1. Makes Smaller Spaces Easier to Live With – “A person’s house is their castle” or so the saying goes. But what if that castle isn’t terribly large this is where smart storage solutions become even more vital to living comfortably and beautifully.  If you choose to live in a small space, you need to be a bit more practical with the furniture that you’re planning to buy. Instead of buying a regular coffee table, you can invest in a storage ottoman so that you can flip up or remove the lid to store books, bedding, tools, or various miscellaneous stuff. You can invest in ottoman bench where you can place reading material, small appliances (mine holds my leaf blower for example), or tools in case you run out of space in the kitchen. You can also buy a flip-up storage bed where the mattress & frame can both be lifted up to reveal cleverly hidden storage. Or you can buy beds with drawers on the sides (although that could get a bit cumbersome especially if you have nightstands on either side that would prevent these drawers to open in the first place). And if you have a chance to renovate your kitchen, you could ask your designer to design cabinets that go all the way to the ceilings instead of leaving some dead space up top where things can pile up and look messy fast. And you can always buy modular shelves and cabinets – or have custom ones designed completely from scratch like in the entrance hallway below – that can serve as additional storage for clothes, shoes, bags, rain gear, and various other household items.

2. Allows People to Live in More Expensive Downtown Locations – When you have ample storage, you can live in a more expensive location where tiny-sized living spaces are the norm. Living in a big city comes with certain conditions. Downtown apartments tend to be pricey as they’re close to work and various cultural, dining, and entertainment amenities. They also tend to be smaller since real estate is at a premium when you’re in the middle of all the action as compared to living in the suburbs. Look for places that have a lot of built-in storage. Or try and figure out if that unfurnished space that you’re considering will fit several pieces of storage furniture. An interior designer can tell you based on just looking at a floor plan (or even just an empty space) whether a living room, dining room or bedroom will accommodate everything that you need as their years of experience will have honed their sense of size and proportion. Too many people have bought things that were too big (or too small) and then call designers like me to complain at how things that they’d seen at a store didn’t work in their home. The reason this happens a lot is that furniture showrooms are bigger (or laid out differently) than your own home. Watching home and garden TV shows or leafing through a home décor magazine won’t make you a space planning expert. Only a designer will know all the places where one can buy the things that work for each client specifically. So, tap on their expertise to help you figure out how to optimize a small space downtown that you’re planning like to live in. If you’re going to live in an expensive space downtown might as well live in a space that is cozy and luxurious. And when I say luxurious, I don’t mean expensive but beautiful, practical, and comfortable. And a seasoned pro can help you achieve the most visual bang for your buck.

3. Gives You More Control Over Clutter – One of the biggest reasons that people are unhappy is that they lead very stressful lives. Their work might be hard or they may have a loved one (or co-worker) that could be giving them grief. Your home should be your sanctuary from all the challenges that life is throwing at you from various directions. If coming home isn’t something that you look forward to, or staying indoors isn’t something that is particularly appealing, then you should definitely think of ways to make things better. You could also ask the help of a designer to see how to make your space feel not only more livable but make it feel warm and cozy.  I’ve lived in spaces that were 500 sqft and also 2,200 sqft and managed to make both feel very comfortable and welcoming. To avoid feeling stressed or anxious in such a small space, I had to really think about how to incorporate smart storage solutions. Life is hard enough that I don’t need my own personal space to add to the pressure that I already feel from work or my personal life. So buying a good storage shelf was key to giving me a sense of control over my life and actually made a big difference in making me feel more relaxed. Nothing felt out of place and I was able to live neatly and even elegantly as I’d also started buying artwork to add some colour and interest to my very first apartment as a single person. The problem with a lot of homes (big or small) is that oftentimes there’s not enough storage available. A lack of storage can force people to either rent outside storage (which is an additional expense item that you don’t really need), or they end up with piles of stuff everywhere because there’s just not enough places to keep things. When you’ve incorporated some smart storage ideas around your house, you’ll have eliminated one type of stress from your life and be able to relax more easily in your home.

4. Allows You to Enjoy your Space More – Buying enough storage units not only frees you to do the things you need to do, it can also inspire you to do some amazing things had you not been distracted by the size or mess that is your home. Storage doesn’t have to be utilitarian. It can be interesting, fun, and also pretty to look at. In fact, companies like Wayfair, West Elm, and even Ikea sell armoires, sideboards, and media cabinets that are functional and not too expensive. And some of them look really attractive as well, except you may have to ask the help of an interior designer in case you have difficulty picking out furniture with a big ‘wow’ factor since there’s a ton of choices out there and quality can be an issue especially with lower-priced items. Working with a pro means that you get to choose something that is correctly sized, pretty to look at and is visually coordinated with everything else in your space in terms of colour, material and style. Once you’ve invested in functional and good-looking storage furniture (whether custom or off-the-shelf) then you can just relax and enjoy your space rather than leave your home every chance you get because you can’t stand being there. Such was the case in my first home in Vancouver where I couldn’t do much in terms of changing up the finishes (as it wasn’t really mine to begin with). I was uncertain as to what size furniture to buy as I was only going to live there temporarily until I got established and found a proper home. Once I had a chance to plant roots and rent an apartment where I lived for 4 years, that’s when I really thought about what kind of furniture to buy that had storage features that would serve my needs. Keep in mind that you don’t have to own a space to buy nice furniture. You’re allowed to treat yourself to purchasing nice things even if you don’t own the place since you can keep on using the very same belongings no matter if you move several times. Just make sure to get some help choosing nice things that will last as you keep moving from one place to the next.

5. Allows You to Focus on Work More Easily – If you’re one of those fortunate ones that can work from home, it’s even more critical to be able to hide everything once you’re done (which is why workstations that can be completely hidden behind cabinet doors are a great idea), or having enough storage so that your things don’t have to be left on top of table surfaces. One of the things that tend to distract me is loose papers on top of my desk. Once I have a few pieces, they tend to attract even more paper. I sold a much larger table where stuff would pile up for a smaller table that was a bit small to leave papers around that would sit there for weeks untouched. These days the only thing you’d see on top of my table are 2 laptops and nothing else. I invested in a 4-drawer file cabinet with wheels that slides neatly under my desk for my clutter. I’ve also converted a nearby closet into an storage cabinet where I have binders and baskets to store loose important files as well as odds and ends. That way I can just focus on creating on proposals, working on projects, or sending out emails (or texts) from my laptop or phone rather than being distracted by what’s on top of my desk and figuring out what to do with all the clutter. Keepings (and finding) things takes just a few seconds as I have the bank of steel drawers to my right or the office closet to the left of my desk to store/retrieve anything that I might need.