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July 22, 2011

Accentuating Tiny Storage Spaces

Lucianna Samu

In order to realize the endless stream of hyper functional storage solutions I dream up, I've come to rely on the expertise of more than a few fine carpenters.  It's a help to my renovating exploits that I can paint and it's a plus that I have an expertise when it comes to picking colors.  At the other end of my personal design skill continuum, is my poor drafting skill and non-existent ability to accurately read a tape measure without replacing sixteenths and eights with the word "tinys."  My shortcomings are never reflected in the work, thanks to my gifted carpenters, who can both speak and fabricate in sixteenths of an inch.  It's a gift to be sure to turn a lowly door into 28 square feet of storage.


I'll post this project in two parts because I believe superior storage space is something we all covet.  A five-inch deep storage space can be difficult enough to process, let alone the twelve color argyle design, which turned a utilitarian liquor storage cabinet into an artful focal point.


It all began with a salvaged barn door, one of many from a collection of doors I've accumulated over the past twenty years.  The provenance of the door is less relevant to the project than how the door is hung.  I've found doors worthy of this endeavor for as little as $2.00 at auction, but in a pinch a brand new flat panel slab door, painted an especially exciting color, decked out in a color-driven pattern like mine or even treated to a swanky high gloss finish, will do the trick.



The hardware is a by-pass mechanism.  All by-pass door hardware is rated for how much weight it can safely bear.  On the lightweight end is a closet door by-pass set-up and on the super heavyweight end of the spectrum, a barn door mechanism.  The depth of the storage you choose to place behind whatever door you choose, is entirely open to your design style and the skill of your carpenter.  The beauty of the design is simple--the door doesn't swing but travels, or by-passes, the opening. Here's Andy, showing us how it works!


Carpenter Dan followed the design layout I drew directly on the wall.  Each 41-inch wide shelf he built is adjustable and sits on pins set into the two upright sides.  According to Dan, the finished cabinet dimension is 5-1/8 inch deep and the door adds another 1-9/16 inch.  Even now, I can't say what all that adds up to, but it's less than seven inches, which is a boon to my narrow room.  To be sure, the shallow shelving would withstand the perils of spilled gin or wet glasses--Andy primed the raw poplar with a coat of Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start, and then added two coats of Aura in a satin finish, matching all the other trim in the room.  My living/dining room does not have crown molding, so I took advantage of an opportunity to sneak in a bit, adding height to the long narrow space.  Transforming proportions while adding storage is a good day's work in my book!


Whenever you're of a mind to add a great deal of color or a great deal of pattern to a large space, it's best of find yourself a small place to do it in.  Big patterns, especially colorful ones, can overpower a room in no time.  Here, the small recessed area was begging for something special, and a menswear inspired argyle, creates references and an interesting backdrop for the neutral hound’s-tooth upholstery.  In time, when I link my color palette together with pillows and accessories on the opposite end of the room, this small but artful collection of color will lend balance overall.  The wall color, Grant Beige HC-80, makes a serene backdrop for this new storage solution.


Thinking about other interpretations of simply executed storage solutions, I would remove the glass from a door if safety is an issue and reveal the interior through poultry screening or decorative hardware cloth, similar to my Wild Pink cabinet across from this area.

Any freestanding cabinet you can find could be treated to a similar paint technique on the back--think found breakfront, a simple bookcase, or tall display cabinet.  Next time, I'll list the colors I used for the painted argyle.  Hope I got you thinking up colorful patterns now, and measuring every bottle and box you can't find a place for in your house.


Stay colorful!


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No matter how small or limited the storage space, it is still essential in a home. This post goes to show what can be done with a small storage. It all depends on where your creativity will take you to make it memorable.

That was a product of a clever and creative mind I want also my living room to be same as that.

That's a fabulous idea Lu! I have to now think of where I can squeeze this into my home!

Thanks for sharing!


What a clever idea! I'm afraid I'd be really messy using this, though as I need a hard surface to put the glass on, put in ice, pour the liquor, etc. Do you use the little side table for that?

Thanks for clarifying things for P Helen. I can use all the help I can get explaining my design adventures! Check back again next week will you? Big doings going on when I make a blank wall look like crumbling old stone. That's going to need some extra explaining for sure!

Hi P! Thanks for looking out for the details! I think Helen did a great job of answering your questions. Just to chime in on the rail, it also helps to steady the door as it glides along the rail, and Helen is correct, the door stops short of the lighting. There's a lot going on here, which I think is the fascinating part of it all. Hope you'll stay with us here--lots more projects to come.

Thanks so much Shelly. It is cool-kind of gets addicting! I'm always finding a way to use this idea on my projects--it's swell for an in-between the wall framing spice rack and super tall medicine cabinet storage in the bathroom too. Wouldn't it be fun to have a crazy color surprise behind the doors too? maybe Citrus blast--yum! let me know if you try this in your house?

This collection of color+pattern would be fabulous on a floor in your beautiful Southern Farmhouse Marcia!!

Thanks for the feedback Bryan. I was going for a masculine color scheme-guess I got it! I really appreciate the feedback. Think you'll really like the colors + stone finish I'm posting in the bedroom next week. Hope you'll let me know?


The art shelf is the same depth as the cabinet, so the door has no problem clearing that shelf and sliding. As to the lam, it is irrelevant. The door does not go in that direction. Study the photo for a moment and you will see.

Great idea, but the final picture makes no sense. How can you slide the door when there is a shelf with art to the right and a wall lamp to the left?

you have done it again. Your ideas are ingenious but your color expertise is out of this world.

that is so cool! love the old door on the track, the paint patter & colors....all of it

Nice look & use of the space, I love the colors vs. the door.

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