Getting a Storage Unit

It’s a little-known fact that a large proportion of city dwellers have a secret spot to stash a small percentage of their junk. Okay, this statement is more true in very dense places like New York City, Singapore, or Tokyo, but for us I think it will be a good solution for our peace-of-mind.

The apartment, while spacious, doesn’t have the kind of storage we had gotten used to (a garage and a basement for crying out loud!). We did get very creative as far as solutions go–we created a DIY sofa table to hide two monstrous speakers and barstools, we organized our bedroom closet like it was a high-stakes game of tetris, and used the white dresser in ingenious ways… it became media storage, office storage, linen storage, and more.

Faking a Sofa Table

Hiding some larger items behind the sofa was one solution

All this junk tucked “in plain sight” was starting to wear on me and I thought it might be worth the peace of mind if we got some of it out of the way. That way the items that we did have up here in the apartment would have “breathing room” and the whole place would feel more peaceful. I know the obvious solution to my first-world problem would be to simply donate or trash the other items but don’t we all have some stuff that we feel like hanging onto but don’t want in plain sight? Since we hope to move to a much larger place (home, condo or townhouse) within a few years, I feel like storing some of this stuff will make sense in the “medium-run” (that’s somewhere between the short run and the long run).

Goals: 

  1. To rid the living room of the brown wardrobe. It was exactly what we needed at our last place, where proper closets were lacking. In this place, however, we do not lack for hanging bar storage, and the wardrobe with its one shelf did not provide the right kind of storage for us. The dark brown mass also made the living room seem artificially small and closed-in. Goal: Accomplished! Wardrobe sold for $80 on Craigslist. 
  2. To free myself of the over-the-door shoe hanger. To be honest, I do love it–but it makes it impossible to close the bedroom door. I have to sleep with the door closed at night or else I will worry that Mosey will roam the apartment leaving messes and chewed items in his wake (a bit of an unfounded fear, but tell that to me at 3AM). Goal: Under way. I’ll have to pick up an inexpensive shoe rack at Target or IKEA this week. 
  3. To make better use of the bedroom closet shelf. This ties in with #1 and #2; I would like to move essential items to the closet and ensure they are easily accessible. Other non-essential items, like holiday decoration or equipment boxes (that we like to keep for when we move) can be tucked away but be ready when we need them. Goal: Accomplished! 

storage unit

Here’s the little storage unit in all it’s glory! We left the right part free so we can stash our bikes when the weather gets warmer and we actually feel like using our balcony. Note what appears to be evidence of water there at the back. This is why we placed the durable plastic totes on the bottom–just in case our stuff gets its “feet wet.” The barstools and speakers pictured in the other photo above will make their way down here too, probably, or be moved into the bedroom closet now that a lot of space has been freed up in there. We have one more plastic tote that’s being loaded up which will go underneath the big suitcase in the foreground.

I kind of feel like a cheater since I’m trying to inspire apartment dwellers to “work with what ya got,” but this solution, made available to us through our complex, makes sense for us right now.

Overall, I know we’re probably overpaying for the amount of space we’re getting, but if it helps me feel less antsy about moving again (which we don’t really want to do when the lease is up in September) then it’s worth it. The apartment already feels larger, even if it’s kind of crazytown in here. I gave you two sneak peeks last week and we haven’t even gotten around to rearranging the furniture yet since I was knocked out by a cold this weekend. All in due time, friends!

China Cabinet Steal

When I was visiting CA about a month ago trying to nail down a place to live and turn in lots of job applications, my mother and I happened to wander through IKEA together because that’s a totally normal, fun thing to do in San Diego (and cheaper than going to Sea World. In theory). Well, we had successfully made it through the store without picking anything up, when something wonderful caught my eye in the “as-is” section.

This IKEA STOCKHOLM cabinet is not made of real wood but it seems like it is, due to a high-quality oak veneer instead of their regular “foil” veneer (which is incredibly thin and damages easily). IKEA has different quality items at different price points, and as the website shows, this goes for right around $300.

We had just come from putting down a deposit on the apartment we now live in, so the layout of the unit was very fresh in my mind. I knew that a small wall separating the kitchen from the dining area would fit the scale of this perfectly. By perfectly, I don’t mean down-to-the-inch, but a visually pleasing 3-4 inches of cushion on either side of it. I wanted this baby bad.

Guess how much I paid for it?

That’s right. Well, to make a short story long, when we spied it in the “as is” section, it was marked at $75. It was already assembled and we didn’t have room in my mom’s Corolla for it. They wouldn’t hold it for us, and we decided to roll the dice and see if it was there the next day. So, the following day my mom dropped me off at the airport to head back to Kansas and then hit up IKEA in the family pickup truck. Lo and behold, not only was this china cabinet still there, but it had been marked down an additional $25.

Let’s review. Original Price = $299. New Price = $50. That’s a 83% discount! 

Here it is, filled up with dishes and looking oh so beautiful in a space that is the perfect size for it.

I’m in love. I’m also already out of space to store dishes! 

One more thing: Do you have any tips on how to remove tape residue from glass? My razor blade didn’t seem to work this time. Help?

Storage Wars

To be 100% honest, I have never seen the show that this post is named after. Storage does seem to be a war a lot of the time, though. “Me vs. My Stuff.” Sometimes I win, sometimes the stuff wins…

This week, I have been doing a lot of thinking about storage. Not for myself, because the storage situation in our current house is a nightmare (No idea what we’d do without the basement as a catch-all), but because an old friend of mine asked for some advice on reorganizing her closet.

Armed with measurements, pictures, and two “rules” to keep in mind: 1) consider a limited budget, and 2) no plastic bins (due to smell of off-gassing VOCs and environmental concerns) I proceeded to to research online for smart, well-designed storage options to maximize a space that, to be honest, was pretty much already “at capacity.”

Color: I went with storage pieces in a coordinating color palette: light wood tones and white. Lots of storage options come in these colors, so it’s an easy theme to go with, and to me it’s important that visually the space looks clean and crisp, especially when storing a lot of different items–it is easy to get overwhelmed by competing colors, patterns, and textures, and having some continuity can help tame the chaos.

Click the image below to be taken to my Storage Pinterest board where you can access each item at it’s respective store.

Items, in what I consider order of importance:

  1. One of my college roommates (who had a TON of clothes) got a drop-down secondary closet rod. It literally doubles the number of normal-length shirts one can hang up. The one I have selected here just hangs from the existing rod, meaning that there is no permanent installation! With an adustable length, it can accomodate the right number of shirts, and still have some space left on the high bar for dresses and other long items.
  2. Shelving: Storing items in stacked boxes is fine, if you don’t need to access the items in the bottom ones! Utilizing a shelving system with pull-out bins helps make items accessible, yet concealed. I especially like this system for shoes: a few pairs of shoes can go in each bin sorted by color or level of formality, and even men’s shoes should be able to fit. Other things like “tech junk” that is rarely used but seems like a good thing to keep around, scarves or other soft accessories. I do not own an EXPEDIT but I truly think that the repetition of the square shape can help any craziness seem a bit more orderly. Plus, with the open back, the large versions can even “float” in the middle of a room, defining space and providing storage at the same time.
  3. Laundry bin: Purchasing a large, durable and attractive laundry bin makes it possible to tuck it in the corner of a room and gain some real estate in the closet. Also, if you’re like me, a laundry bin stored in the closet will overflow onto the floor and the carpet ends up 100% obscured by dirty clothes. Putting it out in the open is a simple reminder to do laundry once it’s full (at least, this works for me). Here’s a cheaper DIY option for those with less coin, but more time on their hands.
  4. Hanging garment bags. I would LOVE to get one of these for myself to keep my out-of-season coats or special-occasion dresses in. Things have a tendency to get dusty, and I don’t want to have to sift through my not-frequently-worn items to make sure I didn’t tuck something in the back of the closet. I don’t want a ton of these cluttering up my closet, but corralling these particular items in a specific “pod” would be super-organized and super-functional!
  5. Shelf organizers. I can see these being a game-changer for anyone trying to organize multiple items on the shelf. Books, purses, other boxes… keep things from cascading into an empty space when one item is removed temporarily.

Stay tuned later in the week for some more organization goodness, featuring many of the items I blogged about today!