Monday, August 1, 2011

How the Storage Unit Disappeared: Shelf-topia

Last week I was thinking about how I could help people out with my blog. I realized I can not only share what we’re learning about parenting and parenting twins and parenting boys and trying to eat healthy and entertaining friends and family with our tales, but I can also share ways we’ve learned to deal with raising a family in a small space. In addressing these issues I’m sure I can also learn tips from other small-space dwellers about ways to make the most of every square millimeter of home. 

When we decided we were going stop pouring money into a storage unit and store everything at our house, we redid all of our closets. It was a Christmas break project that Brian took on and he did a brilliant job. The biggest and most life-changing, to be dramatic, project was the coat closet/pantry in our entryway. When we moved in it contained simply a rod for coats and a shelf directly on top of the rod. It left a giant amount of unused space above the shelf. Brian put in one shelf up above it and we used it that way for a couple years. It morphed into an embarrassing combination of coat closet, pantry, and shoes receptacle with food stacked on the floor. During Operation Storage Unit Migration he made a custom closet/pantry that, like I said, basically transformed our kitchen life. Our canned goods and such had been in a small cupboard by our sink. With them moving to the pantry, I could move more dishes into that cupboard, taking away from the other very-full cupboards.

 Surprisingly, when we took out the rod and shelf THAT HAD BEEN GLUED TO THE WALL (WHAT??), much of the wall came out with it. That was distressing, but with some of that wire wall fixer-upper stuff and enough spackle to fill a kitchen sink, we repaired it. (This disaster we called “Afghanistan.” It was not as bad as the living room wall fiasco in our old house we dubbed “Iraq,” mostly because it was in the closet.)

the pink spackle (Cal called it yogurt) fixed it up

The end product provided adjustable shelves on the left side and a closet area on the right. There was also room for several boxes of storage stuff. We now store the boys’ extra set of carseats (for when friends drive us around) in the back below the coats, and in front of them we have a shelf with shoe cubbies.

Clark and I arrange everything it alphabetical order (that's a joke)


By the way, Brian didn’t know how to build these shelves he just sort of made it up as he went. A creative and resourceful guy to have around!

Off our balcony we have a small storage unit that was poorly arranged. We couldn’t fit our bikes in there and so they were just sitting out cluttering up the balcony—fine for a single couple—not for two climbing toddlers. The end result allowed for much more user-friendly and adjustable storage, including room for our bikes and car-top carrier that contains all our camping gear. The way we have it now is different than the picture, but because it is all adjustable, we can change it to fit the shapes we need to store.

balcony storage unit shelves

He added more shelves and pegboard to our linen closet, which we relocated in segments to the two room closets, to make space for all his tools and other fix-y type things like our painting supplies, etc. Below the shelves we put a see-through set of drawers. I call it his garage.

the garage

And again...

In our dining room he put three shelves on the wall for desk-type things. It’s basically my office. I keep my laptop on it and music for the boys, computer bag, camera and video camera, etc. It’s not pretty to have next to the hutch of beautiful china, but it gets the job done.

In all other closets he added shelves up above the existing shelves, even in the hot water heater closet. He put pegs behind clothes in our closets to store my purses and scarves. Another big feat he accomplished was also in our bedroom. We had a lot of books that we wanted to keep, but many of them had been sitting in boxes since we changed the office into the nursery before the boys were born. Brian put a row of shelves across the top of three of the walls in our bedroom and we fit all our books on it. They are displayed so that we can actually find them and read them! He also put cute little white lamps in all four corners on the shelf since we don’t have overhead lighting in the bedrooms. In the boys’ room he put a couple shelves up high, one for a lamp and the other for out-of-the-rotation toys. Quite a handy guy!

part of the bookshelf

another part of the bookshelf...

It is a snug way to live and it takes work to keep it all functioning. Sometimes we forget where things are. But now we don’t have to pay $60 each month and keep a bunch of junk we don’t remember we own.

And that is how our storage unit found a loving home.

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