Real Life Storage Solutions

easy storage ideas to contain clutter

Do you find you spend much of your day dealing with clutter and the every day stuff that accumulates? Things like shoes, coats, backpacks, lunch bags, mail, magazines, random pieces of paper…and on and on and on…

It’s this part of growing up that nobody told us we were signing up for: the endless tidying. The trying to find places for everything and get everyone on board to PUT THINGS AWAY.

Years ago I bought this card by Mary Engelbreit and I keep it nearby for inspiration. Proust’s words always force me to look at situations in a slightly different way and realize I can’t change what is, but I can change how I deal with it.

quote by Marcel Proust with artwork by Mary Englebright

I often call to mind this quote when I’m coming up with a design concept. And I’ve used this quote many times when trying to solve clutter issues. Because in the end, interior design isn’t just about making things pretty, it’s manipulating the way people interact with their surroundings.

Here are some of our real life solutions to clutter issues.



We remodelled this foyer for a lovely couple that had been married well over 50 years. He would walk in to the house and kick off his shoes right in front of the door and this drove her crazy. He liked to keep his shoes at the door and she liked a clean clutter free front entrance, which meant a lot of aggravation for both of them.



We designed a custom shoe storage system that blends seamlessly in this new space. He still kicks off his shoes and leaves them out, but now she can tuck them out of sight. He’s happy that they’re still at the front door when he needs them and she’s happy with her clutter-less foyer. Problem solved.



In this home above, the back entrance was the most convenient to use, but there was no coat closet and not any room to put a wardrobe. Coats, purses and backpacks would literally end up on the floor.


Without doing a full scale renovation, there wasn’t much we could do in the space. However, we pulled out one of our trusty tricks, ‘If it has to be there, make it look pretty’. The addition of hooks at different levels make it easy for mom and son to hang up their things. The industrial mirror adds some flare and now the area looks tidy, neat and purposeful.



We were doing a big renovation on this home, updating many of the features. We knew the oak railing looked dated and wanted to replace it with something more current. However, there were a few other issues in the room that we needed to solve.

  1. The family room was very long and narrow and the homeowner never knew how to set up the furniture or what to do with the extra space in front of the railing.
  2. She loves china and has an amazing collection of Portmeirion, including her lovely Holly and Ivy Christmas set which was tucked away in a back cupboard.
  3. He is a wonderful cook and has many recipe books that he needs to keep close by.
  4. By code it was necessary to divide the room because the eating area of the kitchen steps down into the family room



We created a book case/china cabinet that was on two levels and accessible from both sides. It acts as a divider between the two levels. There’s a place for her china collection and his cookbooks.

And from the other side, it has storage for more books and closed storage for stuff that’s not as pretty. Plus being a bookcase, it’s okay to have a lot of air in front of it. The lamp on the top of the unit adds a soft glow that bridges the two spaces. To see the fireplace renovation of this family room, check out my blog Fireplace Renovation adds a Modern Touch.



For children and many people, keeping dishes in upper cabinets is not the best solution. They can be difficult to reach and really heavy to take out and put away.



Drawers are the answer. Keeping dishes in lower cabinets is easier for everyone. Using stacking trays allows dishes to stay in place and protects from chips.

Beautifully renovated new kitchen with white shaker style cabinets that go up to the ceiling and unique granite on island with butcher block counter separating cabinets


Some people (okay mostly men) like life to be easy and convenient. They don’t know about suffering for beauty (high heals, spanx, waxing). They want the toaster and coffeemaker right there on the counter. I agree it doesn’t make for a sophisticated look.

this custom kitchen has appliance garages that store it all away when not in use


An updated version of the appliance garage. It’s all there waiting to be used, and then when done, the door gets shut and the kitchen becomes magazine worthy. We even had lights installed that come on when door is open.

By code, the power must be disconnected when the door is down. This isn’t a big deal for an electrician to do, but it does mean that you can’t use this system for a charging station. In the office below, we hid the printer (I haven’t see a pretty one yet) and made the doors tuck in to the side so they were out of the way.


These type of doors open fully and then you just give a little tug forward and they push all the way back inside the cabinet. It makes it easy to roll over on the chair and grab a file or a printed document.


When the homeowner isn’t working, she can close everything up and she has a beautiful space. For more on this room, see my blog Desk With a Secret.

custom design office with white shaker cabinets and a walnut island that can be used as a desk or for extra dining space

It’s our job as designers to come up with solutions to your problems. Interior Design is not just making things pretty. We create interiors that enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants while at the same time being aesthetically pleasing. 

To put it in easy terms, function first, pretty second. That’s what we call ‘Designing for Real Life’.

Related Posts:

Family Room does Double Duty as a Playroom

Luxe Kitchen Remodel

Bespoke Design

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It's not about how much you have, it's about using what you have to create beauty.

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