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Part 5: Littles living large-storage, storage, storage!

Isn't this a perfect time to talk about spring cleaning, purging and proper storage?? Speaking of... I don't know how organized you are, but clean-up and tidying at least give me some hope of order over an otherwise chaotic life, especially with 2 toddlers. That being said, storage real estate is never overrated in my book. Whether it be creatively tucked away from sight or highlighted as part of a functional room aesthetic, it's necessary to hold the clutter and miscellaneous stuff that make up the pieces of our household.

For kids this tends to manifest itself by way of toy mania... mine particularly made up puzzles, play tools, microscopic lego accessories, cars, more cars, other vehicles, more transforming vehicles, crayons, colored pencils and itty bitty odds and ends I've yet to identify. I find the most manageable method to the madness is sorting by type. Once separated and placed in a bin/box/or such compartment, these MIGHT stand some chance of being found and/or reunited with their counterparts the next time I am asked where xyz thing's whereabouts could be. First, closets can be a perfect spot for such items stacked in a logical manner, labeled or otherwise coded in boxes or storage containers. If you don't have ample closet space to tuck these away, built-in shelving, stand-alone shelving secured to a wall, cubbies or even rolling cart can be highly effective.

Living Quarters photo and design. Personal NYC residence

Cubbies are a foolproof way to cleanup clutter. Accessible at the lower levels for little helpers to play and put away, while higher cubes stay out of reach. After looking high and low for the perfect solution to transition my own home office to later a nursery space, I ended up with a simple solution from Ikea. Duh. I wanted not only storage, but a room divider. This Kallax unit was the ticket. Drawback: the tallest piece sold is actually only 4 boxes high, ill-proportioned for my 128" ceilings. So I purchased an extra linear component 1 box wide x 4 high and installed horizontally above the other unit.

One problem most won't mention in recommending components like this are baseboards. Why, might you ask? Because... when installing a system such as this, you imagine it sitting flush against the wall, right? And securing to the wall to avoid catastrophic results with kiddos. My solution: cutting out the baseboard in the exact width (make sure to save it for future reattachment of course!) as the this shelf and pushing it about 1/8" from the wall; almost flush. This way, electrical cords could still hide behind this end while safely anchoring/ screwing to the wall. whew.

If you're completely over Ikea, (I know- how could anyone be?!) heres another cool option from a UK company called Habitat. A little pricey to ship overseas... but a more unique option.

Just always be sure to check cubby sizes , no matter where your unit is purchased from. All the box sizes are slightly different and you want to be sure you can find appropriate storage boxes to accompany.

Living Quarters Interior Design, private residence Philadelphia, PA

Pictured above is actually my new living room after completing renovations this fall on move-in day. The room in the background was an added powder room for the 1st floor since we did not have a bath on this level at all. One of the best storage decision I made was the sliding doored cubby you see on the living room side of this powder wall.

On the inside of the powder room you can see deep shelving for towels and other bath accessories. The mirror centered in front of these is a great concealer of wipes, diapers, tissue boxes, and extra toilet paper rolls to have on hand for the 1st floor floor when I don't feel like running to the basement or the 2nd floor. Like, every time there's a diaper change, sigh.

The toy storage cubby on the opposite side has become our only saving grace for keeping this floor in some sort of order. We do have a small playroom on the 2nd floor, but inevitably toys travel downstairs to be closer to the center of daily routines in the kitchen/dining room where "mom lives". No, no one actually said that, I just think its pretty close to the truth.

The toys that are brought down either wind up on the dining room table or the living room floor. Each time we leave the room during the day, we try to cleanup and put things in the cubby. My oldest (generally, not willingly) knows what needs to return to the 2nd floor and we make another pile by the stairs. Before bed the things that usually live in the cubby are organized in a civilized manner for future searching and the upstairs items returned to their home. Not perfect, but at the end of the day, a reasonable solution to keep from looking like a daycare.

Photo courtesy: George Home. Item discontinued.

This is a bed I covet for my toddlers transition bed! He is still in a beautiful Nurseryworks convertible crib (God bless his little 3-yr old soul for fighting change-his cried crocodile tears when I first mentioned a big boy bed) but now that baby number 3 is coming, I really don't want to buy a 3rd crib...its time, buddy. I'm not a fan of most vehicular sleeping arrangements if we HAD to, this Kombi retro VW is pretty darn cute AND so practical with its pull-out drawers and french door opening front panels with hidden shelving. Simple and stylish in design for our free-spirited and hippy side too. Beds with storage are a great way to solve space issues while having items close at hand. Think extra bed sheets, winter blankets, even clothes if you don't have the space for a dresser. The only problem.. it's discontinued from manufacturer, George Home. Booo. I emailed their customer service to see if a lonely leftover just happens to be laying about in a warehouse (which I know is slim to none).

Nurseryworks Novella convertible crib

So the search continues... in the meantime, I will continue to launch his body over the side rail of the Novella crib shown above, while doing the same with his 20 month old brother with my ever-expanding belly! * Side note, I love this Novella crib that transforms from crib to toddler bed to reading nook sofa. Furniture that's designed to grow with us rather than disposed always score extra points.

Speaking of growing bellies, my newborn-baby-gears have slowly been setting into motion. The end of the 2nd trimester is usually the perfect motivator for organization and prep before the wheels start to fall off of this wagon. Now that I'm in the 3rd (gulp) I've started gathering the hand-me-downs, the baby gear, finishing the nursery and making a check-list of all the things I'm missing. Agh. I just remembered these great little hanging clothes dividers for 0-24 months that I need to unearth in the basement along with all my drawer dividers.

Lucy Darling really is a darling online boutique that specialize in paper keepsakes such as memory books, milestone stickers and pendants, wall art, and the closet dividers shown above. These are available in 4 different themes, little Love, little Captain, Little artist, and Little animal. I have found that keeping the clothes divided forces me to continually take stock of things that are waiting in the months ahead and acknowledge the outgrown as well to be boxed and given away. Tears, yes parting ways is hard with these sweet little numbers.

Living Quarters Interior Design: photo and design. Private nursery NYC

The ratio of clothes hung vs folded really depends on your drawer and hanging space available. Our previous home was a NYC apartment where we brought both of our boys home from the hospital as newborns. The nursery where each in turn spent early days was part of a renovation that divided our large original master bedroom into 2 new spaces, a small nursery and a walk-through closet leading to our new bedroom.

Though the nursery had a small footprint with this arrangement, I had the opportunity to create space by decluttering. Meaning, a floor to ceiling built-in with bi-fold doors, and (2) 36" side by side kitchen drawers banks were constructed to hold all the baby gear with ample hanging and drawers to keep the rest of the room minimalistic and clear of junk. Because we had high ceilings, additionally I added garage door style doors above this unit next to the ceiling where less used items could be accessed with a ladder.

*A side note about this photo is the barely visible book/art shelf on the right-hand side. In my second blog post about hooks and hardware, I showed a different angle of this area highlighting the repurposing milk crates to hang on the wall as book holders, but I did not mention the shelf above it. These narrow ledges are another space-saving device for books and artwork fi you want to skip the holes for art hanging all together. They sometimes can be a bit tricky to hang flush and straight on the wall, so do be sure to use a level and measure carefully before placement.

Same built-in as above, open to show double removable hanging rods. As the child's clothes become bigger (as they will) the bottom rod can be taken out. I really like the quality of Hafele hardware. These came in 48" lengths and field-cuttable with sockets at each end. Kitchen drawer banks for the bottom base of built-in cabinet reveal full-extension drawers, allowing access to contents inside.

Divide and conquer.. Another more traditional way to organize baby essentials, the inside of my old changing table with expandable plastic drawer dividers from Bed Bath and Beyond. I didn't particularly love these dividers.. they tended to fall sideways with use so this time around I am more inclined to use something with rigid sides, like Container Store's options below.

Boxes vs Bags!

Serena and Lily make a mean bin. A little pricier than other competitors' fabric and poly counterparts, for sure. BUT if you're looking to showcase these for their own sake in a public area of the house, I've really loved the look. The Pandan Box in hand woven palm fronds are sturdy, natural, and beautiful. The color deep blood-orange color I chose has been discontinued, but still available in a variety of neutral stripes and dip-dyes. These are 11.5"SQ x 11.5"H overall, FYI.

Sometimes bags are a more practical method for carrying items from here to there. Laundry, well-loved toys that must travel, and toys with small components can be secured with a drawstring! Hang these bags from Etsy shop Tellkiddo on a hook or storage on the floor.

Looking for a non-traditional container? Look no further than these adorable modern monochrome abodes from Etsy shop ScndnvnStudio. These are really the cutest storage I've come across. Adorned with their own key (wink) each little homeowner will be welcome to houseclean to their hearts content.

So there you have it, Littles Living Large! Hope you are enjoying some of my favorite charming, whimsical, and practically unpredictable things. Taking a much needed vacation from cold weather and runny noses to inspire springtime vibes. So stay tuned to my Instagram for the next segment, The Garden Roundup to come in a few warmer weeks!

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