Small Space Prepping: 25 Ideas for Stashing Your Stockpile

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By the author of Be Ready for Anything and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

The biggest challenge in small space prepping is finding storage areas for your supplies. While I don’t recommend stacking food buckets to the ceiling in the living room where you receive visitors, there are all sorts of charming ways to hide preps in plain sight as part of your everyday decor. As well, just a few small tweaks to rooms all around your house can add considerable amounts of storage space.

Here are 25 ideas to get your wheels turning.

Hide Preps in Plain Sight

  • Store some of your food “country kitchen” style.  Consider adding a rustic shelving unit full of various mason jars containing dried foods, beans, pasta, flour, jams, herbs, and other shelf-stable goods. If all of the jars are clear and labeled the same way, it looks very organized and appealing. (Maybe use those cute little chalkboard labels – but be sure to get the ones marked “reusable.”)
  • Put candles or oil lamps in every room. Use your emergency lighting as an old-fashioned statement. Add a decorative little box with matches or lighters. (You can pick the boxes for a song up at the dollar store or a yard sale.) Boom – let there be light the moment a power outage occurs.
  • Decorate with cozy throws and blankets. Soft, fuzzy blankets not only look inviting, but they can also help keep your heat bill down when nobody is able to resist curling up under them. Pile them in wicker hampers, put them on the foot of beds, and toss them over the arm of the couch. Bonus: When the power is out, you have a way to stay warmer within arm’s reach.
  • Show off manual culinary tools in the kitchen. Make an old-fashioned display with a hand crank coffee grinder and French press. Group egg-beaters and whisks in a large canister.
  • Decorate the laundry room with a galvanized tub and washboard. Instead of trying to hide it away, display your off-grid laundry tools in plain sight for some vintage charm to brighten up the room.
  • Get “cubes” to put into your bookcases.  Depending on the size of your bookcases, you can invest in some good-looking cubes to match your decor for storing smaller prep items. You can get them in canvas, wood, or all sorts of finishes. I personally love the look of these rattan cubes.
  • Use space bags.  When my family moves, we save a lot of moving-van real estate by using “space bags.”  You simply fill the bag with clothing, pillows, bedding, etc., close the top, and remove the air from it using the hose of a vacuum cleaner. An overflowing hamper of clothing can fit easily into an extra-large bag. This is a great way to store sleeping bags or other emergency bedding. I like to put in an all-natural dryer sheet for a pleasant smell. NEVER close up anything damp or dirty. I recommend the ZipLock brand for this and not the cheapo versions. (The Amazon price is a fraction of the Wal-Mart price, at least locally.)
  • Get bed risers for every bedroom in the house.  Bed risers can add about 8 more inches of space under your bed, which can equal 29 square feet of storage under a king-sized bed. This is a great place to stash cases of water bottles, toilet paper, or items that you put in vacuum-sealed space bags. I filled those little rolling under-bed containers with dry pet food in one room.

You get the idea – any prep that could look decorative can become part of the look of your home, leaving valuable storage real estate for less attractive goods or for things that need to stay hidden for OPSEC reasons.

The Whole Home Pantry

(This is an excerpt from my book, The Pantry Primer.)

Every room in the house is fair game.  There’s no reason that food must only be stored in the kitchen.  Keep similar items together, for the sake of organization.  Think about the grocery store – even in one where you’ve never shopped, it’s generally easy to find items because similar things are organized together. There is a condiment aisle, as cereal aisle, etc.  You can apply this principle to your home storage also.

Here are some places that I store preps in my home, along with ideas from previous places we have lived.

  • Kitchen pantry: Items currently in rotation live in the kitchen pantry.  When these items get low, I rotate in their replacements from the other location.
  • Broom closet: I installed shelves in this closet to make it easier to find things.  Shelf 1: food buckets with Mylar bags of food inside. Shelf 2: Cleaning supplies, dish soap.  Shelf 3: Candles, lighters, extra solar lights, matches, lamp oil, batteries.  Shelf 4: Tools, screws, nails and other small hardware.
  • Blanket storage area in guest room sofa: Beans.  Bags and bags and bags of beans that have been sealed into Mylar bags.
  • Invest in some old-fashioned storage items. A pile of charming, weathered, vintage trunks or suitcases in the corner of a room can house unattractive things like food buckets. Trunks can often be picked up at thrift stores and yard sales and if you don’t like the color, you can paint them fairly easily to match your decor.
  • Armoire in guest room: “Decorative” boxes (I glued attractive paper to the outside of regular cardboard boxes and edged them with ribbon) full of baking items like baking soda, baking powder, chocolate chips, etc.
  • Mudroom: 5-gallon water jugs, laundry supplies, hardware, food buckets with Mylar bags of food inside
  • Basement: 1-gallon water jugs of tap water, canned goods purchased from the store, root cellar items, shampoo, conditioner, laundry products, bath products, cleaning supplies. Notice that none of these things will spoil easily if exposed to humidity. Basements can be damp, so they are not a good place for paper goods or other items that would be negatively affected by moisture.
  • Garage: Extra 5-gallon jugs of drinking water, pet food in airtight Rubbermaid-style containers, food buckets with Mylar bags of food inside, food from LDS cannery.  Garages can have widely fluctuating temperatures depending on your climate and how well-insulated they are, so choose what goes into your garage accordingly. 
  • Attic: Paper goods like toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates; garbage bags; baby wipes.  These are stored in Rubbermaid-style containers to prevent rodents from nesting in paper goods. Be careful storing any items in an attic that might be heat sensitive.
  • Laundry room closet: Buckets of bulk grains, floor to ceiling.  I wrote on the front of the buckets with a Sharpie for ease in finding the grain I’m looking for.
  • Laundry room shelf: Laundry supplies, grocery store canned goods in a single row all the way to the top behind the laundry supplies.
  • Living room bookcases: There is a pretty curtain running in front of the bottom shelf.  Behind the curtain are dozens of jugs of white vinegar, as well as balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and red wine vinegar.
  • Front hall closet: Our bug-out bags live there, innocuously posing as regular backpacks. As well, our best quality hiking boots and coats appropriate to the season are always right by the door.
  • Linen closet: Grocery store canned meats (we never use these and they exist as a last resort), fruit, dry milk, and pie filling.  Medicines and first aid supplies.
  • Bedroom closets: The back wall is lined with boxed goods like cereal, crackers, etc.  There is a cool bungee cord grid holding the boxes in place.
  • Under the stairs: If you own your home, you can carve out a substantial amount of storage space under the stairs with some carpentry skills. Take care not to damage load-bearing areas.
  • Storage furniture: Due to homes getting smaller and budgets getting tighter, lots of furniture comes with storage built right in: coffee tables, end tables, nightstands, beds, ottomans – some couches even have a storage area under the cushions.  This can help you to make the most of your space with hidden mini-pantries all through the house. I use one such armoire for all of our first aid and medical supplies, along with extra soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, etc.
  •  Outbuildings: Barns, sheds, and summerhouses can all provide abundant space.  However, the same rules that apply for garages apply for other outbuildings. Beware of extremes in temperature, moisture, and rodents and other pests.

Keep track of where you put things.

It’s a good idea to keep a notebook with an inventory and locations – basically a treasure map of all your prepper goodies. Otherwise, you’ll end up searching fruitlessly for items that you know you have.

Depending on how detailed you want to be, your “map” can be constantly updated with the amounts of items you are putting away and taking for use in the kitchen.  If you plan to update like that, consider a dry-erase board hung on the inside of the pantry door.  Keeping your map on the computer is a great idea…unless the grid goes down.  It’s important to have a hard copy for that reason.

Trust me – you won’t remember where you put all this stuff!

There’s always room!

No matter how small your home is, you can still prep. Some of these suggestions will even work for a dorm room or studio apartment. With the “tiny house” movement, storage options abound these days.

Do you have some suggestions for people who live in smaller spaces? Post them in the comments section below.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Thank you so much for the ideas. We live in a small town home with no guest room, garage or basement. It has been a real challenge to prep with no space.

    • 5 gal buckets w/lids hold a lot and stack to the ceiling. Put those in back of closets or sheds. Also get book shelves and put canned foods on them. then hang curtains or tack silk screening onto it and its art hiding your preps. I like the idea of the cereal or any boxed food on the back wall of a closet held tight to it with bungee cords. This I will try. We don’t have a garage or basement but we have a spare room which we made a fake wall and lots of things behind it. Panels can be removed by removing the trim which is tacked on. The space under the kitchen sink cupboard can also be utilized.

  • While I like much of what you suggest, glass and other frangibles on or under shelves would seem to invite real disappointment in the event of a quake. And I would avoid plastic containers for items you would like undigested by rodents. I’ve had unintended gnawed holes in plastic and thus learned that if you are serious about protecting against various hungry creatures, you employ metal, at least. I use galvanized to greatly increase life expectancy of the container, while lining the container with cardboard to eliminate direct contact of even the contained packages and try to reduce the transfer of zinc to the food products I so store.

  • I bought 2 inexpensive low bookcases (the assemble yourself, plywood type) and use them as a sofa table with a lamp and other things on top. I use the shelves to store preps…they can’t be seen or accessed without moving the sofa and so I pretty much keep preps I would only need in a SHTF situation. It’s not a big deal to move the sofa, but I doubt it would occur to someone to check there if, heaven forbid, my house was ever broken into etc. I also “collect” oil lamps and display them. They have come in handy a couple of times when the power has gone out. Some great ideas here!

  • I’m living rent free in a friend’s home that was condemned 15 years ago for mold infestation. I live in half the house and te rest is pretty well sealed off. Needless to say, it is crowded with my stockpile. I have been considering putting some items, maybe canned goods, inside metal trash cans, sealing them up pretty well, and stashing them in the sealed off part of the house. Right now, there is so much stuff everywhere it drives me nuts since you hardly have room to turn around. I’ve been thinking about using some of the 20 or 31 gallon trash cans I bought for Faraday cages and sealing them up pretty much the same way, to make sure (I hope) mold spores don’t get inside the cans. I don’t think I dare try stashing anything with grains, any type of material, such as clothes or bedding, but I think cans and jars might be OK. And maybe even some of the #10 cans, again very well sealed to ensure none of the mold gets into any of the containers.
    We spent over a month cleaning up the part of the house my dogs and I live in with some stuff that kills mold on contact, before I moved in, and this part of the house was never as contaminated as the part of the house that we keep sealed. I have been told only to go into that part of the house if I have to, like for the breaker box, and to wear a face mask while in there, do what I have to do and get out. I’m kinda thinking that if anyone wanted to check for hoarded supplies, one look in those rooms, and they would likely not wish to venture in any further. It is obvious from the dust and sealed vents and all that it is not used and likely contaminated. It still has the furniture in it that was there when they were told to get out immediately and abandon the furniture and even their clothes. I think I could put some of those trash cans and cover them with dusty linens and they would likely go undetected, and could be retrieved when needed, without bringing in the trash cans or linens. I have just got to get some of this stuff moved somewhere else. I think the attic is probably off limits, we have at least one family of squirrels up there and no doubt mice and/or rats. Plus we did not decontaminate the attic. I am, BTW, hoarding up on sticky traps and rat and mouse bait, as well as spider spray and flying insect spray, cause that is a problem that is likely to get worse and no better. I bought some super sticky rat trays that say they can catch snakes as well, and am not sure I want to use them. Not sure I want to have to deal with a rattlesnake who is pissed because it is stuck to a sticky trap. Nasty enough to deal with when you come across them out in the yard. This house has a small kitchen without much shelf space and the pantry is in the seal off area. That is next to the laundry room, also sealed off, which was where the leak was that caused the mold contamination in the first place. The masted bedroom, bathroom, the other living area, and some large room that I’m not sure what its purpose was are all in the sealed off area. That is actually more than 1/2 the living space of the house before it was damaged. I have use of the two small bedrooms, the family bathroom, very small, the living room, dining room and kitchen. Only three small closets. We have set up a laundry room in the shed using water we run from the outdoor faucet. I also have my freezer out there. And apparently, at times, several large rats and now and then snakes. I do not go in there after dark.
    Its a kinda weird living arrangement, and, to be honest, has me convinced I could live almost anywhere. I lived most of my life in a relatively normal middle-class environment, until the last 15 or so years, and have had my eyes majorly opened to a whole lot of different things I had previously had no idea about. As a city-slicker most of my life, this has really been an entirely new world for me. Don’t think I ever really want to go back to city life.

    • For your own safety, DO NOT store ANYTHING in the mold areas, not even in metal trash cans! Every time you walk into that area, you stir up the mold spores that become airborne . Very dangerous for your lungs!

  • You can put a shelf or shelves (depending on ceiling height) in the space (near the ceiling) between the built-in closet and the adjacent wall, whether there is a doorway there or not. Works especially well for books.

  • I have built a plywood wall just 40 cm in front of the original wall. One section ist fitted in with magnets so that I can pull away that section to access the storage goods
    I pack the containers to include everything I will need for one month and label the containers accordinling…(1/1, 1/2, 1/3…)
    I can use the entire heighth so in that small space I can store items for 3 Months. Since I don’t need to access it so often so have wallpapered over the entire wall and put other pieces of furniture up against the wall…which is the big advantage over cupboards. I rather like it secure but out of sight…I’ m more the clean style than the vintage girl

  • I use the big buckets that cat litter comes in for storage. They stack nicely just like the buckets of items from prepper sites.

    Also, I have 9 foot ceilings in my home. The kitchen/bathroom cabinets leave about 18 inches from the top of the cabinets to the ceiling. I have put “decorator” items up there to look pretty – but the top of the cabinets is about 3 inches below the trim and the things went down too low to look good. My husband put some very thin plywood up there to help and that leaves a 3 inch space for storage. Not much can fit there – cans of tuna and small bags of rice and beans, but there are LOTS of cabinets which makes lots of space.

    You can move books on the shelf to the edge of the shelf and fit a few things behind them.

    I have not personally done this, but I have read that people peel back the cloth underside of their box springs and store toilet paper and paper towels on the wooden slats under the box springs. Tack back the cloth.

    How about putting a few small items in the pockets of off season clothes?

    Additionally – and I haven’t done this, but might consider it. My cabinets are about 3 inches off the floor and have a board across the bottom of them for the toe space. If I remove the bottom drawer in the cabinet, I can see there is a small space there as well. Might be good for items that aren’t subject to moisture.

    Off topic a bit, but here’s another thing I think might work OK in a grid down situation. I save the big jugs that cat litter comes in. They have a fairly large screw on top. I think you could use them for washing small items like underwear and socks, a light T shirt and maybe hand towels and wash cloths, and baby clothes. Just put the items inside with soap and water and shake clean. This way you can reserve the water to flush toilets and/or water the garden. Haven’t tried it, but I’m saving the jugs just in case.

    • Clever idea about the laundry! I think I may try that now for hand washables. Any savings on my laundry costs is good for me.

  • Hi Daisy: Very recently, within the last six months, I bought a single-bed at WalMart. It needs no box spring, the mattress sits on a metal platform (perforated metal). Here’s the brilliant part: it has 18″ of clearance under it. This is enough for the ubiquitous 18-gallon Rubbermade-style plastic storage containers. Four of them fit nicely. Eleven #10 cans fit under that bed! Maybe it’s not as comfortable as beds with a box spring, but I bought it for our dog! He loves it. You could make or buy a bed skirt (is this the right name?) if you wished. I didn’t bother.

    I would not, by the way, store any food in clear glass in the sunshine or other light. Light deteriorates food!

  • Sorry, I goofed in my comment. Eleven #10 cans fit in EACH Rubbermaid-style container, for a total of 44 #10 cans under the bed.

  • Great article with lots of great ideas.
    We live in a small house we had built on our homestead. We have 10 ft ceilings and had solid wood shelving built in the pantry, laundry and closet from top to bottom. Think “high” and go to the top where possible.
    I also have preps as decor – baskets, oil lamps, candles, wash board and even an antique metal bedpan !

  • Great article Daisy! For even more ideas and some instructions, I follow a website called Hometalk and they have dozens of storage, upcycling and recycling ideas. I highly recommend it, and they have special features on how to maximize storage in small spaces. (Plus a lot of really cute craft ideas).

  • I’ve saved all my glass organic juice jars, sterilized them and filled them with water. My living room & dining room drapes are long and reach just barely above the floor. I’ve put those bottles of water behind all the drapes. Because my couch & end tables are in front of the drapes I can still have the drapes open and you cannot see the bottles. I have large windows so I have 12 feet of hidden bottles in the living room and just over 7 feet in the dining room. I am a home caner so I’ve put cases of jars on the floor of linen closet with paper towels & toilet paper in front and behind the linens are more jars.

    After purchasing #10 cans of freeze-dried & dehydrated foods, I’ve repackaged them into a complete meal in each into either caning jars with oxygen absorbers or mylar bags. The bags are in food grade buckets I’ve either bought for $2.00 each or free at the co-op.

    For the buckets of food: For a coffee table place two rows of buckets in front of the couch, cover with plywood & cover that with fabric. Or, for a shelf, place one row, cover with plywood & fabric & place against a wall then put books or your pretties on top.

  • Just tossing my two cents in. You mentioned bed risers. Ever notice that pre-20th century beds practically needed a small ladder to climb into? There’s a reason for that. Try as we might, our modern homes have not altered the laws of physics. Warm air rises, cold air sinks. Our ancestors knew this. The temperature in your home can differ by more than ten degrees from floor to ceiling. Using an infrared thermometer (got mine at Amazon for $10 to check an old fridge, now use it to set oven temps), I confirmed This. If your bed is taller, it will be warmer. Everyone should have one of these thermometers. It can give you all sorts of useful information beyond letting you know how well the fridge is working. We got over twenty pounds of sweet potatoes and almost that amount of butternut squash from our small garden one year; I found the coldest place in the house, which happened to be on the floor in the corner of our dining room. Put an old coffee table there, stacked the harvest on a plastic bag under it, and draped a cloth over it. With only two of us, it all kept well and lasted several months.

  • Some other possibilities not already mentioned:

    IF you have available space in a backyard, you might consider adding either a fixed location lockable shed OR a towable lockable cargo trailer — for items that can tolerate wide temperature swings. Both have useful storage expansion possibilities, but the cargo trailer has some other advantages, including no city construction permit fee.

    Another possibility is to add a DIY underground cellar, per either this website

    or any number of other similar designs floating around, some even on YouTube.

    Some things that can mess up your storage plans — without recourse:

    There are millions of people in 2020 and beyond suddenly without jobs or businesses because of the idiotic Covid-19 lockdown — which I’m reading will likely kill ten times the number of people as the virus would. If losing a fixed roof over your head forces you into either nomadic living in your car, SUV, Van or RV … OR into a homeless shelter, you lose most of your storage space. Even if you could move stuff into a public storage unit with a monthly bill, you might 1) not have access to it when you need it, and 2) permanently lose all those contents if you miss a bill or two — and the owner auctions off your stuff for a song. If anything, those possibilities suggest that the towable cargo trailer (mentioned above) could mitigate some of such losses in case you had to “go nomadic.” (It’s also an easy conversion to turn a cargo trailer into a towable camper — with lots of YouTube how-to videos on this.)

    Another thing I’ve seen mess up one’s storage plans are relatives. I know of three people (unrelated, including me) who when they had an emergency hospital stay, had relatives without their knowledge or permission break into their house with the excuse “it’s for your own good” and generally made a mess of things. I had a huge stash of dried firewood (still on the dead tree, awaiting my chainsaw) cut down and hauled off to the landfill. I had several large bags of emptied and cleaned containers — gone to the trash. I had tools and camping gear squirreled away where I didn’t find some of them for six months — some of which I was in the process of reviewing for the manufacturers. I had a houseful of books rearranged into random order that made no sense — I couldn’t tell if they’d been stolen, trashed, hidden or whatever. And a lot more, but describing that would risk writing a book. I was astounded at the arrogance and refusal to explain or apologize. I also had no idea how frequently this apparently happens — with little recourse. Apparently there’s a never ending battle between the obsessive busybody neatniks versus prepper packrats.


  • The next time you are near a grocery or liquor store, check to see if they have any empty boxes. Even if they don’t have a top, you can paint or cover them with fabric or wrapping paper to make decorative open storage boxes to put on a shelf, or cut down another box to make a closable flap type lid.

  • Where do you get your gamma seals for the 5 gallon food safe buckets? Great ideas, thanks so much!

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