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Sustainable and attractive storage in a small space

In a time when the planet is at risk of being destroyed by consumerism, there is help available to make recycling easier and more convenient in our daily lives. The family was not interested in upsizing to a larger home and wanted to step up their sustainability awareness. Elfa customised and optimised the storage, which helped the family become more aware of its consumption habits and wastage of resources. You can see the results here!

By Charlotta Flinkenberg  Photos Fredrik Bjelkerud

The family

Hannah, 44, administrative assistant and yoga instructor, Tom, 50, retail specialist, and their son Hugo, 3.5 years old. The family lives in a 70 sq.m. flat in the city of Malmö. Hannah says “Since Hugo was born, we’ve been making a real effort to make best use of the space and storage in our flat to prevent it from feeling too cramped”. “We like the local area with the park nearby and plan on staying here. Also, from an environmental perspective, it’s better not to move to larger accommodation,” Tom adds.

One wardrobe for the family

Before Elfa’s storage experts arrived on the scene, the family had just one, long, impractical wardrobe in the bedroom in which to pack all their clothes. You could only get into the wardrobe through a small door opening. Not a practical space, to say the least.

The family was only using around 20% of their clothes and 15% of their footwear regularly. Not having a good overview of the contents of your wardrobe increases the risk of buying items that you already have, and of wearing out garments quickly with frequent washing.

“The wardrobe wall was completely removed" Hannah says.

Before the wardrobe transformation, the family was using only about one-fifth of their clothes

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Smart dividers keep Hugo’s clothes in order, making it easy for him to find what he wants and choose what to wear.

What do you think about the storage make-over in your bedroom?

“We used to keep our clothes in drawers before, but they were heavy and difficult for our son to open. Now he has no problem pulling out the drawers and quickly finding what he’s looking for. He can choose which pyjamas he wants to wear in bed. The drawer dividers are really handy too,” Hannah says.

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There is space for cleaning supplies and a vacuum cleaner inside the wardrobe on the right-hand side. Other smaller cleaning items are kept in shallow mesh trays hanging on the door next to this space.

“It is much easier to find everything now and it all looks so tidy and well-organised. Despite challenges posed by the confined space, Elfa’s flexible system made it possible to set up shelves and build them around the electrical fuse box. The door-mounted baskets are also extremely practical for storing cleaning items,” says Tom.

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Mesh drawers with smart Décor fronts for clothes storage and mesh drawers without fronts for clothes to be laundered.

The family’s laundry and clothes situation was problematic before the make-over. Laundry baskets were taking up floor space and, because it was difficult to see and find the clothes they have, it sometimes felt they were washing more often than necessary.

“We now have an efficient system in the wardrobe for our dirty laundry. We sort dirty clothes into the mesh drawers that we’ve placed next to the Décor front drawers,” Hannah explains. 

Clever use of vertical space

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Elfa’s fold-out drying rack uses wall space where it is hidden discreetly behind the curtain when not in use.

Although the wardrobe transformation freed up more space in the bedroom, there was still not enough for hanging up washing to dry. The family previously kept a folding clothes airer in the wardrobe and lifted it out and placed it somewhere in the flat when needed.

“Since the bathroom is small, it felt like the airer was always out in the flat loaded with washing, which made the place look cluttered,” Tom says.

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Their new drying rack magically vanishes behind a curtain, creating a harmonious feel in the living room.

Hannah had come up with the smart idea of hiding a drying rack behind the curtain in the living room. Her creative idea was turned into a practical solution by mounting Elfa’s drying rack with integrated brackets on the wall.

“The drying rack can easily be folded down to free up space when it’s not in use or when we have visitors. Super convenient! And I really like not having things standing on the floor,” Hannah says.

Desk space for everyone

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Elfa’s versatile system provides both Hugo and his parents with smart and practical desk space to match their needs.

Rooms usually have to serve double duty in a smaller home. Since Hugo doesn’t have a room of his own, Tom and Hannah decided to transform one of the living room walls into a combined home office and creative play area with a desk for Hugo.

“There was a sofa in the space where we now have the Elfa unit. And the floor was covered in toys,” says Hannah with a smile.

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The small boxes on the storage board are filled with Hugo’s beads and felt-tip pens.

Tom adds:
“Any parent who has happened to stand on a piece of Lego knows how painful it is… We discussed with Elfa’s storage experts various ways of making maximum use of the wall space for both Hugo’s and our needs”.

Thanks to the versatility of Elfa’s popular height-adjustable system on the hang standard, the couple can raise the height of the desk as Hugo grows.

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“The pegboard is made of metal which is really practical because it lets us display Hugo’s drawings there using magnets,” says Tom.

What was Hugo’s reaction when he got his first ever desk?

“As we were fitting the melamine shelf for his desk, he just wanted to start building on it right away! He now has very easy access to his bricks too,” says Tom.

“High on our wish list were drawers on castors that we could easily move to where he is playing. It is also lovely to have him sitting next to us busy playing when we’re using our desk,” Hannah says.

Optimised hall storage for the family

For most families with small children, the hallway is a place of chaos where storage space is a dilemma. It was the case here too, despite some various previous attempts to create order. Tom describes the hallway as it used to be:

“We had a cupboard for shoes, a hook rack and some short storage baskets. In the corner by the door, we had some handmade cloth bags for hats and gloves. The challenge was that the hallway is quite narrow so the shelves couldn’t be too deep”.

What was generally needed in the hallway?

“More storage and also higher storage. Especially for footwear, helmets and bags. They were simply put on the floor where they made the space look untidy. We really wanted it to be easy for Hugo to be able to reach his things on his own. Not even the baskets were at the right height for him. We also wanted to have room here for recycling collection bins,” Hannah tells us.

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The accessories shelf is at a low height and has a drawer divider so that mum, dad and Hugo each have their own section.

Since the shelves in Elfa’s system are available in various depths, it was possible to set up a smart, wall-mounted storage solution on a track. The shelves and hooks are placed at heights to suit each family member’s reach and needs.

“The top shelf is 40 cm deep and the others are 30 cm. Elfa’s track-based system is so versatile and smart. It’s fantastic that just one track can offer so much variety with hook racks, hall hooks, shelf dividers and other accessories and features,” says Hannah.

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“The flat isn’t very large, but keeping things off the floor gives the feeling of more space,” says Tom.

Tom also loves the fact that the storage system is mounted on the wall, creating a more airy and spacious feel, as well as making cleaning much easier:

“It’s great not to have anything cluttering the floor. I’m the one who does the vacuum cleaning and I used to have to pick up shoes and all sorts before I could clean the floor. No longer! And when we use the robot vacuum cleaner, we don’t have to worry about it eating shoe laces!”

A wall-hung storage solution like this gives you a better overview, which saves time and makes it less likely you’ll buy something you already have. Clothes and items get more regular use. And then, of course, it’s a bonus that it’s attractive to look at. Sustainable – and attractive, in other words!