Root around in the clutter of bottles and boxes under your kitchen sink and you’ll realize that, in most houses, storage for household items gets much less attention than storage for clothes. You wouldn’t be willing to crawl around on all fours to get to your favorite sweater, yet most of us do this all the time to get to Mr. Clean. It’s a rare architect that provides handy space for such items.

If you’re waiting for me to claim that my house is an exception, forget it. As a bachelor architect designing my own digs, leaving room for Duz and Cascade was pretty much at the bottom of the priorities list. Marriage quickly disabused me of that notion, and ever since I’ve been obliged to pay penance by remedying my home’s pitiful lack of storage.

Since expansion is not an option, I’ve had to find ways to squeeze more use out of what little space I have. My first foray in this direction was a humble little spice rack, which I mounted to the back of a cabinet door. This worked so well that I added a pair of similar racks inside the doors of my bathroom vanity. They turned out to be perfect for small, hard-to-store items, like floss, sunscreen, and the scads of miniature soaps and shampoos I like to pilfer from motels.

I finally scaled up this idea by attaching what amounts to an overgrown spice rack to the back of an ordinary hinged closet door, and presto–I happened onto a really cheap and simple way to glean space for household supplies. A rack of this kind can be as deep as the clearance behind the closed door will allow, and if need be, it can be as tall as the door itself. In a laundry closet, for example, you can use all of the space that’s left over between the machines and the back of the door. A rack made from ordinary 1-by-4 or 1-by-6 pine will hold a whole array of boxes and bottles, paper towels, or what have you, all in space that’s usually wasted. Better yet, unlike the usual dark, inaccessible jumble under the kitchen sink, everything is easily at hand without stooping or reaching.

This type of rack also works just as well on the back of linen and utility closet doors. Even on a door as narrow as 2 feet wide, a carefully designed rack will hold something like 35 “Fantastik”-type spray bottles, or 20 rolls of paper towels, or all 528 Yani albums on CD. And never fear, most full-sized doors can easily support the weight of any items you might store there. Just make sure the edge of the rack will clear the jamb as the door swings open, and provide a lip or rail across the shelves to prevent the contents from tumbling off when the door is closed.

Needless to say, if your doors are of a quality beyond the usual hollow-core or molded-plastic dreck, try to attach the rack in a way that minimizes damage to the doors.


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