5 Solutions for Living without Closets

For the most part, Victoria Gazeley has everything she needs in the 650-square-foot restored homesteader’s cabin in coastal British Columbia that she shares with her 7-year-old son. The one thing she lacks is closet space.

“Homesteaders didn’t have a lot of stuff–hence, no closets!” Victoria writes in “Closet Alternatives – 5 Ideas for Living without Closets (without Renovating or Spending a Lot)” on her blog Modern Homesteading. Eighty years later, even though she’s pared down considerably and stashed things in her parents’ attic, Victoria needs more storage space than the man who built her little cabin. “While I’m not a ‘collector’ of things–when you live in small spaces, you simply can’t be–I still have stuff,” she says.

Victoria’s frugal and innovative solutions mean she doesn’t have to adulterate her heritage cabin to hide her stuff. And they could work for anyone who’s looking to hide or organize their stuff.

1. ARMOIRES

Victoria has several armoires, which are ideal for use as office space, coat closets and supply cupboards. “Your best deals can be found on Craigslist and at garage sales,” she says. “While it takes a little longer than just picking one up at the store, you’re bound to find antique treasures, beautiful handcrafted pieces and high-end designer units for a fraction of the price of new.”

2. BASKETS

Victoria swears by beautiful, well built square or rectangular stackable baskets. She picks up big sturdy ones when they’re on sale at her local big box store (fairly often) and smaller, more colorful baskets at Pier 1. She stores her son’s toys as well as knitting and mending projects in African market baskets. “To be able to have little things out in the open without it looking messy is such a gift,” she says. “And things just don’t get lost as easily!”

3. UNDER THE STAIRS

When Victoria renovated her cabin, she left the space under the stairs open to make the main room lighter and airier—and provide storage space. Victoria tacked up fabric pieces, cut to fit the openings, to hide the unsightly bins. “One day, we might frame in the stair risers and put proper doors on the openings,” she says. “But for now, this works, and it didn’t cost a penny outside of my mother’s time to sew the panels. Thanks, Mom!”

4. FRONT PORCH SHOE CUPBOARD

Victoria’s pet peeve is shoes cluttering an entrance way. “When you live in a tiny house, it’s not just annoying, but downright dangerous — tripping and falling where there’s a sharp corner within 2 feet in every direction is not a safe proposition,” she says. Victoria turned the original home’s former food cupboard into a shoe closet that sits on the front porch. “It keeps us tidy and safe, plus it adds to the historical feel of the house and is a bit of a conversation piece,” she says.

5. CHESTS

Victoria was concerned about keeping her antique linens and wool blankets away from mice, moths and other pests. Her grandmother’s cedar chest was the perfect solution. “It works out well, but honestly, it could stand to be about 2 feet longer,” Victoria says. “Or maybe I should just get rid of a few things…”

You can find more of Victoria’s great ideas at Modern Homesteading.

45 comments

Cynthia Blais
cynthia AWAY b.4 years ago

some good ideas. Still there is only so much room, even to add amoires I have stuff in storage in reality I need to go through and get rid of. Maybe an article on 'letting go' would be more helpful

Bernadette P.
Berny p.4 years ago

After 44 years of marriage and 16 moved abroad I have more than my share of ...souvenirs etc.....

We are now retirees and trying to clear some of these...the worse i found was paperwork.....

Now days you seem to have to keep so many things for years ..legally....
So my husband is canning them and then..we can get red of them...up to know we have 6 large boxes.....who had travel with us all over the world!

Barbara Brown
Barbara Brown4 years ago

I understand the under the stairs storage, but who can afford 3-4-5 Armoires! Victoria says she has several, omg,wouldn't these take up every corners and every wall you have? You can only have so many BASKETS around too before your rooms look like a shoe box store and she says she buys hers at Pier 1, why not look for garage sales or WalMart, why Pier 1? Never heard of a FRONT PORCH SHOE CUPBOARD, don't most homes have a small entrance way, or hallway where we all dump our shoes? Maybe, just maybe this is a good thing for a TINY HOUSE with no space, but how many "REAL FAMILIES" live in a Tiny house unless your a Hobbit or an ElF. Victoria also speaks of CHESTS, HOPE CHESTS , says it works out well but also includes a down side saying: Could stand to be 2 ft longer!! Well if that chest was 2 ft longer, imagine how much MORE space that would take up! This article wasn't thought out very well for the real average homemaker, home owner...Sorry Victoria, I'm wondering if your single. Especially since you say you have things stashed in your parents Attic!!!

Nadya Vitriara
Nadya Vitriara4 years ago

it's sound good and very practical, thanks for sharing

Alex Hayden
Alex Hayden4 years ago

Lovely

Loo Samantha
Loo sam4 years ago

thanks for the article.

Bernie C.
Bernie C.4 years ago

I live in an old Eaton's catalogue house. My solution in the attic which I sew/scrapbook in is to use trunks. They are great storage units. I also have one as my coffee table and one in my dining room.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan4 years ago

It seems a modern problem of having too many things and not enough storage.

Lynda G.
Lynda G.4 years ago

Packing up for my move from a house to a 753.47 sq ft (70sqm)apt, a tad larger than Victoria's cottage. She gives me hope, now I wish someone would help me decide what to keep and what has to go, it's so stressful.

Hilary A.
Hilary S.4 years ago

always a battle to store our stuff - stuff is the bane of modern life, a legacy of leisure. and we can't even take any of it with us - wonder if we collect - and make - stuff to leave a footprint behind?