Mr Storage makes the case for making creative space

The man behind the under-the-stairs cloakroom on Dragons’ Den practises what he preaches and his own home is a model of clutter-free living

Thu, Apr 10, 2014, 00:00

Paul Jacob, the civil engineer behind Smart Storage, the company that makes those clever under-the-stairs drawers, has squeezed every inch of space out of his three-bedroom semi, without losing a centimetre of floor space.

“Storage is considered a luxury when in fact it should be treated as a basic,” says Jacob, aka Mr Storage, Sarah Beeney’s go-to man for solving her storage problems.

In the Greystones home he shares with his wife, Clodagh, and their daughters, Ellen and Holly, he has added four cubic metres of secret storage; in the attic, under the stairs and behind the bath, which amounts to 75 percent of the size of his small third bedroom or box room. This is without losing a single centimetre of floor space – all this storage is situated in unused cavities in the home.

And they’re in every property, he says. “We need to reconsider the cubic volume of the home and how better to utilise it.”

His house has become a laboratory for his smart storage ideas.

He extended the property, which was situated on a triangular-shaped plot that faced east to the rear, following the lines of the plot so that their kitchen could expand to become a large kitchen, diner, livingroom and the room adjacent become a TV room for Ellen and Holly. This added 51sq m (550sq ft) to the 102sq m (1100sq ft) house. An attic conversion gave him another 23sq m (250sq ft).

What is far more interesting is how he made use of so-called “dead zones” in the house – the hall, landing, attic, bathroom and outside shed – to create living spaces that are blissfully clutter free. “It’s not expensive but it does involve joined up thinking,” he says. He wants architects, interior designers and developers to consider storage in order to create better functioning homes that are more pleasurable to live in.

The hall is the thoroughfare of any home, the most travelled space within the property, Jacobs says. Coats, school bags, sports kits and shoes are the “road works that block the free flow of movement”. Under the stairs he has a cloakroom for coats and deep drawers that can accommodate the rest of the clutter listed above. The drawer system featured on the television show Dragon’s Den and inspired Norah Casey to back his business. Since then Jacob has built a flatpack version that can be purchased in places such as Woodie’s and installed by trained fitters anywhere in the country.

The space behind the bath facia in the family bathroom is another untapped void, says Jacob. “Forty per cent of the space within it is unused.” By turning the bath facia into a pullout flap he plans to create a place for secret shelving that can store 12 to 15 family-size bottles of shampoo.



The Jacobs turned their three-bedroom house into a two-bed because the box room was “unusable” Jacob explains. “We have two daughters. One had a good big bedroom and the other had no room for anything. By knocking the two rooms into one the girls now also have a study and play area.” He claims it makes better use of the space although agents would take the view it impacts the value of the property because it only has two bedrooms.

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