5 minute read


  • What is dead space?
  • Why do you want to use it?
  • Where do you find it?
  • How do you use it?


What is dead space?

Dead space is the area in your house of wasted space that could be used if something was added like shelves to make it more useful.That eliminates wasted space.

Why do you want to use it?

You want to start looking for dead space when you’ve outgrown the space you have. Sometimes you move into a place and don’t have enough stuff to fill it, so there’s no need to move into all that dead space, but over the years, you acquire more things and more kids, and it’s harder to fit everything. Discovering dead space is an option when you aren’t in a position to just move into a bigger house.

Where can you find dead space?

Some can find dead space pretty naturally, but others don’t get it as easy, but it can be cultivated if they look for it. Here are some places you can look for it…

  1. Closets are the biggest offender of wasted space. Typically a closet is built with one clothes rod and one shelf just above the rod. That space between the top shelf and the ceiling is usually quite large, so often people put things on the shelf but not all the way to the ceiling because it’s such a hassle to get the bottom things out. All that space above goes unused. The bottom of closets can also be used better if you just add another shelf or two at the bottom for shoes or storage.
Stacked boxes are mentally draining thinking what effort it would take to get something out of the bottom box of a closet. But if all those same stacked boxes were placed on their own shelf above each other, it would be no problem to get something out of the bottom box because it wouldn’t require so much work.
  1. Kitchens have a lot of dead space. Often cabinets are built that don’t go all the way to the ceiling. People like to put decorations up there, but those need periodic cleaning and dusting which is kind of high maintenance to keep looking nice.

  2. Under stairs could also be good storage places. Mitchells have a stairway that goes up several steps then makes a right degree turn and continues further up the stairs. One day Amy was sitting at her kitchen table looking for some extra, much-needed space to put the kids arts and craft supplies, because they were taking up room in the pantry that she would rather have for food and kitchen appliances. She zeroed in on that space under the landing just a few feet away from the kitchen and realized it was all enclosed, but hollow underneath. That was perfect dead space waiting to be used! Amy cut into the wall under the landing and filled it with shelves and some carpet, and moved all the kids’ supplies into that mini storage space. It’s the perfect size for their little bodies to be able to get in and grab their crayons or play dough or paints, and not too far from the kitchen table where they do their craft projects. They finished it with a door that blends into the wall so it hides it all away.

  3. Open areas can also be better utilized. Mitchells had a friend who had a dining room that didn’t quite go to the end wall. The last 1/3 floor area was carpeted, sectioning if off from the designated dining area. It wasn’t big enough to be its own room, so the friends just put a recliner and decorative tree there, not knowing what else to do with that space. They asked Amy to come look at it and see what she would suggest. Amy suggested taking out the carpet, extending the finished floor and expanding the dining room a little. Next she suggested they turn that whole end wall into a large storage pantry for food, brooms and vacuums, and whatever else they needed a home for. It was a much better use of that large space.

  4. Some places like laundry rooms or linen closets have shelves already, but they are spaced so far apart, leaving sometimes up to 8 inches of unused space between each shelf. Try adding a shelf in between. Turntables are nice gadgets to help pull items from the back of the shelf around to the front so you can easily see everything in the front and the back. If you are ambitious, you can even alphabetize your spices or medicines on those turntables.

  5. Play areas are a great area to put shelves, using the dead space up the side of a wall, so toys can be spread out and up. Kids can find toys better that way than in one big bucket. And it opens up the floor space when items can fit up and on the shelves.

  6. Bedrooms that are shared between older siblings and younger ones benefit from shelves too. Often the older sibling has items that they want left untouched by younger siblings, so higher shelves give those items an out of reach place to store.
  7. Corner netting is great for storing lightweight items like stuffed animals. That uses the corner dead space.
  8. The attic above the garage can also be a good storage space. Add some plywood, a dropdown ladder for easy access and maybe some lighting for great storage. Just be careful not to store anything that could be ruined from extreme temperatures.
  9. Wander around your house and see what dead space you can find.

Using dead space

When you find yourself getting frustrated with the space you have, realizing things are piled on top of each other, try looking up. Would adding a shelf above get some things off of each other?

If you get tired of dusting wide open areas, then that’s a clue that there is some unused space.

Building shelves can be a do-it-yourself project. If you don’t have your own tools, you can rent them for the day at a hardware store. Sometimes the hardware store will even cut the wood for you before you take it home.

If you aren’t comfortable building your own shelves, find a friend who has that skill and trade your services with them.

Image: “Clutter (Office)” by Michael Basial. https://www.flickr.com/photos/basial/87679950/

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