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Go Back   BHM Forum > Self-Reliance & Preparedness > Hands-on > Building/Tools


Building/Tools Anything to do with construction, remodeling, etc.

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Old 09-28-2009, 09:26 PM
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CarolAnn Female CarolAnn is offline
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Default Trailer House fine-tuning - need storage ideas!

There is just NOT enough storage built into my little house. There is a short wall beside the fridge and I could tell there wasn't any wiring in the last section so I carefully cut away the wall paper between the studs, then sawed out a 5' tall section of sheet rock. Within that hollow space, I'll reapply the wallpaper to the back side of the sheetrock facing the fridge, then put up shelves between the studs. Just the place for canned goods, one can deep!

I finally located my water heater behind a screwed-on panel in the master closet. It's a little electric model so it doesn't need an air vent like a gas one would. I see all that empty, finished space above it . . . and so next I'm going to be figuring out how to put some big shelves over it and a door to access it from the bedroom. For some reason this secret cubby was completely wallpapered before the water heater was installed! (The sheet rock in a trailer comes pre-papered, I'm sure!)

I've got plastic bins under the beds and shelves over the toilets for towels and STILL can't get everything put away!

I'm considering a trap door to an insulated box that I'd build under the floor . . ..can anyone see problems I might get into with that idea?
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:48 PM
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tufhelp Male tufhelp is offline
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We're going through the same thing, this one took a bit of finding, but I finally stumbled across it one day retrieving a lost item from under the stove. The corner of the "L" in out kitchen counter was for all practical purposes, completely inaccessible - reads: "Useless". Luckily the master bedroom closet backs up on it and I was able to construct a door to access the approximately 2' x 2' x 30" space. Not exactly handy, but an extra 10 cubic feet isn't easy to find in a trailer.

Thanks for that water heater idea, we have a regular sized one, but access isn't possible inside the house, there is an outside door, but since there is no flue required, I can also put in some shelving above it and gain another 10 cubic feet or so...

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits... Albert Einstein

Last edited by tufhelp; 09-28-2009 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:26 PM
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Mr.B Mr.B is offline
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I live in a very small house, and not wanting to fill up every square foot of the floor up with shelves I started to make Recessed Wall Shelves. These are theplans I followed to make them.

As far as making trap doors for storage I can see having a problem with heat loss, having to take some insulation out for the sake of storage. Hey what about buying an old Junk van or bread truck and putting it up on blocks? You can lock the thing up?

Good luck

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Old 09-30-2009, 12:12 PM
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CarolAnn Female CarolAnn is offline
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Mrs. B - recessed wall shelves is exactly what I'm doing in the kitchen! I like the looks of what you posted in the link better than what I planned! Thanks!

I had to chuckle about your van suggestion, though! I live in a VERY strict trailer park - we're not allowed to have any vehicles that aren't up and running and very few of those. In fact, the list of what we're "not allowed" is very, very long and includes having dogs for pets! (Not even tiny house dogs that aren't allowed outside!) On the up-side, it does keep the neighborhood looking nicer than it might, where so many people are crowded together.

Tufhelp - I'm going to check out my cabinet corners now! I've got the kitchen counter "ell" - I bet I could install a door on the living room side to the big space under the sink. (It's diagonal in the "ell" of the counter, which leaves a huge triangle behind it, blocked by the sink pipes!) I've got a "great room" - actually, a dinky great room - that makes my kitchen open to the living room. I'm considering building a wall just to have something to hang another bank of cabinets on.

Last edited by CarolAnn; 09-30-2009 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:04 PM
NCLee NCLee is offline
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CarolAnn, I admire your resorcefulness in finding more storage space. !!

Before you cut into your living room wall to get to that hidden corner, think about cutting through the side wall of the corner cabinet. Depending on how your cabinets are constructed, you may be able to access the space that way. Will be more difficult to get to what's stored there, but will be easier to do than the finish work needed in the living room.

For the space over your water heater, go ahead and open up the whole space, from inside your closet. Then, make a shelving unit that fits over the heater with legs that go down beside the heater. That'll give you the support that you need for canned goods and other heavy items. I've seen interior studs that were 1x3 and 2x3 instead of standard 2x4 studs. These smaller ones just won't carry as much weight when using shelf brackets as standard 2x4's.

Then to cover the new, bigger, access hole, you have 2 choices. One is to add a larger panel mounted with screws. Or, make a door from 1/2" plywood and some hinges. (Depends on whether you have enough room for the door to swing open.)

Another storage space may be to build taller cabinets over your washer and dryer, if you have them. Just open the lid of the washer to determine the height from the washer that you'll need. Or, mount a shelf over your washer/dryer. Store your laundry supplies on the shelf and use the cabinets above for other storage. If you don't have any cabinets over them, you can put in a shelving system a little wider than those units, over them. Use supports on each end that run all the way to the floor. Then, use velcro for curtains over the shelves to keep out the light and dust.

My "great room" is actually 2 rooms (living room on the front side, den on the backside) with huge openings between the living room & dining room, dinning room and the kitchen, and kitchen and den. That's the way it used to be. Now, I have 3 standard sized openings between those rooms.

Now, my grandmother's china cabinet sits against one of those new wall sections in the living room. It contains my mother's china. On the other side of the wall, my china cabinet sits. Gives me enough room for a sideboard (converted dresser) behind the dinning room table. That's where I now store kitchen linens.

Between the dinning room and kitchen, I put in a shelving unit (like Mr B's unit) for my green glass ware collection. Moved the built in oven to fit on the backside of that unit, plus had enough room to put the refrigerator beside that.

After filling in the opening between the kitchen and den, I gained a 6' section of upper and lower cabinets and counter top. By re-arranging the rest of the kitchen, I gained enough space for a 5'x5' walk in pantry in one of the corners.

On the den side of that opening, planning to put in floor to ceiling bookcases with a built in entertainment center in one of the corners. Bottom section of bookcases will have doors so I can store more than books there.

Unless you have a very dry area under your home, I'd leave cutting a hole and a trap door to be used only as a last resort. If you don't cut it correctly or are limited as to where you can cut it, you may run into the chassis. Plus, you may need additional blocking, as well as framing and bracing to cut through your floor joists. If your home is like most, you have a slight crown in your floor. (Made that way on purpose.) It may be hard to get the trap door to fit without having a gap. Gap = possible tripping hazard, possible drafts. Depending on how your heating system is setup you may encounter ducts, along with wiring and pumbing water/waste lines. Not saying you can't do it, only that you may have to deal with more problems than expected if you cut through your floor.

Instead, re-think your closets and what you have under the bed. If you're using a closet as a linen closet, store that stuff under the bed in those storage containers on wheels. Put shelving in the closet spaced to accomodate what you plan to store there.

Or, put your linens in an old fashioned flat top trunk / coffee table in the living room. A stack of old fashioned suitcases topped with a lamp can become an end table. No need to tell anyone what you have stored in those flea market suitcases.

Because I host family get-togethers and do a lot of backyard cooking, I bought one of those 72" vinyl storage cabinets with shelves to go on our covered porch. Extra dishes, glasses, and other similar items are stored out there. Lowes sells them. They can be locked, if needed. Freed up extra storage space in the kitchen for things that can't be kept on the backporch. It isn't waterproof, but if you have a covered deck one of those or a deck storage box may be another option.

Hope some of these thoughts are useful in your quest for more storage.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
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Old 10-13-2009, 05:34 PM
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CarolAnn Female CarolAnn is offline
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Default Hollow wall cabinet

My sister's hubby finished my shelving. I saved the wallpaper and glued it to the back side of the sheetrock before he put in the shelves. For the shelf "brackets" I gave him an old picture frame to cut up!

How I love having my cabinets back for dishes!
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:16 PM
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Catalpa Catalpa is offline
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Can you access the underside of your trailer from the outside? When I lived in my trailer, there was actually a little door that was made of part of the skirting for access to the crawl space underneath. I used it when I had to go under and heat tape/insulate all the plumbing, and noticed there was dry, elevated space on top of the cement pads. (My trailer park had long strips of cement to pull the trailer on to, instead of the individual cement pilings.) You wouldn't want to store food down there, or anything that couldn't freeze, but I found it very useful for things like snow tires, seasonal tools, the big cooler used only for trips, things like that. Also I had a wooden porch at the front door, built like a deck, only higher. I was able to cover three sides with lattice work, and make a lattice work door for the fourth side. When it was closed, no one could tell there was a door there, or notice what was underneath. I had three big tubs under there that held all of my recycling.

How big are the bedrooms? Another option is to put a wardrobe in a corner to hold clothes, and use the closet for other storage.

One more thing that I've found really helpful: those vacuum storage bags actually work! I have all of my off season clothes, hunting gear, fabric stash, stuff like that packed into those space bags and vaccuumed flat. It's amazing how much space it saves!
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Old 12-31-2009, 08:46 PM
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CarolAnn Female CarolAnn is offline
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Default "found" storage space!

Here is a pic of how I cut away a bit of sheet rock on the wall. I saved the wall paper & glued it onto the back side of the sheet rock on the other side of the wall so it would be a finished surface. My bro in law sawed up the bits of wood to make shelves. I need to get a bit more wood to put a finished edge around the outside, but I LOVE having a place to put cans that I can actually SEE what I have!
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Old 01-01-2010, 09:35 AM
NCLee NCLee is offline
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That looks nice! Job well done. Thanks for sharing the pix. Area looks a little different from what I had envisioned it. Good to know that it turned out so well.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
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Old 01-01-2010, 11:08 AM
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MissouriFree MissouriFree is offline
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That is real great job. looks super.

Another idea for storage is those beds that have drawers under them. That is a lot a space that goes to waste .. and the best thing is that if you fill the area with drawers YOU DON'T HAVE TO CLEAN IT at each New Year ..
"The sound of tools properly used is as a pleasing tune. The craftsman has no need to examine a saw to know if it is sharp, or if it is handled properly. - Walter Rose the Village Carpenter 1921.
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Old 01-01-2010, 08:49 PM
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Cat Lover Female Cat Lover is offline
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Location: NE Arkansas
Posts: 236

I can't agree with the idea of cutting into an outside wall and using that space for storage. Trailers simply do not have much insulation to begin with - you don't want to sacrifice what little you have!

Trailers are tight, there's no denying it- especially these days, where we have so many things we 'can't live without.' That's why so many trailers have storage sheds next to them.

I think the first thing you need to do is change the way you look at furniture.

You can 'custom make' a lot of furniture using framing lumber and "Simpson" connectors. This does two things: It gives you useable space under the furniture, and you can make the furniture fit the space- which means less wasted space.

For example, I made a simple bed this way. No box spring; the mattress lays atop a board. The bed is maybe 3" higher than the usual bed, but this lets me easily slide storage totes under the bed. If I had done things a bit differently, I might have made space under the mattress for storing long things as well.

Likewise, I was able to make shelves over the desk, that are sized to the books that go there. I'm looking at adding some storage over the bed next.

In my kitchen, I have a shallow shelf mounted at the same height as the top of the fridge; this makes it all one long shelf. My pots & pans hang from cup hooks on the underside of the shelf. Again, the hooks are spaced according to the pot sizes, and not by any measurement made with a ruler.

My microwave sits atop a 'table' made from a rolling tool chest. All those tool drawers work real well for cutlery, Glad containers, and small appliances (mixers, toaster, etc).

Open wire shelves rule in the kitchen. Light passes through the wires, so the counters remain well lit. Taper the shelves; narrow at face level, a maximum of 16" deep at about the 6ft6in level.

You can make a pretty good sofa/love seat with those connectors. The 'secret' is to have a upholstery shop make the foam cushions. They will make the 'back' cushions from a tapered piece of foam. (Pop the back cushions off, and you have a pretty good spare bed, too!). Naturally, this gives you space under the sofa for some storage bins.

What's the bath look like? A wire shelf, up high, above the shower spray, inside the tub/shower is perfect for everyone's shampoo, etc.

Don't overlook the space outside the trailer for less-often used stuff. Put some effort in making decent access to the space under the trailer, and use storage totes. In a similar manner, the space under your entry deck is often wasted.
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:46 PM
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CarolAnn Female CarolAnn is offline
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Catlover - I agree - an outside wall storage would be a bad idea, ESPECIALLY here in Wisconsin. I used an interior, non-load bearing wall with no outlets in it so I wouldn't have any risk of cutting into a wire. It'll look better when I get the trim boards put up, also.

I'm looking at a sofa that the back folds down to make it a bed. (Not a futon) - the seat flips up to reveal storage for blankets. Seems like that would solve a couple of storage issues. The kitchen is packed with low-grade, badly designed cabinets. I still have to figure out if replacing them will be off-set by the natural devaluation of the trailer!

I've got to look at the bathrooms - wire shelving might be just the ticket!

I like the idea of storing something under the trailer - I'll be looking into building something there next summer. I'd go for a nice door in the skirting on the back side, since my house backs up against a hill, there's no one to see that I've done it. It'll be some sort of box on legs to keep things high and dry. Maybe a large pickup storage box on wheels? I've got plenty of cold weather to mull that over!
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Old 01-09-2010, 10:18 AM
SPIKE Male SPIKE is offline
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Nice job on the shelves. I may borrow your idea.

Under the trailer is a great place for storage. My property all slopes, so one end of my trailer is about a foot off the ground and the other end is about four feet off the ground. You just never know what may be behind that skirting.

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Old 01-09-2010, 07:27 PM
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NotSoFast Male NotSoFast is offline
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Nicely done, Mr. B.
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:23 PM
Southerngirl Female Southerngirl is offline
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Nice job CarolAnn! I've thought of that in our double wide as well. I checked out the wall next to our refrigerator, which goes into our utility room, but that is where our electrical box is Would have been a great spot to do what you are doing! But I do have many other spots in our house that are just "dead space" that I plan on doing the very same thing to. I need to find a good handy man to do the work though, but with a little asking around at the local cafe' at the nearest town will probably get that done
Just wanted to comment on the pic, it looks great!
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:31 AM
SheWoff Female SheWoff is offline
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Location: TN
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Hi everyone. This is my first post here and I was reading how you have found more storage space in your mobile homes also. We too live in one and know the "joys" of trying to find just one more little spot lol. Last spring, I found a gold mine in the kitchen! We have an open floor plan where they kitchen/front room is separated only by a small bar near the kitchen side. I happened to kick the paneling under the bar one day while cleaning. It sounded hollow??? No, could it be? Well, I had hubby take one panel off underneath the bar counter. Guess what we found? The entire underneath of the bar is hollow!! No wires, nothing, just wasted space! So he took off the panel facing into the kitchen and put shelves in there for me made of 1/2 plywood and used the metal shelving brackets from Lowe's. It has given me storage for cans on the top three shelves about 4 cans deep and this bar is about 8 feet long. We also left quite a bit of room from the floor to the first shelf so that I could get my stands of lard up under there and 2 liter bottle storage. Our hope is to get cabinet doors on them soon, but for right now, I just have a curtain drawn over it. Hope that gives someone else an idea of unused space they can put to work for them also.

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Old 02-09-2010, 06:46 PM
Deek D Male Deek D is offline
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I second and third the above notions of trying to refrain from cutting into the walls for recessed shelving....depending on your climate/locale, being cold all the time is less preferable to having a few extra feet of storage space I'd of luck with all!


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Old 03-07-2010, 02:30 AM
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mtl272 Male mtl272 is offline
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Default storeage and recess shelving

sorry if someone made this suggestion already i didn't read all posts. recessed shelving should not effect heat loss as long as it done on interior walls only. i built some basic booth benches with storage under the seat for my maw in-laws trailer. we are going to remove the central heat air handler that has never worked and make a linen closet. they use wood burning stove for 80% of their heating needs. on the other hand this is probably the best time to be shopping for a house cause it a buyers market!
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