[LIFESTYLE] Japanese Space-Saving Tips For Small Homes

[LIFESTYLE] Japanese Space-Saving Tips For Small Homes

As one of the more densely populated countries in the world, the innovative Japanese people have learnt how to maximise every inch of space available. In Tokyo, the population density measures a whopping 6168 people/km². However, tiny Singapore beats that with a population density of 8188 people/km². Yes, we are packed like sardines in a far-too-small can.

Instead of lamenting, let us give you some useful space-saving tips inspired by the Japanese for small homes and maybe smaller homes in the future!

Hidden storage compartments are ideal for a clean, uncluttered look. There are many ways to incorporate this into your interior but you probably need the help of a skilled carpenter.

Under The Staircase

This ingenious custom-built kaiden dansu, which means stepped chest, is designed by Nihonmatsu-based architect Kotaro Anzai. It is a playful yet modern and sleek design that will complement any interiors. Of course, this staircase storage idea is only feasible for homes with lofts and that rules out the smaller HDB flats.

Nestled / Hidden Shelving

Hidden shelves can be designed to be part of any room of the house. This is particular useful if you have a lot of knick knacks which you have no idea where to store (yes, I am referring to those with slight hoarder syndrome). Close the shelves to hide the mess away and to reveal a beautiful wooden laminate that can be part of your room’s design. It is a great way to declutter and maintain the aesthetics of your interior.

Having nestled shelves is especially functional in small kitchens too. For people who love to cook, you probably have a lot of cooking tools, spices, sauces and cutlery. Instead of having a normal wide cupboard, take advantage of the available vertical space and build it narrow and high. It is exactly like how Singapore’s HDB flats are built! In this way, there will be more space for other bulky equipment such as a state-of-the-art coffee machine or that 7-in-1 blender.

Well, the Japanese are famous for their creative inventions. Most are terribly clever while some are just strange. Let us take a look at some brilliant creations that reduce clutter in your homes.

Foldaway Office

To be honest, this furniture piece looks bizarre but is truly a space saver. Invented by Atelier OPA, this foldaway office opens to reveal a workstation and closes like a suitcase. It comes in wood or steel (this has additional functions of being magnetic so that you can stick your notes) and is equipped with power supply cord, LED light and a chair. When you’re done working, simply fold up the office and roll it into the corner of your room.

Sliding Bookcases

An innovative bookcase design idea by Dinos Japan, this sliding bookcase is inspired by the same clever idea of hidden storage. This sliding bookcase will make any book-lovers’ eyes light up; it is space-saving, it can store a lot of books and it prevents your books from getting dusty!

Chair-turned into-Blinds

This transformative creative design by Nendo Designs is called Sudare, which translates into screens or blinds in Japanese. They have four versions – chair, high back chair, lounge chair and side table, that all double up as partition screens when folded. Besides saving space, this product adds a Japanese touch to your interiors.

Double Shoe Stack

An original idea by IEMO Co. Japan but now widely manufactured and sold by China manufacturers, this shoe holder stacks both sides of your shoes on top of each other so as to maximise vertical space again. It is made of non-slip plastic so that the top shoe will not slide off. A simple yet brilliant design.


There are actually spaces that are not fully utilised in your homes which you may be unaware of. Think out of the box like the Japanese and you will be surprised.

Above Your Washing Machine

How many of you have ignored that beautiful empty space above the washing machine? Make good use of that space and transform it into a laundry utility area. This Japanese lifestyle company, Seikatsu Sacca, invented hanging racks that are supported by the beams connecting the ceiling to the floor. These customizable racks can store towels, detergent, bleaching powder, basket of clothing pegs and more. In fact, use your imagination and look around your house to see where else can you install a hanging / suspended rack.

Beside Your Toilet Bowl – Toilet Roll Stocker

This super slim and compact (14-cm/5.5 inch) cabinet is specially designed to fit the space in between the toilet bowl and the wall. It measures just wide enough to store 12 toilet rolls in case you run out of it while doing your stuff. It also acts as an arm rest if you have a habit of reading the newspapers in the toilet.

The Nooks Of Your Kitchen – Skinny Pull-Out Cabinet

This product is very similar to the nestled shelving idea above. However, this Japanese manufacturer took it one more step by fabricating it in 3 standard widths – 10cm, 15cm and 20cm. The 10cm sliding rack-on-wheels is designed after research to hold most sauce bottles and also the regular mineral water bottles. Why waste the valuable space found in every nook and cranny of your kitchen when you can convert it to a cabinet!

Behind Doors

Yes, the door can actually be creatively converted into extra space too. Using carpentry works or just a simple hanging rack, it is possible to create a storage area for relatively flat items such as spice bottles, belts, magazines or scarves. Again, it is how you redefine the use of common spaces in the house and find new ways of making room for more space.

With these Japanese-inspired space-saving tips, we hope you have a better idea on how to more efficiently make use of your limited spaces. It is all about thinking creatively! Do you have more space-saving ideas? Let us know in the comments below!


About Kris Chng

The power of words is often underestimated. Armed with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from NTU and blessed with a vivid imagination, I have the flair to transform words into an engaging meaningful copy that readers can connect with. As a freelance Copywriter and Graphic Designer, I am fortunate to be able to spend my free time pursuing my interests in life. I also travel frequently to find inspiration so that the colours of life do not escape me.

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