Tips and Guides

5 Storage Mistakes You're Probably Making

Take note of standard measurements and avoid cheap hardware

Photography: Vincent Coscolluela and Marc Jao (Main Photos)

We all know the importance of storage in the home. From cabinets and drawers, to shelves and multipurpose must-haves—name it, and it's safe to assume we've invested in it. Aside from helping us control clutter, these pieces can also double as an interesting feature in a space.

To stretch a bunch of factors—like space and budget—we all have our very own storage tricks. We often resort to what is available, or what we think is right. However, if you're familiar with creases at the bottom of your dress shirts, drawers that fall off, and cabinet doors that bang—you might be doing something wrong. Prevent these from happening by familiarizing yourself with what needs to be checked and prioritized in terms of storage. Let the list below guide you:

1. Skimping on the standards

We all know that for small spaces, saving an inch or two can go a long way. While some may prefer custom cabinets with substandard widths at around 500mm to 550mm, keep in mind that the standard size is at 600mm.

Should you go for the said smaller sizes, note that this can only work for shelving space meant for folded clothes, drawers, and sometimes hanging storage for standard-length clothes. Remember that for shared cabinets or those that are lined by the side, it's best to go with the standard.

Be cautious when specifying clearances for hanging storage as well. A standard of 1,000mm to 1,200mm in between shelves is best for men’s dress shirts, suits, and women’s blouses and knee-length dresses—anything less than the standard will leave you with folded ends when your clothes are up.

2. Not maximizing lengths and heights

Freestanding cabinetry may come in standard sizes, but do make sure you don’t leave the top part of your cabinet bare to collect dust. You can stack a couple of covered baskets or plastic containers to store items that you rarely use to make the most of the surface.

For built-in cabinets, you can maximize length and height by making use of wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling units. Do not leave structural details like columns and beams exposed. To remedy this, you can build around them to make use of the additional space.

3. Using cheap hardware

Cabinet hardware, like hinges and drawer guides, are often neglected because they are not exposed. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean that you should save on something that you don’t really see. People tend to go for ordinary hinges and drawer guides just because they are cheaper. To avoid slamming cabinet doors or drawers that fall off, opt for soft close hinges and full-extension drawer guides. Visit home depots and hardware stores to look for local brands that do not break the bank.

4. Opting only for open storage

Not having doors to cover your storage has its advantages, like having easy access to the things you need. However, for certain areas in the home, like kitchens in particular, this is a no-no. To avoid the need to wash your coffee cups, glassware, bowls, plates, serving platters, and anything that you use on a daily basis, keep them behind doors. Limit the use of open storage for your small appliances, cookbooks, wine bottles, and decorative china, too.

5. Disregarding cabinet lighting

Even with proper general lighting, you will notice that overhead storage casts a shadow. To avoid dark spots in your kitchen or work area, consider under cabinet lighting.

This is particularly important for hanging cabinets and shelves that are more than 300mm wide. Use two-inch LED pin lights or T5 lights that cover your cabinet’s length. Visit Wilcon Depot and hardware stores to look for options you can work with.

Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]



Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at] with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

PHOTOS: Vincent Coscolluela (1, 3, and 4) | Dairy Darilag | Jilson Tiu

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