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Our Organized Bathroom Storage Area

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I’ll be starting on bigger changes to prepare for moving soon, but until an agent comes and I can go over my ideas for what we will do, I figured I should start small.

Our home has 2.5 baths — one full bath upstairs by the bedrooms, one on the main floor, and a half bath that we added to the basement when we finished it. The bathroom upstairs has storage directly outside of it. It wasn’t bad, since the system I put in place six years ago is still working for us, but it needed a little attention. Do you think we should add doors? There were bi-fold doors when we bought the house, but they were broken when we moved in, so we took them out. I don’t mind having the area open, but what would you prefer in a house?

Here’s the space now.

Bathroom Storage Closet

It’s not a huge difference (hence no “before” shot), but I was able to consolidate some things. Brandon’s stuff was on the other side before, along with the extra toothbrushes, bars of soap, and assorted other sundries. Now it’s all together, and the other side can be devoted almost entirely to linens.

We keep a small garbage can in the bathroom but when we have something recyclable to throw out, like a plastic bottle or the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper, we bring it downstairs to sort in the kitchen bin. Trim Your Waste with Glad has more green ideas, and by signing up, you can be eligible to win prizes like $2500 to green your home, or make a donation to Keep America Beautiful. (More information and rules can be found here.) We do try our best to live cleaner and greener. Sometimes that means going through fewer paper towels by using cloth instead, and sometimes that means buying refills for cleaning products, soap, and anything else we can. My giant shampoo and conditioner refills are comically big, but I use them to refill the smaller ones in the shower so we are buying less packaging in the long run. It’s a small step, but it helps.

Shampoo and Conditioner Refills

A quick aside: I remember that I wrote years ago about not caring about what shampoo and conditioner I used, and that I just went with the cheap stuff. That was before I fried my hair, trying to bleach it and go red. When I went for a hair cut the next time after dying it, my stylist used Kevin Murphy and my hair was instantly better. I’ve used it since.

I know it’s a little thing, but having my storage areas organized makes me happy.


Remember this floor plan sketch for the basement, with the storage units labeled GORM (which is either a really unfortunate name or an IKEA product)? Right. Well, I went out to IKEA last week with the little ones in tow to make it happen. I’d promised Eleanor a visit to Småland, so she played while August and I hit up the utility shelving section. The shelving I’d planned on was cheap, but it felt cheap. Wobbly and thin, I was afraid it wouldn’t hold up well, so I went for IVAR instead.

Five days later, Brandon took all of the pieces out of the car and brought them downstairs. I took over from there.

IKEA IVAR Wooden Storage Shelving

Building the corner unit went smoothly. Each shelf has a tiny plastic pouch with its six pegs stapled to it. You just line those up in the end and corner supports, rest a shelf on top, and away you go. I assembled it, attached the whole thing to studs in the wall, and was done in 15 minutes. Next, I wanted to build the chest of drawers I’d bought. It was an expensive component but I figured the drawers would prove useful.

The instructions showed the chest installed with a cross-brace above, and I realized I’d have to move the corner unit to attach a brace to the side. Not a big deal; I just had to unscrew the safety strap attaching it to the wall. I went to get a shelf so that I could determine the proper distance, and I realized I had no pegs. The corner shelves each had a piece of wood beneath for stability, which allowed space to attach their hardware pouches. The others are just shelves that stack flat against each other. Of course by the time I’d reached the warehouse section of IKEA with two punchy children up past their bedtime ready to run around or melt down, that detail didn’t register properly. I also overbought long shelves and now need to return to IKEA for shorter versions, along with my 48 missing pegs. I don’t do well with last-minute changes, clearly.

No matter! I took one corner shelf out and used the pegs to attach a shelf along the top, I lined another shelf up along the floor, and took measurements that way. Whee, problem solved! Why do people have such a hard time assembling IKEA furniture?

IVAR Shelving

I attached the cross-braces to two sections, congratulated myself on a job well done, anchored everything to the wall, and moved on to build the drawers. As I put it together, stopping intermittently to take photos, I was composing this blog post in my head.

Do you know how fun it is for a perfectionist to put together one of these storage units? No, really, I’m not being sarcastic. Do you know how fun it is!? This thing snaps together and is easy to build, but not if you want it to be level/plumb, or sturdy. And this is both.

Whee, what fun! Let’s stop and take pictures! Note that this is step 1. This will later become important.

Step 1 of Building the IVAR Drawer Unit

I was running out of room in the small storage room of my basement, but I wanted to build everything right there. The chest weighs 70 pounds, and I wouldn’t be able to move it myself if it was fully assembled in another room because it would be too bulky. (I wanted to build everything myself.) So I cleared a small area and got to work. The directions weren’t clear and attaching the drawer glides was confusing because you had to intuit everything from illustrations, but I figured it out. Drawer glides, attach the sides, slide in the backer, attach the last side, done. Time to build the individual drawers.

Since I didn’t have much room, I figured I’d be clever and build just one and make sure it fit, attach the case to the shelving supports, then build the other two drawers. So I did. And that drawer slid in so smoothly into the middle slot. Success! I did a little dance and got back to work. The chest was heavy and cumbersome, but not impossible to get into place. (Again, I wanted to do this all myself.) I finally lined everything up just so, screwed the final brackets in place, and slid the drawer I’d already built into place. I put it in the lowest slot this time, then noticed the three-inch gap along the bottom. I chastised myself, channeling Brandon in my head with appropriate Star Wars nerdery, but apparently the phrase isn’t even “don’t get cocky, kid.” The “kid” part comes just before. I didn’t even get that right.

Step 1 of Building the IVAR Drawer Unit

I fumbled for the next 15 minutes turning the drawer upside-down, then removing the unit I’d just gotten into place and turning the whole thing upside-down, and still I couldn’t get my drawer to line up. Finally, I realized I’d attached the glides incorrectly. They had to be unscrewed, turned and flipped, and reattached. Remember step 1? Yeah, that’s where I screwed up. After I’d corrected my mistake, getting the chest back into place was much more difficult than it had been the first time. Of course it was more difficult! This is why people hate assembling IKEA furniture!

Six hours after I’d started my shelving project, I got the chest and all three drawers into place, threw a few fake plastic trees on a corner shelf (sans green plastic watering can), and called it a day.

IVAR Drawer Unit

Now I’m steeling up my nerve to return to IKEA, brave the returns area, and get my stupid pegs so I can finish the storage shelving.

hr 644

Edited to add: Pegs! I’m an idiot. (Thanks, Amanda.) What would it take to convince everyone that this was an April Fool’s joke?


Shelving it

Every day (or nearly), I sit in my home office across from my Expedit shelves. Truthfully, I’m kind of over them.

More truthfully though? They probably wouldn’t bother me so much if I could just keep the rest of my office neat. (It’s a mess in here right now.) Still, I do a lot of mental redecorating that revolves around those shelves. Here’s what I’d pick if I could wave a magic wand.

*Poof!* New shelves that didn’t cost anything or take any time to put together, that magically styled themselves, and fit perfectly in the room!

  1. Whitewashed Wood + Metal Shelves

  2. Emerson Shelf
    p.s. There’s more rustic industrial style in my post on Babble.

  3. Slim Étagère

  4. Lap Shelving System

Also, I pretend that if I had any of those bookshelves, that my stuff would somehow be condensed and look like this. Because it’s super practical to arrange one’s books with the spines facing in.

I assume the baskets and bowls shown are there to store the necessary pixie dust to make this configuration practical.

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