storage Q&A's

Mix and match shelving and storage cabinets to make the most of your space and your collections.

Dear Debbie;

I could not have come this far in my brand new home without your decorative tv guidance. However, I have an issue with our basement. My husband is a successfully retired firefighter and has collected a million die cast models of fire trucks and cars over 30 years. He wants to develop our brand new basement with shelves or something to display his collection, however where does one begin? Glass unit wall, oak wall, who knows? Thank you so much for your time.


Dear Elise;

You aren’t alone! So many of us are juggling with collections of every kind, and there’s an art to finding a place for it all so that it can be enjoyed without taking over your home. However, the good news is that today you’ll find a huge inventory of display shelving and cabinetry from which to choose. Cube shelving is great, it’s versatile as you can stagger or stack your display. Paint the wall a contrast colour that will become the background for all the objects in the cubes. Floating shelves are popular; they are supported from the back of the shelf, which gives a lovely clean line. You can build shelves with planks of wood; add a moulded lip to the front like a plate rail so that items won’t slip off. Glass or Plexiglas cases are a modern touch. These look particularly good with built-in lighting to show off your display.

For your basement, I’d do one big feature wall of all your husband’s trucks and make it look like a gallery. Either light it from behind with mini-lights, or arrange pot lights in the ceiling so that this beloved collection can be viewed in all its glory.


Dear Debbie;

I love my children dearly,(they are 4, 6 and 9), but their toys and clutter seem to be everywhere. Have you any suggestions for making our family room just the tiniest bit adult friendly?


Dear Deanna;

I know from experience that life with children is messy. Every stage has its attendant clutter; Lego, trucks, games and puzzles, sports equipment and even the odd school project seem to be an ever-present part of the landscape. Like you, I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world, but you can take advantage of today’s multi-purpose furniture to bring some order to the chaos. Here are some ideas that will not only clear up the floor space in your family room, but in their bedrooms as well.

Invest in furniture that is not only comfortable, but also practical. Today, large ottomans, chairs, sofas and tables are all available with hidden storage. And why not buy an inexpensive armoire and divide it into sections for each child. Paint the drawers and shelves different colours; for young children it’s fun to hang a sign with their name on their shelf or cubby hole, and make labels for different categories or toys. For the youngest children, painted baskets or garbage cans make excellent containers and are easy to empty and fill up.

Bring it out, play with it, put it away. If your children learn to do this with stuffed teddies, blocks and colouring books, hopefully the habit will stick with them throughout the teen years. Well, perhaps that‘s too much to hope for.



Dear Debbie;

We have a deep, almost walk-in closet in our bedroom with sliding glass doors. I’m always fighting with these doors, they come off the rails and generally get in my way. I want to get rid of them but my wife says it will look too messy. Can you settle this for us?


Dear Andrew,

I'm with you on this one. Go for it, remove the doors and fix up the closet so it's gorgeous to look at and also stores your clothes properly and neatly. In Victorian times the gentleman’s closet was very de rigueur. Men’s clothing was as precious as women’s -- frills, velvets and layers of finery overflowed their closet space. Today, men’s clothes are often delegated to a back cupboard somewhere or a bottom drawer, which hardly seems fair.

There’s a huge variety of organization systems available that will help you sort out your belongings. Not only is this practical, but you can choose materials and colours that will enhance the style of your bedroom. A fresh coat of paint on the cupboard walls and a proper floor covering is a good start. You can build in storage as shown here and paint the wood. Add handsome hardware for the drawers and hangers. Think of it as a mini room. Lighting is important, so if you don’t have a closet light, then get an electrician to do the wiring. It’s worth a little extra time and cost to get it right.
 It’s a good idea to angle your bed beside the closet so that you are not looking straight into the newly appointed closet. This way, it won’t be the first thing you see when you wake up. But with smaller homes and condos, the idea of a bedroom dressing room all in one is smart, and there’s lots of choice out there to suit any style.