If you live in a small space or simply have a lot of stuff, storage can be a nightmare. To stay organized and tidy, you absolutely must utilize storage boxes and spaces, but as someone who lives in a little apartment, I’ll be the first to admit it’s difficult to find places to keep bins, let alone keep all my stuff organized within them. That’s why I’m a big proponent of “storage as decoration”—items that double as both storage and furniture. 

Best hidden storage furniture

We’re going to start off with my current favorite thing: A full-length storage mirror. I have this one from Vlsrka ($139.99), which is a lighted mirror that swings open to reveal another lighted mirror, plus earring, necklace, and bracelet hooks, bins for makeup brushes, pockets, shelves, and a ring holder. This one can be hung on the wall, but there are others that are free-standing, like this one from Songmics ($179.98) that hides not only internal storage, but a few external shelves in the back. I love mine because the inner and outer mirror are so handy and my jewelry and makeup are out of the way until I need them. 

By far one of the most convenient and inconspicuous hidden storage solutions is the faithful hollow ottoman. This one from Storagebud ($39.97) can fold flat when not in use, plus has smaller storage bins inside so you can keep everything you toss in there a little more organized. There are also small “foot rest” versions for much cheaper, like the Songmics cube ($23.79). 

The bench by your front door isn’t pulling its weight if you can’t stash stuff inside it. The Hoobro shoe storage bench ($73.14) hinges open at the top to allow you to store things under the seat, plus has exterior shelving that you can face toward the wall, so no one will ever know you have anything in there. 

You know what else isn’t pulling its weight as much as it could be? Your lamp. Sure, it provides light, but it could also provide shelving:

Shelves in any form are great for extra storage, but shelves with hidden compartments inside are double great—and stop the top part from getting too cluttered. The Ikoppoi hidden storage wall shelf ($29.98) allows you to display some decorations while hiding other items away within its secret drawer. For example, think about displaying candles on the visible shelf, then hiding matches or a lighter inside.

Store larger items right in your living room with the Cozy Castle coffee table ($149.99), which not only has LED lighting and a high-gloss finish, but two big storage drawers hidden on the sides. It’s great for big blankets, the kids’ toys, or whatever else is cluttering up your space. 

If you feel like doing a little DIY around the house, try the Fox Hollow Furnishings recessed medicine cabinet ($399.99), which looks like a regular picture frame on the outside, but contains four rows of shelving on the inside. You do have to install it inside your wall, so it’s not as convenient as the other options here, but if you have anything sensitive or valuable to store, an innocuous “picture frame” is the perfect thing to put it all behind. Check out this video demo to see how it looks.

Decoration storage swaps

Furniture is one thing, but even the stuff you use to spruce up your space aesthetically or sentimentally can help provide some storage if you do it right.

When you’re decorating on a flat space, you should use the rule of threes, meaning you have clusters of three items all over the place. This is why when you’re in a home goods store and see those useless wicker balls that are meant to sit on your coffee table, they usually come in packs of three. But like I said, those are useless. Why not toss a few vases or canisters into the mix? You can still intersperse some statuettes or tchotchkes, but each cluster of three decorations should include some kind of vessel that can obscure your loose coins, writing utensils, receipts, or other unsightly items that don’t have a designated home. Consider something like this:

Look at your shelves, too. Maybe you have some little decorations on your bookcase, like bookends or something. Why not swap them for some decorative baskets instead? You can get three for $25.99 and no one has to know what’s in them.

Moving on, consider your picture frames. You can’t really justify getting rid of the photos and memories that adorn your shelves and side tables, but what if you made the frames a little more useful? Pick up some shadow boxes and stick your photos to the front pane, using the back area for storage of things like documents, remotes, or whatever else you need access to in that room.

If you have a green thumb and a small place, you don’t have to choose between plants and storage. Sdstone makes a flower pot with a hidden safe in the bottom ($14.99). It’s meant for valuables, but you can toss whatever small items you want in there. As a bonus, it comes with a fireproof pouch for money and extra-important items. 

Finally, go old-school with a two pack of decorative “book” boxes ($23.95). On the outside, these look like classic old books and will blend in on your bookshelf easily. Inside, you’ll find storage space big enough for small items. 

Other sneaky storage ideas

One hack I’ve developed over years of living in small apartments is to store my winter coats in my luggage. When I travel, I just take them out and lay them on the couch. It doesn’t matter; I’m not home to see the mess anyway. This saves a bunch of space in my closet, which is dominated by the suitcases as it is. 

I also have shelving units all along my walls to make up for a lack of closet space. (I do have closets, but I just really like clothes.) The clothes I put on these can look kind of sloppy, so I use fabric storage cubes to create “drawers” on the shelves. When not in use, they fold up flat, but when they’re popped open, they give the illusion that the shelves are much more organized than they really are. Try a six pack from Amazon Basics ($19.68). 

Finally, I swapped out my hamper for a rolling cart last year. The cart is still bulky and ugly, so I keep it in the closet, but it’s less cumbersome than the hamper I had and it makes laundry day much easier, as I can just wheel the dirty laundry straight out the door and into the laundromat. Unfortunately for me, I have some tacky, fruit-patterned abomination from the dollar store, but fortunately for you, there’s a much prettier version from Songmics on Amazon for $50.83.