Storage: Home Décor’s Rising Star

Home Décor goods are frequently assessed in terms of “fashionable” colours, “hot” materials and “contemporary” designs. Nowadays, such descriptions are being applied to storage products – and the category is set to boom…

A garage equipped with ClosetMaid® storage products

“Out of sight, out of mind” no longer applies to storage paraphernalia. In fact, storage products designed to keep household items tidy are forefront in the minds – and living areas – of plenty of shoppers.

There are many reasons for the growth of the storage sector, including a dramatic increase in the construction of high-density dwellings, acceptance of storage units as alternatives to heavy furniture, an increase in rental accommodation, and improvements in the fabrication quality and appearance of storage goods.

For many new property owners and tenants, presentable storage units are high on the list of “must have” items. These units include compact clothes hanging stands, stackable open boxes, sealable boxes, expandable rack systems and metal indoor/outdoor shelving. The popularity of temporary storage devices has even led to the phenomenon of “semi-permanent” storage units for kitchenware, Manchester, toys and clothing. It is quite common to see these lightweight units (made from leather, plastic, wicker, rattan, wire, etc) commanding prominent positions in kitchens, laundries and bedrooms – even living rooms. Storage items have come out of the closet and into mainstream Home Décor!

Affordable & Presentable
Inexpensive, modern and portable storage systems make a lot of sense. As the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals: “Between 1991 and 2001, while the number of separate houses increased by 18%, the increase in the number of higher density dwellings was twice as high (37%).1” This steady growth in small-size accommodation, coupled with a reduced incidence of owner-occupancy, has fuelled a market of mobile residents who choose not to be bound by the restrictions of heavy, bulky furniture or expensive fittings. And these practical considerations have also affected the fashion sensibilities of permanent home owners, many of whom embrace the flexibility of affordable storage units that can be expanded or reduced according to need. Why buy a huge mahogany wardrobe when a two-tier wire rack will do?

Design Matters
One of Australia’s largest suppliers of household storage products is ClosetMaid®, by Hills Industries, which provides nifty storage solutions that can be tailored to any area. Hills Industries Product Manager, Amanda Mitchell, says many ClosetMaid® products are capable of “more than doubling” the available storage space.

ClosetMaid Chrome Expanding Shelf

“The ClosetMaid® range includes wire storage products for the bedroom and wardrobe, garage, kitchen, bathroom and laundry,” says Amanda. “In addition, the unique ShelfTrack™ system, which is a fully adjustable shelving alternative, is ideal for tight spaces such as wardrobes and pantries.

ClosetMaid® wardrobe, however, is our main focus. With storage space at a premium in most Australian households, we are enjoying strong sales across the entire range.”

Are design matters are just as important as functionality in today’s storage market? Amanda offers an emphatic: “Yes, absolutely!”

“In particular, the ClosetMaid® kitchen range has been designed to reflect these changing trends, and householders have the option of a traditional clean white finish or stylish chrome. Each product has a contemporary appearance to complement today’s modern lifestyle and décor.”

Amanda says the full range has been designed to maximise available storage space in cupboards and wardrobes, behind doors and on walls. Each product features minimalist lines which provide a sleek, modern look, whether they are on display or tucked away.

There has also been a quiet revolution in the types of materials used for storage items. According to Amanda, “wire shelving in wardrobes is a relatively new concept for Australians, who have traditionally opted for melamine or laminate, however wire storage is becoming increasingly recognised as an affordable alternative.”

Style, it should be added, need not come at the expense of practicality. ClosetMaid® vinyl-coated, wire shelving, for instance, has been created to allow air to better circulate through the wardrobe and help keep clothes fresh. This is particularly useful in humid climates where mildew is an issue.

“Australians are continually accumulating more belongings, so demand for functional and stylish storage products will only increase,” says Amanda. “In addition, with homes being built on smaller blocks and townhouse and apartment living becoming more popular, our home lifestyles will further increase the need for innovative storage solutions.”

The need to keep up-to-date with changing market needs means new products are always on the drawing board. ClosetMaid® is about to release a unique range of wire shelving called CloseMesh shelving, designed specifically for pantries. It is ideal for storing smaller items and can be installed using the adjustable ClosetMaid® ShelfTrack™ standards and brackets program.

For further information about the ClosetMaid® product range from Hills Industries visit www.hills.com.au/closetmaid. For stockist information contact 1300 300 564.

Expanding Ranges
Star Maid International Pty Ltd (no relation to ClosetMaid!) is another company which manufactures a comprehensive range of storage products. Company spokesperson, Melinda Rogers, agrees that new design concepts and trends are a hallmark of contemporary storage ranges.

ClosetMaid Chrome Expanding Shelf

“Over the years, Star Maid’s Storage Range has expanded,” she says. “As consumers’ needs and desires have changed, the market trends have followed in-sync. Star Maid has accepted that changes need to be undertaken regularly for continued success, and therefore we have offered more colours and sizes and added various components like clip-lock handles and wheels.”

Such innovations, Melinda says, have resulted in significant increases in Star Maid’s sales of storage products.

Star Maid’s flagship ‘Storemate’ – a larger range has just been released

Star Maid International is well known as a leading manufacturer in microwave food cookware products, but since the launch of this range Star Maid has expanded its broader product lists to include Kitchen Accessories, several Food Storage Ranges, Baskets and Trays, the ‘Storemate’ range for larger storage, Staxx and Stakka Drawers, Laundry and Indoor and Outdoor Waste.

“Storage plays a major role in Star Maid’s product range, whether it is for the kitchen, bedrooms, living areas, sheds or the office,” explains Melinda.

Star Maid’s largest and most successful product range for storage is the Storemate. This everyday range is produced in clear plastic, with colours and tints also available. Storemates are designed to provide a neat and tidy method for everyday storage with their strategic design and stackable features. Moreover, Star Maid has just launched a series of larger Storemates to complement the existing range. The new range offers a similar design and stackable features with the addition of clip-lock handles. There is a low-profile 20 Litre Storemate, which allows easy, out-of-sight, under-the-bed storage. Additionally there is a 52 Litre unit with the benefit of wheels for easy moveability of toys, linen or tools, for example.

Other Options
Other successful options in the Star Maid stable include Stakka Drawers and Staxx. Stakka Drawers provide an efficient and easily accessible form of storage. “Stack them next to your bed to provide a trendy, yet functional, set of drawers,” says Melinda. “They’re available in blue or black to suit today’s furnishings.”

Stakka boxes from Star Maid offer add-on flexibility

“Walking down an aisle you can sense the importance of storage products,” she says. “It is a growing and changing industry with new market trends and product concepts, and its future is endless.”

Star Maid’s Storage products are Australian Made from the highest-grade materials at affordable prices. For more information visitwww.starmaid.com.au or call (03) 9791 3389.

1. Australian Social Trends 2003. Housing – Housing Stock: Changes in Australian Housing. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004.

By John Power

For information on products to help your business, read about it in the Home Decor section of theAustralian Hardware Journal March 05 issue.