Think You’ve Maxed Out Storage at Home? Not So Fast.

Turns out, the backs of doors are prime real estate for small item storage.

August 16, 2021
Photo by The Container Store

We’re always looking for ways to sneak more storage out of small spaces, and as I was sitting in my office the other day, staring off into space instead of writing, I happened to notice that there was a surprising amount of room behind the door. By my best guess, there’s at least eight inches of perfectly good space between the door and the wall, and it could definitely fit a few narrow shelves or a thin bookcase, which would be prime for stashing office supplies, phone chargers… that sort of thing. Had I unlocked something revolutionary here?

Turns out, I’m not the first person to think of using the space behind doors for storage. “Behind-the-door storage is a creative way to take advantage of every square inch possible,” says Louisa Roberts, professional organizer and owner of Neat Method NYC. “If you're lacking shelf, drawer, or closet space, an over-the-door organizer can be a clever way to instantly add storage. These storage solutions are also so easy to install and relatively affordable.”

To get some inspo on how to best outfit my office—and every other room—with extra storage, I took a deep dive into Pinterest—here are the best ideas for using the space behind every door in your home.

1. A Classic Over-The-Door Organizer

Perhaps the easiest (and most obvious) way to increase storage space behind doors is with a hanging organizer, most of which simply clip onto the door, making it incredibly renter-friendly. This particular over-the-door organizer is ideal for clothing and accessories, as it has spacious pockets of different shapes and sizes, but there are plenty of other options out there to choose from.

“We love to use this over-the-door organizer for shoes, and this type is perfect for cleaning supplies and truly anything small enough to be tossed into a pocket,” says Roberts.

2. A Mirror with Hidden Storage Inside

Many people hang a mirror on the back of the bathroom door, and if you want to increase storage space while still being able to check your hair, this over-the-door mirror has a hidden organizer inside. There are all sorts of hooks, shelves, and drawers for displaying jewelry, makeup, and small toiletries, and the unit even features built-in LED lights along the top to help you see its contents.

3. This Popular IKEA Shelving Unit for Larger Spaces

If there’s a larger gap between the door and the wall, you might be able to fit the LACK wall shelf from IKEA in there—like this person did! The popular shelving unit is 11 inches deep, so you do need a fair bit of room, but its spacious shelves are great for displaying books, toys, or even small baskets for accessories.

4. A Cool Cabinet That Mounts to Door Hinges

How neat is this product? The narrow cabinet attaches to the hinges of any door, allowing it to sit perfectly behind the door without worry of being banged into. You’re barely able to see the cabinet when the door is open, and it has several shelves where you can store pantry items, bathroom supplies, and more.

5. A Custom Spice Rack for Your Pantry Door

If you have more spices than you know what to do with (guilty!), why not mount them to the inside of your pantry door? It keeps them neat, organized, and accessible—no more groping around in the back of a cabinet to find the tarragon. You can buy a custom-made spice rack that screws into the door, or for a more temporary solution, there are spice jar clips that stick onto the wall.

6. A Fold-Down Drying Rack for the Laundry Room

My laundry room is teeny tiny—there’s barely enough room to turn around, nevermind set up a drying rack. However, I could definitely use an over-the-door drying rack like this to air dry my delicate sweaters and undergarments. The best part is that it folds nearly flat when not in use.

7. A Simple Wire Rack with Adjustable Baskets

This sleek wire organizer is a favorite among bloggers and professional organizers alike: “A more sophisticated storage solution is this door rack from The Container Store,” says Roberts. “The baskets instantly create so much space, and we've used this solution to extend pantry storage, coat closet storage, and even storage for bathroom beauty products.”

8. Narrow Shelves for Children’s Books and Toys

You can put your child’s favorite books on display behind the door with a set of floating ledges. They’re only a few inches wide, so they shouldn’t get in the way of the door opening, and the shelves have a little lip to keep books and/or artwork from falling over.

9. A Crafty Way to Store Pot Lids

If you’ve got room to spare on the reverse of a pantry or cabinet door, it’s a convenient spot to hang up pot and pan lids! (Because, let’s be honest, trying to stack them never works out.) This person made their own custom organizer that takes up the whole door, but you can also use individual pan lid holders that easily stick onto any surface.

10. A Custom-Made Set of Narrow Shelves

Feeling handy? This DIY tutorial will walk you through the process of building a custom set of shelves that fit perfectly behind your door. All you need is a few 1x4 inch boards for the frame and shelf standards to create height-adjustable shelving. You can paint the unit any color you’d like, and it would work well in a garage, pantry, laundry room—the list goes on!

What clever storage solutions have you recently uncovered? Tell us in the comments!

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Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.