Survival Storage, Part 1

Kids' treasure display

Kids’ treasure display

Or, How to Thrive with What You Have

Oftentimes, for reasons such as budget, time, energy or ownership restrictions, when it comes to decorating our homes, we don’t have the option to rip it all out and start again with a clean slate. And even if we have the means, this is not always necessity so much as choice. Personally I think you can do a lot with what you already have, save your moolah and the earth while you’re at it. You only have to look at what people achieve with rentals and dorm rooms to know how far creative thinking can take you. I’ve lived in the same 85 sq metres (915 sq feet) for something like a decade and a half. Two children ago I began to feel the squeeze.

Admittedly we also have a 35 sq m (376 sq ft) detached garage out the back and 600 sq m (6500 sq ft) to grow veggies and keep chooks. Into the garage goes furniture items I am considering living without, and clothes stored for the kids to  grow into, plus husbandly tools and camping gear. It’s storage purgatory. Things which end up there exist in a shadow world somewhere between real life and op shop hell.

However. Aside from that dirty little netherworld, in terms of real living space, I felt the squeeze  years ago. Now we have 3 children and 2 adults (and a dog) in a 3 bedroom, one living and ONE BATHROOM house. And I’m here to tell you, it’s ok.

Perspective and Vertical Storage

It’s partly in the perspective, and partly in how you manage everyone’s stuff. In terms of perspective, you only have to look at the world news, google world average wages…I won’t bore you. You know what I’m talking about. First world problems vs you know, real problems.

In terms of practical management – Vertical Storage. My friend, your friend, we’ve been through this. More in a bit.

A lot of people manage their lives well, they’re awfully organised, but their spaces just don’t exude the wow, they don’t sing; frankly they scare off people who crave style and make them think you have to gut a place just to get the wow. Like you can’t live small and cheap and have the wow.

The Wow – you can have it

No. I disagree. I live small, and cheap (or as we cheap snobs like to say, ‘frugally’), but everyone who walks through my door comments that they like what I’ve done with the place. “Warm”, “stylish” and “happy” are some of the words that are used. That’s despite the amount of stuff packed into the space, and the fact it’s a 70s…I don’t even know what to call it; ‘bungalow’ is too posh – it’s the kind of house they built on the cheap in the 70s, with nothing much to recommend it except water-tightness. (It’s tiny, but it is perfectly formed. I have always admired the designers for getting everything a house needs in all the right places in a perfect 85 sq m rectangle. Awesome.)

Small but perfectly formed

Small but perfectly formed

But the truth is, there’s almost nothing about it that’s new or fabulous. Plus the stylist in me has to contend with kid whozits and whatsits, and tools which, you know, need to live in the house ’cause the garage is sooo far away…..not to mention household paperwork etc queuing up for my attention. The real world of families. And that’s where I just don’t gel with those blogs where everyone seems so super-organised (daily chore checklists, pffft, in my house things get cleaned when they start begging for it; squeeky wheels and all that. And if my baseboards are dusty….ok. Maybe growing up in a third world country has left me with different priorities, or maybe I’m just grubby, IDK. I just know I don’t notice other people’s dusty baseboards).

Cupboards the size of houses

I know it’s styling for the photos, akin to airbrushing  advertising models, but it has the same effect of making ordinary people feel inadequate. Don’t misunderstand me, I do love them blogs, they have great ideas and fabulous homes; they’re pinned all over my Boards for inspiration, but where the hell is all the child-litter? Hidden in cupboards the size of my living room I’m guessing.

And that’s where my life and home exists in an alternate universe to theirs. Perhaps having add/adhd doesn’t help, but I’m still pretty sure this is the soul cry of many other real-lifers. So while it’s all very well to be inspired by these beautiful, pristine interiors, how does one marry style with real life, especially if one is confined by space, budget and ADD?

As men are wont to say, it’s what you do with it that counts. And it’s probably more true for decor than for men.