Group 6 4 minutes Read

studio loft: explorations in storage

Lauren Zerbey

First of all, a huge thank you for all of the congratulations and well wishes for our big news! We’re excited to share this journey of how we transition to a family of 3 while staying in our small home. Lots more posts to come, that’s for sure! 

So back to the loft…a few weeks ago I wrote about how we decided to convert our mostly empty loft (which we’d been using as extra sleeping area for guests) into a studio/office space. I’ve been pinning different ideas and so far this is the image that has struck me the most:

[note: all images are linked]

With our limited head height and restricted access, we have to think short and small. Similar to this photo, the most logical arrangement would be to have a desk or work surface against the taller gable end wall with low-slung shelves flanking one or both short walls.

As a reminder, here’s a wide-angle shot of our space:

[It looks bigger in this photo, but the footprint is only about 13’x13′.

I also pinned this image because I love the idea of having a chaise or bench that could double as a twin bed if someone needs a place to crash. I’m not sure if we’ll have enough space, but I like the possibility. [The other option is to leave enough floor space in the middle of the loft that we can still inflate the Aerobed that is currently up there.]

This floating storage featured in an Apartment Therapy house tour was also appealing, especially with the mix of drawers and larger cabinets.

Unfortunately, after checking out the resources section I learned that it was made by the Italian company Vitsoe and was (no surprise) not affordable. Not even close.

Without a good affordable option, the other alternatives were to build something or buy something used. But with the looming basement project and a few other DIY ideas for the loft and nursery, I couldn’t really ask Kyle to whip up 20+ linear feet of storage.

So last weekend I resolved to hit up some local second-hand and salvage stores in hopes of a lucky break. I went to Goodwill (the big one, in South Seattle), Second Use and the RE-Store. I found plenty of cool things, but nothing that would work for the loft. In addition to our short wall height (about 32″), whatever we use also has to fit through the floor opening.

Disappointed but not deflated, I decided to hit up IKEA while I was in the area. Kyle wasn’t with me, so I took iPhone photos of any possibilities.

Confession: even though it’s slightly more traditional I actually like a lot of the Hemnes line. I thought this sofa table was about the right size and shape and appreciated that it is made of wood. The only downside is that I wouldn’t be able to place 2 or 3 of them side by side without a gap between. Also, at almost $200 a piece I didn’t really want to buy 2 or 3.

In the back of my mind I knew that this Expedit unit was the right size and look that I had been imagining for the short wall. I was also intrigued by the new high gloss finishes like this gray (though I do think that the horizontal surfaces would scratch easily). But I don’t know…I’m just not an Expedit girl I guess. I think it has something to do with the proportion of the outside frame to the interior partitions.

Moving on.

I’ve seen some nice things done with the Effektiv line and thought I could just buy several frames like this and install them side by side. At $35 a piece I liked the price but realized I’d have to buy additional bins or boxes to organize everything within the frames. A good solution for books and magazines, but not for supplies.

The Vika Alex line was also on my list (as was the wider Alex drawer unit), but at $80 and $120 a piece, the costs would add up too fast for how many units we’d need (though I do like how they were used in that first image). Besides, we would still need another solution to hold non-drawer items like books and magazines.

On my way out and empty-handed, I decided to swing through the As-Is section just to see.

Well hello. Who are you? You look a lot like that expensive Italian stuff that I pinned. Stolmen? Hmm…sounds familiar. You’re part of a wardrobe system, aren’t you?

Although I try never to do this, I made a second loop through IKEA to investigate the matter further. Sure enough, in a small display next to Pax was the meager Stolmen. Although it’s still particle board, I was impressed with the design and quality of construction. The larger drawer unit (about 44″ wide) is $100 which seemed reasonable since I’d only need 3 to line one of the short walls. To sweeten the deal, there is also this cubby unit which is the same height (though slightly shallower) and would be perfect for books and magazines.

Although the units are meant to attach to vertical posts, I didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t assemble them side by side, either on legs or attached directly to the wall. When I got home, I hunted around on Google to see if the Stolmen had been hacked. Surprisingly, I didn’t find much, but I did find this:

See what I’m thinking?

This 3-unit configuration would cost around $300 for 11′ of storage. Not bad at all.

[Has anyone else worked with the Stolmen products? Thoughts? Opinions?]

We still have to figure out the actual desk part, but we’ve come up with a few creative ideas that could work. One step at a time.