Small Utility Room Shelving Solution & the Best Way to Organize Paint Supplies

Having a fully finished basement adds a lot of livable square footage to our house, but it also means that there's almost no storage space. But you know I love a good challenge, so we worked our magic and managed to squeeze in some much needed utility room shelving and organized every available inch of space.


Utility rooms generally aren't the most storage friendly spaces, and the pipes running floor to ceiling in the middle of ours made it just that much harder to work with.

Use this utility room shelving solution to organize a tiny utility room that is right on floor space.

When we first moved in, we bought a narrow shelf unit for the corner of the utility room. The dimensions were small enough to fit behind the pipes, but the floor in the utility room slopes so drastically toward the drain in the middle of the room that even the adjustable feet on the unit were not enough to make the shelves stand level and steady in the space.

For a while we were resolved to the fact that our tiny utility room couldn't effectively be used for any kind of storage. Finally it occurred to us that while the sloped floor meant we couldn't have a free standing shelving unit, we had no shortage of studs to which we could attach shelf brackets.

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Since we wanted the utility room shelves to be strong enough to hold heavy items, such as paint cans, we purchased heavy duty metal shelf brackets, and opted for thick composite shelf boards that we had pre-cut to length at Home Depot.  

To ensure that the shelves weren't going anywhere, Scott also secured the brackets to the underside of the shelves with short screws. As you can see, Scott was working in pretty tight quarters while installing these shelves.

This may not be the most stylish shelving you've ever seen, but it sure does add a lot of functionality to a previously unused and unusable corner of our home. Pardon the grainy iPhone photo of the finished shelves, but this really isn't a fancy photography kind of space.

Best of all, we were able to customize this shelving solution to take advantage of every available inch.  The shelves span the full available width between the wall and the pipes, including a shorter bottom shelf that fits in the tightest of spaces.


One of the main reasons we so desperately needed these storage shelves in our utility room was because we no other place to store our extra paint and paint supplies. Since our garage is detached from the house and unheated, we can't store paint out there (it would freeze). I did some research and determined that we could safely store our water-based latex paint on our new shelves, but not oil based paint or spray paint. 

The best way to organize paint supplies. Find out what paint supplies are safe to store in a utility room and how to organize extra paint, paint brushes, rollers, and much more in a small space.

Ironically, after emptying all of our latex paints from their original cans into clear plastic canisters (read all about the how and why on that in this post), I determined that using empty paint cans would be an ideal way to store many of our other paint supplies. Rather than attempting to clean out old paint cans, many of which were rusty around the edges, I purchased new, empty paint cans. They sell them in a couple of sizes, and they're very inexpensive. I started by sorting out all of my paint supplies, then began filling up the paint cans with all those items small enough to fit within them.

The Best Way to Organize Paint Supplies - Use empty paint cans to store paint brushes, roller covers, stir sticks, painters tape, and more.

I printed simple labels that match the labels I created to note the paint brand, color, and sheen on the canisters of extra paint.

Click here to download this blank label template if you want to use these for your own paint supplies. Just use your favorite editing program to add in the text, or print them without text and hand write in what you need. I printed all of my labels on to glossy sticker paper, then it cut just inside the gray circle border, and stuck them directly onto the cans.

I filled the larger paint cans with different kinds of paint roller covers and foam roller covers, our paint edging tools with the refill edging pads, and with rolls of various widths of blue painter's tape.

Organize extra painting supplies in empty paint cans. Use paint cans to store roller covers, paint brushes, painters tape, stir sticks, and more!

I used the smaller cans to hold our paint brushes and extra stir sticks.

Organize extra painting supplies in empty paint cans. Use paint cans to store roller covers, paint brushes, painters tape, stir sticks, and more!

Of course, some of our paint supplies were too big to fit into paint cans. For these, I used to some silver mesh bins that I already had around the house. One bin holds our drop cloths and rollers and a second bin holds our paint trays and paint tray liners, as well as extras of some of our supplies.

To label these bins, I again used the same label template and printed my labels onto glossy sticker paper, but this time I didn't peel off the sticker backing. Instead, I just punched a hole through the top of each circle and used some ribbon to tie the labels on to the handle of each bin.

You might have noticed that there is also a third, empty bin sitting up on the shelf. I know from experience that it can be cumbersome hauling all of the necessary supplies up and down the stairs through the house. We use this extra bin to transport just the specific supplies we need for a particular project.  I'll fill this bin with the specific paint we are using, as well as the paint brushes, rollers, and tape that we need for that project. Then, when we're done painting, it will be quick and easy to empty the supplies out of this extra bin and back in to their respective containers on the shelves.

Three nails hammered into a stud keep additional paint supplies neatly organized.

The top nail holds the customized paint deck I made, which includes each of the colors of paint used throughout our house. Read all the details about this simple, DIY paint deck here.

Another nail in the same stud holds a clipboard with my paint reference charts and my paint organizing kit.

Finally, I put all of our can opening keys onto a book ring and hung them from another nail to make them quick and easy to find each time we have a new can of paint open. I honestly don't know why we have so many, but they seem to go missing easily, so I'm keeping them all.

I used the top and bottom shelves in the utility room for the items that we will access the least frequently. Since Scott and I are both short, whatever went on the top shelf had to be lightweight and easy to maneuver. We decided that this was the perfect place to store all of our extra furnace filters, which weigh almost nothing.

The bottom shelf holds extra, empty canisters, which are ready to grab and go when we have new paint to transfer into them. On the floor, below the bottom shelf, we have stacked up extra tile from various projects around the house. There's a lot of extra tile floating around in the garage, which I still need to move down to the utility room. But, it's nice to now have one place that we can put all of this tile to be able to find it when we need it.

So that's that! Our newly organized utility room. A far cry from the empty space that we previously had deemed unusable. It's still not a lot of storage space, and it's certainly not pretty or picture perfect, but I think that we've created a very efficient use of the space that we head available, and I feel good knowing that the paint is no longer being stored in unheated garage or cluttering up the floor of our coat closet.

Think your small utility room doesn't have usable storage space? This utility room shelving solution can fit any tight space and allowed us to find the best way to organize paint supplies.

1 comment :

  1. That's so smart!
    Have you had any issues with the paint drying up inside of them?