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Storage Upgrade (Or How I Conquered the Chaos Under My Bed)

Annie Quigley's Vintage Wooden Underbed Storage Boxes, Photo by Mel Walbridge, Cover Image Cropped

There’s a line in 1990s cult classic movie The Birdcage that I think applies particularly well to apartment living: “Don’t add. Just subtract.” Over the past four years I’ve been living in my small Manhattan apartment, I’ve tweaked that line slightly: “Don’t add. Just replace.” In other words, I try not to add to my existing allotment of things, but instead buy fewer—and better, more lasting—versions of what I already have. Case in point: I subbed my cheap jersey sheets for a crisp, long-lasting cotton pair, replaced a set of metal chairs I no longer liked with all-purpose stacking stools (a Remodelista favorite), and jettisoned mismatched glassware in favor of an artful set from Japanese brand Kinto.

But one place that hadn’t gotten an upgrade since college? My under-bed storage. Underneath my platform bed was a Tetris-like grid of improvised storage and forgotten detritus: two low metal carts holding extra bedding; a few loose fabric tote bags; a suitcase; two long plastic Tupperware bins with blue tops, which had warped so much that they no longer closed; and, I discovered, several well-hidden dog bones. Every night when I got into bed, I had the nagging feeling that this tangle was somehow blocking airflow and creating bad vibes, even though I don’t believe in that kind of thing. (Not really, anyway.)

Then, on a rainy Sunday a few weeks back, I happened upon Manhattan kitchenware shop Fishs Eddy and found, in the back, stacks of vintage wooden stools, boxes, and crates. They were emptying out their warehouse, they explained, and selling antiques for a few days only. I spied a stack of oversized, low wooden boxes—Amish baking boxes, they told me, for storing rising dough—and knew they’d be the perfect under-bed upgrade. I bought two at $35 each, wrestled them into a cab, and set about reinvigorating this neglected part of my apartment. Here are the results.

Photography by Mel Walbridge for The Organized Home, except where noted.

The Prep

Annie Quigley Vintage Wooden Storage Box
Above: Once I got home, I wiped down the boxes and came up with a plan. (Dog for size comparison.) Photograph by Annie Quigley.
Annie Quigley Wooden Storage Box
Above: I may add casters to the boxes at some point, but in the meantime, I stuck inexpensive felt pads, available in hardware stores, onto the corners of the bottom for easy sliding. Then I pulled everything out from under the bed, cleaned, and reorganized everything into my two new boxes. Photograph by Annie Quigley.

The Finished Upgrade

Annie Quigley Underbed storage Boxes Corrected, Photo by Mel Walbridge
Above: Once finished, the boxes look tidy and attractive—almost like they came with the bed.
Annie Quigley's Vintage Wooden Underbed Storage Boxes, Photo by Mel Walbridge
Above: Thanks to the felt pads and the handles on each end, the boxes slide easily in and out, allowing for easy cleaning—no more dust bunnies or hidden milk bones.
Annie Quigley's Vintage Wooden Underbed Storage Boxes, Photo by Mel Walbridge
Above: Since I live in a small city apartment—without the luxuries of linen or bath closets—I decided to think of the boxes as smaller, horizontal versions of these: one for linens and utilitarian goods, the other spare toiletries and bath products.
Annie Quigley's Vintage Wooden Underbed Storage Boxes, Photo by Mel Walbridge
Above: Then I shopped my own apartment for containers and baskets to keep things neat. The box on the left holds spare bedding and towels, light bulbs (corralled in an apple basket I snagged from a farmer’s market in Brooklyn), linen spray, a couple of laundry essentials, and extra toilet tissue. The box on the right holds toiletries: makeup in a linen bag (ready to be packed for travel), spare candles, and a box with bath essentials (soaps, skin care, and bubble bath) that can be carried into the bathroom. In the top right corner, a particularly good-looking shoe box with a cloth pull-tab keeps medicines out of sight.
Annie Quigley's Vintage Wooden Underbed Storage Boxes, Photo by Mel Walbridge
Above: My new “closets.”
Annie Quigley Underbed storage Boxes Corrected, Photo by Mel Walbridge
Above: Instead of a jumbled mess, my under-bed area is now functional and streamlined. Plus, I like that the boxes have a history behind them—even when (if) I move out of this apartment, they can find new life out in the open.

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