Style in storage
STYLISH storage has suddenly been transformed into a stunning addition for any home.
Our desire for streamlined, contemporary interiors means we're demanding attractive and imaginative ways of dealing with today's ultimate interiors without clutter.
Designers are responding by creating solutions which store possessions efficiently and make a style statement at the same time.
''Many of us have to live in homes much smaller than we might desire,'' says interior designer Joanna Wood (www.joannawood.co.uk).
''Generally, we underestimate the number of possessions we have by about a third, which can lead to a storage conundrum. But that doesn't mean you have to abandon design ideals.
''With thought and careful planning you can make the most of every inch of space using beautiful solutions.''
So get ready, get set, store!
A calm atmosphere is essential in living areas. Open shelves and cupboard storage can allow treasured and decorative items to star while everything else is concealed.
''In contemporary interiors there's no room for jarring clutter,'' says Wood.
''Storage has become an art form which enhances rooms and is at the top of the list when designing an interior. Sleek doors which open at a touch are popular, while others have handles that are a feature in themselves and made in materials such as leather, mother-of-pearl or crystal.
''The key to success is to recognise no space is too small to store something. Every corner, recess or landing can be utilised.''
TIPS: Imagine you're a visitor to your home and look at your possessions objectively. Make lists of items you could discard, current storage that needs de-cluttering and an area which could be used for new storage. Avoid fitting hand-height flat surfaces as it's all too easy to fill them with objects that never get moved.
SMART STORAGE: A bespoke system which caters for every storage need is hard to beat. A contemporary Cream Lounge system starts from around £3,000, Neville Johnson.
Be bang on trend with Orla Kiely's mid-Century modern style sideboard, £1,800, from her Orla Kiely House range at Bliss Home.
BUDGET BUYS: Banish coffee table clutter by choosing a table with roomy drawers such as the Naples pine large coffee table, £299.99. Team it with a Bretagne bookcase with drawers, £399.99, both Dunelm Mill. A set of three Bentwood cubes, small, medium and large, £11.25, Asda, have plenty of room for possessions.
IT'S vital that a home office feels organised and conducive to work in.
''This room will often be multi- purpose and used by different members of the family as a den or homework area as well as an office, and ideally each person will need their own allocated storage,'' says Wood.
''Nowadays, these are planned down to the last inch in the same way as fitted kitchens. Enclosing everything within fitted cupboard doors reduces distractions and makes the whole area feel organised.''
If a whole room's not available, she advises making the most of an awkwardly shaped area, such as a loft or under the stairs, with built-in storage for an office.
TIP: Use wasted space behind a door or on the wall over a desk by hanging organisers with pockets.
SMART STORAGE: Room divider with cupboards, in a white lacquer finish, £1,595, BoConcept, could define a working area in a room. Laura Ashley's oak Milton Office Chest, £1,150 (currently reduced to £724.50), can store a multitude of office essentials.
BUDGET BUYS: Make a space business-like with smart kit from John Lewis, including items such as the House lean bookcase, £99, and a sleek wood and glass Zane desk, £250.
A wall-hung board like Vitra Utensilo White, from £173.40, Heal's, with its integral solid pockets, is ideal for clutter which would normally litter a desktop.
Having problems sleeping in a bedroom that's bulging at the seams with clothes? Both are sure signs that your storage is inadequate.
''This is a room where you want a tranquil, calm atmosphere and as little clutter as possible,'' says Emma Sims-Hilditch, partner at furniture company Neptune.
''Try to have in it only the things you need, rather than allowing it to become a part-time ironing room or office. The investment of commissioning built-in bedroom furniture is worthwhile if you plan to stay in your home for the foreseeable future. I find a mix is most practical: free-standing bedside tables and chest of drawers and, if space allows, a built-in wardrobe tailored to your needs.
''Avoid masking architraves, cornices and skirtings with fitted furniture as you can lose the character of the room, and if you want a more free-standing look avoid taking built-in joinery right up to the ceiling. Instead choose a pretty cornice for the top of the wardrobe or cabinet.''
TIPS: Calculate your storage requirements (how many metres of hanging and folded storage you need, and don't forget space for shoes), before visiting a furniture specialist. A divan bed with fitted drawers or under-bed storage boxes can provide valuable extra storage. Consider raising the height of your wardrobe rail so you can fit storage boxes or a shoe rack beneath hanging clothes.
SMART STORAGE: Chichester wardrobe, £1,395, Neptune. A compact Gainsborough dressing table, £791.20, from Marks & Spencer, has six drawers and a lift-up mirror.
BUDGET BUYS: Try Ikea's practical Pax wardrobe, starts from £70 for a one-door unit, and its Malm mirrored chest of drawers, £200, or a Vardo bed storage box, £21. There's also the Florence dressing table, £299.99, Split Willow 4-drawer tower grey, £44.99, and storage boxes from £6.99, Dunelm Mill.
Children's rooms seem to shrink as the inhabitants grow and gather their multitude of toys and possessions.
''Children have more need for storage than anyone else. But whatever solution you choose it should be easy for them to use so they can learn as early as possible to do their own tidying,'' says Wood.
''I recently designed a playroom for four children and created a vast cupboard filling a 5m wall. It was divided into myriad compartments with more than 30 drawers and door fronts painted in four colours, with one colour designated for each child. It was fun to use, looked like an abstract painting and its style will still be appropriate as they get older.''
TIPS: Modular storage systems, which can be added to as the child and its possessions grow, are a good solution. Position drawers close to the floor so children can reach them. Also look for soft close actions on drawers and storage boxes.
SMART STORAGE: Toytown Toy Box, from a range designed by Mark Wilkinson, is hand-made using oak and sycamore wood. Price dependent on size and finish, starts from around £1,490. Animal Farm Wooden Crate Storage Units made in Italy: Cow, £3,495, Pig, £995, and Goose, £550, Alexander & Pearl.
BUDGET BUYS: Great Little Trading Company's Northcote Storage System starts from £65. Its Pull-Along Book Cart featuring Twinkle Fairy or a Fire Engine, £36, (in stock from February 5). A Dutch Townhouse cupboard, made from laser-cut metal, can be free-standing or wall mounted and proves that storage needn't be boring, £130, Pretty Dandy.