Small Utility Room Paint Supply Storage & Organization

The utility room in our basement is very small - so small that, for years, I thought there was no room for any kind of storage. There are pipes running every which way, and the floor is sloped toward the drain in the center, making it impossible to stand even the smallest of shelf units in the corner.
I was determined to make use of the limited space, and I finally found a way to create storage for all of our paint and paint supplies {water based paint only - nothing flammable near the water heater}!
After purchasing and returning several narrow shelf units that just didn't work in the corner of the utility room {despite having adjustable feet for leveling}, it occurred to me that while the unlevel floor meant we couldn't have a free standing shelving unit, we had no shortage of studs to which we could attach shelf brackets.
By installing shelves directly to the studs, we were able to maximize the available space - adding wider shelves up high, and a narrower bottom shelf to fit around the angled pipes.
Once the shelves were installed, I took stock of our paint {which was formerly housed in the garage}, and determined that I needed to find a better way to store it.
I transferred each can of paint {water based only, as noted above} into a clear, plastic canister with a screw top lids. These plastic canisters offer numerous benefits - including the fact that the overall square shape of the canisters allows them to be lined up side by side, taking up considerably less space than a standard round paint can.
In this before and after photo, you can see how much space we save with these canisters!
I created sticker labels for the tops of the cans to keep track of the brand, color name {and number, if applicable} and the sheen. {These labels are available for free download on my blog; link at bottom of post}
I also printed out a paint reference chart where I noted additional details about each paint before properly disposing of the empty cans {I've included guidelines and tips for proper disposal on my blog}. The reference charts include details about the rooms or projects that the paints have been used for, as well as a dot of each color of paint.
As I was transferring the paint to the canisters, I also grabbed a small paint brush and created a quick and easy customized paint deck, which hangs from a nail in the utility room for quick and easy reference.
To make it easy to keep up with this paint organization system as we acquire new paint, I put together a little kit in a plastic bag with all of the supplies I need to add to the custom paint deck and label new canisters.
To organize the remainder of our paint supplies, I use a combination of bins and empty paint cans.
We managed to create a great deal of functional storage space in our tiny utility room and our new paint organization system is working very well!

Angela, Blue i Style
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  3 questions
  • Laura Moore Laura Moore on Feb 13, 2016
    What was in the plastic containers you used when they were full? Will have to start buying whatever it was because they look to be the perfect size! I would love to do this for my paints.

  • Claranne Claranne on Jun 27, 2016
    Is it safe to store paint this close to the water heater?

  • Ellen Ellen on May 23, 2020

    Window scarf holder?


Join the conversation

2 of 68 comments
  • Lor22384983 Lor22384983 on Nov 02, 2017

  • Judy Boris Judy Boris on Nov 02, 2017
    I found that if paint gets on rim then you put lid on, sometimes it won’t come off. Now I add plastic wrap to top of container before I put lid on. No problem getting lid off and seals nice and tight.