No matter how small or large a home you happen to live in, chances are you would love to increase your storage space. Now, you could rush out and add a room to the house, just to accommodate all your essential stuff Ö but why not play it smart and follow these 11 handy tips to maximize the storage space you already own?

1. DO make the most of your existing closets. Before you start prowling your house in search of ingenious spots for extra stowage, why not optimize the areas which were actually made to ... well Ö store things? Add a thoughtfully designed organizing system to make your closets feel huge.

2. DO be selective as to what you choose to store. But donít be bound by narrow definitions of decluttering. For instance, it is perfectly fine to save an Aran sweater you havenít worn for years ó and will probably never wear again ó if it brings back treasured memories of a lovely long-ago vacation in Ireland.

3. DONíT store items where they may end up damaged. To illustrate, when you live in a flood-prone area, your basement could be just fine as a spot to stash your rock collection, but not so much when it comes to a few trunksful of fine fabrics, which can easily be ruined by damp.

4. DONíT use your garage to store anything that will be negatively affected by variations in temperature, such as paint or canned food. And never, ever keep flammable substances like propane cylinders in the garage ó they could ignite when you start your car.

5. DO set up designated storage areas. Install built-in bookcases, cubbies, or even an entire mudroom if you can swing it, to contain the clutter of daily living and give your home a more polished air.

6. DONíT ignore your vertical storage possibilities. When floor space is at a premium, ditch the chunky dressers or hutches in favor of long lean columns of wall-mounted (or even ceiling-mounted) shelves or pegboards. The wall can also be the perfect spot to store your bicycle ó use a pulley system to simplify hauling them up and down.

7. DONíT go overboard with baskets. Yes, country-style woven storage containers have a much cuter vibe than plastic or metal bins, but the latter win hands down at keeping out yucky intruders like dirt, insects, or rodents. Reserve the basketry for one or two twee objects in your guest bath or coffee table.

8. DO keep open shelving presentable. This means reserving it, as much as possible, for decorative objects, arranging items neatly on the shelves, and (gasp) dusting them on a regular basis.

9. DO make use of the area under your couch and bed. A simple ó and cheap ó trick is to repurpose old dresser drawers as an improvised ďlinen cupboard.Ē Paint them a pretty shade, attach casters for easy access if you like, and fill with spare sheet sets and duvets.

10. DONíT clutter up that blank spot above your kitchen cabinets. Organize it instead; add custom cabinetry to extend it all the way to the ceiling. Or craft DIY storage boxes that will fit the space. These can be as simple as shoe boxes covered with contact paper.

11. DO customize clothing and accessory storage with the right hardware. Choose from among handbag hangers, blouse trees, scarf racks, coat hooks, tank top organizers (yes, really), and more, depending on your wardrobe preferences.

ó Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.