When we thought about all the functions that would be helpful to have in our son’s bedroom, which can definitely be described as “cozy” when it comes to the size (real talk: this room is small), he needed:
a bed to sleep in
book and toy storage out in the open
some concealed storage for papers and other toys/games
added bonus: a hangout-y lounge spot for reading or playing with his sister or a friend who comes over
he also requested his own desk for drawing/homework/playing with magnets (yes, we have a current magnet obsession going strong right now)
We definitely could have pulled the “your room is really small for a desk, not sure we can do that” card – but we thought it was worth a try thanks to the idea of customizing a built-in desk right next to the bed that could double as a nightstand. And low and behold, it worked like a charm. So yes, this small room has everything on that list we shared. A bookshelf, a desk (that also works as a nightstand), a big cozy couch-like bed that both of our kids hang out on, along with ample clothing storage and toy storage in a whole bunch of out-in-the-open and concealed spots in the room.
This is a very belated sharing of these projects (we completed these custom closet shelves a year ago in January of 2021 (I can’t believe it has been a year – I had to look at the date on my phone pics). So we’re happy to report that not only do they look nice, they’ve worked really well for an entire year.
Thanks to the modest size of this space, we definitely had to be intentional about working all of that stuff in. Our kids love a cozy room, so we didn’t worry that our son wouldn’t like or use this space (both of our kids hang out in here far more than in our daughter’s larger room – go figure). But a small room isn’t always easy when it comes to squeezing in all the functions. Sometimes you just have to pick & choose and get creative about what you store outside of that room – which we thought we might have to resort to with this space.
But long story long, we’re thrilled with how much we got out of this room thanks to a few simple DIY projects. Getting to check off everything on our list – including a few “nice to haves” on top of the necessities feels really good. And it sure has come a long way in here. The photo below is from our first walk-through of this house. Vaulting the ceilings made SUCH A DIFFERENCE in how much less cramped this small room feels (more on that here). The picture below is essentially the same view as the one above. Three cheers for turning a small box into a vaulted box with all the built-ins.
The photo below is another angle of the room as it looked when we bought the house:
And here we are with an after shot from a similar angle:
We debated everything from adding a bookshelf inside of the closet – or even a small desk in there, but realized that clothing storage in that nook felt the best for keeping the room functional long-term (a hanging bar can always be added up top whenever that need arises, and we can always add a door back on, although now it’s super functional without one since it fought with the main door to the room). So after deciding the closet worked best for clothing storage, we considered everything from shoving a tallboy dresser in there to hanging some fancy Elfa storage bins with pullouts for clothing storage, and eventually landed on shelves with large fabric baskets. Super easy to use. Super flexible. And something our son has used before when it comes to clothing storage…
… see, both of our kids actually stored their clothes/pjs/swimsuits in baskets on shelves at the pink house for the entire summer when they shared that tiny bunk-room! (Soft theory: that’s also where they developed their love of squeezing into small cozy spaces together).
Thanks to the pink house and a year of using this setup here, our son really likes how simple it is. He puts all of his clothes away himself when they’re fresh out of the laundry, and it also makes it easy for him to see if he’s running low on socks or bathing suits so we can hurry up and do a load to remedy that (nothing can really hide in these baskets like it can in the back of a larger drawer).
Does it mean we won’t add a door, a hanging bar, or a built-in dresser down the line if that feels like it would be more functional during that older stage of life for him? We certainly might. We’re all about evaluating exactly what works for the life stage you’re in – so it’ll be interesting to see where we end up when he’s older and he actually has items of clothing that have to be hung up (his current count of that = zero). Fun fact: this closet used to have a hanging bar but it was full of our clothes because the first 10 months we lived here, we didn’t have a closet in our room. Thank goodness we changed that.
As for how we added these simple closet shelves, we basically followed the same method that we used to create our built-in pantry in the pink house so you can see that step-by-step tutorial here. A quick summary of our method = nailing and screwing in brace pieces of wood that you level on the sides and back of the closet, so that MDF shelves can rest on top of them and be nailed into place.
These are those brace pieces that support the MDF shelves, which we made with 1×2″ pine boards (we got the pre-primed ones for easy painting) from Home Depot.
We used the same 1×2″ board to make the shelves appear chunkier (just add one along the front of the shelf to heft them up). That part of the tutorial is also much better explained here in this pantry shelf building post if you need more details and visuals. Oh and we painted the walls of the closet nook one of the colors in the wood slats that we used for that accent wall, so it fits right in. The color is Livable Green by Sherwin Williams.
You might remember that we added the built-in bookshelf back in 2020, which is still going strong – along with that colorful planked wood wall (more onhow we did that here). One newer addition is that brass shelf that we hung above the bookcase, just for some more vertical interest on that extra tall wall (it’s the vaulted side of the room, so it’s nice to have something to draw the eye up and use more of that wall).
If you’re sitting there thinking “Ok, where are all of his trinkets and books and pokemon cards and gadgets and snap bracelets and other small items?!” – a ton of books can be stored here on this built-in bookshelf, and those two cloth baskets are full of pokemon cards and other smaller trinkets & toys. That wood box also has more collections of things (rocks, lots of rocks) and I got him the cutest four-drawer cubby after taking the photos for this post (of course!), but you might have seen that on my Instagram stories. There are also three desk drawers and many more baskets full of toys/games/more rocks/etc under the bed, so literally everything he wants in his room has a place.
And yes, he put “Florida and Me” on his little blue-green letterboard. Makes me laugh so hard. This is a better shot of that brass shelf we added. I really like the rounded edges and the fact that it’s exactly the same width as the wood slats, so we just lined it up with one of them when we hung it. Talk about a happy accident.
One really nice thing about this room’s setup is that it’s so easy to grab a book to read or a basket of cards to play with on the bed right from bed. Sometimes smaller spaces = even more efficient in that way. Small can literally mean easy access to lots of things right at your fingertips.
Swinging around to the other side of the room, here is the little floating desk concept that we came up with. By keeping it attached to the bed (the opposite side attaches to the wall) it really feels lighter and less crowded in here. And the best part of the desk coming right up to the side of the bed is that it doubles as a night table, with his sound machine and fan right there, along with a coaster for his nightly drink of water.
I think another smart choice we made in here was pushing the bed against the wall and creating not one but two upholstered panels to go behind it (one for the side and one for the back) so it has a really inviting loungey daybed/sofa vibe. This spot = where both of our kids hang out a ton (along with other neighborhood friends who stop by to play) thanks to that couch-like feeling. And the upholstered panels were so easy to make. Here’s a post with all the steps for you to create your own. Tossing a bunch of comfy pillows like theseand these finished it off (yes, our son has a special way he likes to nestle himself among all of those pillows and stuffed animals every night).
As for how we built the desk, it’s made from MDF, and we once again usedthat pantry shelf-building method to help hold it up. We used 1×2″ boards along the back wall and that left side wall, so the MDF top rested on them. As for the right side, we used some of the same MDF to support it against the bed. You can see how it’s just two pieces of MDF, and one rests on top of the bed rail while one goes to the left of the bed, sort of “hugging” it. We secured them by screwing into them from under the bed (so you don’t see the screws but it’s doubled up and very securely held in place).
And the best thing ever is that we also have tons of under-bed storage in our son’s room. There are various baskets of other toys & games & stuffed animals down there, and they can tuck deep enough under the bed that they don’t look cluttered (see how you can’t see any in the photo below)…
… but they can easily be pulled forward to gram something and play with it, like the basket you see peeking out from under the bed in the photo below. We actually initially bought him this bed because it had two large wood drawers that pull out from under it, which seemed very storage smart indeed. But we learned after living with them a while that smaller cloth baskets that can slide in and out made more sense than having to move two bigger and heavier drawers every time he wanted something. Plus individual baskets work better for the specific items he stores (like collectible cards, more rocks, did I mention there are lots of rocks?). Live & learn. (Am I the only one who says “and get Luvvs” in my head every time I hear or say that?).
We are SO HAPPY with how this room has evolved, not only for our son, but for our whole family. No joke, if we’re looking for the kids, 9 out of 10 times they’re either outside on one of the swings or hanging out in our son’s room together (in this case, listening to the Encanto soundtrack on repeat). WE DON’T TALK ABOUT BRUNO-NO-NO… but we love to talk about storage 😉
Also, see that rectangle of wood under his built-in bookcase? That’s ADDITIONAL secret storage because we don’t like for a single square foot to go to waste. This is an old photo below, just to show you what we mean:
That panel pops off if we press it in the right corner, and it currently houses some spare picture frames because our son doesn’t have any need for that additional storage. But as he grows if he does have a need for it, we’re happy to hand it over for whatever he needs. We could even add a handle to pop the door off a little more easily anytime he wants to access things down there.
We need to write an updated post about our daughter’s room because we added a desk a while back (and swapped out her nightstands for the ones we used to have in our room, which you can see peeking into frame in the photo above). We do love a good switcheroo. Also, how interesting is it that one storage bed has worked out so so well without much change (our daughters, which you can see above – and read more about here). But our son’s storage bed’s big selling feature – those two large wood drawers – just didn’t pan out for us. Again, ya live and ya learn. And ya get Luvvs.
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We haven’t dropped in on this room since this post from more than a year ago about hanging our giant chandelier (how is that possible?! Where did that year go?!?!). This room in many ways has functioned well from day one for us – so I guess our infrequent check-ins make sense. We knew we wanted this big multi-purpose space to serve a few different functions like cozy movie room, a place to lay on the sofa and read/lounge, office/workspace for us, and an arts & craft desk for the kids that could also store all of their papers & creations while having another spot to store all of our board games and all of our work papers. I know. It’s a tall ask, but this is a big room, and as soon as we moved in we knew just where we wanted the TV (and heck, that’s as good of a place to start as any). There was literally one great wall for it thanks to all the large windows that fill the rest of the room…
… and that helped to define a nice cozy TV zone on one side of the room.
We essentially used the other half of the room for an office/art/workspace for us and the kids, which has worked out really well.
Photos never do this room justice, to the point that almost everyone who comes up here after seeing photos online (or just via texts from us) screams that it’s twice as big when they’re standing there in person. If it helps to orient you, the rug you see the sofa sitting on in the photo below is an 8 x 10! This room is around 25′ long and around 16′ wide. She biiiig.
This entire area exists on the other half of the room. Look at all that floor space. Another whole 8×10′ rug could be placed right here without touching the one in the TV zone.
This is the office/art side if you spin around with your back to the sofa.
This view certainly has come a long way from February of 2020 when we bought this house.
And here’s a before shot of the long wall of the room, which came with that pretty wood treatment that we love, but the mildewed issues along the top needed some attention. This entire house didn’t have a functioning HVAC system (or any working water, like not even to flush a toilet). It had been abandoned for four years, so there were a number of leak/mold/soggy drywall issues that we had to address in this renovation before we could move in (you can read more about that here and here).
Here’s a similar view now of this side, all cleaned up, and no longer slowly growing any fuzzy stuff along the top edge where that wood wall treatment meets the ceiling. All of the too-damp drywall needed replacing, but thankfully that wood wall just needed some scrubbing (and no moisture had collected behind it and molded – which was a small miracle!).
And thanks to three recent changes this room has stepped it up even more in the storage/efficiency category. So let’s get into those three updates, more photos, and a video walk-through (which also gives you a peek at our firepit area as well as our brand new kitchen deck!).
Update #1: Bringing These Bookshelves Up From The Kitchen
We had used these two large bookcases in the kitchen as a makeshift pantry before we added one (they’re Fjalkinge bookshelves from Ikea, and you add the drawers a la cart). You can see our glorious kitchen pantry update here and learn how we earned much more storage, deeper drawers, a place for the microwave off the counter, and a cabinet over the fridge.
Moving these bookshelves upstairs also allows us to use them for even more office storage than we had before, which is great! Combined with the console that we added to the TV part of the room (more on that here – it houses all of our games and photo albums and sentimental stuff) this big box of a room now has a lot of great storage for us, which you know is my love language.
The bookshelves fit really well between the windows on that long wall, and their larger scale is great in this room (earlier we had some smaller things on those slices of wall – which you can see here in this post). And since we use the drawers for all of our work papers, receipts, tax stuff, etc – it’s nice that the kids have the drawers on each side of their desk for storing all of their art supplies and their creations themselves (you can read how we built this desk using inexpensive Ikea components and some metal legs that we bought online here).
Update #2: Getting Our Entire House On Central Air
We also finally figured out how to route our HVAC ducts up to this room (and over to our bedroom!) so we have one central HVAC system that services the whole house! When we bought back in Feb of 2020, we didn’t have a functional HVAC system at all (it wouldn’t turn on during our inspection – which is also when we learned the water had to remain off due to various issues/leaks). But we all assumed (including our contractor during our initial walk-through) that if we redid some of the ducting & replaced the components we could achieve this thing that didn’t seem all that complicated: ducts that travel to all of 6 rooms in this 1400 sf house and blow heated or cooled air into them. How naive we were.
It’s a long story but the semi-short version (who am I kidding, this is still going to be long) is that about a month later during demo we were told by our contractor that there was a load-bearing header in the ceiling where the ducting had to pass to achieve this goal, and we couldn’t cut that header or we’d risk hurting the house’s structural integrity. We essentially were lacking a nice channel in the ceiling to get efficient functional central air to every room of our house like we thought we could.
Not to be deterred, we got 3 different HVAC opinions, and all of them recommended either adding a soffit that stretched across the sitting area of the kitchen (or adding back the big L-shaped one that we had just demoed out, which you can see in the before photo above). Blort. The soffit would essentially get our ducts where we needed them to go so we could attach our bedroom to the system as well as popping them upstairs – but we really didn’t want a big soffit infringing on our 8′ ceilings downstairs if we could help it. All three HVAC pros also offered the same alternative: if you don’t want the soffit, use two mini-splits for the bedroom & family room.
The family room mini-split rec was especially surprising to us because there were three old HVAC ducts that led up to this family room in existence already – two of which you can see in the before pic below! But they were skinny old ducts that attached to our non-functional system. Although we all assumed we just needed to repair them at first, every HVAC pro said since we needed a soffit or a mini-split to address the bedroom due to that load-bearing header blocking our path, we might as well do a mini-split up here since the existing sub-standard skinny ducting that led up here (which was all that they thought they could fit) was not ideal either.
So we went for option two (mini splits in the bedroom & family room) and we followed their rec to leave the other four rooms of the house on central air since it had no issue reaching them and doing a good job once we replaced the non-functional components and rerouted some ducting (in our kids rooms where we vaulted the ceilings we moved their ducts out of the drop ceiling and into the wall or example). And that, my friends, is how you end up with three different heating and cooling systems in a 1400 square foot, six room house.
The two mini-splits were quiet and efficient so we really don’t have any complaints about the actual function of them except that ours were apparently oversized for our home (which meant they cycled down and shut off all the time) which led to humidity issues. They dripped often, had various musty smell issues, and towels wouldn’t dry in our bedroom but would dry in the other bedrooms with central air.
And then we came across a photo from when our house was torn apart for new drywall, and the header we were told was load-bearing didn’t look load-bearing to us. Cut to us asking a different contractor, who confirmed (he had his structural engineer look at it as well)… plus we could see a generously-sized ceiling channel for standard-sized ducts to pop up into the family room! No more skinny ducts up here! No need for a soffit downstairs! And no more mini-splits necessary!
So yes, we paid to install brand spanking new mini-splits that we removed 1.5 years later and replaced with central air (and had to remove & replace a nice big channel of drywall in the kitchen ceiling below this family room to accomplish this). Because we are that smooth. *Insert that sunglass-wearing cool kid emoji right here*
At least we were able to sell the mini-splits… back to the HVAC company actually! The lead guy wanted them for personal use because they’re super back-ordered right now and he knew we took really good care of them because they were here trying to work on the leak/humidity stuff pretty often – ha!
After he bought them back from us, the cost for this entire update came in under $1,000 which includes the drywall repair in the kitchen that we hired out because ceilings are notoriously hard to get smooth when you’re patching something (every imperfection shows overhead). And I’m happy to report that both the bedroom and the living room are more comfortable than they used to be. Their temperatures were rarely similar to what was going on in the other four rooms when this house was on three separate systems, and now they’re all much more in sync. You might even call this house Justin Timberlake (I’m really sorry. I couldn’t resist that one). The icing on the cake is that towels actually dry on the hooks on the back of our bedroom door now. It’s the little things.
So for anyone who’s fixing up their home and ends up redoing something or changing directions or pivoting months or years later… fixing up a house is rarely without curveballs (especially when presented with new information or a better approach to something you’ve been trying to solve). Try not to beat yourself up about it and celebrate your victory, no matter how long it takes to get there. Of course we’d have loved to have done this up front and not 1.5 years later, but better late than never 😉
As for our mini-split experience, we aren’t really against them at all – especially if they’re correctly sized (we hear the humidity/dripping issue we had is mostly caused when the system is oversized and cycles down or turns off all the time). But when it comes to a 1400 sf house with six rooms, it feels great to run one central air system now versus also running two mini-splits and an external fan on top of that (all three of those items are now gone!). And only having to maintain & service one system feels great too, especially since our drippy mini-splits led to quite a few service calls. Note: it’s key to trust your HVAC pro – we found someone with 25+ years of experience and he was certain this approach would work after getting to know our house extremely well over many (many) service calls.
I’m just now realizing the two vents we added upstairs aren’t really that visible in these photos so I’ll share some more pics on Instagram Stories soon for you (I’m currently searching for prettier vent covers – will report back with whatever I get). One vent is right at the base of the TV cabinet, which you can see in the background of the photo above. And one is on the other side of the room on the wall when you come up the stairs (if the photo below had a foot more of space on the left, you’d see it right there in the wainscotting).
Update #3: Moving The Desk To This Window (& Making Faux Legs To Recess It Into The Sill)
We stored the original legs for this desk (that we have had for 15 years! Since before we were married!) and just built little faux legs in the back, and that little update allowed us to scoot it back about 7 more inches to slip this into the windowsill for extra easy clearance.
It makes the desk closer in depth to the bookcases that flank it, which feels really good in the space.
Also if you’re in the market for a classic parson’s desk that’ll stand the test of time – this is it. We have loved this desk solidly for a decade and a half and it’s so flexible – it can basically go anywhere (which is why we saved the original legs – who knows where it’ll end up in a few more years!). And this is our desk chair for anyone wondering. Light and solid. The wood tone is nice with our floors too.
While we’re praising things we’ve had for a long time that are SO FLEXIBLE for multiple uses and spots in your home, these Fjalkinge bookshelves from Ikea are the GOAT. They can hold plates and cups and cookbooks in a kitchen, crafting & art stuff as well as home office supplies in an office or craft room, and books & decor stuff for any sort of living space.
Also, I feel like people don’t put their desks in front of windows enough. Like our instinct in this room was to place it BETWEEN THE WINDOWS but it’s so much nicer of a view to look outside now – versus staring at the slice of wall between two windows before (you can see the old placement here).
In plant news, they all love it up here since this room is full of light. Highly recommend one of these neon pothos to hang off any and all bookcases in your home. They aren’t even plants that need a ton of light, but dangit they LOVE IT if you do have it.
Here’s a view I realized you probably don’t see often since I was sort of limbo-ing back over the stair balcony to get this shot. It was very graceful and not at all awkward looking.
And here we have our well-traveled Quirk cup, which moved with us from Richmond. Yes, it’s just a paper cup. But we painted the pink house this color, fully influenced when John’s sister Carrie walked into a Christmas party a few years ago holding it. It’s very special to us, two very sentimental non-coffee-drinkers.
As for how we like our sofa after owning it for over 3 years, the verdict is that we love it. It’s still very comfortable. Looks great. Feels good. I haven’t even had to shave any pills or anything with my furniture shaver. It’s holding up extremely well, especially considering that we have two kids who watch TV upside down on it – and had a little pillow crushing dog who took great pleasure in making temporary pillow dents as his part-time job. Also I wish they still sold this mirror. We found it at Pottery Barn Kids a while back I think.
The chandelier is another thing that’s hard to get the scale of in photos. Sometimes it looks like it’s bigger than the desk (spoiler alert: it is not). Other times from other angles it looks like a tiny bowling ball. In real life it’s big and the room is big so it works for us. It’s more than a foot over John’s head (he’s 6′) so nobody is walking into it.
And yes that’s our beloved air purifier in the corner there with the gray cover. It blends in so much better than the old black cover we used to have. We also get asked where things like trash cans are in our rooms. That woven basket under the chair on the right of the kids’ desk is this room’s trash bin. As you can imagine it gets filled with about 318 paper cuttings and snack bags and band-aids each week.
I don’t think we show this angle much either, so here you go. That white console table used to be in our last house’s dining room, and the drawer is full of spare light bulbs and extension cords. You know John requires a special spot for those, right? Also in the wish-they-still-sold-them category, these leather ottomans are from Target maybe 4 years ago? I am in love with them and wish they’d bring them back.
Before we go, I made a quick video walk-through while this room was clean (John’s mom and dad drove down for a visit this past week) and I often think a video is worth 10,000 words and photos combined. So to get the best feeling of this space, just press play. It’s short, and there’s no narration, so you can watch it on mute if you’re at work without missing anything.
Ok, that about ends the tour of our family room after living here a year and a half. Compared to a room like our kitchen and our bedroom, a lot more has stayed almost identical since we moved in and set stuff down. I have no idea why some rooms change a ton and others don’t, but I suspect in this case, just defining one side as the office/art area and the other side as the cozy family room slash movie spot just worked well from the beginning. Plus… one good spot for the TV. Ha!
It’s interesting for us to muse about what things might change over many many years though. For example, when we’re empty-nesters, will that kids art desk area become something else entirely? Or will we save it for the grandkids? Maybe that’s where I’ll do my jazzercise.
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Anyone who lives in a small-ish space knows that thoughtful storage can upgrade so many aspects of your life at home when it’s done right (and it can be a daily frustration when it’s not done well or at all). No matter how big your rooms are or how many you have, you just want to be able to access things easily & keep them in a smart spot – and downsizing from our 3150 square foot house to this 1400 square foot home last year definitely challenged us to be even more mindful about how we incorporate the most useful storage systems into our home. Suddenly we were living in 6 rooms (down from 14!) and we also no longer have a garage, an attic, a big outdoor shed/workshop, or even a closet in most of the bedrooms (of our 3 bedrooms, only 1 had a closet when we bought this house!).
So over the past 16 months, we’ve found some especially awesome double-duty storage pieces that answer a pretty common question that we get around here, which is “I need specifics! Tell me exactly what you’re usingto make your smaller home fit everything you need and use every day.” Whelp, this post is attempting to answer just that (along with some links to previous posts at the bottom for anyone who wants an even deeper dive). So here are seven of our favorite storage pieces, including why we chose them and some alternate options if you’re also looking to add some extra storage to your life.
1. A Hidden-Storage Coffee Table
Problem: Not enough entryway storage near the front door
Solution: A deep-drawered coffee table with tons of concealed space to stash stuff
Since our front door opens right into a little sitting area, we don’t have a traditional foyer or mudroom situation. We definitely maximized our nearby laundry closet (the double doors can be seen above) for hoodies and backpacks, but it can’t handle everything. Which is where this deep-drawered coffee table came into play.
We love it because it has TONS of storage, but doesn’t really look like a storage piece. Like, at first glance, it might just look like a solid wood coffee table (there aren’t very obvious handles). But, surprise! – both sides pull open to reveal a total of two wide deep drawers that slide really easily. On one side we’ve got extra shoes (beyond our flip flops that just stay out on the front porch) and a basket with miscellaneous items that we often grab before heading out the door (keys, Burger’s leash, sunglasses, etc).
The drawer on the other side stores our lesser-used or out-of-season jackets… which you’d never guess are in the coffee table. Mission accomplished!
Other Hidden Storage Coffee Table Options
Coffee Table In Context Of The Whole Room
Also, if you want to see how the coffee table looks in the whole space (and catch one other item in this list), check out this quick video tour that we shared a couple of weeks ago:
Solution: A platform storage bed that keeps books & toys accessible, while using space that’s often wasted
We thought a lot about the beds that we purchased for this house, knowing full well that it would be smart to utilize them for under-bed storage. And our daughter’s bed has done the job especially well. She has an ever-growing collection of books and four large baskets full of legos and other toys, but a bookshelf or some larger storage cabinet would have stolen space from a few other things that she wanted in the room (mainly a desk that she requested we add, which we now have set up across from the bed along the mural wall – as well as the dressers which perform double duty as nightstands). That’s why we appreciate this platform bed with under-bed cubbies so much. It really holds A TON of stuff (which can’t get pushed under the bed and lost).
We have the twin-sized version and it provides 8 total cubbies (3 on each side, and 2 larger ones at the foot of the bed, where she has some giant bins full of legos). She’s fully in charge of what goes where, and since she is the one who sets each cubby up, she knows where everything is – and she loves being able to grab something easily from bed at night while hanging upside down (what kid doesn’t love that?). The bed came with two fabric bins, which she uses for toys and stuff on the other side of the bed, seen above). And we found these larger plastic ones from Target that fit in the two larger cubbies at the foot of the bed (those are the lego ones).
I’ll admit that I was skeptical of the cubbies at first. Everyone must sell under-bed drawers for a reason, right? Well, we learned with our son’s bed that drawers can sometimes just be toe-killers, and they require a clear floor to open easily (empty floors can be hard to come by in kid rooms). We actually ended up removing our son’s drawers and just use our own, smaller, less cumbersome thick felt baskets under there now instead. So consider us cubby converts!
Right: An upholstered bed with a disguised drawer in the footboard seems like it wouldn’t hurt toes like our wood ones did – and it comes in several fabric options
3. A Large Weatherproof Outdoor Bin
Problem: Limited storage for outdoor gear, like beach stuff and bike helmets
Solution: An oversized wicker storage bin that lives on our porch
Storage-wise, one thing we definitely had to adjust to after moving here was not having a big garage or shed that we just got to fill with things that we didn’t want in the house (think sandy beach chairs and umbrellas or outdoor toys, etc). Although it was that willy-nilly tossing of things into our previous garages and sheds that constantly had us dedicating weekends to garage clean-outs and organization, so we definitely don’t miss that! (More on that phenomenon here). But now that we’ve got that stuff tucked neatly inside this faux-wicker outdoor storage bin on our covered porch, we don’t feel that squeeze of “where does this go?!” anymore.
We like it because it conceals lots of stuff while also blending pretty nicely with the rest of our furnishings (it also helps us hide some ugly pipes – more on that here). Even better, it holds A LOT more than we expected. We carefully measured it before ordering to make sure it would hold our beach chairs and umbrellas (inside it’s 64″ long, 30″ wide, and 34″ tall) but we were pleasantly surprised that we also had room for beach toys, bike helmets, and even sports balls and stuff.
The only lesson we learned the hard way is that while the top is waterproof, the sides aren’t perfectly watertight on their own – which wouldn’t have been an issue if we had saved the waterproof bag/liner that velcros inside (which was included with our purchase – doh!). We opted not to use it because we store our bin under a covered porch, but upon some reflection, we wish we had saved it just in case we ever want to move this somewhere that isn’t covered. So I wanted to mention that in case it helps someone else out there. Just wish we tossed it into the bottom of the bin for safekeeping before loading all of our stuff in.
Other Outdoor Storage Bin Options
4. A Long TV Credenza-Style Media Cabinet
Problem: Hoping to maximize media and game storage in one area of the family room
Solution: Skip the media cabinet and work in an extra-long cabinet that fills almost the entire alcove
Our TV is hung on a pretty long wall in our upstairs living room. In the past, we’ve always used some sort of furniture piece underneath our TV, but one of those would’ve shortchanged us in this situation because most pieces sold as “media cabinets” or “media consoles” are often low to the ground and not nearly as wide as what we had space for. That’s why we opted to customize a long credenza that we created with two wide Ikea Besta cabinets that we installed to look like one long cabinet (you can read more about how we did that here).
If we’d chosen to float it off the ground, it would’ve been what the cool kids call a “fauxdenza” – but we opted to keep the legs for now (although we nixed what would have been double legs in the middle for a more seamless look – you can read how we did that here). We still plan to customize it a bit more (probably by adding a thick wood countertop or maybe even a stone one) but this is where we are now… and the storage is GLORIOUS. It’s nearly eight feet long and stores every last one of our old photo albums, newer photobooks, board games (and we have A LOT of board games) as well as miscellaneous keepsakes like yearbooks, etc). It feels so, so, soooo much better than any of those short and narrow media cabinets that we could’ve bought.
As for our actual media stuff, like cable boxes and cords…. well right now all we have is the small box that came with our Frame TV and it just sits under the Besta, tucked against the wall where no one can see it. We stream all of our TV, so there’s no cable box or DVD player to deal with (you can read how we cut the cord a few years ago here).
Other TV Credenza Buying Options
5. An Under-Desk Drawer System
Problem: We built in a desk but wanted to add some under-desk storage that’s actually useful
Solution: A small freestanding drawer system that slides right in
Earlier this year our son requested a simple desk for his room (what’s with our kids requesting desks? they now have a big joint one upstairs where they do crafts/art/larger school projects plus they each have smaller ones in their rooms). I’m not complaining because he uses it often to draw or build those small Lego sets… it’s just that nobody told me when you have kids their currency might be desks.
Anyway, we couldn’t find anything that fit his space perfectly, so we opted to build in our own desk, and even connected it to his bed so it floats completely off of the floor (it’s supported by simple wood braces along the side wall and the back wall as well as being secured to the bed). We debated adding some functional drawers or creating some cubbies under the desktop but it seemed smarter to use the extra area under the left side of the desk for storage instead of stealing a skinny slice below the entire desktop (you can’t make that too big or legs in a chair won’t fit under it… or the desk gets awkwardly high and hard to use). So we just shopped around for a nice under-desk file drawer that we could add. It even has soft close drawers!
We ended up taking off the included wheels because they made it look a little cheaper – plus it gave him bonus storage on top that way. Sherry also ended up priming & painting the faux-wood top with leftover paint from his mural (since the wood color was darker and redder than his desk chair). He loves it because he has a spot to stash his papers, extra art supplies, and some coloring and activity books. And we love it because it helps keep his desk clean and ready to work on (and we see zero of the chaos behind those drawers).
Other Under Desk File Cabinet Buying Options
6. Bookcases With Display Space + Drawers
Problem: Wanting to stash away ugly things while displaying pretty stuff
Solution: Our favorite customizable bookshelves from Ikea (some stuff = concealed & some stuff = revealed)
We couldn’t make a list like this and not include the true storage MVP of our small house: our Ikea Fjalkinge bookcases. We first got them for our home office in Richmond. And when we moved to Florida, at first they were storage workhorses in our kitchen (below) before we moved them upstairs to our family room (that picture is below this one). What can I say? We just can’t quit their powerhouse combo of some-stuff-is-hidden and some-stuff-is-out-and-about.
You can customize these bookcases with your preferred combo of shelves and drawers, and can even set the shelves at your preferred height and put the drawers where you want (they always show them in the middle for some reason on the Ikea website, but we love four on the bottom). This perfect split of 4 drawers for storage + 3 shelves for display space has been awesome for us in both locations. In our kitchen, we kept bowls, cups, and mugs out and easy to grab while using the drawers mostly for food and snacks you’d usually stash in a pantry. Now that we’ve added an actual pantry cabinet (more on that here) they’re living it up in the family room, where books and decor objects are on the shelves with files, camera equipment, paperwork, and random work stuff in the drawers.
Like most of the stuff we’ve been highlighting so far, we love that bookshelves like these work hard AND look good while doing it.
Other Bookshelf Storage Buying Options
7. A Wall-Mounted Spice Rack
Problem: No drawers that could fit all of our spices (and we didn’t want them all over the counter)
Solution: A clean wall-mounted spice rack right near the stove that takes up zero floor or counter space
We’re ending with our newest storage favorite, which is small but oh so mighty. You may have already seen it In our kitchen pantry update post, but it has been too helpful to not include in this roundup – especially if you don’t have lots of floor space for a new piece of furniture, but do have the back of a door or a small slice of wall or the side of a fridge to incorporate this. After we built in the fridge we realized we had an empty wall right near the stove, precisely where we could easily reach all of our spices. We have loved this small spice shelf so much. Plus it holds paper towels and a dishtowel (and it can be secured to a wall or the side of a cabinet OR stuck right to the side of your fridge because the back is magnetic).
You’ve probably seen a million solutions like this, and getting your spices (or your knives or your paper towels) out of a drawer, off the countertop, and on your wall isn’t new – but it’s new to us, and we love it. We also bought this set of matching spice containerswith preprinted labels for more spices than I’ve ever heard of (plus some blanks too). They fit nicely in two rows on the wall shelf (so we have 18 of them on this small shelf – with room for more – we just store some large salt containers along with our salt & pepper grinders). Also Sherry is wild about the crisp white color mixed with the wood dowels. Like she talks about it every time she changes the paper towels.
Other Spice Rack Buying Options
Ok, that’s it. That’s the post. I hope it helps any and all of you looking for exact specifics about what we use and where we used them. The good thing about storage is that there are SO MANY OPTIONS, so you can just go with whatever makes the most sense for your family, your room, and what you need to store. And if you don’t want this storage-palooza to end, the posts below might shed even more light on maximizing a small home:
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
When we shared pictures of our front porch last fall, we said that our decorating strategy out here was basically “plants and more plants.” It helps visually connect the porch to all of the greenery surrounding our house and – as we’ll show you today – it’s also helping us hide some less-than-pretty parts of this outdoor area. Let’s call them wall warts. Three large rectangular wall warts. But more on that in a second.
First let’s travel back in time to what this all looked like last February when we put an offer in on this house (that’s our realtor in the photo below)
As you can see, we’ve already come quite a long way (you can read more about the exterior updates we did in this area here & here). And yes, that’s our huge former “pool dirt pile” in the background below. It has since been leveled (you can see more pool updates on Instagram Stories as they occur).
And somehow back when this house was built, the electrical meter box was put smack dab on the front of the house – literally just a few feet away from the front door (nobody is quite sure why this happened, because it’s very much not the standard, or how our neighbors’ houses are configured). People usually have these on the back or, at the very least, around the side of their houses. But nope. Not us. Ours pretty much greeted you from the street. Welcome to the Petersiks! Would you like to know how many kilowatts we’re using??
Then, to make matters worse, when we had a whole-house generator installed last fall (hello hurricane preparedness!) it required us to add not one, but TWO additional electrical panel boxes next to the OG utility box. So now we were rocking a trio of big boxy utility eyesores on our front porch. And, well, that big potted fern below just wasn’t cutting it as adequate “camouflage” anymore.
So we painted them all white to blend in with the siding (the inspector said that was just fine when he visited to approve them after their install – it’s always a good idea to check first). And then we whipped up a super simple DIY outdoor plant shelf to help hide the madness (and to up Sherry’s already impressively high plant count). It currently holds 4 larger trailing plants, and we placed a smaller 5th one right on top of the far panel box. They’ve all got some growing to do before they become true masters of disguise, but even in their current state they have majorly improved the attractiveness of this wall because the focus is on the trailing greenery versus the not one, not two, but three spectacularly large metal boxes a few feet from the front door.
Over the past 11 months here, we’ve had pretty amazing luck growing trailing plants like pothos in our outdoor shower (yes, even through the winter they did great out there!). So if these do half as well, we’ll be in good shape (more on our outdoor shower makeover here).
So please know that Sherry is already excitedly anticipating the growth of these utility-box-covering plants, and I’m sure she’ll share their progress on Instagram stories, right along with what she expects to be a much larger lemon yield from her two ponderosa lemon trees this year. (If that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is).
The actual construction of the shelf is very rudimentary, as you can see from the also very rudimentary color-coded graphic below. It basically involved 4 parts:
Backplate (Green): This is a 1×8″ primed board that is screwed directly into our wood siding. We chose this size because it would span across the highest points of two siding boards – giving us a flat surface to build on (rather than the angled surface of the siding). Note: it looks wiggly on that left side because there’s a cord snaking down the side of it.
Supports (Blue): These are pieces of 1×8″ board cut at a 45º angle to create triangle supports under the shelf. We attached these to the backplate using wood glue and screws before attaching the backplate to the siding.
Platform (Pink): This is made up of two 1×10″ primed boards that rest across the top of the backplate and the supports, creating the shelf surface for the plants to sit on. They’re screwed in from the top into the supports and backplate. We used TWO 1×10″ boards sandwiched together (with glue and finish nails) to make the shelf as thick as the…
Face Trim (Purple): These are the 1×2″ primed boards that we nailed along the exposed edges of the platform to give the shelf a finished look (they hide the fact that the platform is two boards on top of each other).
Once everything was constructed and the holes were puttied, we painted everything to match the house since – for our purposes – the goal is to blend everything in. Unless you’re a plant. Then your mission is to distract and call attention to yourself. Not the ugly stuff around you.
And speaking of painting, when we asked permission to paint these boxes (beyond asking the inspector when he was here, we also called the utility company – just to be sure) and they actually gave us permission to paint the clear round meter part too (since all meter reading is done remotely now). But we left it unpainted just to be safe. You know, in case you really do want to check my kilowatts.
Another reason this is an improvement over our previous strategy (which was: one big fern placed on the storage box) is that these plants don’t slow down our access to the storage box underneath. That’s where we keep things like our beach chairs, beach umbrellas, bike helmets, etc (you can see what’s inside the box towards the bottom of this post). The fern was in a lightweight plastic pot for easy moving – but moving it off the storage box was still an extra step anytime we needed something. Plus, it was so lightweight that it sometimes blew down on windy days (which isn’t an issue we’ve had with these much heavier pothos plants). So no more “fern on the loose” issues either. It’s a win-win!
For anyone that’s looking for other simple & affordable outdoor DIY projects, here are some other posts about our house’s outdoor evolution that can help (the first one isn’t a simple & easy DIY, but pretty much all the rest are!):
We have nearly as many outdoor projects and updates in our archives for this house as indoor ones because we spend so much time outside here! When you downsize with the goal of less square footage and more time spent outdoors (in a warmer climate that helps to facilitate that – more on how that process is going for us here) I think it can make a huge difference if you have outdoor spaces that you can maximize as well! Areas that you don’t have to pay to heat & cool but can turn into bonus “outdoor rooms” really are the sweet spot for us these days.
And for everyone who has requested one big blog post about how our pool planning and progress is going, we’re thinking that’ll be our next post (hopefully sometime in May when we’re a little further along) so here’s hoping!
Last week we shared how we built the DIY outdoor hanging daybed that we installed on our front porch. And as promised, I’m back to share how we hung it since, if you’re like me, hanging things that are meant to support the full weight of a human body (or two!) can make you a little nervous.
It was actually extremely easy to do. So easy that we did it more than once (ha!) so that it resulted in the smoothest and most non-tipsy sway possible (our first hanging attempt made it tip forward and backwards a bit, which wasn’t ideal). Thankfully the second attempt worked like a charm. Plus it meant we could document the entire thing for you, so you can just skip right to doing it the better way on the first try.
Here’s how it looked when you last saw it, after our initial hanging attempt:
We mentioned were going to rehang it in last week’s post, because almost immediately after hanging it with just two ceiling hooks, we realized that suspending it that way made the daybed swing front-to-back a bit more than we hoped, like an actual swing you’d find on a playground. When you sat on the front edge it was prone to tip forward.
When you laid on it you felt like you were rocking back-and-forth in a very shallow U-motion. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but we had envisioned more of a subtle swaying motion where the bed stayed level and flat the entire time. And we knew that would be the result of upgrading to four hooks in the ceiling. And thankfully, it worked!
The bed can still gently sway, but no more pitching forward and back like it’s an actual swing. Everyone stays level and flat while reclining, reading, or hanging out – and we couldn’t be happier with the result.
So it might seem like a small detail, but securing the daybed from four ceiling spots was a big improvement, and it’s even easier to understand on video, which is why we filmed the whole process. The video below covers everything from what hardware we used, how to account for the rope relaxing (it does quite a bit!), and why you shouldn’t be scared of complicated knots (which is something that I came to terms with as we filmed this). It definitely goes down as one of our weirder videos (I had no idea Sherry would laugh so hard when I explained what sold me on the smaller eye hooks that attach to the daybed), so hopefully you’ll find it helpful and/or entertaining:
Note: You can also view this video on YouTube, where you can turn on auto-generated closed captions if that’s helpful for you.
If you aren’t able to watch the video at the moment, I’ll cover some of the basics in the following paragraphs, but the video is especially explanatory, so come back and watch it whenever you’re actually planning to hang your daybed to hopefully error-proof your experience. You’ll also catch the difference between literal and figurative statements – and how that can DRAMATICALLY change the meaning of a sentence.
Daybed Hanging Materials
Just like the hanging process itself, the material list is pretty simple:
Be warned that this rope DOES STRETCH under the weight of your daybed and your body. So you need to hang your daybed significantly higher than your desired final height, which is where the 5-gallon buckets come in. You can see a true demonstration of this fact in the video above (they’re really helpful).
How To Hang Your Daybed
When researching methods to hang our daybed, we saw a bunch of different tutorials that all recommend one common detail: propping up your daybed with 5-gallon buckets during the hanging process (like this one and this one). Just as many of them warn, it will seem too high. But as you saw in our video, once the buckets are removed at the end, and you sit on your daybed, the rope relaxes to a much better height. So don’t skip that detail or your end result will be a crazy low (and maybe ground-skimming) daybed. Did you see how much it drops in our video? It’s almost unbelievable how many inches the ropes can relax in a second or two.
We used some heavy-duty screw eye hooks in our ceiling, being sure to screw them into a strong support beam. We have the benefit of an exposed porch ceiling, but if you don’t, use a stud finder to locate a solid spot to hang your daybed. We installed one hook for each corner of the daybed, being careful to place them at the exact same spacing as the hooks on the bed below it.
Tying Your Rope
We tied our rope through these eye hooks using a midshipman’s hitch knot because it’s an adjustable knot, meaning we would be able to tweak the height if our daybed ever became unlevel. I demonstrate how we tied them in the video (nice and slow for you to follow along at home) – or you can reference a tutorial like this one.
We used slightly smaller screw eye hooks on the bottom that were the perfect size to thread our 3/4″ rope through. Be sure to drill pilot holes before attaching them. Another tip is that you can use a screwdriver like a lever to help you twist it fully into your daybed (like you see below):
With the rope already tied to the top eye hook, we threaded it through the bottom and cut off the excess, leaving about two feet of extra rope at the bottom, just to be safe. Before tying the bottom knots, we used a tape measure to make sure our daybed was placed exactly where we wanted it (centered in the space) and that it wasn’t sitting crooked or skewed to one side. Then we just used a basic pretzel knot (I’m pretty sure that’s not the technical name) tightened right below the eye hook on the bottom of each corner.
Once we pulled all four knots tight against each of the bottom eye hooks, we removed the buckets and let the daybed hang freely. And then I sat on it. It’s an exciting, if not slightly nerve-wracking moment, especially since you’ll probably hear the rope creak loudly as it stretches and relaxes under your weight (you can see AND hear it in our video!). You’ll also probably notice that it pulls the rope tight against your bottom knots.
You can see from that picture above that we chose the fray the excess rope, trimming it so it hangs above the decking below it. You don’t want it dragging on the ground because it would likely get dirtier that way – and it would make an annoying sound if it drags as you sway.
As for if we have any issues with our daybed hitting the railing behind it, it can knock into it if you’re actively trying to do that, but if you’re just lounging on it & gently swaying, you don’t. Most porch swings & hanging daybeds are hung near some sort of railing and it’s just up to the people on them not to smash into them. We had that setup at the pink house, and it was also fine.
Our kids know it’s not some big geronimo adventure swing (they have one of those already in the yard), but just in case someone decides to come in like a wrecking ball, we did add a few of these clear furniture bumpers along the back edge, just to help protect the bed corner from getting damaged if it were to make contact.
No one really sees this side (it’s hidden by the front of the railing – which I’m peeking over and through to get this photo), so we figured it wouldn’t hurt to add them, just for peace of mind.
So here’s the finished porch daybed as it now hangs from four anchor points in the ceiling. It’s hard to describe how much this hangout zone has improved the already awesome experience of sitting out here (we used to have some simple chairs, but it’s really nice to fully extend your legs and lounge). You can see my full leg-extension right here.
And just because we can’t resist a before and after, I thought I’d throw in this photo of the same angle, taken the day we first saw this house last February. The entire side porch was screened in and full of mildew and rotten floorboards back in those days:
It’s wild to think that this Friday will be exactly one year (to the day!) since we first laid eyes on this house. This porch was one of the weirdest spots at the time (it didn’t help that it was extremely rainy and dark that afternoon) and it’s awesome to see how far it has come. (If you’re going to ask if we miss the screens, the answer is no and the secret is a good outdoor ceiling fan. Mosquitoes – and bugs in general – hate flying into moving air).
Now if we could just be done with these Florida cold snaps so we can lounge out here even more, that’d be great.
(Yes, our cold tolerance has been greatly reduced since moving here – to the point that 55 feels kind of cold.)
P.S. If you’d like to keep browsing our building projects and furniture upgrades, this archive is completely dedicated to them. You can also see every single update that we’ve made to this house over the last 8.5 months in this spot.