Storage Solutions for Every Room in Your Home

When it comes to optimizing storage in your home, take an ‘everything has it’s place’ approach. Before you begin your container store shopping spree or start working with your designer or builder to design built-in storage, you need to take a long, hard look at all of you belongings and organize, throw away, or donate as much as possible.

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Save 30% off ANY single item during Black Friday Weekend at The Container Store. But hurry! Offer ends Sunday.

Once you’re ready, whether you’re designing a walk-in closet or remodeling an entire kitchen, you’ll want to work with a designer or builder for the best built-in storage solutions that fit everything comfortably and are easily cleaned and maintained. Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options:

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Storage Tips for Walk In Closets

In your closets, include a variety of storage types for maximum functionality, avoid dust collectors, and consider including some clear-front storage for smaller items like purses, shoes, and other accessories. Don’t think of storage containers as an afterthought, they should be as much a part of the design as your built-in’s. And avoid thinking about trying to pack as many items as possible in: Though it may cut into your square footage, customize your space by prioritizing the items you use and wear most often, make them most accessible. This can be difficult to do, in the planning stages of your closet, but you will ultimately be much more satisfied by the final result.

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Kitchen & Pantry

Much like designing closets, one mistake people often make in building a pantry is installing too deep of shelving. These are both spaces in which more is not necessarily more. You want to avoid having food stuck at the back, out of reach, going stale. A pantry is another great place to include some plastic or glass front storage containers so everything is easily identified. A new trend in kitchen, and specifically pantry design, is allotting storage space for small countertop appliance to be stored out of sight.

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Mud & Laundry Rooms

Mud and laundry rooms are transitional spaces: indoor to outdoor, dirty to clean, and they involve a lot of foot traffic for being such small spaces. Consider how easily cleaned any materials are: You’ll want to avoid tiles that stain or containers that collect a lot of dust. Since these rooms are generally smaller than other spaces in your house, consider ways to utilize the vertical wall space, first, before moving onto storage that will take up square footage. Consider the flow of these spaces as well: Baskets and containers on wheels are particularly useful in these spaces since there is a lot of movement throughout.

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Office & Media Rooms

Built-in’s are going to greatly improve the resale value of your home office, living, or media rooms, especially when it comes to ways of hiding unsightly technology and other cables that can potentially distract or ruin a gorgeous design altogether. With that said, consider what you use most frequently: You may want some storage containers to keep items easily accessible: magazine racks (that aren’t like a bottomless pit!), media consoles, credenzas, or tabletop storage like coffee table trays and desktop organizes.  

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

10 Dining Room Design Ideas

Have Fun with the Space

Include bold colors, install that wild printed wallpaper, play with patterns. A dining room is generally used for entertaining– let it entertain you! Read on for tips on where to save, where to splurge, and how to get creative with your dining room design:


Draw the Eye Up with a Gorgeous Ceiling

Create a gorgeous ceiling: Paint or wallpaper, include custom millwork and finish off with a stunning chandelier! This is a great place to invest to give the space some architectural detail.

Create a Beautiful Tablescape

With the winter holidays coming up, you’ll likely be using that formal dinning room to entertain family and friends more than usual and most of your guests attention will be geared towards what is ON the table, rather than around it, but it doesn’t have to cost a ton!  

For Thanksgiving table decor, check out these chic and affordable options on Amazon for a modern, rustic tablescape.

Get the right Sized Table for the Space

Flow in any room in important, especially a space that is supposed to seat so many people. You don’t want to go with the largest table you can find necessarily, you need to be sure you leave ideally about 45 inches, give or take a few inches, around the perimeter of the room as a walkway so everyone is comfortable. If your space is small, but you require more seating, consider a table with extendable leaves.

Statement Lighting & Layers

We’re fans of a gorgeous chandelier and it’s usually the centerpiece of a great dining room. Put on a dimmer for transitional, moody, controllable lighting. You’ll also want to include some lamps on a lower level to create layers. Lamps are, of course, functional as light sources, as well as beautiful sculptural objects.

Mirrors to Bounce Light

Include mirrors on the walls or reflective surfaces like metallic case goods or a glass table to bounce the light around the space.

Invest in Forever Frames

Although the dining room might be one of the least-frequented rooms in your home, it can also be one of the most expensive to design because they tend to be formal, and you need 6 or 8 or 10 o 12 chairs. You’ll want to invest in some great chairs that you can always recover or cover with slipcovers when you want to redesign and change up styles.

Create Some Cozy

In a formal dining room, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating a sterile, off-putting space that you don’t necessarily want to spend time in. Avoid making the space too cold by adding some cozy textiles and colors: Invest in a great area rug in a fun print or warm colors.

Showcase a Collection

Have a gorgeous dishware collection that gets used once a year (if at all)? Or ample wine bottles in need of storage? Or some fabulous art? A dining room can be a great mini-museum! Find some great showcase storage like bookshelves or use the existing wall space.

Fill It With Life

Plants, flowers: Including natural elements always makes a space more inviting. Not only do they make the space feel more lived in, they also help to purify the air. 



Stop! Ask these Questions Before Hiring a Contractor

You’re about to undertake a HUGE home improvement project and you know you need to hire the right contractor to make it happen. Choosing the right contractor can be a daunting task. It can make or break your design and mistakes can cost lots of time and money. So we’ve broken it down for you: Here are the questions we hear all the time and the questions you SHOULD be asking when it comes to hiring the right contractor for the job.

Scheduling Questions

Q. When can the contractor start and do they have enough resources/bandwidth to commit to your job?

There’s nothing worse than working with a contractor who is too busy to properly handle your job and manage the resources. Make sure that the contractor you are considering hiring has the bandwidth to dedicate teams and time to your project. Being in demand is a wonderful thing, but being too busy can delay your project and frustrate you. And trust us when we say, there are almost always delays. Although there should be a written schedule, be prepared to be flexible, in construction- anything can and usually does take longer than you think it will. Some typical delays include: Items getting stuck in customs, sub-contractors falling ill or going out of business; You could open a wall only to discover none of it was built to code and you have to rebuild the entire thing. Permits and the city inspectors add another layer of uncertainty.

Q. What hours will you work?

Hours will depend on the what the city allows by law. If you work outside of those hours and you get caught, the city can fine you and shut down your job.

Q. Who will be at the job site? Who do I call with questions?

Different days bring different demands. Some days the site will be full and bustling. On other days the site will be in a holding pattern and no one will be there. You contractor wants to complete your job as much as you do, so don’t worry if you don’t see people on the job, it’s normal. The key here is to have a schedule of what will be happening, our firm gives them to clients on Fridays for the following week. If the schedule and the activity start to deviate a lot, it’s time to ask questions.

Key Advice: Be patient and trust your team. They’ve been through this and can communicate what is happening and why and when.

Q. What are the stages of the job?

  1. Design 2. Permits 3. Order Materials 4.Demo 5. Rough Construction 6 Installation of Finish materials 6 Punch list 7 Payment in full 8. Lien (This topic deserves it’s own dedicated guide — so stay tuned we’ll publish one next week!)

Q. Does the contractor see any potential problem areas in your project?

If someone tells you nothing will go wrong, run! Hire someone else immediately. Something always goes wrong in construction and the best defensive is a good offense. If your contractor can think on their feet and feels confident problem solving, they will work it out. Ask them what the most challenging aspect of a past project has been, and how they worked through the challenge. Have they ever worked on the problems they see occurring at your project?

The Contractor, The Person

Q. Do you like this person?

You’re going to be spending a lot of money and time with the contractor. It’s important to feel comfortable with them. They should be someone who “speaks your language.” When they explain things, it should be easy for you to understand. Always start by asking yourself a simple question, “do I like this person?”

Q. Has the contractor attended any type of formal training or continuing education?

Although an academic program is not required and someone with years of field experience can do a phenomenal job, it’s an added bonus if a contractor has more formal education. Our principal contractor, for example, has completed a program in Construction Management from the University of Houston College of Technology and an ASID ReGreen certification. He regularly attends design build seminars, trade shows, and events to stay up to date on codes, trends, technology, building materials, and management techniques. Being deeply immersed in the field gives you a more well rounded and experienced partner in your construction project and can help you rest-assured that you’re in good hands.

Q. How will you communicate with me?

It’s important to decide on the way you will communicate before you begin working. You want to stay informed, but you don’t want to drive your contractor crazy. After each weekly meeting, our firm follows up with an email record of the notes from the meeting. We also like to correspond through text or email so there is a record of what was asked and promised. Quick telephone calls have a way of falling through the cracks or one of the parties not remembering correctly.

Q. Has the contractor been involved with any legal disputes following a previous job?

The answer to this question is probably yes and that’s ok. In a construction dispute, EVERYONE who worked on the job gets called into a lawsuit, whether or not they were responsible. The most important thing here is that your contractor has a valid insurance policy to cover any claims that might arise. Referring back to the contract throughout the process and having a clear understanding of expectations helps to make sure the project stays out of litigation.

Q. Has the contractor previously operated as a contractor under a different name?

If so, ask the contractor to explain why.

Q. Does the contractor plan to work on the project personally or assign a supervisor?

Either a contractor or a dedicated supervisor should be assigned to your project and you should have contact information for both. Before the project begins have a clear understanding of the process and who does what.

Q. How will you protect my property?

Remember that many trades with many different people will be on your site. A sub-contractor could bring someone onto your site that no one has ever met, that’s the nature of the business. When a contractor tells you a locked storage on site or warehouse off-site is necessary, take their advice. If you have something valuable treat it that way and make sure you protect it. Once an area has been completed or finish materials have been installed, your contractor must provide heavy cover to protect from other construction that is still happening on the site. The site should be cleaned, broom swept, at the end of each day and there should never be trash outside of a designated

Q. What is the guarantee or warranty?

Most contractors will guarantee against defective materials and workmanship problems. Most municipalities and states require a minimum period to warranty and address the work a contractor or their subs have performed. If something goes wrong, call your contractor first. Allow them the opportunity to address the issue. If you bring in other subs or workers to address the issue, you risk voiding your warranty.

Q. How do I reach you after hours?

Unless there is an emergency on site, like a broken pipe or a gas leak, you should contact your contractor during business hours that were agreed upon in your contract. However if there is an emergency that must be handled immediately your contractor should provide a contact number to call. If you’re wondering if it’s actually an emergency or not, a good rule of thumb is that it should look something like the aftermath of the plane crash from War of the Worlds:

Q. How often should I be updated on progress?

It’s a good idea to touch base at least once a week with your design and contract team. Throughout the process you may need to be involved more or less depending on what is happening. Communication is key and a weekly schedule helps you understand what and when things are happening.

Q. Who meets with the inspectors?

The general contractor meets with the inspectors and is responsible for setting up the appointments and making sure they or someone from their team is on site to walk the job with the inspector.

Q. Do I need a contract and what should I include in it?

A contract is a good communication tool to make your project run as smoothly as possible, as it is a written understanding of what is expected from each side. It should be referred to throughout the process. Common contracts include elements like: a detailed work scope, line items for materials, the cost, and a termination clause. Any special requests, concerns or agreements should be written in the contract.

Q. How much do contractor’s require as a down payment?

Sometimes contractors charge as little as $1,000, the maximum by their state law, and up to 10% of the estimated contract to be retained. (We’ll write a separate post that goes into more detail, stay tuned!)

Q. Does the contractor need a design or plans? And if I don’t have them, can the contractor do it for me?

It is always best to have a set of plans before you begin working on a project. A set of plans is a road map to success. A contractor can help you put together a set of plans with the help of a draftsperson, a designer, an architect, or a structural engineer. If a contractor says they don’t need plans, hire someone else!

 Q. What is the management style for your team?

You’ll want to know how the contractor works with their team. Is there a weekly meeting for each job. Are the subs given an up to date schedule each week so they know when they are expected to perform. More successful and sophisticated firms have scheduling programs that allow everyone to see where things are at any given time. Our firm uses UDA construction.

After the Build is Completed

Q. Does the contractor stay up to date on trends?

A great contractor will know a lot about current trends and timeless design styles. You can tell a lot about the contractor’s knowledge when you look through the portfolio. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they stay on top of the latest design trends and materials, oftentimes this is through regularly attending design trade shows and events and keeping up on continuing education.

Q. Do I need to let the contractor take pictures at the end of the job?

It’s a nice thing to do. Your contractor is proud of what they’ve done and will use your project to market to other clients. You also get professionally shot images of your home that you can share with friends and family on social media and use if you ever want to sell the house. If you ever wanted to rent your home out for a vacation rental or a commercial or movie set, you’ll have great photos!

Q. Should I give my contractor a review when the job is complete?

Chances are, part of the reason you selected the contractor is because you read great reviews about other client’s experiences. If you liked your contractor, it’s a generous thing to do. Reviews also help you because they eliminate the contractor’s potential clients from needing to call you as a referral.