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To each, a drawer
Creating order with a locker system for the family.
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Front door entryway organizing is a challenge for every household, regardless of family configuration. Even people who live alone will need a front entryway system (and I do mean system, not to be confused with furniture marketed as “systems”) to prevent the accessories of everyday life from accumulating: hats, keys, sunglasses, shoes, jackets, etc etc.
Here’s how we solved it for our 4-person family.
Our challenge is that we live in a Victorian home built in 1905, and apparently in 1905 people didn’t need places to stash their keys and facemasks. So the front door “landing” area is really small and doesn’t have space for much of anything. We also don’t have a real coat closet.
We live in a climate where we need hats and sunglasses in the summer and lots of warm gear during the wet winter. For 4 people. It became an emergency real quick to figure out a system to prevent piles from accumulating around the front door.
Staying aligned with my values of building the system before spending the money, we started a locker-esque system. Each member of the family had a bin (cobbled together from containers we already owned) and would put their own things in the bin.
It looked junky (a.f.) but the idea was to create a proof of concept to see if the locker system would work. And it did. Things generally landed in the allotted bin, and if they didn’t it was quick and easy for me to toss them into the right spot.
The next step was to invest in beautifying this system.
I realize not everyone can afford this particular solution, but there are definitely cheaper ways to achieve the same basic idea (IKEA storage furniture “systems” or even thrifted bookshelves can be great for this). A couple nice ones to check out are this BRIMNES shelf or this HEMNES version with glass doors.
We had built-ins added to the playroom—previously the living room—to solve a few problems at once: my husband’s enormous record collection, our shared book collection, and family lockers (now drawers).
That’s a whole lot of storage! Normally I’d caution against adding a ton of storage like this, since storage space tends to beget things that need to be stored. For more on my complicated and overly detailed feelings about storage check out:
In this case, however, I knew we were sufficiently committed to both our record and book collections that they were living with us no matter what. And I’d already proven out the family locker system, so I wasn’t too worried about attracting non-essential clutter.
Now, post-built-ins, each member of the family has a drawer where their accessories go—hats, scarves, sunglasses, wallets, diaper bag, etc. Even the dog has a drawer where we keep her extra leashes, balls, and toys.
What I like about this system:
It takes no thinking. Does it belong to you? Then put it in your drawer. Looking for something? Look in your drawer.
Easy for kids to do and makes them more autonomous.
It has a built-in maximum threshold. Once your drawer is full it’s time to clean it out, donate what you no longer need, or find new homes for items you don’t use daily. Or else suffer alone with the stress of an overstuffed drawer (not gonna name names here…).
I don’t mind “cleaning up after people” if I need to occasionally toss a pair of gloves into the designated drawer. It doesn’t feel like real work, and I’m always grateful to have a spot to put people’s things where I don’t then become the Knower of Where All Things Are (moms, you get me).
It looks nice.
We also added a wall-mounted minimal hanging rack behind the front door for keys, dog leash, favorite sunglasses, and a couple hoodies. Basically, things we need nearly every time we leave the house. It’s not gorgeous but it gets the job done. One day I’ll figure out a more beautiful solution but for now the proof of concept is sufficient for me.
When we walk into the house we now have two clear places to stash things—right behind the door and around the corner.
I’ve purposefully not addressed shoes in this newsletter because they warrant a discussion of their own, which you can find here:
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