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Five untapped storage spaces hiding in your apartment

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Death, taxes and a shortage of space in your apartment: the three certainties of New York City living. Or so it seems.

In fact, your apartment is brimming with nooks and crannies that will give you more room to store your stuff. One example: we recently looked at how converting a dumbwaiter can expand your kitchen or allow for a new closet. Below, more creative ideas to exploit your square footage.

1. Toe-kick drawers

Seeing a toe-kick drawer for the first time is a real palm-to-forehead moment. A toe-kick is the cover for the base of the cabinets below your kitchen counters, and there's typically three inches there to turn into drawers for storing flat items like baking pans or pet food bowls. If only you could train your pet to open and close this drawer after helping themselves...

Bellevue, Wash.-based contractor Richard Landon built the toe-kick drawers above and below as part of a custom kitchen remodel; he expanded them to seven inches tall, which raised the counter height but made the drawers more versatile. If you don't mind a counter that is a few inches higher than the standard 36-inch work surface height, this may be a good option. "We grow them taller out here in the northwest," Landon tells BrickUnderground. "My typical counter is 37.5 to 39 inches high!"

(Photo credit: Northlight Photography)

A couple things to keep in mind: first, make sure your floor isn't crooked. “If it is not level, the drawer will scrape the floor," Landon says.  And “make the drawers the same width as the cabinet above or you may lose support for the [cabinet].” 

If you're planning a kitchen remodel, you can ask your contractor to add the drawers. Otherwise, ask a carpenter to retrofit your cabinets or go the DIY route.

2. Stair-riser drawers

We're all familiar with using the space under the stairs (thank you, Harry Potter and your cupboard-bedroom). Perhaps less common, however, is using the space inside the stairs. Assuming you're lucky enough to have an apartment with steps, it's a great place to hide your belongings.

(Photo credit: Frank Oudeman)

The elegant example above and below was conjured up by New York-based Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture in the sleeping loft of an East Village studio.

(Photo credit: Frank Oudeman)

But you don't have to use the white oak pictured here. Any material suitable for a drawer will do since risers are not a structural part of the stairs, but rather a "space filler" to finish the look.

3. Bathtub surrounds

It might not be worth giving up your clawfoot tub to make room for storage, but if you've got dead space surrounding the tub edges, why not put it to work? Pull-out drawers are a genius solution to keep bath products, cleaning supplies or anything, really. Think of it as though you're getting a couple extra under-the-sink cabinets' worth of space.

This bathtub with storage by bathroom furniture designer Vanico Maronyx is fittingly called the "New York." A model like this would set you back at least $2,100, plus installation.

One thing to keep in mind: Many companies that sell stock, rather than custom, bathroom items measure pieces in six-inch increments, says Patricia Galante, founder and owner of Fancy Fixtures, a home design showroom in Jericho, N.Y. "So if you have a space that will fit 22 inches of storage, you'll have to make do with using only 18 inches," she says. The best thing to do is consult with contractors and suppliers to get the most out of the space, Galante says.

A stowaway bathtub is another way to go

4. Adding walls

Sometimes four walls aren't enough. But using the sliding panels to your closet can add surface area to hang a flatscreen TV or your favorite artwork. This will usually require a custom-built closet (such as the one below) with doors that slide while also securely moving the TV and its electrical components.

Los Angeles-based closet designer Lisa Adams, who designs high-end wardrobes all over the world, created this TV wardrobe, which starts at $20,000.


This wardrobe is a pricey $20,000 (Photo credit: LA Closet Design)

A 55-inch TV is built into the middle panel of the three-panel sliding door, while a shelf inside holds the audio visual equipment. If you're thinking of something similar, prices will depend on the wardrobe’s dimensions and finishes. 

5. Under-the-floor drawers

Don't just toss your stuff on the floor--store it! We might be venturing into dream territory here, since you’ll have to build a new floor first, but just take a look at the Japanese-influenced bedroom in Noho's Akiyoshi Loft, which the New York Times described as a "bento box they can live in," below.

KoKo Architecture renovated the 1,400-square-foot apartment for $250,000, according to the Times, and added a lot of hidden storage.

This raised platform is chockablock with storage space: drawers that pull out from the side, as well as cubbies accessible under removable panels in the middle of the room. Genius!

Related posts:

Discover the potential of an unused dumbwaiter

A space-saving desk for the tech addict in all of us

5 items under $35 that will make your tiny NYC kitchen feel spacious -- or at least more organized

7 ways to stretch your tiny NYC kitche

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