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You'll barely notice those mountains of books.

In a small space, it can feel impossible to find a place for all of your stuff. And while I am a huge fan of decluttering, the fact is that for a small space to work well, you need ample storage options. If you need more storage but are not sure where to begin, these 10 creative (stairway shelves), smart (unpackage before putting away) and unexpected (mini library) ideas are here to help.

1. Stairway shelves. Remember those little wicker baskets designed to sit on your stairs? This is like those but on steroids. You can have a piece designed specifically for your stairs (as long as your stairs are wide enough to give up a little space) and use it for anything from shoes and bags to books and photo boxes.

2. Open shelving plus unified containers. You can put just about any identical storage containers on open shelving — they’ll look fantastic and hold a lot. To make the most of your space, let your shelving go all the way to the ceiling, and measure before buying the containers to get the size exactly right. Details make all the difference between having a giant storage wall like this looking sleek versus looking shoddy — so consider how you will label your boxes before you get started, and keep your labeling system consistent. You could also use a label maker, or write in neat handwriting on simple kraft paper tags.

3. Mini library. A big statement-making wall of books like this, complete with library ladder, may seem like something you couldn’t pull off in a small space, but it can actually make your room seem bigger — not to mention, it would provide tons of space for your book collection. Tuck your mini library into an unused nook or an otherwise awkward space, and it may suddenly become your favourite spot in the house.

4. Trade in your buffet for a major storage piece. In the dining room, consider swapping out your low sideboard for something with more storage potential. This works wonderfully if you sometimes use your dining table as a desk — but don’t think you must sacrifice all of the standard dining room functions. If you go this route, you can still tuck a bar tray, wine racks and serving pieces in among the books and other items. In an open-plan space with few walls to work with, it may seem counterintuitive to give up an entire wall for storage, but it can be well worth it.

5. Aim for a mix of open and closed storage. As much as I love the look of well-styled open shelves, the fact is, we all have items that are best stored behind closed doors. Be sure you work enough closed storage into your plan; otherwise you will feel the need to be constantly cleaning up.

6. Unpackage everything. Unpack everything and discard all the outer packaging as soon as you bring things home from the store.

7. Stack things to the top. Look in each of your closets and make sure you are using every inch of vertical space.

8. Keep big storage pieces sleek with minimalist hardware. Avoid the feeling of having a large cabinet or chest looming over you in a small space by opting for a hardware-free design or one with simple, sleek pulls. Light-colored surfaces with a bit of shine or gloss will help bounce the light around, making the cabinets’ bulk blend in with the surrounding walls.

9. Fill unavoidable open gaps with shelving. Even when you’ve done your best to maximize your home’s storage potential, there will still inevitably be a few gaps here and there. Don’t let them go to waste! Do another walk-through and keep an eye out for small, unused gaps that could be filled with a bit of shelving: a tall, narrow opening beside the washer and dryer, for instance, or 6 inches of space on either side of the kitchen door.

10. Turn everyday objects into decor. Rather than cluttering up your home with lots of purely decorative objects, see which of your daily necessities can be turned into decor with a bit of prop-styling finesse. Use clear containers to hold pretty craft supplies and office basics, fill a jar with extra candles, and prop up rolls of wrapping paper in a tall basket or an umbrella stand. By getting creative with the things you already own, you can save space and money and feel more organized.

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