Am I the only one on the hunt for the perfect storage arrangements? I can’t imagine I am. Small house, large house… I don’t think it matters, we all want more storage. Though, I will say I do think it’s harder to achieve in a small house. And our house, relatively speaking, is small.
Three bedrooms, 1 bath/laundry room combination, an eat-in kitchen, living room, tiny office (technically just a wide hallway) and entry make up our 1350 square foot, one and a half story, one hundred year old home. Our home lacks storage. No entry closets and no linen closets except for a tiny fourteen inch wide cubby crammed in behind the bathtub/shower, that you have to lean over the toilet to get into. I will say the bedrooms have nice sized closets however they’re crammed full of clothes. Our spare linen sits on the floor in each closet.
Now, I will admit – we have a basement, however until recently it had only a dirt floor and was so damp that you couldn’t store much of anything down there without it getting ruined. We are working away on it, have poured a floor and installed a basement air exchanger to control the humidity, but we’re still a long way from being able to truly have storage in the basement.
And I’ll also admit, we do have two attic spaces. They have been life-savers. However they’re far from convenient. They are built into the eaves along the bedrooms upstairs. There is one on each side of the house, accessed through a small door in the bedrooms. However, because the children find these spaces incredibly enticing we have had to come up with a way to block their entrance. So, in front of each door is an incredibly heavy piece of furniture (large, solid wood dressers). Having to move those puppies to get into the attic is a pain in the you-know-where. Consequently, a pile of “things to go in the attic” normally grows in a corner somewhere, until I’m finally forced to go move the monstrosities.
So… I need storage. In the five years we’ve been in the home, we have done what we can to add some storage. Wall hooks on the porch – far from neat, but they get the job done. Converting one of our two master bedroom closets into floor to ceiling shelves, so I could store my sewing and knitting supplies, children’s art supplies, board games etc… We installed two six foot wide shelves over our washer & dryer for our towels and such, converting the tiny cubby into cleaning supplies and other miscellaneous, bathroom-item storage. Our children share a bedroom so that we can use the second upstairs bedroom as a playroom, until we can eventually build a playroom in the basement (at this rate, it should be done when they graduate).
And really, I was content with all of this until… we started homeschooling. That’s a secret about homeschooling that no one tells you – it causes you to accumulate huge amounts of stuff. Books, arts & craft supplies, chalkboards, art projects galore, teaching manipulatives… the list goes on.
I’ve really struggled with where to store all these items. Since we do not have a room to spare, we do our lessons at the kitchen table. Which is fine, except I do not have anywhere in the kitchen to store our materials. I finally rearranged (aka “crammed stuff together”) the shelving in our bedroom closet to make room for materials. So that was fine, but I soon got tired of lugging materials in and out of the room. Not to mention that despite our best intentions, some materials would never make it back to the bedroom at the end of the day, and then would sit on the kitchen counter, cluttering it’s top. I also didn’t have enough room for all our books.
Now, a side note on the books. At last count our house has 965 books. No, I’m not kidding. I have a huge bookcase in the “office” that my husband built for me last year, that is overflowing. The children each have a bookcase that is overflowing. I did manage to squeeze some books onto the bedroom shelves, but I still had another large bin full of books sitting on the floor of the office.
Being a Type-A-organizational-freak, having my homeschool materials in several different places in the house was driving me up the wall. I dreamed, literally daydreamed of ways to pull it together so it was more convenient, and less cluttered. And today, genius struck (my husband would call it insanity, he teases me about my Holy Grail quest, what he calls my search for storage solutions).
Upstairs in the children’s playroom was an old armoire. Now, it certainly was in use – it held children’s board games and puzzles, but what if… I got to work. Threw our Tuesday schedule out the window, and hauled the kid’s upstairs with me. As they played, I emptied the armoire contents onto the floor. I then declared “Yard Sale Clean Up” time, and we sorted through toys, puzzles, games etc… and made a nice stash of things to go into the attic for the yard sale. In so doing, I was able to clean off one shelf in the playroom closet (my husband built a small 3 shelf bookcase that we store toys on). Puzzles went on the shelf.
Back downstairs I went. I cleaned out the homeschool materials from our bedroom closet. The rest of the board games went there. I even had an extra six inches of shelf!
Then came the hard part – convincing my husband once he got home, to haul the wood armoire down stairs, and putting it where our microwave-stand/butcher block used to be. Surprisingly, he obliged – all the while shaking his head. As supper simmered on the stove, I moved all the materials into the armoire. A perfect fit!
As I stood there looking at my efforts, Etta James’ “At Last” started playing in my head. At last, at last… materials in one place, neatly. No coloring book clutter on the counter. No pile of books collecting dust in the office/hallway. My real shock came when my husband came to check out my work and said, “You know, it wasn’t a bad idea after all.” Coming from him, that’s high praise.
And so, another step of headway was made in the Storage Quest.
Books used for homeschooling are stored on the shelves (science, history, reference, literature etc…). In the two bottom drawers are stored coloring books, construction paper, paint pads, educational games for reading, math manipulatives, as well as your typical pencils, crayons etc…
A bonus: the small top drawer is now a “junk” drawer, holding all the mysterious contents that have been plaguing the top of my fridge forever. While the contents still have not been returned to their home, at least I no longer have to look at them!