Interior Designer Shares Storage Hack to Skip in Small Space

Insider spoke to designer and HGTV star Carmeon Hamilton about decorating small spaces. She said…

  • Insider spoke to designer and HGTV star Carmeon Hamilton about decorating small spaces.
  • She said baskets can actually waste square footage compared to other storage hacks.
  • Hamilton designed a tiny space for style and function at Apartment Therapy’s Small/Cool NYC showcase.

One of your go-to storage hacks might be wrong for your small space, according to an expert.

Insider attended Apartment Therapy’s “Small/Cool NYC” showcase on Thursday. The in-person event highlights how rooms with limited square footage can feel just as welcoming and cozy as larger spaces through 12 real rooms curated by famous designers.

Insider spoke to one designer who participated in the event, Carmeon Hamilton, a Memphis-based designer and HGTV star, about how to make the most of storage in a small space.

A woman in a maroon chair sits in a bedroom.

Carmeon Hamilton in the 120-square-foot room she designed for Apartment Therapy’s Small/Cool NYC showcase.

Tory Williams courtesy of Apartment Therapy


If you’re trying to optimize storage and space, Hamilton recommends skipping decorative baskets.

“Baskets are great, but if you have a million baskets spread across your floor, they can be cumbersome and that’s square footage you are missing,” Hamilton said.

For instance, if you have three baskets on your living room floor for blankets, books, and games, you might be wasting space that could be used for more functional pieces like a couch or armoire.

“Even though you’re attempting to organize in your baskets, if they’re all spread out everywhere, you’re losing your square footage that you could be utilizing,” Hamilton added.

Instead, Hamilton recommends going vertical with storage, as it will free up floor space for you to decorate with more functional pieces of furniture. 

A living room with a side table with baskets in it.

Baskets that aren’t wasting space can be helpful.

Lilas Gh/Getty Images


“Utilizing wall shelves or built-in units or wardrobes, and still utilize a basket inside of those things to corral your items,” she suggested.

Hamilton also recommends thinking creatively about what can be storage space.

“Any space that has a flat surface, think of a way to incorporate storage into it,” she said, pointing to the bedroom space she designed for Small/Cool as an example.

“The nightstands have both open and closed, concealed storage. So you have the open shelf and then the drawers,” she said, making them multi-functional.

A bedroom with dark walls, a bed, a nightsand, a smaller table, and two chairs.

A Small/Cool NYC room designed by Carmeon Hamilton.


Ricky Snyder for Apartment Therapy



Hamilton also made the most of the space by hanging lights above the nightstands rather than using traditional table lamps.

“You free up the surface space for decorative things or more storage, so your lights are actually unobtrusive,” she said of the creative lights.

Hamilton recommends under-bed storage, and thinking vertically when it comes to additional storage space. 

“If I needed more storage, instead of going with a shorter nightstand, I would make these wardrobes,” she said, again pointing to her Small/Cool room. “That way you can turn them into a locker situation instead of just a nightstand.”

The Small/Cool showcase will run from April 22 to May 15.