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5 Small-Space Friendly Ways to Get More Mileage Out of Your Suitcase

Unless you travel for a living, suitcases fall in the category of necessary but infrequently used items that take up space — probably in a closet or under the bed. Perhaps you even have vintage pieces you just can’t bear to part with, but never use. Whatever the reason you have them, suitcases don’t have to be deadweight in your limited storage space.

Maybe I’m just a step behind, but until recently, the thought never occurred to me that my suitcases could store more than well, other suitcases. I’ve always nested smaller bags inside the largest piece of luggage, and while this works, there are many other ways to use them that solve storage problems and even create new pieces of functional furniture. Let’s start with storage.

Use #1: Storing Off-Season Clothing 

Off-season clothes are problematic for tiny living because it’s hard enough to find space for the clothes you’re currently wearing, let alone the ones you’ll need in December. Besides freeing up more creative closet space, using luggage for clothing storage just makes sense — after all, that’s what it’s designed for.

If you’re an extreme organizer, label each suitcase with what season or types of garments it contains for easy retrieval. Ideally, you’ll want to be able to store them horizontally to keep clothes neat and unwrinkled, but do whatever works best for you. Here are a few more tips for off-season clothing storage inside luggage:

  • Roll clothing to maximize luggage space and avoid creases (just like when you’re traveling).
  • To keep your clothes smelling fresh in storage, include a small sachet of dried lavender or tuck dryer sheets in between them.
  • Fabric luggage is a better storage option than cardboard boxes, but determined pests can still chew through to your clothes. If moths or other bugs are a concern, use mothballs or alternatives suggested here.
  • To further discourage mildew and pests, store your luggage in a cool, dry location.

Use #2: Storing Linens and Pillows

Most small living spaces don’t include a dedicated ‘linen closet.’  If you don’t have enough space to store bulky sheets, towels, blankets, and pillows, suitcases provide the perfect solution. Follow the same advice for storing clothes, and if you want to save even more space, use vacuum bags to downsize puffy items and keep them fresh at the same time.

Suitcases also provide a fast, convenient way to supply your guests with bedding for their overnight stay. Store a dedicated set of linens in a small suitcase that can stay in the guest room (if you have one), or tuck neatly under the bed for easy retrieval.

Use #3: Storing Other Supplies 

Do you have sewing, crafting, scrapbooking, wrapping paper, or other sets of supplies you haven’t found good storage solutions for yet? Small pilot cases (especially hard-case vintage ones) work well for both organizing and containing all your hobby supplies in one portable location, and can even function as a workstation.

Use #4: Unique Dressers, Cabinets, and Storage Units

These uses apply especially well to old, beat-up vintage suitcases. Larger cases (akin to trunks) can simply be stacked on top of each other along a wall, angled in a corner, or at the end of your bed. Top them with a piece of decor, and they’ll be both fashionable and functional. Stacked luggage will, of course, bet better suited for items you don’t nee to retrieve on a daily basis. Here are some other creative ways to transform luggage into vintage storage solutions:

  • Do you have a dresser with missing or broken drawers? Replace them with vintage suitcases to restore its function and achieve an antique look.
  • Vintage suitcases fit well on many shelving units or make shelving units themselves — remove the lids, stand them vertically, insert shelves, and give them legs.
  • Some creative geniuses have even mounted small vintage cases to the wall to function as china cabinets, innovative vanities, or jewelry organizers.

Use #5 Creative Furniture and Decorations 

Old suitcases made into new storage units are certainly artistic decorations, but there are other ways to display vintage cases in a way that adds instant appeal (and function) to your small living space.

  • Simply display them on tabletops along with other decor.
  • Add legs to hard suitcases to create instant nightstands, coffee tables, and consoles.
  • Create unique floating shelves by cutting them down to size.
  • Made your pet a cozy bed by inserting a pillow.

Check out this blog to find depictions of these and other ideas, and this do-it-yourself site for practical step-by-step instructions on how to transform your own vintage suitcases into functional works of art.

Suitcases don’t have to see the light of way only when you’re packing for vacation. Make full use of both new and old luggage all year round as storage and display tools that enhance the appearance and function of your small space lifestyle.

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