The Washington Post

Updating an old home with limited storage

Old houses usually don’t provide much storage. If you’re a family of four, an 1850s former stable presents few options for stashing skis or tax files. Colman Riddell came up with decorating tricks to deal with her lack of space. Here are a few:

Make the most of radiator covers. Cover ugly radiators with simple white Parsons-style wood tops and turn them into multitasking surfaces. The Riddells use one as a home office and another as a bar.

Just add coat racks. The Riddells ’house has no first-floor coat closet. (Guess the horses didn’t need one.) Colman built wooden racks along the foyer wall and along two hallways to accommodate family parkas and jackets. A carved wood coat tree in the living room is both functional and funky.

Skirted tables are your friends. Every piece of furniture with a skirt on it, whether it’s a club chair, sofa or table, can be used to hide stuff, says Colman. Look under her furniture and you will discover wrapping paper, stationery and files.

Carve out a pantry. When your kitchen is small and there is no utility closet, you need to find someplace to hide bags of dog food and lightbulbs. Colman took a dark, makeshift closet under the stairs (that she could not stand in) and reconfigured it to double in size. She also lined it with shelves to hold food, pots and pans and serving pieces.

Embrace baskets. Put a big basket in every room. Colman uses them for hats and mittens, dog toys and fabric samples.

The home and design coverage of Jura Koncius has taken her inside hundreds of homes, from tiny studios in Penn Quarter to country castles in Warrenton. Jura also hosts the Home Front live chat, Thursdays at 11 a.m. ET.
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