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 Finished Upgrade
More in praise of under-bed storage: