Then I found two basket kitchen drawers at B&Q, which fitted right into what was open shelving; and I left the top shelf free for books.
Our stairs have gone through lots of design transformations over the years. When we moved in they were one side of a narrow corridor, the bannister was covered in 1970's-style wallpaper and a door beneath led into a storage vacuum. Scroll down to see how they've been transformed into various under stair storage units since.
We pulled down the internal wall, separating the stairs from what was the kitchen, replaced the broken stairs with a whole new staircase and a banister that brings more light on to the stair treads and hallway above, and then I designed a storage unit under the stairs for what became the lounge room.
A mixture of deep cupboards and drawers offered great storage for toys, board games, art materials, chinaware and tech equipment, while the open shelves helped what became the lounge room feel a lot more spacious, and the books and ornaments added colour and pattern. This unit served its purpose for several years, but following our extension the room became the kitchen and the stairs had to be repurposed once again.
When the stair space became part of the kitchen, the bulk of the unit remained the same and the fridge/freezer and larder cupboard, which we had in our existing kitchen in what was to become the lounge, were fitted above the drawers and painted. It helped that fortuitously the unit was divided into 60cm sections, the exact same width of standard kitchen units.
Then I found two basket kitchen drawers at B&Q, which fitted right into what was open shelving; and I left the top shelf free for books.
Since I have made over my own stairs several times, I am always interested in other people's under stair design ideas.
I recently did a magazine shoot of a very small home, where they tucked a desk under the stairs and then snuck a TV under the piece of artwork there too. Want to see exactly how the TV got hidden? Discover how to Hide a TV with art.
The best storage boxes with lids are easy to open, so that you can get to the contents quickly and easily; are reasonably light, but not so light that they are liable to go flying across a room if they're accidentally knocked; and are stackable, so that you can pile up a few if necessary without taking up too much floor space. Here's a round up of the best storage boxes with lids for every room in your home.
As well as this pink and grey combo, these Daven storage trunks from made.com are also available in pink and grey, green and grey and teal and grey pairings. The largest measures 24cm x 36cm x 60 cm and the smaller one 20cm x 26cm x 52 cm. Perfect for storing paperwork, arts and crafts materials or scarves and gloves.
The lift-up lid is super easy to open, they are light enough to move around, but not flimsy so they won’t go flying if they get accidentally kicked. These boxes are perfect for bedrooms, living spaces or hallways, which is why they made it into our best storage boxes with lids hall of fame.
Hailing from Germany, the Tafelbox is an incredibly versatile piece of storage kit. Available in two shades of stained Oak and three sizes, it comes with a chalk board at the front and back sides, so you can label the contents and never forget what's inside. And, it's available with an optional serving tray top, which makes it ideal for placing alongside a sofa or in the kitchen, ready for serving drinks, perhaps from the bottles stored with in. Or, maybe place two or three alongside each other to create a cheap and stylish coffee table.
The rustic-style Tafelbox lends itself just as well to toy, magazine and shoe storage too. Each box arrives oiled and sealed with wax, so it should age beautifully.
Measuring just 7cm x 15.7cm x 18.2cm, this cute white powder-coated steel storage box with a sustainable Bamboo lid from Garden Trading is made for all those little bits and pieces that you find around your home - hair accessories, make-up, dishwasher tablets, sewing thread and beads. At the bargain price of just £8, you can stack a few up in a utility area, bathroom, kitchen or bedroom.
Give your fridge a makeover by investing in a a few of these see-through Smartstore boxes from Homebase. They make it easy to access and see everything that you have in your fridge and instantly make all your food look a whole lot more appealing. With the box and lid costing just £1.45 each, they are extremely good value.
How cool are these Lego storage bricks from Red Candy? Available in cubes and rectangles and in a rainbow of different colours, they stack just like real Lego and of course are ideal for storing those little Lego bricks, as well as other tiny toy pieces, photographs and paperwork. Stack them up in your children's bedroom or play area.
Despite the world going increasingly paperless, letters still come through our doors. Don't store them in dreary filing boxes. Go for some mood enhancing colourful patterned box files. Cambridge Imprint do a host of beautiful box files in a range of sizes, colours and prints. They work well for storing stationary too. Essential for any smart desk.
The best storage boxes with lids
That's our guide to the best storage boxes with lids. Would you add any to the list?
Fed up with the doormat by your front door being littered with discarded shoes? Check out these neat shoe-storage ideas.
Made.com's slim hidden shoe storage unit conceals several pairs of shoes.
This vintage-style hidden shoe storage unit from The Wooden Furniture Store also features a useful drawer for smaller accessories.
If you're into the industrial look, you'll love Cox & Cox raised wire shoe storage cubby holes, perfect for handbags, dog leads and other grab-and-go accessories too.
We discovered this stylish shoes-storage unit, featuring a powder-coated aluminium stand with solid walnut top, down under at the Design Hunter. It's perfect for a bedroom or a hallway.
More cool clothes storage ideas to be found here
Looking for the best space-saving furniture to save space in your home? These are the products you should look out for:
When you're not using something, if you can fold it away and make it smaller, you are immediately freeing up valuable space in your home. Look for chairs that fold up nice and slim that you can tuck away under a sofa or in the broom cupboard when not needed. Folding chairs are right at the top of the best space-saving furniture list.
,And, alongside folding chairs, you need a folding table. Again, fold up into less than half its unfolded surface area and tuck away behind a door or under a bed when not in use. Even if you have a permanently on show table and chairs, an additional folding table and a few folding chairs can be bought out when you need to feed a few more people. Everyone should entertain once in a while, however, small your space.
Who knew? You can even get folding armchairs. So, if you live in a studio apartment and can't accommodate a dining area and a seating area at the same time, you can fold up your armchairs while the dining table is out and vice versa.
,Folding beds that fold up into the wall when not in use are a brilliant way to free up floor space during the day. The good ones are pricey, but it's worth paying that bit extra for a mechanism that you can be confident won't fail.
A bed that folds away into a sofa – a sofabed
Sofabeds are another brilliant solution for bedrooms that need to double up as living spaces or living spaces that need to become a guest room on occasion. Look for one that has space to store the bedding within its structure too.
Folding side tables
You're probably noticing a theme here: the best space-saving furniture generally folds up into something smaller when not in use. Side tables whose legs fold up and have a separate tray top are pretty easy to find and one of these can be bought out and used as a perch for a laptop or drinks, when required.
How can I use colours to make a small room feel larger? The short answer is to keep everything light and bright. Here's the longer answer:
How to make a small room feel larger with paint
Light coloured walls and ceilings push out the proportions of the rooms in your home. Dark colours draw them in and make everything feel more crowded. To use paint to make your room feel larger go for white, off-white, pale pastel or other fair shades on the walls and ceilings. If you go for the same colour throughout your home it will make the whole space feel bigger too.
How to make a small room feel larger with wallpaper
Wallpaper or wall murals can work in a small home too, just opt for a light colour and ideally a pattern that is not too fussy or detailed. A wall mural with a central perspective that takes you into a realistic photographic scene, such as a beach scape will make the room appear to go on for ever.
How to make a small room feel larger with flooring
A light-coloured floor also helps a small room to feel larger. It doesn't have to be a shade of white, which will be hard to keep clean. A pale oak wood floor, pastel tiles or a mushroom-coloured carpet will all help to create the illusion of space that you're after. And remember, if you want your room to feel wider lay your wooden planks so that they run width ways. If you want the room to feel deeper, lay your wooden planks to that they run length ways.
How to use bright colours to make a small room feel larger
As long as you keep the back drop of your room - the floor, the walls and the ceiling light – you can then go to town with every colour in the rainbow with your fabrics, soft furnishings and accessories. Bright pops of colour in the blinds or curtains, towels or cushions will add an extra layer of airy freshness to any scene.
If you're looking for some new cupboard storage jars, make sure they have corners. Rounded jars will waste space in your cupboard. These ones stack too.
Go for square storage in the bathroom as well. These little cuboids fit perfectly in the bathroom vanity unit too.
The more floor space you can see in your home, the more spacious it will feel. Where possible, opt for furniture that is raised up on legs, like this Rocco sofa. The same goes with beds, wardrobes and sideboards.
Whether you're installing kitchen units or fitted wardrobes, always take them right up to the ceiling, you won't be left with a dusty, redundant space at the top.
Choose reflective surfaces, over matt wherever you can. This will help to bounce more light around your home and make it feel lighter and larger. This even applies to details like handles and accessories like kettles.
Opt for sinks and toilets, kitchen units and sideboards that are cantilevered out from the wall, so that you can see the floor beneath them. Your rooms will instantly feel larger. This wall-hung sink even comes with a towel rail.
Glazed doors will bring in more light and draw the eye further into your home, making your place feel brighter and more spacious.
Mirrors automatically make a room feel much deeper than it is, but placing them so that they can reflect a window or doorway will enhance that feeling even more. The shiny surface of this Curling Sun mirror helps to bounce light around the room too.
You can't hide everything away, whether it's washing up liquid or coat hooks, if it's on view, see that it's pleasing on the eye. Draining racks, for example, are often harsh plastic affairs, but if you dig a bit deeper you can unearth lovely pieces, such as this vintage-style rack.
A glass-topped dining table allows the eye to see through it, further into the room, making the room feel larger as a result.
9. Go square
To get the most out of the space in your kitchen units, you need to go square. Opt for square storage jars and even consider right angles for your plates too. That way you can push them right into the corners.
10. Lose the handles
Handles protrude into the room and take up unnecessary inches. Instead go for handleless furniture or units where the handle is cut into the door itself, like on this sliding door cabinet.
As shown here in this Santini kitchen, light colours help to create an optical illusion, they push the walls out and make a space feel larger.
You don't need to cut down on your whitegoods, because of lack of room, just opt for slimline appliances. You can even get narrow wine fridges.
It's unlikely that you have space for a utility room, so you want to make sure that your washing machine and tumble driers are as quiet as possible.
14. Flatten that hob
Induction hobs are best for small kitchens as they sit flush with the worktop and so help to visually extend your worktop space.
15. Streamline that sink
The latest worktops can be created as one single surface with a sink and drainers moulded in to them. As the worktop space is one whole seamless piece that includes the sink, it will make the whole area feel a lot larger than it is.
16. Be Transparent
It's time to be clear. Transparent pieces of furniture that you can see through, such as the iconic Philippe Starck ghost range, lead the eye further into the room and will make it feel larger.
By opting for a pedestal table you reduce the amount of table top supports by three, this means that there are less obstacles crowding your room and that you can squeeze more people around it.
18. Get nesting
Occasional tables are useful, but when they are not needed you want to be able to tuck them away, so be sure to buy the nesting variety.
19. Open up stairs
Make sure that your stairparts are as open as is safely possible. Don't hide away your stairs, show that they are going somewhere. This will help to add depth to your home.
Heaters shouldn't just heat. They can double up as towel rails, shelves, benches and even mirrors.
21. Cut those cords
Don't have wires snaking across your walls and floors. Instead, opt for wireless music systems, wireless printers and wireless keyboards.
Don't clutter up your wall with a giant TV screen. Just paint it white invest in a little projector and project an image on to it when you want to consume some media.
Don't block any part of your window with a curtain, blind, or other window dressing. Let it sit so that it doesn't cover any part of the glazing. You want to maximise the light that shines through. The more natural light filtering into your space, the larger it will feel.
Wherever possible, choose multifunctional furniture. This bed doubles up as a bookcase, look also for dining tables incorporating drawers, sofas that double up as guest beds and stools that offer storage, for example.
25. Let things lean
Don't let four legs support your furniture and take up floor space when two will do. The more floor you can see, the larger your room will feel. Desks, shelving and console tables can all be found leaning.
If every drawer and surface in your home quickly fills up with bits and pieces that you regularly use, it's time to start making your walls work harder. This animal wall pot is designed for a plant, but I've repurposed it as a pot for my makeup brushes. It's helped ease the load in the overcrowded make-up bag and it looks cute hung up on the bathroom wall. Alternatively, it could be used for pens and pencils in the hallway or study area or a washing up brush in the kitchen.
An ironing board is a cumbersome thing to store. If you don't have a tall broom cupboard, you need to be creative about hiding it. Maybe tuck it away behind a door, under the bed or beneath the sofa. On those all too often busy days, however, it just gets left out at the foot of the bed, in front of the TV or taking over the kitchen, as you've had to quickly decrease something before rushing out of the door. Well, now you might be able to get rid of the thing all together.
Brabantia has just launched this ironing blanket. Spread it over any surface - work top, kitchen table, desk - and you have an instant ironing board. It has a non-slip back to keep it in place whilst in use and will protect the surface beneath from heat and steam. The underside of the blanket can reach temperatures of up to 80 degrees celsius, however, so you need to check that whatever you are ironing on can withstand this heat.
When not needed, it folds away into a neat little rectangle, which you can slip into a drawer or it has a hook for hanging in a wardrobe or on the back of a door.
* Brabantia sent us this ironing blanket, but it has only been featured because we've tested it and feel that it is particularly well suited to a small home.
Staying with the washing theme, find out why us little home dwellers need our washing machines to keep the noise down here
It's very easy for a small home to feel claustrophobic. To ensure that the walls don't appear to be pushing in on you, you want to always be leading the eye further into your house. Glazed internal doors are ideal for this, even when they are closed, you can see into the room beyond, plus they bring light deeper into your space too.
You'll find both modern and traditional glazed door styles that can be varnished, painted or bought ready to hang. They are perfect for every room, except for bedrooms and bathrooms, where more privacy is required.
Just be sure to opt for toughened glass and the largest possible glazed panel.