Think storage when you think furniture

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

There's more to stashing your stuff than cardboard boxes and plastic bins. In fact, your stash can be rather stylish when tucked inside a sexy storage piece.

For starters, Tom Verwest, an interior designer with Scott Shuptrine Interiors in Royal Oak, points out an E-Charge Center from Hooker Furniture that resembles an end table, but opens to reveal pullout drawers and outlets. "It's really very interesting," he says.

According to Verwest, a lingerie chest is another alluring option. The small drawers can store anything from jewelry to medicine. "They can go pretty much anywhere because they're tall and narrow," he says.

Both jewelry boxes and jewelry stands make a pretty addition to your rooms while keeping clutter at bay. Verwest says a beautiful dressing table with a pop-up mirror that reveals storage for cosmetics and brushes can double as a desk.

Bars are sleek and sexy, such as one that looks like a leather trunk. "There's a resurgence in bars," Verwest says. "They were real popular in the '20s and '30s."

For those who don't serve alcohol, he says these elegant pieces can store glasses and china. "A bar could be a new approach to a buffet or credenza," he says.

Haul your buffet or credenza to a bedroom instead. "People always think they have to have a dresser," Verwest says. "What about a buffet or a credenza? They're very sexy as opposed to typical drawers."

Boxes and baskets are tired, he says. "There are some amazing pieces in the Theodore Alexander Althorp collection. They look like a box on a stand that opens up and there's a magazine rack or a jewelry box inside," he says.

"They're just as practical as they were back then to hide the clutter and all the mess," he adds.

This clever E-Charge Center from Hooker Furniture, available at Scott Shuptrine, features pullout drawers and outlets for more attractive storage than your average end table.

Betty Huotari, a professional organizer with Logical Placement in Fenton, says storage is a top priority when she looks for furniture. "Give it some thought," she suggests. "Where will you place it? What will be the use?"

For instance, she says an entertainment center might require room for video games and their peripheral products.

Smaller sections make sense. "Containers, trays and drawer dividers can be helpful to give you some division," she says. "This keeps your storage from becoming one of those junk drawers that we all have."

Treat yourself to jewelry inserts for drawers. "When they're felt-lined, it makes you feel special," Huotari says.

Use a label maker for definition. You might store stationery in categories like pretty paper, stamps and envelopes.

Sufficient storage isn't the only consideration. Make sure your furniture has enough surface space to meet your needs. Think about unique usage, like a lingerie chest for tank tops and scarves.

Repurpose existing pieces, such as a large TV cabinet that you no longer need. "Add a couple of shelves for a different function," she says. And do your research first. "People want ideas," Huotari says. "Google 'storage' and see what you find."

For information, go to or call (248) 549-9105. To reach Betty Huotari, go to or call (810) 348-1772.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at