Designer Minnie Kemp explains new ways to think about storage and bring order to your home

Minnie Kemp know that a little bit of clever storage can go a long way, and getting it right makes all the difference

An upcycled IKEA PAX wardrobe, painted light pink and extended so the doors reach the ceiling.
(Image credit: LittleHouseOnTheCorner)

It’s getting dark outside, beads of sweat are gathering on my forehead, I’m pressed up against a bulging… cupboard.  Just as I’m about to flick the latch a thump from inside throws me back. A long broom handle alongside a my Christmas presents spills into the room. It was at this precise moment I had a realisation. Even though I have turned the cupboard under the stairs into a washing machine cubby hole, the ultimate in bijou pantry ideas or a micro utility room if you will, freeing up valuable cupboard real estate in the kitchen, put simply, I need more storage.

Consider the joinery

IKEA PAX hack in country style home

(Image credit: Jenna Sue Design Co / @jennasuedesign)

My first point of call for is to think about joinery. Alfred Newall is a master woodworker, whether it be a free standing bobbin shelving unit or an olive tongue and groove dresser with shaker style cupboard doors.  He approaches each design with a sensitivity towards the natural qualities of the wood, making the finish seamless - his work feels like its there to add beauty rather than to be a place to stash your stuff. He takes commissions, and his pieces can be free-standing or  built-in. I’ve spied one of his pieces that is so nifty its not only a bench but a book shelf and DJ’s turntable station, too. Now if that’s not art masquerading as a record player stand, I don’t know what is. 

Opt for built-in seating

Pink living room with built in storage bench

(Image credit: Future)

Speaking of clever seating, banquette seating with built in storage is a great way to gain precious room. This can be fitted in an alcove, under a window or around a corner.  Depending on the size of the bottom it can be as neat as 450mm wide, a smart small living room idea.

Use the ceiling as storage too 

white deVOL kitchen with orange island in Pearl Lowe's boho beach house

(Image credit: deVOL)

An oldie but a goodie is a Sheila’s maid fitted to the ceiling. These are not only good for drying clothes up out the way but installed above and as part of your kitchen island ideas it’s the perfect place to hang your pots and pans.  I do love this English country look, to give it a more contemporary feel why not hang twinkling jam jar pendant lights within the frame at varying lengths.  A good supplier for these is Andy Thornton.  Make sure to paint your ceiling roses the same colour as the ceiling so they blend in - lumpy bumpy ceilings are never a good look. 

Don't be afraid to display

Rustic wooden kitchen with white exposed brick wall and open shelving

(Image credit: James Merrell)

There are items that should be stored away and others that need to be pride of place on the mantel piece or as part of your kitchen shelving ideas. My number one is William Yeowards Limited edition Guinevere Crystal Castle selection.  This romantic table centre comprises of twenty-two pieces of hand made and hand engraved crystal. Lit up with tea lights all the pieces can be arranged in many different ways decorated with flowers. Totally unique and the perfect centerpiece.  

Minnie Kemp is an interior designer, part of the team of design experts at the Firmdale Hotel Group. She has worked on the interiors of international hotels such as The Whitby Hotel and the Crosby Street Hotel in New York, and Ham Yard and Charlotte Street Hotel in London. She has also been involved in designing various residential projects in both the Unite States of America and the United Kingdom. She is the interiors columnist for Livingetc, reporting on trends and offering advice on home design and decor, and she was a judge on the first Livingetc Style Awards in 2021.