When I found out I was pregnant, I went through a bigtime nesting phase, focusing tons of energy on getting the apartment “ready”. My husband teased me that “ready” meant “ready for a magazine” as opposed to “ready for the baby”. He said— You’re aware that once the baby arrives there is going to be baby crap everywhere right? I ignored him. In my state of pregnancy delirium, I was convinced that every diaper, toy, and breast pumping apparatus was going to have a special place it called home.
For most people, closets provide an excellent place to hide the clutter. But in Manhattan, closet space is coveted and elusive. Before we even began to fill the closet in our nursery with clothes for the baby, it was already one stop shopping for linens, a vacuum, assorted sporting equipment, Guitar Hero (the version with the drumset, I might add), a large supply of Arizona Iced tea (why my husband feels the need to purchase ice tea in bulk at Costco I have no idea) and our unneccesarily humongous tool box (especially for a couple that does no handiwork whatsoever). So when it came to the task of figuring out where to put all the blocks and the rattles and the stackers and the teethers and the stuffed animals and the sorting cubes and Sophie the stupid rubber giraffe, I had to create storage from scratch.
Enter the storage ottoman. The superhero of furniture. Looks like seating to the casual observer while it’s primary toy storing purpose remains totally undercover. You can find options at Crate & Barrel and Room & Board but I wanted to spend less money and use my own fabric. Having one custom-made costs roughly what you would think it would cost to renovate your whole apartment so I ended up buying an ottoman on sale at Pottery Barn for $150 and then covering it with four yards of a fun pattern from Duralee. I used Mod Restoration based in Brooklyn to reupholster and then stuck it in the living room. It worked out so well, that I found another smaller storage ottoman at Home Goods for $99, reupholstered that with a Duralee bubblegum velvet and put it in the nursery.
For a while it worked like magic. All the toys fit with room to spare. But after a month or so, the toys multiplied. And then, at three months we bought Mazzy a jumperoo. An item that you wouldn’t be able to hide if your life depended on it. A couple months later, Mazzy learned to pull herself to standing, which was quickly followed by the ability to open the ottomans herself. *GASP!* And finally she started walking, which resulted in a toy distribution speed that I could not compete with. And so currently our living room looks like this:
And that’s just the baby’s mess. I’m not even going to bother showing you the dining room table or as I will hereby refer to it— ADULT ISLAND. Laptops, cameras, remotes, magazines, assorted paperwork, and anything else that Mazzy gets her grubby little hands on that must be quickly placed out of reach.
I’m afraid “The State of Our Apartment” is a bit of a disaster.
Of course, if I really consider the situation, clutter is far from ENEMY #1. That is a title I have reserved for “THE SUBURBS”— also known as the only solution I can come up with that would get us some potentially toy-free clutter-free space.
For now— I choose CLUTTER.