It has been so (happily!) busy between friends, family and a few seaside escapes that time flew by so fast over the last weeks in Greece.
I had a few projects in mind for our Athens apartment, but honestly, is it even worth spending time on cosmetic changes that will lead to more cosmetic changes if and when we ever move back? Most of the decisions taken over ten years ago concerning this apartment need now to be reevaluated as many things have changed: children grow, lifestyle evolves, decorating trends come and go. But I’m still convinced that some of the inexpensive choices made back then, like the installation of shelves, can last forever. In many places of the home, shelves (both exposed or inside cupboards) help in organizing the room and when properly dressed, they are even part of the decor.
A small office had to be created within the one and only common living space that was already hosting (1) a formal living room, (2) a formal dining room and (3) a less formal living room. Accommodating a printer next to the brand new white sofa was just out of the question! So, we ordered two custom wooden shelves to fit right under the stairway and conveniently hide all the office equipment. An antique desk and chair (origin: Egypt) were much more appropriate than a regular office desk and fit just right between the door leading to the kids’ rooms and the stairs.
The printer is placed on the end of the lower shelf and is nowhere to be seen form the other parts of the living room. Beautiful woven boxes hide all the office supplies such as printing paper, stationary, etc. I hid the lamp’s wire behind the printer, and of course having a wireless printer saved me a lot of hassling with wires.
The large baskets under the lower shelf are decorative but also extremely functional; one of them was dedicated to the children’s drawings and is filled with coloring albums, paper and markers etc. The other one is filled with papers and documents that would otherwise create a mess on my desk. Next to these baskets used to be a large dark brown leather hanging file box (which is now in SF) and that’s where all of our documents are keept nice and organized.
With a couple of paintings (the rooster is one of my mom’s first professional paintings from the 70’s) and a few decorative items, the desk blended just right with the rest of the furniture, most of which is now in our San Francisco home. Later on, as the small electronic devices started multiplying in our family, I added a charging station and still have enough space to work.
These shelves filled up the space under the stairway and gave me just enough room to accommodate everything an office needs! (note: the wooden panels placed on the stair railing were added to prevent my 2 year old from climbing on it- I think we need to remove them now!)
We ordered the same matching shelves for the nook on the right of the fireplace by the formal living room area. Books, albums and my favorite music on CDs (I still enjoy the ritual of flipping through CDs ) are all well organized.
The books are organized by color and although many of you would object to this method of arrangement, I find it particularly soothing to the eye. The bookends are actually door stoppers from Restoration Hardware (many years back). They don’t really serve their purpose as they are rather light, but they sure look nice.
The last shelf was perfectly designed to house a sound system as you can slightly pull the shelf forward to create an opening in the back for a wire to pass to the outlet (the outlet was placed long before the shelves). The space under the lower shelf is supposed to hold the firewood, but as you can see, we haven’t quite used the fireplace in the few years we lived in the house, so I might add doors in the future to form a cupboard.
Another place of the house where shelves have been particularly useful is within a large closet in the master bathroom. From towels to bath mats, toiletries to medication, sewing supplies to curling irons (I even keep a vase for fresh flowers), everything is stored on these super deep shelves.
The only exposed items are the towels and the bath mats. Everything else has its own special place in baskets and pretty boxes, and what a joy when opening the closet door!
In the boy’s room, one of the two closets has been sacrificed to hide the much too many toys. Lego parts and Playmobil accessories, car toys and costumes, everything is separated into large IKEA bins, while there is even enough room for larger toys. In contrary to the containers in the master bathrooms, these bins here are transparent for easy access.
The content of the shelves will evolve with age, to later hold books, more boards games, electronics and whatever is needed at each period of time through the growing stages.
Toys that are most often used are placed on the lower shelves for easy reach from the children.
It was with great effort that everything went back to its place in the closet at the end of each day, leaving the toddler’s room clutter free with a serene atmosphere for the night.
Lastly, in the kitchen, most of the cupboards came from the constructor with about one or two shelves in each. I placed additional shelves in almost every cupboard. This is an easy fix but we don’t often think of the space that is lost inside the cupboards. This specific cupboard had only one shelf and I added two more many years later. There is now twice as much storing space, every dish is visible with just a glance and I don’t have to take out of stack of dishes to reach the one at the bottom.
Whenever I find a serving dish of a good quality and at a reasonable price, I buy more than one. Not only do they store better one inside the other, but they look much more nicer on the table when they’re alike. It’s also a good idea to buy nesting bowls.
The space between the shelves is just enough to slide the serving plates and bowls in and out.
The fig paintings on the wall are also made from my mom. They are amazingly beautiful. The large basket holds bread, and the chairs are the same exact ones that I bought from IKEA for our house in the U.S., thinking that one day I would gather them all in one kitchen.
And since we’re on the shelves topic, I need to show you these pull-out drawers for suitcases that were in our hotel in Jerusalem, Israel. It’s the first time that we did not stumble over suitcases in a hotel room. These robust and sturdy shelves store the suitcases and maximize the available space in the room. If I ever have a proper guestroom I am definitely installing shelves like these either in a nook between two closets or inside a walk-in closet (photo from the King David Hotel in Jerusalem).
(By the way, the leather tassels on the suitcases were amazing! We recognized our black suitcases immediately among hundred of others! Be sure to make them, too! But try to tie the cord very tight, as one or two tassels got lost).
In our San Francisco home, I can think of so many places to add shelves, and even though it’s a rental, I might do so. After all, shelves are such an inexpensive solution!