Out of sight, out of mind

Storage solutions are critical within a home to keep the clutter at bay and the ‘piles of stuff’ from encroaching so much that you can no longer see your surfaces. Whilst the psychology of clutter and mess has been analysed by many self-help gurus elsewhere, this month I’m focusing on attractive design-led storage furniture ideas for all budgets

Photo: Bella Whiteley Interiors

“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy; at home and in Paris…” – Ernest Hemmingway.

If Paris evades you, may I recommend you do this: Declutter. Organise. Store. Live. The first area where our ‘stuff’ can accumulate is the kitchen but more specifically the kitchen table, where everyday paperwork, recent newspapers and ’to do’ stuff reside.

Pinch Design: The Joyce Cabinet

Pinch Design: The Joyce Cabinet

The solution? Cabinets. Those which stand-alone style-wise are not part of the fitted kitchen and look attractive in their own right. Placement of a ‘kitchen overspill’ cabinet often works well if sited between a kitchen run of units ending and a dining space beginning.

These work really well for open-plan kitchen dining rooms and act as multi-storage. Piles of paperwork put into box files, specialist crockery together with drinks and glasses can all be housed in a good-looking piece of furniture.

Pinch Design, based in South London, have been making elegant, simple wooden cabinets since 2004. Their pieces are designed to create interest and resonance within the environments they are placed. The Joyce cabinet is an ideal storage piece, with its timber-lined interior and paint-lacquered exterior.

Pinch Design: The Frey armoire

Pinch Design: The Frey armoire

The drawers could house paperwork and post, with the open shelves for crockery, glasses and drinks.

The Frey armoire has all the components of a design classic and has solid panelled doors, if the glass front cabinets fill you with a sense of styling and organisational horror.

Again in a choice of internal woods, there are plenty of drawers here for simply chucking your paperwork and post into.

The almost Georgian–style routed panel doors would suit a period house very well.

Being a bookworm or an avid collector of those luscious lifestyle photographic books we like to pile on a coffee table doesn’t mean every available surface in your living space must be covered by a precariously ‘ready to topple over’ pile of novels. Books deserve to be displayed, and indeed last longer with their spines stored upright and out of any direct sunlight, which will fade the book-jacket or dust cover.


Pinch Design: Lombard Shelving

Free-standing shelving is great if you have the perfect alcove to accommodate it, or are renting a property and want to take your shelving with you when you move. Heals have a great selection readily available.

I like the Agnes wooden units designed by Kay + Stemmer in either natural oak or walnut. With its retro-styled curved edges and tapered shape, it’s equally attractive when viewed from the side as it is full frontal, crammed with classic paperbacks, all colour co-ordinated, obviously!

Built in wins every time both in looks and for maximum space saving. Bespoke joinery is certainly, in my mind, the best storage solution one can employ. Measure your available space where you want the storage to be built, sketch something out with your interior designer or specialist joiner, then work out how much ‘stuff’ you are going to need to store – but be ruthless.

The beauty of fitted joinery for storage means everything can be hidden away behind sublime, soft-close doors or effortlessly gliding doors concealing a multitude of sins. Another area we accumulate this clutter is typically our home entrance and hallway.

Glass front unit by Dan Clark

Glass front unit by Dan Clark

Coats get left in piles on the backs of chairs and piles of shoes and wellies turn into lethal, or at the very least, comedic trip hazards. Move them into cupboards and bespoke cloakroom hanging spaces and shoe racks.

Sussex-based joiner Dan Clark creates bespoke units in a contemporary style with ingenious solutions for under stairs storage.

The master of the precisely hung, flush cupboard door, and using quality hardware for that blissful feeling of a self-closing draw, he can create anything for your homes specific requirements, developing an idea and specification with you.

Brighton & Hove-based organisation Community Wood Recycling was set up in 1998 by Richard Mehmed who observed there was a lot of potentially usable wood being left in skips or being incinerated.

To find a way to utilise this free resource, he set up the not-for-profit environmental group with the simple aim of trying to find a more sustainable use for this perfectly usable resource. They will even collect all your waste wood at a fraction of the cost of mainstream waste disposal.

Their bookcases and shelves made from old floorboards and scaffolding planks are ace; pick one with some of the original peeling paint on for an authentic vintage vibe. I particularly like their giant boxes, sold as planters, made of substantial scaffold boards, each one unique in texture and colour, held together with cool galvanised steel corner brackets.

They can be made to any size you require and can simply put near the back door to chuck those shoes into, to prevent that comedy pratfall when you are rushing in or out the door. No need and no excuse now: USE STORAGE.

Cabinets – Pinch Design www.pinchdesign.com
Bookcases – Heals www.heals.co.uk
Joinery – Dan Clark www.danclarkfurniture.co.uk
Furniture, Kitchens & Interiors – Cimitree www.cimitree.co.uk
Vintage – Community Wood Recycling www.communitywoodrecycling.org.uk


  • Stop the flow of stuff coming in to your home. De-cluttering is a waste of time if you simply replace the old stuff with new. Start by slowing the flow of things entering your home. Buy less throw away, non-essential items. Be selective.
  • Whilst de-cluttering and prioritising your possessions you need to put a disposal plan in place. Investigate ways of selling, recycling and donating the items you choose to let go. A great blog to read about the new wave movement of owning less is 365lessthings.com
  • If you have a passion for a particular product or item and like to collect various forms of it to show its design evolution, then storing those items and showcasing them to full effect is key for your own enjoyment of them. System shelving that you can add to over time is ideal. One to look at is picture-pride-displays.co.uk specialising in wall-hung framed units for collections of smaller items.
  • Storing precious documents and personal paperwork is a delicate task. Early types of paper and print material did not contain the preservative chemicals and lightfast inks that they do now, so files and boxes that keep your heirlooms safe from fading and disintegrating are very useful. A brilliant resource for this is conservation-by-design.com. They sell everything from ‘smart boxes’ right up to museum-grade showcases. 
  • Cimitree0-Furniture--fave-wide-shot-of-understairs-bespoke-unit

    Cimitree furniture

    Designed storage and bespoke joinery is the best way to store larger everyday items and clothes. Sussex-based craftsmen cimitree.co.uk are purveyors of quality, luxury handmade furniture. A recent, bespoke project they completed in Chichester was for an under stairs storage piece that included pull-out shoe drawers, shelving and full height hanging.

  • Wooden crates have always been used as makeshift furnishings but today crates are part of that fashionable ‘industrial look‘. The décor trend feel for freight’ employs everything from upcycled pallets to cargo-inspired metal boxes. Minimalist designer Jasper Morrison has continued this trend by having wine crates made into pieces for trend-setting furniture company ‘ Established & Sons’. establishedandsons.com
  • Where else can you buy into this storage trend? Simple, recycled furniture can be found at artisanti.com. Their Peterfield Oak storage bench has four crate drawers and encapsulates that Contemporary Rustic look with aplomb. Reason Season Time (www.reasonseasontime.co.uk) fashion pieces from discarded materials, including wine barrels from America and old, painted timber from India. I love the ‘KONTAINR’ cabinet in bright yellow, made from disused shipping containers and retains the unique bar-locking mechanisms found on such crates. Contemporary versions of the crate-made shelf system can be found at www.loaf.com

Books to help you along the way and inspire you to begin the de-cluttering process include No More Clutter by Sue Kay, offering no nonsense advice and investigating why we develop our bad habits. Also worth a read is Breathing Room; Open Your Heart by Decluttering Your Home. Written by Lauren Rosenfeld and Dr. Melva Green, it is a bestseller where the spirituality of clutter meets practicality with a big dose of humour and compassion.

About Robert Thorpe
With a background in Management Consulting, Robert gave up a career in the city to pursue his passion for writing and journalism. He specialises in writing on business and finance, both in the UK and across the globe.