In our house, we've got two living areas-- a front room, that is the first thing you see when you come in the door, and a back room, which is where we really live. Our front room has been a sitting area, then a dining area (where we rarely ever dined), and is now a sitting area again for reading, visiting, and getting out the door in the morning.
When we had the large dining table in there, we rarely ever invited people to come into our home. A large reason for this was that our 6' dining table was constantly covered in the stuff of life-- books to go to the library, paperwork from my husband's work, kids' artwork, diaper bags, my purse, gloves, hats, scarves... blech. Just thinking back on that gives me the heebie jeebies.
About a year ago, we decided that since we were adding a child to our family, and therefore reducing the space for our visitors to stay, we would remove the dining table and get a fold-out couch for the front room. Thus, it was converted BACK into a sitting area.
Once the switch was made, however, we had a serious problem.
Where would we put all that crud?!
Over time, we've come up with a solution that works well for our family: cubbies!
Nearly everything that used to clutter that big table has a home now, in this area that is located just inside our front door.
The actual cubbies themselves were born out of a furniture storage problem as much as a stuff storage problem-- we put the big kids in bunk beds, and the cubbies you see here were Noise's old headboard! I put them behind a storage chest we already had, and voila! Family nerve center!
Each family member has their own cubby, identified by pictures of ourselves as children.We have small children, and two of the three of them cannot read-- so this was a fun alternative. The kids love the pictures of me and Daddy as little kids.
From the sides of the headboard, we hung over-the-door hooks for coats and backpacks. Inside the chest are extra kid shoes (dress shoes, boots, etc) and out-of-season stuff that needs storing. The chest is also a great place to sit down and put on your shoes each morning.
I can't say enough about how this nerve center has helped our family function. We haven't spent much time this winter hunting around for matching gloves-- the kids love to put their stuff away in the cubbies. They beg to help put away the baby's shoes, which are stored in his cubby. My husband hasn't even lost his winter hat this year!
When winter fades, the cubbies will hold baseball hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses-- I can't wait to see how much easier things will be.