Savvy Storage Solutions


Interior designer Lisa McDennon showcases chic space-saving designs.

By Somer Flaherty


Laguna Beach interior designer Lisa McDennon has been designing homes here and abroad in Thailand, New Zealand and Fiji for 16 years, but her newest undertaking is a foray into retail with a popup home-decorating store in Laguna Beach, which includes upholstery, furniture, lighting and one-of-a-kind objects. With just the right balance of practical interior design acumen and now design retail experience, Lisa was the perfect choice to get us on board with the latest in creative and innovative storage solutions.

Laguna Beach Magazine: What is the most challenging part about designing a space with great storage solutions?
Lisa McDennon: In order to create a successful space you have to address the client’s basic needs first, making a space that is functional but at the same time providing something beautiful. So if providing storage within the space is required, it’s important to seamlessly integrate it into the framework of the room and allow it to flow with both the architecture and the furnishings. For me, creating unique storage solutions is like putting together a puzzle, getting everything to fit exactly in its space and ending up with a great overall composition.

LBM: Any unique things clients have wanted to store?

LM: I once designed a special niche in a hall linen cabinet for a client’s beloved cat, including a custom drapery and a pullout litter box tray. I’ve also designed a dining room bench seat that also doubled as a toy storage chest for a young family in a small beach cottage.

TROVELBM: What are some budget-friendly ways to incorporate storage solutions?

LM: There are a lot of great furniture pieces and bookcases that are on the market. I love using baskets on open bookshelves to store and organize smaller items, and stack boxes with lids for photos or oversized documents. Not only are they versatile and decorative, but they are also inexpensive and fun.

LBM: Any splurge ideas?

LM: The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen was a bed that was on a motorized lift and housed a Jacuzzi tub recessed into the foundation underneath. Talk about taking advantage of the space beneath your bed!

LBM: If someone wants to tackle the function of an area of the home that is very messy (like a home office) what are some tips for not getting overwhelmed?

LM: Tackle your project in steps. Identify what your goals are: if you want more filing, your equipment hidden, et cetera. Then identify what needs to be added or removed to accomplish your desired result. And before anything new is added to a space, be sure that you take on the daunting task of purging any unnecessary paperwork, equipment and clutter. Sometimes it’s as simple as ditching the dusty stationary bike in the corner and replacing it with a more useful filing cabinet or cozy chair.

LBM: Any tips for keeping storage out of sight?

LM: Using furniture such as armoires, ottomans and trunks to store items is always a beautiful way to provide storage for a space.

LBM: What’s the first step?

LM: Planning is key and I suggest scale drawings for any custom cabinetry you are ordering.

Smart Storage


Design has never been more practical.

By Somer Flaherty

Get smart (and stylish) with storage. Shop locally for the latest contemporary space-saving designs.

Design House Stockholm Wave Hanger at Vertigo Home, Laguna Beach (949-494-7547;

Hawaiian Gun surfboard display rack at Thalia Surf Shop, Laguna Beach (949-497-3292;

Bigso Shoe Box at Crate & Barrel, Costa Mesa (714-825-0060;

Lisa McDennon upholstered seat with storage available through Lisa McDennon Design, Laguna Beach (949-497-6806;

Antique safe with shelving at Trove, Laguna Beach (949-376-4640;