Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Slip it under the Table

This post is like opening my underwear drawer.  Is there anyone else who has places in their house, like this, that just seem to collect stuff?  Tell me I'm not alone.

Tell me that your children come home from school and dump their backpacks on the floor and run away, too.
Maybe yours don't.  Maybe you are one of the lucky moms who has a gorgeous mudroom with nicely painted lockers to corral all of the stuff that your kids and your husband and your dog bring into your house.

Today's blog post is for the rest of us.

The ones that have stuff randomly dropped on every. surface. of. our. homes.
Before the first week of school ended this year, I had totally had it with stuff on the floor.  It seemed that every afternoon, I was tripping over backpacks and shoes and papers from school and math books and homework in progress.  I blamed two things: a) we don't have a closet within 40 horizontal feet of our front door and b) we didn't have a designated homework spot.

This led to a highly productive discussion between the Bionic Man and I.  The discussion began with me demanding a whole-house remodel and ended up with us discovering some more reasonable solutions.  One of which was the eventual installation of a closet in the vicinity of our front door.  (Hence, the blue tape lines you see in the corner of the picture up there.  We're trying it with tape, first.)
Right there.  That corner has always perplexed me.  (I'm actually starting to wonder if the builder just forgot to frame in a closet in that spot.)

What about the backpacks and school papers?  Ever ready to knock down a wall or two, I suggested that we move our laundry room upstairs and remodel the existing laundry room into a homework room.  (Yes, I do appreciate the fact that I have the kind of floorplan that allows for that kind of thinking.)  The Bionic Man suggested, alternately, buying desks for the children's bedrooms.

That helped me recognize that I didn't want the children upstairs in their rooms doing homework.  They've been gone all day and I like to enjoy having them home after school.  Their homework time is when I prepare dinner, so if they were upstairs doing homework, I'd have to choose between preparing dinner in a timely fashion or overseeing their homework.  It also made me realize that the perfect homework spot was our EXTREMELY UNDERUTILIZED kitchen bar.....the household magnet for everything that no one knows what to do with.  We've never put barstools there because of the carpet on the other side of the bar; we thought we were being smart and saving the carpet.

Newsflash:  barstools cost way less than remodeling!
We found these barstools at our local Target.  I had originally picked out something much different on  Fortunately, my first choice was backordered--these actually fit the space sooooo much better than the others would have and cost $50 less.  The brown leather seats match the sofas in the adjoining room, and the oil rubbed bronze legs match all the hardware and lighting in our house.

I love them as much as my electric griddle.  They've changed my life. 

So, how did I solve the problem of what to do with the backpacks?  That was trickier.  The closet won't materialize until the Bionic Man's time off over the holidays.  I've always wanted to have a small table behind one of our couches, so I decided to find something that could do double duty as backpack storage and cute-table-behind-the-couch.  Pottery Barn has this, but I don't have $700 lying around.  Then I realized I had something already that would work.
Remember this cheap, sad little card table?  As it is, it's not very pretty.  Even with the artful designs Superkid added to the tabletop a few years ago.
It was the right size....I just needed a way to cover it and conceal what was underneath.  Canvas to the rescue!  Look at my messy little table, now:


There was nothing complex in the making of this table cover.  I turned the table over on top of a canvas dropcloth and traced the tabletop.  I cut it out.  Then I measured the perimeter, and cut out more canvas in the length I needed.  I measured the distance from the top of my table to the floor and added 1/2 an inch.  I made sure that the cut of canvas I used was already hemmed (dropcloths come pre-hemmed on all sides) so that I didn't even have to bother with that.  Then I matched the pieces up and sewed a single seam.  I had to allow for some slight gathering at the corners.

I layered the middle strip of fabric with the other two pieces, allowing for easy access underneath the table.  It kind of gives the tablecloth a pleated effect.  Note that I do not believe in ironing.
Now, for less than $10 and waaaaay less time than it would have taken to refinish a piece of furniture, I have a temporary storage solution that is easy on the eyes.
It will be fun to decorate this little tabletop for the seasons.  Hopefully that will keep the floating junk pile away!
When my children come home from school now, they do their work at the bar, while I prepare dinner at the island.  I can answer questions and quiz them on spelling words while I chop and stir and fry.  Their backpacks are nearby, easy to stow and easy to go!

That's one thing checked off my list to make our home more organized.  Is there anything you are doing to make life at your home easier?

Has this worked for me?  Click here for the follow up.....

I'm linking up to

The Nester's 31 Days to a Less Messy Nest

Creative Chick Parade
Show and Tell Green



Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special



Organize and Decorate Everything


  1. This had me shaking my head in sympathy. I too suffer from stack-it-itis in every corner of my house. It drives me crazy!! I have an Ikea solution in mind, but it has to wait until after I finish the 2-year old front room project. I like your solution! I wish we had a bar.

  2. I can fortunately (or unfortunately???) always find an alternative to remodeling. I have no mudroom, a tiny hall closet used for overflow pantry space and backpacks and homework everywhere. Great work at being creative.

  3. Can I hire you? Will you travel for free to give my hosue a canvas maekover too? Love all your ideas. I've been dreaming of canvas ever since you shared your neat curtains.

  4. That's so practical! I really like using fabric instead of doors to conceal a storage area. We started doing it because of what we had on hand (for example, a hideous plastic table and a very pretty curtain that didn't fit any window in our new house) but it turns out to be easy to use and easy to keep attractive.

  5. What a great idea! I love it! Pretty fantastic solution!

  6. Oh, now you have me thinking!

    I, too, live in a land of dumped backpacks, purses, viola, suitcase-sized-5th-grade-zipper-binder-almost-as-large-as-said-5th-grader, and other various & sundry items that on a daily basis litter the kitchen table *and* the barstools *and* the breakfast bar.

    We do have a coat closet with a shelf for each person, however, that is MILES away from the kitchen table! Well, probably only 12-20 steps away, depending on your size, but it *seems* like miles!

    Going downstairs right now to scout out a location and create a plan...

  7. great! you would never know what lurks beneath!

  8. I love the back and forth between you and your husband. It has also taught me to dream far larger so when I compromise I may get more than I would have asked for initially.

  9. I love that solution. It works great.

  10. Hi! I just had to comment cos this is such a gorgeous, smart and stylish solution to a problem that we all have... shoes and bags on the floor and in the way!
    Thanks for sharing ...
    Kindest Wishes

  11. Ha, you and I think alike. Gotta hide the clutter underneath the table ;-).


  12. I love the way the slipcover turned out! Great job! Just came across your blog and I'm a new follower.