Coolers and crates vs. end table or furniture
August 30, 2017 8:36 AM   Subscribe

My housemate, due to the nature of his work, has lived a pretty transient lifestyle despite being a homeowner for 20 years. He often gets mobilized on short notice and stays 6-36 months in random locations for work, and as such, has a battery of storage crates and coolers that he uses for his extended road trips. He's repurposed these into living room furniture, which is not ideal in my book (I feel like I'm camping; also, we are not in our 20s). Does anyone have any ideas on practical storage furniture?

His crates (and the floor) are covered in things like bills/paperwork, his laptop, phone, electric razor, etc. He's an engineer but not particularly neat/clean in terms of housekeeping. IKEA? Someone know of some amazing do it all end table? Other ideas? I don't want to perpetually look at piles of random crap. Ideally, I don't want to live surrounded by yellow and black storage crates from Home Depot, either. There is plenty of storage on the property for the crates in other places (barn, garage). Thanks! I've organized a few things in the house previously (think kitchen, pantry, linen closet), and once it's done, he's happy and maintains it.
posted by OneSmartMonkey to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There is plenty of storage on the property for the crates in other places (barn, garage).

If all of the living room furniture is double-duty for travel storage, then won't you be without furniture for 6-36 months? Surely the best solution then is to get actual normal-person living room furniture and let him properly store his crates for times when he needs to travel with them. Get proper furniture that works for the space, let the storage crates be storage crates.
posted by phunniemee at 8:50 AM on August 30, 2017 [12 favorites]

Folding furniture is a thing, as is furniture that flat-packs when you move.

Industrial shelves would hold the crates in the barn or garage and keep them individually accessible, so that he doesn't have to unstack them to get at things.

And if he's gotta keep the crates as his current end tables and such, he can get attractive fabric to use as tablecloths and cover the things. Do it well enough and it's not completely awful to live with boxes full of crap, for a while, anyway.
posted by asperity at 9:21 AM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think you mostly need normal furniture as phunniemee suggested. However! There are storage ottomans and storage benches that are pretty cool. Also I'm a big fan of baskets for little things (like all the remotes) that fit onto shelves.

There are storage coffee tables. Heck, even some kind of trunk he could hide his crates in would be an improvement yeah?

Maybe he needs landing places for his bills, phone, keys--a credenza by the door with a mail sorter, a tray for keys and cellphone?
posted by purple_bird at 9:27 AM on August 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

One other data point about industrial shelves (I'm thinking the kind you get at Costco, probably Home Depot too) is that they disassemble easily to move later and hold their value very well for resale, so if he's reluctant to invest in furniture for a place he doesn't spend much time in, they're a good bet. It might also be possible to set them up in a closet or something you could shut a door on.

Storing a bunch of stuff like that on the floor long-term is not so great for the floors.
posted by asperity at 10:19 AM on August 30, 2017

Would it help to break down your roommate's things into what he needs to mobilize with every trip and things that he may not need every time? Perhaps there are things that don't even need to come into the house. I'd favor separating the stuff that's not really living room appropriate into the crates and placing those in easy reach in the garage/barn. (Actually, if it was me, I'd probably just get a second set of anything I needed for traveling and never unpack those things from storage bins that I keep in the garage.)

IKEA is the right idea. They have tons of dual-purpose and storage furniture that won't cost the earth and can help mitigate the temporary feel of crates. For larger storage I'd stick to the stuff that's made from solid wood, but their sets of storage boxes for papers are also nice for office clutter. Otherwise, phunniemee is correct - just get real furniture and mobilize the stuff. You have to live there full-time - no point in feeling like a hobo.
posted by Otter_Handler at 10:29 AM on August 30, 2017

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