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{Open Storage} 6 Double Duty Ideas for Attractive and Functional Organization & Display

by | Jul 9, 2012 | Decorating Inspiration, Organization

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{Open Storage} 6 Double Duty Ideas for Attractive and Functional Organization & DisplayStorage and Display via BHG

Organization with Open Storage

I love storage that does double duty, offering beauty & function in one. From more elaborate built-ins, to free standing units to simple open cabinets and effective use of a blank wall, every day storage and organization can be an attractive feature in a room.

I believe that storage and every day items can serve as both function and art. If you have open storage in your home you should use it for more attractive every day items. Obviously I’m not suggesting you put your ugly plastic sippy cups in open storage, right? Right. Put them in a basket on the shelf. The basket can be cute even if the contents is not.

{Open Storage} 6 Double Duty Ideas for Attractive and Functional Organization & DisplayBHG bookcase counter wall storage

I call this idea Everyday on Display! It is an art form to live with attractive every day items on display and find creative ways to weave what you need into the design of your home (without it looking too cluttered or messy.) We can all use more storage, am I right? So many clever ways to tuck in some extra shelving or storage and if it can serve more than one purpose, all the better!

{Open Storage} 6 Double Duty Ideas for Attractive and Functional Organization & DisplaySee Jane Work – Attractive Storage 

Having open storage for displaying useful items doesn’t have to mean you will live with dust and disorder, in fact, it could mean the opposite. Displaying things you love or actually USE means you’ll handle them more often and have the opportunity to keep things cleaner as you go. 

My experience is my closed cupboards and closets are the ones that end up getting the most disorganized and messy! Out of sight, out of mind!  It is just too easy to forget what is in there or use it as a dumping ground for junk. After all, you can shut the cupboard door. But with open storage, you appreciate seeing it looking pretty so you tend to want to keep it that way. Or maybe that is just me. I like incentives for order and I like living with pretty things.

{Open Storage} 6 Double Duty Ideas for Attractive and Functional Organization & DisplayBHG Room Divider Storage

This is a triple duty cabinet. It serves as a room divider, storage unit and attractive display. Love that!

It does take a little bit more time to find and collect affordable and pretty storage boxes, baskets and attractive things for your shelves than it does to just hide stuff behind cupboard doors. True. But for me that is part of the joy of living in my home. I enjoy collecting what I need for every day function and regular nesting of my space.

Update on finding storage boxes and display items: My favorite places to find open storage baskets, bins and cute displayable items like dishes are places like HomeGoods, IKEA, Target, Pier One, World Market and Michaels Craft. I just have to collect them over time as I can find and afford them!

{Open Storage} 6 Double Duty Ideas for Attractive and Functional Organization & DisplayBHG Scrabble Shelf Labels

With a little creatively you can have attractive open shelves filled with ordinary hand mixers and toasters!  This is both functional and eye catching thanks to the splash of color and adorable labels. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to spend a fortune on high end items, it is all in the presentation!

{Open Storage} 6 Double Duty Ideas for Attractive and Functional Organization & Displayimage: marthagayle at via Apartment Therapy

Even a blank wall can earn its keep as a place for practical and artistic expression! This triple display board offers a place to unite all of those kid papers and creations, turning the whole wall into a way to organize life into functional art.

Do you have double duty storage {art & function}?


  1. Meaningful Nest

    Woo Hoo! Love the ideas you presented for storage. Why are containers and baskets so addicting? I currently have no open cabinets in my kitchen and also re-did my big pantry so that also was behind closed doors. I need to get over my phobia of open spaces. haha. I do agree with you that when it is behind closed doors is it so much easier to leave a mess, throwing that plastic cup in, hoping it doesn’t fall, and closing the door quickly…that method doesn’t work too well. I also love the room divider picture you showed.

    • Melissa

      Ha, well yes, you need to get over that fear at least in small doses. It adds so much personality to see a little bit of every day “art”!

  2. Kelly - Talk of the House

    These are all so great! What I love (besides the fact that they help you keep your things organized) is that they allow you to add a punch of color (or pattern if you want) to your displays. Closed closets and cabinets can only do so much…but cute baskets and bins can really add a punch. I think the photo I like best in your post is the first one..and it is because it is so colorful. What a happy looking space!

  3. Rene

    I found these funky card index/cd boxes and photo boxes at Walmart (of all places). They have fun tin labels on the outside. I used them to store items in amoungest my book cases. They are a fun pop of color and practical(and cheap) too!

  4. Linda Stoll

    That blue enamelware bucket stuffed with the utensils … just too FABULOUS!

  5. Maria

    My husband and I were struggling with finding a way to store all of my pretty white dishes — there was just no room in our cupboards! We bought a big shelving unit from Ikea and I now have all of my white dishes and pretty pitchers displayed inside of that, right next to the kitchen. I love being able to see all of my beautiful things styled in a lovely way, and now I have room in my cupboards for all of my cooking items!

    • Melissa

      Perfect! Sounds lovely too!

  6. Lisa

    Yes, I love open, vertical storage where everything is in plain view and attractive at the same time. I love the unexpected (but delightful) use of those Scrabble tiles too which inspires a whole new project-lol.

    As always, you found beautiful examples to share.

    Enjoy your day,


  7. Lauren

    Open storage is my favorite to look at, but I have a hard time pulling it off myself! Plus, I find really cute storage can be really expensive. Do you have any tips for where to find nice storage that’s less expensive? I’m about to put up shelving on one of our walls, and a bookcase and I want to decorate without breaking the bank :)

    • Melissa

      Yes, take your time looking for what you need and want. It is easy to spend way too much when you are in a hurry to finish. I find lots of cute affordable things like baskets at HomeGoods, it just takes time to collect them over time! I found some super cute neutral linen colored covered boxes at IKEA recently (they are on my bookshelves in my new home office (featured in the sidebar).

      I regularly make my rounds to Target, HomeGoods, Pier One, Cost Plus, Michaels Craft,IKEA and other local places. I collect baskets, cute notebooks and boxes when I see things that work for my house. Some days I’m more successful than others but over time I have a great collection of things I can use for attractive storage!


    Love this post and I so agree, creative storage is a must, inside or out where people can see it. I did something fun in my laundry room, It is almost like a beverage bar, but the contents are liquid detergent, softener etc. It not only looks better, but is functional. I am with you Ikea is wonderful for creative containers.
    Happy Monday,

  9. Janmary, N Ireland

    This all looks amazing, but deep down I know I am just not tidy enough!

    But a girl can dream……..

    • Melissa

      Picking one area for open storage is a great way to start! :-)

  10. The Prairie Hen

    Dear Melissa,
    This is a wonderful post with which I completely agree! After I got married, I quickly discovered that I didn’t like closed storage… what is the use of finding fun containers (and oh how I love great containers) to put things in if I was just going to hide them in a cupboard? These days you’ll find me taking doors off closets, relishing my built-in bookcases and finding new and exciting ways to show my collections of flea-market fodder.

    You are right, hide what you must, show what you love.
    A new reader in NE

  11. Diane

    Ah yes, presentation is everything!!
    As you know, my baskets are gorgeous and handwoven, so I really do believe that I have the perfect combo of storage and art.
    BTW…I love to open a cupboard/closet and have everything in it’s place. Something about neatness where it can’t be immediately seen makes me feel more together. My house might get out of order….but behind the closed doors….perfect. Keeps me from freaking out!

  12. Sheetal

    Very inspiring! I have a white bookshelf in my guest bedroom that is pretty empty right now but would be a great place for storage. The concept of open storage is an excellent opportunity to incorporate pattern and colour into the room. Thanks for the ideas!

  13. Katy

    I love the storage ideas here. I recently turned a Target bookshelf into my entryway storage system which was fun. I’ll be posting about it soon. Right now I’m working on making my mantle look a little more attractive!

  14. Vidya Sudarsan

    Open storage is a beautiful way to display and organize.. such a space saver too! I am a big fan of this…. I have a one in my kitchen and my study, have figured out a way to keep them tidy :-)

  15. John

    The one with the wicker baskets is absolutely stunning! 5 stars!

  16. Jennifer

    We’ve opted for some open storage; a built-in in our dining room that houses my grandmother’s china (LOVE) and when we did a bathroom remodel, the least expensive option was open storage. I was wary at first, but we bought a few Target baskets and I just put everything in there! Works like a charm and keeps the extra stuff that we don’t need to a minimum!

  17. CAS

    Some great open storage ideas! I like and have open storage in some areas of our home, like a lot of it in my craft-sewing room. Where I don’t like it is in a kitchen — not in my kitchen anyway. I don’t mind having some upper cabinets with clear glass door inserts, I just don’t like things completely out in the open.

  18. how2home

    I really like the built in idea from picture #1, its very functional, fun and bright to look at! Perfect for a kids room :)

  19. LibbyP

    We installed Elfa shelves from the Container Store on a long wall in my office (the office had been a bedroom), and made two desk areas for the kids with the shelves. We just hung the lowest shelf at desk height, put a printer in the middle, and then each side became a desk! We hung more shelves above – used the lowest of those for school supplies (attractively contained), the next for schoolbooks, and the rest for decorative storage items! We kept our messier items in the closet – work in progress, old files, etc. It was a great homeschool office for three! It was maybe a couple of hundred dollars for the entire unit!

  20. Tami

    Posts like these make me want to beautify my home!

  21. Amber

    I loved the Scrabble Pieces that label the kitchen devices!


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