Put the ‘Fun’ in Functional Storage with this Cheap Trick

I was complaining of being bored the other day. We won’t be moving aboard until at least the end of the summer, and we don’t get to have a long cruise this year because of Mike’s work. That pesky annual leave thing is going to be a thing of the past soon enough, so we’re content to wait out the remaining months doing a little bit here and there to move forward with our plan. The house and yard are in maintenance mode, my practice continues to slowly wind down. I’m fine with living in the liminal space, as a rule. But finding myself kind of wandering aimlessly around the house trying to look busy just isn’t my style.  It’s like don’t know what to do with myself. I decided I needed a few small but useful projects for the boat, starting with that cool cockpit mat.cockpitmat

The rumpus room in the v berth is taking shape and we will be using this cabin to watch movies and TV shows we like. To move forward with that plan,  I sorted and stored our DVD collection, throwing out all the colorful plastic containers and storing each DVD in its own plastic sleeve. I then labeled and stored them in nifty snap-locking containers I bought at JoAnn Fabric for 8$ apiece. I know many cruisers store hundreds of movies on thumb drives and maybe that will be in our future. For now, I don’t have the patience for that. This was quick and easy and finding what we want will also be quick and easy.

Our midship cabin got refurbished, too, with the addition of a layer of latex to the foam, and new upholstery.

You’ll be glad to know that the aft cabin project is moving along. We took possession of the finished mattresses this week and I carted them down to the boat to see that they fit before getting them covered. It’s probably overkill, but since I didn’t have any old foam to take in to use as patterns ( I had made my own paper pattern) I just wanted to eyeball the fit before covering. They fit beautifully and allow us to sleep any old which way. The bed is going to be very comfortable and will last for 20 years if we protect them. The next task is to bring them home so I can cover them in that PUL fabric, then take them for their final upholstery. After that, I get to make custom covers and sheets. Won’t that be a creative undertaking! I do believe our goal of having a totally comfortable, sleepable aft cabin is coming to fruition.

So much nicer than what we had before!

The trusty Brother sewing machine has been dusted off and I am rediscovering my love of sewing. As we are now envisioning being able to live with that aft cabin, it was time to turn my thoughts to how we would store our clothing there. We have one hanging locker, a small set of drawers, and a small drawer under each side of the bunk. There are shelves along the hull on each side and I’d like to keep them uncluttered. I would like to keep both clothing and bedding in that cabin and I wanted that storage to be easy to access because otherwise I am tempted to leave my clothes laying around draped decoratively on doorknobs and corners of objects. I know it’s a long shot, but we both really want to keep a neat and tidy look in our boat. It just feels better that way.

Cuteness overload!

Cuteness overload!

I had been considering colorful soft sided baskets to keep clothing in but where to put them was in question. Instead I opted to make fabric bags that look like pillow shams of different sizes and shapes. I bought 1.5 yards of this super cute owl outdoor fabric on sale for 12$/yard.  Then I found a 3$ remnant of orange fabric that matched. I purchased thread, some velcro, and a set of nylon upholstery zippers.  Total cost for materials was about 40$. For that price, plus some fun time at the sewing machine, I have a selection of sizes of storage containers for soft things like bedding and clothing: 2 large for blankets and such, two standard sized bolsters for shorts, tops, bathing suits, and three additional sizes – 7 storage units in all. These can be stored right in sight on the beds as pillows. The fabric is water repellant and UV protected. Plus…owls! Seriously, you can fit a ton of stuff in these things. Functional, practical, and fun!

The largest bag is 15″ x 26″, for scale purposes.

Mike is working on a couple of interior projects that he will write about soon. Our next joint project will be putting shelving in most, if not all, of the hanging lockers. We have a generous amount of hanging locker space, most of which is completely wasted because we don’t have that many clothes that hang. We already know that this job is going to be a pain in the hind end, so if you have any shortcut tips on how to make it easier, do tell. We want the shelves to take full advantage of all space, so that means they will have have to be custom cut.

This currently holds two blankets and two pillows. It would work great in the forward cabin as an extra pillow for lounging.

Oh, and guess what! We get to go on a short cruise over the Memorial Day weekend. We’ve got friends to stay with Skippy, so Thursday night we are out of here! Yay! We are both so ready for that.

17 thoughts on “Put the ‘Fun’ in Functional Storage with this Cheap Trick

    • You can get it at Hancock Fabrics before they die. So easy! You need to make some for your boat. This is a tried and true trick among sail boaters.

    • I put shelves in the hanging locker of our Cal34 and remember being very pleased with the amount of storage that we got out of there. I also remember that it did feel like death from 100’s of tiny cuts to get things just right, even with a pattern. And also that there were some shelves that I had a great deal of trouble actually getting in place even with a pattern. Ah, well, it’s a job that will have to be done only once, right? And easy access storage is always at a premium on a boat.

  1. I’m really liking your clothing/bedding bags. I made boxes to store ours in, but I’m not really happy with how they turned out. Maybe I’ll convert them into something like this as I like the idea of also being able to use them as pillows. Cute fabric too 🙂

    • My happy place is where color, pattern, and function intersect. The problem is that beautiful fabric is addictive, sort of like chocolate chip cookies. If not careful I could end up with a stash of beautiful fabric that is all dressed up with no place to go. I am pleased that I used ALL of the owl fabric.

    • These skills are definitely coming in handy lately. Not so much that I would actually spring for a Sailrite, because that would mean I would be expected to do things like canvas, but these small kinds of things add up and are rewarding as heck.

  2. Those are so beautiful, and added bonus, functional. Or is it the other way around? Bill has a weird aversion to pillows, maybe you could cure him of that? I sneak some in anyway, and he has to deal with his inner AMY telling him that it is dangerous.

    Donna/Denali Rose

    • Beauty/function – they have to play well together. But pillows being ‘dangerous’? I’m having trouble with that one. We do put our cockpit cushions below when underway if things get sloppy outside just because they get in the way of moving quickly when necessary. But other than that, unless someone wanted to use one to suffocate a spouse, say, then even my own over-reactive AMy has trouble coming up with scenarios in which a pillow could be dangerous. Actually, even though these will look like pillows, I’m not giving up my REAL pillows for lounging around on. Because they are WAY more comfortable.

      • I was just kidding…. making fun of Bill. 🙂 You did almost make me snort coffee.

        Though I do call him the “King of Just in Case”, thinking pillows are dangerous is way over the top.

        • Oh thank goodness! I began to think maybe there was some danger in having a too-cute boat or something like that. The ‘King of Just in Case’ is an awesome nickname. I’ve started calling Mike ‘Captain’, but it’s just to remind myself that I don’t have to be in charge. Which is pretty hard for me sometimes. It feels downright infantile to me, and yet, there is really only one captain on a boat, and I’m pretty sure i’m not her.

          • I have to say I am relieved too…

            My aversion to pillows has more to do with instances of functional override, like this:


            After Dona shared her conversation with me, I was afraid therapy might be in order… [but for whom?…]

            Are lobotomies still considered useful?

            Your efforts are marvelous, Melissa. Don’t let us get in the way of your masterpiece. After all, combining multiple functions with fewer forms is what optimized living on a boat is all about…

            Now if we could just figure out a way to keep the glassware intact in its pillow, and the cats in theirs…

            • I admit that in instances such as that photo, there is too much of a good thing! 🙂 It is interesting how we begin to make decisions about what can come aboard and what cannot. Single use things have to be REALLY useful in order to make the cut.

              • Regarding decisions what to bring aboard ultimately become more about what to keep aboard…

                The criteria evolve over time, re-stow cycles, and the need to stow something new when space is no longer available. [I had to move these 5 items 23 times this year to get to what I needed, and we haven’t used any of them yet…]

                Its fun. Really.

                • Ha! Well, I can’t say I’m not easily amused, but I’m not sure I’m looking forward to all that. Still, I do love a bit of a challenge. Just don’t try to take my throw pillows off the boat. Those are there for a reason.

  3. Pingback: Aft Cabin: Fait accompli! | Little Cunning Plan

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