just don’t stop with plants.

Storage racks that affix to the ceiling (similar to those they use in bars to store glassware) keep floor space free and are DIY-friendly. Check for joists before drilling using a stud finder, being mindful of the weight of the unit and what’ll be on it.

If that’s too daunting, why not make your own macrame planter for a homemade feel? It doesn’t need to serve as a plant pot specifically, holding any light items you want to tidy away, and you can use Command hooks to hang the woven pot without drilling.

Create cubbies

‘Create spaces that are fun for children as well as practical, so everything can be kept neat and accessible,’ says Vlatka Lake, Marketing Manager at Space Station.

Those with kids will know how much of a struggle it is to stay organised in cramped conditions, especially when no one knows what belongs to who.

Space Station suggests a pigeon-hole type system, saying: ‘Here you can keep bags, books, shoes, and even uniform neatly organised in one place and separated for each child. This can be done using either hooks and shoe racks, or a vertical shelving unit.’ 

Cubbies are useful for families and singles alike, ensuring everything has a place and you don’t need to make a mess when you get ready.

Rather than a cupboard for shoes, a tub for face masks, and the ubiquitous ‘junk drawer’, each member of the household will be more likely to remember their essentials and keep them organised going forward.

Try a Lazy Suzan

In lieu of the physical space to store your possessions, your best course of action is streamlining what you’ve got.

A Lazy Susan puts everything in a cabinet in easy reach, cutting down on clutter when you need to search for anything (why is what you need always right at the back?).

Le Mans pull-out trays are normally used in kitchen cabinets, but can be bought separately and screwed to your sideboard or under stairs cupboard.

DIY your existing furniture

Whether you’re on a budget, renting, or environmentally conscious, repairing and altering things you already own is a better than buying new.

To breathe new life into a hallway console table, affix adhesive hooks for hanging keys up. Bags, jewellery, and scarves can also be displayed and stored this way.

If you have an open shelving unit, you can add tension rods or drill a rail into the side. Pick up some S-hooks and you’ve created storage for everything from cloths to pet toys.

There’s so much you can do to upcycle furniture that won’t cost you a fortune, from replacing handles and knobs to fitting hairpin legs.

The only real limit is your skillset not matching up to your grand plans.

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13 DIY storage ideas for narrow spaces