Vertical Space: An Important Aspect of Organizing that’s Almost Always Ignored

So you know there is unnecessary clutter in your home and you are okay with purging it. Great! Now what do you do with all the things you simply can’t get rid of? There are many ways to solve storage problems but one of my favorites might be one that you may not have considered: vertical space.

Every building has walls, and many people living or working within these walls forget they can be much more functional than they appear (the same goes with doors). I’ve witnessed countless missed opportunities for additional storage within existing storage. With so many possibilities, it is to your benefit to transform these blank canvases to maximize your organizing options.

*Note: It can be difficult to decide what will be best for your particular home situation. If after you read this, you find yourself overwhelmed and wanting more specific answers and suggestions, please drop me a line!

Built-In Storage


(left:, center: / pinterest, right:

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who had lukewarm feelings about built-ins: usually people love them or hate them. But regardless of how you feel about them stylistically, they serve their purpose well. Usually built-ins are adjacent to and extend out from the existing walls in a home, but some DIYers have removed drywall to utilize the empty space between the studs as well (see left picture above). The great thing about built-ins is that they are super functional but they can also add a lot of character to a room.


Freestanding Storage


Opposite of built-ins is freestanding storage. This can include anything from bookshelves, side tables, coat and shoe racks, and more; they can come with or without wheels to make them portable as well. Freestanding storage is the most common type of vertical storage used in homes, but it takes up floor space (which can be valuable in smaller homes, condos, or apartments). You can reference this recommended list of compact freestanding shelves at for ideas in your home.


Wall Mounted Storage

img_6458Similar to the  options listed above is wall mounted storage. Wall mounted storage is a wonderful tool for small areas or areas where you need to keep the floor clear. It creates a use for an otherwise useless part of your home (besides, you know, holding the house up).



Compartmentalized Storage

One of my favorite types of vertical storage is compartmentalized storage. Lots of these products can fall into the freestanding category as well but my personal favorites are those those that hang within existing space or sectionalize drawer space.

The above-left picture is my infant son’s closet. Instead of buying him a bureau or chest, I invested in a number of hanging storage compartments. From clothes to bedding to unused cloth diaper pieces, I keep everything of his in these.

The above-right picture is my children’s bathroom drawer. Sectionalized drawer inserts for small items are lifesavers when it comes to finding things: once you get in the habit of knowing where each item goes, you’ll never lose it again (it’s helpful for kids memories, too!).


Over-The-Door Storage


If you search for “over the door storage” on Google, you will find thousands upon thousands of products available for purchase. So where do you start?

Think about what function you want your storage to have… do you want it to be easily accessible or do you want it hidden away? Should it have flexible compartments or rigid ones? Are hooks the best way to attach your new storage or do you need something more permanent? Where does it need to be placed in order to be most effective? Once you determine all of these things, then you can make the jump and buy what best fits your needs.

Pictured to the right is my cloth diaper storage system. I put it adjacent to my washer and dryer (to the left inside the closet), which is across from my children’s playroom (where I change them the majority of the time).


Utilizing Vertical Space Within Existing Storage

Empty, unused space in my cabinets used to drive me crazy. I always became frustrated by the space above all my items in cabinets going to waste. Take my bathroom vanity for example:


Look at all that unused space above all those bath items! I thought I had solved my conundrum by purchasing stackable storage drawers (as seen on the left). Much to my dismay, they fixed some issues – but didn’t solve all of my problems. After I invested in two small storage containers, I was able to pack away duplicate items (which weren’t going to be used anytime soon) and use the tops of the bins as additional storage for cleaning and other supplies:


With this new arrangement, I can easily see where everything is. I can also access those things I use most often, while keeping tucked away those that I don’t. Lastly, I no longer have wasted storage space.

The same practice of using vertical space within existing space can be applied to cabinets throughout your home. Here is an example of a kitchen I did recently:


The wrap-around white shelves in the cabinet to the right were already being partially used by the client (you can see one already in action in the bottom-left shelf). As you can see, the new arrangement of items and shelves simplifies and solves the storage issue.

My main goal as an organizer is not for clients to spend more money and wasted time looking for miracle storage solutions, but to utilize what is already available to get the job done. Of course, there will be times that you need to spend a little on certain products to get the results you want – but it is never the first course of action.


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