spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Photo albums, light bulbs, and “beach” chairs, oh my!

on August 10, 2015

A few months ago I wrote about moving into a new apartment. I love an organizational challenge, and putting our stuff away in all new places certainly qualifies.
A few weeks after moving in, I was still needing a place to store/display my photo albums. They were temporarily stacked on a card table in the corner of the living room. All 38 of them.  My poor babies!  Anyhoo, at first I was thinking of putting the [whatever piece of furniture would house them] along one of the living room walls.  If you recall, I was flummoxed about how to do so without blocking the light/breeze that blows through our lower windows.  One day, I was walking around putting stuff away, and started measuring the space between the dining table and the non-mirrored wall that is nearby.  I realized that as it stood, it was wasted space- most of the wall surface was available (we had some decorative boxes hanging up nearer the ceiling), and the floor space was being used as “slippah central.”  If you are not familiar, in Hawaii we live in our flip-flops, or “rubbah slippahs,” and you normally take them off at the door.  Our building doesn’t allow anything to stay in the hallways, including shoes, so we were slipping off our shoes into the aforementioned floor area, which is just inside the front door.  But if I moved the dining table over just a few inches and relocated the slippahs, I would have room for something that would hold all my albums.  So the search for a shelving unit/credenza/bookcase/something began.  And I only just found the right thing 2 weeks ago.  It took a long time!  Most things were too low (not enough shelves), the wrong width (too wide to fit 2 of them side by side, where just 1 unit would be too small to hold everything), or too elaborately decorated.  Finally, one day at Costco, a shining light led me to this:

Official name: Onin Room Divider/Bookcase

Official name: Onin Room Divider/Bookcase

I had no need for those baskets for album storage, but made a plan to repurpose them at some point in the very near future.  🙂  This was, like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.  I had these dimesnions to fill: up to 59″ wide, up to 18″ deep, up to 40″ high.  And my new furniture was 58 3/4″wide, 16″ deep, and 38″ high.  It also fit another requirement: it didn’t need to be delivered.  My husband got the box to fit in our little Honda and assembled it in the living room.  And here is the final product!

A perfect fit.

A perfect fit.

My next project was more lighting in the kids’ room.  After researching and shopping for every available battery-powered lamp out there…I just bought a regular plug-in lamp.  None of indoor models had great reviews as far as being bright enough, and the outdoor models that were bright enough did not appeal to me.  In the end, we put up a high shelf and stuckthe lamp on it.  Luckily, the light switch next to the door communicates with the outlet the lamp is plugged into, so when you throw the switch, the lamp turns on.  No need to stand up on my son’s bed to manually turn it on.  Problem solved.

Some smaller stuff:

  • I needed to lose the fluorescent-garage-lighting in the living room.  The light fixture used “circline” or circular tube bulbs, in 2 different sizes.  I was able to find a Warm bulb locally for the smaller 12″ size, but needed to order the Warm 16″ from Amazon.  I love the difference in light, especially when working a jigsaw puzzle or using the floor space for cutting out fabric.
  • I covered DD’s student chair with an old (clean) fabric shower curtain.  I went and bought some carpettacks at Home Depot, then separated the cushions from the chair frame.  I simply covered the existing fabric, carefully tucking in around the corners, then tacked the crap out of it and screwed it back together.  Since it’s my puzzle-table chair now, I expect it will stay clean (Did you hear me, son?  Keep those Sharpies far, far, away).

    Under the sea...

    Under the sea…t.

Something I haven’t gotten around to yet is covering the glider/ottoman.  I haven’t decided what fabric I want to use- everything seems to clash with the mottled-blue carpet we have in the living toom.  Anyway, I have a different sewing project brewing right now- making a short cape for my husband’s Disneybound costume as Mr. Ray from Finding Nemo.  I’m using this Butterick pattern (the B one), and doing a blue-gray exterior with a white lining.  We’ll sponge on some white-paint dots, and figure something out for the eyes.  I think it’ll look pretty awesome.  I’m doing it in cotton so he won’t get too hot during the Halloween party in WDW.

Butterick pattern B4266

Butterick pattern B4266


And remember those nifty baskets that came with the photo album storage unit?  I put them to good use in the hall closet.  They are the perfect size for this inexpensive plastic shelving unit, keeping things organized but accessible.  Some baskets hold sheet sets, one has beach towels, and one has light bulbs!  I made sure to measure carefully here- it’s hard to tell but this is almost a triangular space.  I needed to be able to fit this stuff in with the vacuum cleaner in front and still close the door.  I got the kids involved by having my daughter make the labels and my son put them into the slots.  Success!


Pretty convinced that that important-looking switch opens up a wormhole. I avoid it, not wanting to mess with the time-space continuum.

Finally, the area that was temporarily housing the albums became a dedicated play/storage area for my son’s toys.  You can also see what I mean about “low windows” in this shot.  I’m currently enjoying a delicious breeze coming through them, the island of Oahu having dodged Hurricane Guillermo.  We are now gearing up for Hilda, though.


Yes, folks, that’s a purple Lite Brite. Yay ’80s toys!

That’s all for now- next post in a few days, all about my ridiculously easy experience booking our FastPass+ for the trip. Spoiler alert: I got Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Meet & Greet with Anna & Elsa no problem.

elle woods

2 responses to “Photo albums, light bulbs, and “beach” chairs, oh my!

  1. VivaLaDiva405 says:

    Sea…t. That made my day!


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