Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Progress Builds

Building your dream house isn't easy, even when you design the original. We've lived in our house for over four years now, and even though we thought we'd planned for everything, we have slowly discovered that there are things we either didn't know to plan for or just failed to see.

One of those is storage; we flat out didn't build in enough storage in this house. The upstairs closets are skimpy and were overflowing everywhere, including the landing upstairs. We desperately need an area for coats, scarves, shoes, etc. at the main entry way. Not to mention a basic utility room for all the stuff that needs to live by the main entrance (reusable grocery bags, the drying rack for laundry, my school bag, purse, etc.).

But this past week, we finally fixed some of the storage issues in our home, at least upstairs. After getting a few estimates for built in shelving for our landing(one from a green builder at about $2000 and one from the contractor we went with at $500), we went with the later. If budget had not been an issue, we would have probably gone with the green builder because his work is finished really nicely and he uses almost 100% reclaimed materials. But, as with most of us, budget was a factor.

Perhaps I should back up and say that we thought this unit out long and hard. We knew from how we were already using the space with make-shift shelving left over from apartment days, that it was an ideal spot for our home library of books and movies. It was also where most of our board games landed, as well as some other random junk that really needed a new home. We also wanted it to be a cozy area for someone to curl up with a book or to be able to browse a magazine, be that an adult in an arm chair or a child on a floor pillow. So, after some measuring and tweaking (we had a cold air return that we needed to work with to allow for air flow, as well as two electrical outlets that we weren't interested in moving), we came up with the basic design. Two or three large, long drawers on the bottom and then open, adjustable shelving on the top to allow for air flow and access to the electrical outlet. We also wanted the shelving to be deep enough for photo albums, but shallow enough to allow for a chair to sit comfortably in front on one side without blocking the walkway. This is definitely something we wouldn't have been able to design well from the get-go, since it was something where we really had to live with the space and figure out how the space would best work for us.

So, the contractor, who does other major jobs during the day, built our unit on weekends and down time. Which meant that it wasn't his primary focus, so it took a while for us to see the finished product. But, that's also why the price ended up at being under $500, because we were willing to wait and work with his schedule. He also was willing to paint the unit for us prior to assembly, which meant that there was far less touch up for us to do later. It probably took him about an hour to install the unit, which he built in three sections. There are a few sections that we want to go back and touch up with some more sanding and paint, but those are minor in the grand scheme of things. (I'll be back with pictures when I can snap them in the daylight.)

And the verdict? We LOVE it! It's a fabulous present to ourselves just before the baby arrives and has really helped us organize things. It's also been a great incentive to clean out things some more, like weed through our books and be really honest about which ones we'll actually read again and which ones we need to donate to the public library or to my classroom library. We even figured out that there's space at one end for the printer, which solves the problem of the ever-present glowing electronic lights in the nursery. There is a ton of storage in these too... plenty of room to grow with our growing family. I kept my cook books in the kitchen, but now all my gardening and home repair reference books have a place up there, which means I have more room on my little shelf in the kitchen for cook books. :) Which totally makes me a happy girl... the thought of new books for the bibliophile. And I love the chair up there with the soft light of one of our accent table lamps I hadn't found a good home for yet. Benny's found me up there several days curled up with a book and Lavender lounging on the carpet under the chair.

Have you made any major changes to your space lately that you love? Things you're dreaming about doing once you save up the funds? I'd love to hear about them!

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