Many people suspect that a lack of storage space would be a real problem when considering living aboard a canal boat, but whenever I’ve moved home to a different boat I’ve been shocked at how many possessions my family has actually been able to stash away on board. It’s just amazing where things are hidden, as you will often find cupboards and storage spaces built into the most unlikely spaces. I love the traditional boatman’s cabin where the bed and table fold away into cupboards, and the tiny ‘ticket drawer’ at the back for the steerer. Many boats are constantly being adapted as their owners come up with new ideas of how and where to store things. Here are a few of my favourites.

1) Under the Bed

This is a huge storage space that is much appreciated on board a boat. A free-standing bed may have a big space with storage baskets or boxes below. A built in cabin-bed could contain well-designed drawers and cupboards. A family I know with children on board fitted built-in raised beds so that there was a carpeted play area underneath with a bean bag and toys. Alternatively you may find the water tank or the sewage tank is built in below the double bed. A biker friend of mine once stored a load of spare motorbike parts under his bed – indeed he claimed he had a whole bike under there!

2) Wall-Pockets

I’ve noticed that these are more common in caravans than in boats, but fabric pockets mounted on the wall can be really useful. Fabric hanging storage bags are perfect for small items and can be attractively coloured, embroidered or patterned. Although in houses they’re more commonly seen in bathrooms, the right design can look perfect in the saloon or galley of your boat, for pens, gadgets, toys, small books or kitchen utensils. If you have a sewing machine you could make your own.

3) Hooks

Hooks in the ceiling are brilliant in the galley, mainly for cups, mugs and saucepans. In my last boat we also had wine glasses in a rack along the ceiling. Surprisingly the glasses did not knock together and smash when the boat was underway!

4) In the Cratch

If you have one, a covered front deck area is such a useful outdoor storage space for those larger items. Side benches may contain storage space or you may have a useful container for kindling or coal. The down-side of course is if this area becomes too cluttered then the front deck cannot be used to chill out on a summer's day.

5) Top Boxes

A favourite of mine, you can make a top box yourself, or have one made by a bespoke service. This is a large shallow timber box designed to be kept on the roof. It’s perfect for storing anything that you don’t mind keeping outside and will be neatly covered with a fitted tarpaulin. If it’s designed for your boat it can also be cut to accommodate the curve of your roof.

Is your storage situation becoming unmanageable? Are you considering upsizing to a bigger boat? You may like our free eBook: How to Sell a Boat: The Ultimate Guide.

Main image: A cupboard becomes a table on this 70ft narrowboat with residential mooring in Hemel Hempstead.

Images below: 57ft trad for sale with London residential mooring

You may also like:

Living on a Boat: The Boatshed Guide (free) / How to Sell a Boat: The Ultimate Guide (free eBook) / Howto Buy a Boat: The Ultimate Guide / The best blog articles of 2013 / Don’t miss:The Boatshed Grand Union Daily/ A slideshow of our boat of the moment. / More articles.

New here? Come and say 'hello' on Facebook or Twitter :-)

Never miss an article: Sign up and get the latest blog articles sent directly to you, plus instantly receive our free eBook: How to Sell a Boat: The Ultimate Guide.