Sunday, September 18, 2011

If we build it, she will come

About four years ago when my 3rd child started walking and wearing actual shoes, it became very clear very quickly that we needed a system for managing the shoes or we'd never actually get out of the house with 6 feet in shoes (10 including our own feet)! So we got the shoe shelf/locker system I blogged about here going in our breakfast room (our laundry room is too tiny to be a mudroom but the good news is that our family is too big to use our breakfast room for it's intended purpose so we eat all our meals in the dining room, leaving the breakfast room free to be a mudroom in addition to a homework and arts & crafts center) and it worked beautifully!!! Really it has been a sanity saver!

But there were only 3 locker sections and we will hopefully have 4 children living in our home pretty soon, so a new system was needed. Also, we really liked that the hooks were low in our old shelf when we got it because our preschool-aged kids could reach to hang up their own coats, but fast-forward 4 years and now my 8 year old's jackets are nearly too long to comfortably fit.

I didn't want to spend a ton of money so at first I tried talking my husband into building one from Ana White's plans (Have you ever been to that website? I wish I was good with woodworking because oh the things I'd build!), but I couldn't sell him on that idea. (He had all kinds of logical reasons it wasn't a good idea, but really I think he just didn't want to.) So, I went back to brainstorming, our adoption slowed down, and it wasn't a high priority project. But, just as things picked up with us becoming a 4 kid family, and outgrowing our shoe shelf, I came across this blog post on The Polkadot Chair and I thought it was brilliant!

So, we headed to the Ikea (not coincidentally on the weekend kids ate free in the cafe) and bought 4 of the narrow Billy bookcases. We came home, my husband and I built 1 shelf and then my husband and my 8 year old built the other 3 shelves and it turns out the 8 year old is old enough to be a real helper for these types of projects, now (I've finally been replaced as the Ikea furniture co-builder around here! I gleefully turn over that title!). We left out the middle shelf during the building to have hanging space for coats (in the instructions the middle shelf seems important but our shelves worked fine without it). Then my husband screwed the shelves together so all 4 became 1 unit. We adjusted the height of all the interior shelves where we wanted them to best accommodate shoes & backpacks, secured the whole thing to the wall (this is a very important step 'cause you never know which crazy kid is going to climb the thing and wouldn't want it toppling over on them!), and then my husband drilled holes for the hooks and screwed them in. The Polkadot Chair put her hooks into the back of the shelf by adding some plywood reinforcement to the flimsy backing material, but we thought that sounded too hard and our old shelf had the hooks in the sides so that seemed fine to us. It worked great and actually allowed us to put hooks on both sides so there is double the hanging space in each locker. And we hung one side's hooks of each locker down a bit lower and the other side higher so we can accommodate both preschooler height and 3rd grader sized jackets!

I love how it turned out! So functional!

I searched the Internet for buckets/baskets that I liked to hold random kid stuff in the shelves, but I couldn't find anything I liked for less than $20 each (multiplied times 4 kids = $80 = too much!). I did, however, find sewing tutorials to make my own fabric buckets! The project definitely seemed out of my league, but I was excited to try.

I ordered Amy Butler Lotus fabric in cherry from (make sure when looking for fabric there you search on "supplies" rather than the default "homemade" which will just find things made out of the fabric). That fabric I used for the outside, for the lining I cut up a vinyl tablecloth I bought on sale at TJ Maxx for $2.00, of course when I bought it I had no idea what I'd use it for, just knew you can't even buy waterproof material that cheap! And now if anything nasty gets inside the bucket I can wipe it clean.

I also saw the idea somewhere I don't now remember to use chalkboard fabric (oh the genius of the person who invented chalkboard fabric!) for the labels -- that way in case we decide to change a child's name we can just erase the old and write the new. Kidding! But the chalk labels are easier than monogramming since I don't have a monogram machine. Plus I like the look of the chalk labels and I have a chalk pen that writes a bit brighter than typical chalk and doesn't erase as easily but can be erased with a wet rag. The kids' names are written on the labels, I just took the picture before writing the names since I don't like to put their names out here on the blog.

I combined this Internet tutorial with this one to get my instructions to make the fabric buckets. And then I wanted my own specific measurements so I tailored the instructions for what size I wanted, but I figured out halfway through my first bucket I'd made a terrible mistake in my geometry calculations! Thankfully, I was able to fix it and I'd only cut out my material for the 1 bucket so far, so the mistake could be corrected for the other 3 buckets. And that wasn't the only instance I had to use my seem ripper in this process but through trial and error I was able to do them and I'm really surprised at how good they turned out! It was a fun project and I'm so glad to get rid of the plastic beach buckets we used in the old shelf, I never liked those!

So, never mind that we don't have her bed set up yet, we have a place for our new little girl to put her shoes and really that's most important right? NOW can she come home?

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  1. Love a good mudroom organized space. WELL DONE. winks-jen

  2. This is awesome! I would kill for one in my house!

  3. I LOVE it! You did a wonderful job! :)

  4. Wow, you did a wonderful job, it looks amazing and the baskets too :)

  5. Looks great. Such good storage! I really like the Amy Butler fabric you chose!

  6. Super cute! Great job of organization and teaching your children at a young age. Way to go!!!

  7. Super cute! I just did the exact same thing. Rearranged the entire laundry room, added extra hooks and bins and pictures. It makes me sad to see that middle hook empty, but know it won't be for long.

    Just found your blog through a friend. I'm going to go back and read your archives about taking your kids on the trip to ET. We have discussed taking our older 2 (age 6 and 8), adopting a 5 (nearly 6 y/o) for the second trip ...

  8. that is sooo smart and orderly. I'm so impressed. I'd love to make something like this! Thanks so much for the inspiration . I started a link party at my blog and I'd love for you to link this up. If you're interested it's Have a lovely day, Maria

  9. I love it but I'd add some cheap white trim around it and down the middles. I think some trim would knock it up a notch and make it look more finished.

  10. What kind of screws did you use to screw the bookcases together to make one? Particleboard splits really easily. Thx!


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