life in a tiny apartment.

March 6, 2013

Tip #54: Take advantage of under-the-bed storage bins.

For once I am suggesting that you actually invest in a product made for the sole purpose of organizing. In general I’m cautious about this kind of endorsement. When you have a habit of moving frequently, it’s unlikely that investments you make in storage solutions for one space will work in the next. We’ve talked about this before. But in the case of under the bed storage, I make an exception. The reasons are simple enough:

1) In a tiny apartment the space under your bed is a vast swath of useable territory that should be conquered and exploited.
2) You’ll likely always have a bed under which to stash things, so the storage won’t be obsolete when you move.*
3) If you don’t invest in storage bins or bags the likelihood that the space beneath your bed will become a final resting space for errant socks and dust bunnies and crumpled college sweatshirts grows exponentially.
4) Storage bins designed to fit under beds are worlds easier to use than the array of cardboard boxes and garbage bags and overstuffed gym duffels you might currently be using.

In my humble opinion, under the bed storage units are not all made alike, and it’s worth doing a bit of research before investing. The most important thing is that the containers actually fit where you want them to. Until recently, the boxes that we kept under our bed could only slide out from the side. With only a few inches of clearance on either side of our bed, this meant needing to lift the foot of the bed in an Atlas-style maneuver that left your shoulder bruised and your neck pinched. When you keep your linens under the bed, it’s nice to be able to access them without needing She-Ra around to do the heavy-lifting.

We gave our old boxes to the super of the building next to ours (neighbors helping neighbors!) and bought a cloth bag from Muji instead. It slides easily in and out from the foot of the bed, and it unzips all the way around for easy access. For storing things like James’s text books and our ever-handy extension cord collection, we have three clear plastic boot boxes from The Container Store. They’re slim and simple and they stack easily for moving purposes. Most importantly, they clear the bed frame.

While I’m giving unsolicited advice, I’ll say two last things: 1)These things come in lots of colors. You’ll never regret going with something neutral. 2) Steer clear of under-the-bed plastic drawers. They’re cumbersome to move and they become easily warped and bent. Better to stick with a classic and sturdy box instead.

*If you’ve gone the route of shipping palette on the floor, this might not be the post for you…sorry.

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  • Reply Mags Pomichowski March 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I totally store things under my bed. This is a great idea. I store wrapping paper in bins, suit cases and travel bags!


  • Reply Julia (Color Me Green) March 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    one thing to consider when it comes to under-bed storage in new york is the possibility of bed bugs. any non-clothing items stored under the bed would have to be thrown out unless they're stored in giant plastic bags – maybe plastic bins work too although exterminators always recommend those big ziploc plastic bags for being secure that bugs can't get in (which i admit is fairly unpleasant and not very functional.)

  • Reply Adriana F March 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Yes! We've put some under bed storage bags on our wedding registry 🙂

  • Reply Jessie Ammons March 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I've known deep down that under-bed storage was a necessity worth investing in for a while now, but I've refused to listen. Thanks for this final shove of encouragement! With no dresser and little closet space, my bedroom's begging for it!

  • Reply Amanda March 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    My husband and I bought a platform bed with drawers years back. It was good for a while, when we didn't have space for a dresser and could actually pull the drawers out, but now it's just not working at all. We're planning to get a new, higher bed and use crates or boxes on casters for shoe storage (thus freeing up space in our tiny closets) and I can't wait.

  • Reply Julia March 6, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    I agree with everything little bit you've put in this post! Bravo! We, too, live in an itty bitty apartment! And easy access to the things you place under your bed is key!

  • Reply lucent imagery March 6, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I love these posts. A few years ago we bought a new bed which lifts up to reveal storage underneath – I realise this wouldn't be possible in spaces with low ceilings, however it has been a great purchase for us because you would never know there is storage as part of the base. And then we can still sweep underneath easily which is essential with a lovely hairy dog in residence!

  • Reply Charlotte | Charlotte's Web March 7, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I may have to invest in some underbed storage, right now we just throw stuff under there but it can get a bit unsightly x

  • Reply Diana @ Brooklyn Atlas March 8, 2013 at 12:38 am

    I saw these storage bins at Muji the other day and was thisclose to buying them. Now a return trip is definitely in order. Though I did get the Muji mini face brush after remembering your recent post. Loving it so far for exfoliation. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Reply Camille March 12, 2013 at 5:44 am

    We built our bed and then built drawers that fit under perfectly. It's a system that works for us. I have three big drawers, and my husband has one plus some space in a cedar chest. Neither of us gets a dresser because there's not enough room.

  • Reply cevd March 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I was eyeing those Muji cloth storage bags the other day.

  • Reply Mark Grogan August 13, 2014 at 4:52 am

    I agree absolutely and entirely! Especially when we live in a small living space, every centimetre and inch on the floor counts and it's great to gather these ideas for storage!

  • Reply Self storage in Brendale October 14, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I have loaded my belongings in the past week multiple times and each time, the quality of experience is consistently the same – super chill and cool.

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