Canadian Woodworking

Storage is king

Blog by Rob Brown
storage is king

If you remove tables from the discussion, the vast majority of woodworking projects, and furniture in general, is just an exercise in storage.

Think of all of our possessions, from clothes, shoes, groceries and kitchenware to games, jewelry, sporting goods and books that need to be stored somewhere. Furniture is where we can store these things in a visually pleasing way that also makes practical sense. As an aside, my kids often feel the best place to store many of these items is the nearest section of flooring, but I’m trying to teach them there are other options. They’re learning, but the process is slow.

If we expand our scope from woodworking and furniture projects to general home improvement projects, there are many storage solutions to be had. Closets are the starting point, as just about everyone is in the market for a better way to organize a closet. In my mind, there are essentially four building blocks to organizing a closet. The first one, shelving, is the simplest. The second building block, drawers, also come in very handy. Hanging rods are next on the list, as they make hanging tall items like pants and coats easy and also allow you to easily see your shirts and sweaters.

The final aspect to closet storage is a less common one and is mainly available only when working with a walk-in closet. Flat work surfaces allow you to store and display everything from neckties to jewelry to a nice box, which is itself just another storage device. Add a lamp and a chair and you’ve got yourself a very functional little workstation. These four building blocks can be mixed and matched to customize your closet area in a way that’s best suited for your storage needs.

Further reading

I talk about all of these aspects in our current issue. One of the articles, titled “21 Tips for Designing Closets”, goes over all sorts of ways you can create a totally custom closet design that looks great and functions well. I also include many tips to make the build go smoothly in the shop. Over the years, I’ve designed and built many closet upgrades and am sure these tips will help you make the best of your closet design and build.

There are several other projects and tips in our spring “storage” issue. It’s also our first double-issue, which means it’s packed with far more content than usual. A modern bookcase, a mid-century walnut sideboard, a hat and coat rack, a whiskey cabinet, and a large wall unit are also featured in the current issue. Although I love the looks of the walnut sideboard, I think the project I get the most satisfaction from is the large wall unit. I designed it in a way that uses materials in a very cost-effective way, so the project didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. The modern design will provide me and my family decades worth of storage for so many of our things. I’ll just have to ensure my kids understand they’re more than welcome to open a door or drawer and store something in there.

A Large Project

This is a large walk-in closet I just wrapped up at a client’s home. A mix of shelves and hanging rods creates lots of storage options. They opted against adding drawers or a work surface, as there are enough of those elsewhere in the bedroom.

storage is king

Living Room Storage

This mid-century modern sideboard is in my living room, loaded up with audio/visual equipment, colourful pillows, a few games and lots of old VHS tapes. Quite the eclectic collection. This sideboard is the cover story in our Spring 2024 issue.

Living Room Storage
Last modified: April 10, 2024

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches


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  2. Hi Rick,

    Glad to hear this is timely! And you’ll be glad to hear I cover finishing a large walk-in closet in one of the articles (21 Tips for Designing Closets) in our Spring issue! This is tip 19…..

    Finish First – It’s not impossible to apply paint, stain or a topcoat to a unit after it has been installed, but it’s not the easiest approach. Consider finishing the panels before installation – even priming and painting one coat, then using caulk on an installed project before adding one more coat of paint, will save a lot of time and energy. Stain / clear coating beforehand will also save energy, though you have to be careful about chipping or scratching the panels during installation. It could be beneficial to fit many of the main / larger panels to the closet, then apply a finish to them, before installing them for good.

    There are many other great tips in that article. Let me know how you like not only that article, but this storage issue as a whole.

  3. Hello Rob,
    Thanks for your article – I am going to get a copy of the latest addition of Canadian Woodworking as it is timely for me.

    I have a question (which may be naive/novice) around when to apply finishing a project like closet storage unit. Intuitively, it makes sense to me to apply finish to the component pieces so they are ready for installation and touch up once installed. Is that the recommended approach? Any handling and installation types/hacks to minimize damage while installing? Many thanks!

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