Weekend project: organising a hardware cupboard

I bought my flat a year ago, and worked in a month long frenzy to decorate, furnish and style it. No loose ends for me, I resolved. I would not be one of those folks with a long list of jobs to complete “when I have the time or money”.

Yeah, right.

A year on, I took stock. I have added little details over the year, tweaked things, updated them. But I cast my eye around the flat a week ago and saw all the problems I hadn’t tackled, dilemmas I hadn’t quite figured out. How to finish off the floors when I couldn’t find matching beading. The problem of ugly lighting vs fixture/electrician costs. And how on earth to make my tiny kitchen more functional and more alive.

A frenzied week and a few hundred pounds poorer, I’m on my way to solving some of those problems. So I thought I’d make some short posts explaining what I did – perhaps it’ll inspire you to tackle some of those “maybe next week” jobs.

The easiest issue to solve was my untidy hardware cupboard. £24, two screws and an hour of elbow grease and – magic!

In my little 535 sq ft place I’m lucky, with its simple, clever layout, to have a tall, narrow cupboard outside the kitchen for the hoover, brooms etc. But with all the decorating I did and plan to keep doing, it made sense to also use this space for hardware/decorating storage.

The space was a plastered concrete box with the mortified remains of, I guess, an old heating system? A great big functioning downpipe, and some defunct, sawn-off copper piping (perhaps the boiler/hot water tank used to live in here?) that I took to hanging bags full of shopping bags off. I filled buckets with brushes, rollers, sandpaper, and piled them up with paint pots on the floor. My Dyson was mounted with its charger on the wall, and a mysterious black box on the wall provided a shelf for my little toolbox. Tolerable but a bit chaotic and I had to pull everything out to get at my mop and bucket or retrieve some paint to retouch the bathroom wall. And it really didn’t make good use of the height – criminal in a space so tall and narrow!

The solution came via a little Argos shelving unit.

argos shelves

This baby was a cool £24, and I assume was really designed for bathroom storage. No matter. Taking up just over a quarter of the floorspace in the cupboard and coming in at about 170cm high, it was the perfect solution.

It showed up on next day delivery, and was super easy to assemble. With boyfriend acting as my lovely “move this, put that there” assistant, we pulled everything out of the cupboard, put the new unit in, and I filled the shelves with paint tins, my cordless drill, plant pots, pots of miscellanous things like screws and nails, and other small decorating tools. This left plenty of floor space for the mop and bucket, a large and small broom, and a bucket for decorating rags. I’ve also hung my little gardening tools from the wall on the left.

Finally I tackled something I suspect most of us have – a mountain of shopping bags. For some, they live in a kitchen drawer or cupboard. For me they were stuffed into tote bags hanging from the defunct piping, which now swayed from the wall with the weight of them.

I bought an H&M wooden coat-rack a year ago, planning to install it on the wall in my hallway. Didn’t fit, did it… So it languished, wasted, in the cupboard. I bought a little wood saw from my local hardware shop, sawed off the end, shortening it from 7 to 5 hooks. The boyfriend, being blessed with much more height than me, drilled a couple of pilot holes in the inside of the hardware cupboard door, and I was able to screw the hooks onto the door – the world’s easiest DIY job. I sorted the bags into three different, large canvas tote bags to hang from the hooks; fabric tote bags (useful for lunches or shopping trips), durable plastic Sainsburys/Tesco type bags (for the waste and recycling bin) and the sort of smaller, flimsy bags you get from newsagents or local grocers – perfect for the small bins in the bedroom, bathroom and living room.  Now I can quickly grab what I need instead of rooting around and making myself late.

Slowly, gradually, my flat will turn from pretty-but-disorganised to a glowing beacon of order and calm, and this little hardware cupboard was a great, easy place to start – now, as I tackle all the other tasks I need to, I’ll be able to find all the tools I need.



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