Where to store your always-in-use items in the rare moments they’re not in use

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Megan's matches her laptop and water glass to her home decor. That's normal, right?
Megan matches her laptop and water glass to her home decor. That’s normal, right?
I am currently getting rid of a lot of stuff, deciding what stays using the philosophy of “a place for everything and everything in its place.” If I can’t find a sensible-to-me place for it then it gets donated. However I have a few things that always seem to be in use, like my laptop, mobile phone, and a jug I use all the time.

The sensible-to-me place for these things is wherever I am right now. Which is fine, except when people come over I don’t have anywhere to put them. I tried clearing off a shelf for my laptop, but pretty quickly I get annoyed at nearly always having an empty shelf.

What solutions do my Homies use to store these things that are “always” in use, without giving up valuable space for the odd times these things need put away? -MelRuth

I, too, always have my laptop, phone, and a bottle of water out in the living room. Which means, I have three solutions for you:

  • Laptop: I do all my work from my living room couch. So when guests come over, I slide it under my couch. I know this solution won’t work for everyone, since “the floor” is not the most popular place for valuable items.
  • Mobile phone: I have an iPhone, so I invested in a cool Retro iPod/iPhone Docking Clock Radio for the living room. That way my phone pops into the clock, and becomes the music center when guests come over.
  • Water jug: Don’t hide it! I found a bottle that matches my living room decor, and it just sits on the table next to “my spot” on the couch, blending in with all the other home decor items.

Your turn! Cough up your storage solutions for the things that rarely need to be stored!

Comments on Where to store your always-in-use items in the rare moments they’re not in use

  1. I have so many desks in my house, it’s kind of crazy. So one is my work desk, and if guests don’t like my laptop there… well, that’s their problem. However, if I didn’t have a dedicated workspace, I would go with “out of sight out of mind.” Do you have a cabinet that you can toss your laptop in while people are over? Do you have space in a drawer for your phone? You can put a water jug in the fridge, or just keep drinking out of it.

  2. If I need to put my phone “away”, it goes in its pocket in my handbag, with my wallet and other permanent residents. But usually when I’m home it’s on the couch or on bedside table as an alarm clock.

    • So where do you then put your handbag. This is yet another of my ‘always in use’ items and seems to live on a chair or a door handle. This nearly works except for being a bit of an eyesore when I manage to get a space nice. I once tried to keep it with my coats but since I have a large hat collection this just didnt work.

      • Command hooks FTW! I put up a hook in an inconspicuous location and I can hang my purse on it. Now, I don’t always… Actually the vast majority of the time, I drop it as I come in the front door and there it sits on the floor. But if I’m cleaning up for company, I do have a hook I can hang it on. Just make sure you get one that will hold a few pounds. Some of the hooks are weight rated, so I got a rather large one that I figured my bag wouldn’t break. So far it’s worked out rather well… Other than the fact I that I haven’t been able to break the “drop purse on floor” habit yet. 😉

      • Usually in the rare instance that everything is cleaned up enough that its presence would be noticed, my purse goes into my work room which usually isn’t cleaned up. If the work room is cleaned up, I put it on my desk chair and push it in so the purse is under the desk. I’ve also been known to set it on top of the clothes hamper (ours has a lid) in the bedroom.

        Also: I love the fact that you have an extensive hat collection!

        • Same! I have a coat rack, a few of my most recent/most commonly worn hats live on it, and so did a few scarves until last week when I finally got a home for the scarves that happens to be right there.

          Who am I kidding, *I’M* going to keep tossing my scarves on the coat rack. The mister will put them away where they belong when he cleans the hallway every week. Heh.

          Anyway, my coat rack was specifically purchased with my heavy-as-fuck purse in mind. It hangs on one of the lower hooks in the top section. The middle hooks closer to the floor hold the collection of shopping bags, and the library bag (so that all library books have a home when not immediately in use). My partner and I each get two sets of hooks up top, he keeps it reasonable by putting extraneous items in the coat closet nearby whenever the thing gets overburdened or messy or we have people coming over (at which time our stuff gets put on the two less accessible sets of hooks to leave the more accessible ones for guests). The square area underneath between the feet also helps contain the shoe pile–if the shoe pile explodes out of that square/off the rug it’s on, it’s time for the mister to spend a couple minutes on it. And bonus, because we have designated shoe spots, his shoes covered in food from work don’t get all over my snazzy sandals. Even if there’s an avalanche.

          I have a collection of pashmini scarves because they work fabulously in the Pacnific Northwest climate. Covers the neck exposed by having short hair, without being ridiculously thick and overly warm. Coordinates with outfits so that it can stay on in drafty or air conditioned places. Doubles as a shawl if necessary, and as a head scarf in the event my hair goes nuts at a funeral, and can cover my face to keep out cottonwood fluffers when we suddenly realize we’re sitting in a swarm of them for the next hour at a wedding. WIN. But the extent of the collection needed a home, and my apartment doors don’t have enough space at the top for my over-the-door rack I had them on. Fortunately, the OTD rack’s door hooks came off, and I just screwed the bugger into the wall right behind the coat rack. I can reach it to snag one off instead of digging through a basket like I’ve been doing for months, and it’s right there when it’s hallway cleanup time so the few that make it directly onto the coat rack because I came home with negative Spoons can just get put away at our leisure.

          And right around the corner from that is my key & mail rack, across the tiny hallway from the wall with the calendar, daily to-do list & weekly schedule. Voila, front door command center.

  3. Get a coffee table with a drawer – when you need to hide the laptop and phone, just slip them in there. Still easy access, but “put away”. I also have my water bottle, so it stays out on a side table so *I* still have access to it.

  4. I have a few items that never seem to leave the common area (two laptops, a sewing machine, the Tower of Organized Papers) – so they usually end up under my desk. Then the desk gets a cool tablecloth and turns into a Snack zone. Crap hidden, guest happy, living room looks like a Person lives there. 🙂

  5. My laptop typically either gets propped on the floor between the couch and side table or gets put under the side table, or if things are really spiffy on the bottom shelf of the side table. I’m pretty casual about where it goes because I’m pretty picky about who I invite over for the most part. Unless I’m throwing a party for my husband’s work people, I only invite people that I’m okay with knowing I don’t live a perfect life into my home. So they can see my laptop on the arm of the couch or a phone on a side table.

    • I love this idea. I already have a magazine rack so this could work for the longer term solution when tech-free people are staying for a few days.

  6. We have a raised wooden chest that was from Homebase (UK) that we can slip our laptops under! It works great and the chest doubles as a toy storage box for our daughter’s regularly used toys and a coffee table! I love the idea of a docking station to double up your phone and music system! Darn it not being a part of the iPhone army!! Great ideas! I love these posts! 🙂

  7. Pretty boxes!
    We have a few decorative boxes on the entertainment center and the coffee table to hide all sorts of things like lint rollers, nail files, remotes, etc. Cell phones get stashed in the key bowl. We also keep brushes and nail clippers for the animals in front of the TV so when they come over to snuggle we can sneakily start to groom them.
    Our laptops or tablets get put on an extra shelf on the entertainment stand, but I could also see keeping them stashed in a decorative box right on (or under) the coffee table for a little more protection and camouflage.

    I also like alice’s idea with the wall-mounted racks because you could probably install that right near an outlet for charging your device.

    • Ahhh yyeess… (touching fingers together like Mr. Burns)
      This is exactly what I need to get. The dog brush (and dog snacks) just don’t look very appetizing on our coffee table (especially if we’re doing dinner and a movie – ha!), but I’m always annoyed when I don’t have them there!

    • Can I just say… as a dog-groomer… even if you’re not doing a great job of clipping nails, your groomer loves you for trying, just because your pet will be more used to being handled.

  8. I often use the laptop-under-favorite-furniture method since it’s right there and out of sight, but we also have a coffee table and end tables with shelves underneath them, just a few inches off the floor. You never really get a good look at these shelves since they’re floor level (thus avoiding the looking-at-an-empty-shelf problem), so when I want the expensive computer off the floor I place it there, usually next to a few textbooks or a neatly folded lap afghan (another thing that is used so often in our drafty PA house that it’s never quite put away).

    • When I was in grad school, I used to keep my printer on my coffee table’s lower shelf, then stick my laptop on top of it when I wasn’t using it. (This worked because my printer was an all-in-one, so the top had a scanning bed.) Since I didn’t have a desk when I was in grad school, this approach worked well as an office space right there at my futon. Really, though, a laptop sitting on a side table doesn’t look that bad, either, particularly if it’s closed.

  9. Both my iPad & iPhone are sitting out on a side table in the living room or the dining table most of the time, & I have both in Book Book cases that look like old leather books (there are also ones for the MacBook Air). So my tech devices are protected & look like part of the decor when they’re just laying around; I could even stick them in a shelf if I wanted. And occasionally my cat sits on top of the iPad, but that’s no problem bec. the case can take it.

    If that’s not your style, you could get any kind of laptop sleeve or phone case that lets you put the devices away & prop them up (or even slide them under the couch a little more safely) without totally putting them away.

  10. We have a super narrow but long living room so between two futons (we each had one before we moved in together and they are great when people visit!) we have a night table that we use as a side table. It has an open space below a drawer that we use to store books, magazines, and my netbook! It’s super handy for me to grab it when I need it and store it away when I’m not using it 🙂

    • Yeah – we also usually have a few magazines around so I just slip the laptop in between them (though of course the cable needs to be stashed somewhere else).

  11. We have this ottoman which has a seat that turns into a tray top. When the tray isn’t in use (which is hardly ever is) there is enough space to put both of our laptops in there, unplugged. It doubles as storage and an extra seat when needed, which is nice. You can always get one of those and then you can throw your phone in there as well, if you wanted.

  12. For when I want to store my laptop out of sight in the bedroom without dedicating a full shelf, I have an older “keyboard” drawer that is large enough to hide my laptop. I have this on the small bookcase we have the TV on so it serves a double function to raise the tv a few inches. Depending the room your working with you might be able to stick it in with electronics.

  13. We keep our laptops on a shelf, but in a magazine holder so they’re vertical. 2 laptops take up maybe 4″ of shelf space. You could also just put it vertically next to some books.

  14. I like all the more vertical ideas because you don’t need much space and the rest of the time, the books or other stuff just has a little more space.

    I also agree with the bit about putting it in with the electronics, which made me remember:
    We have an old (early 1950’s) radio which is about the size of a small sideboard and aside from housing a radio and record player, it has some storage space (I assume we could update it with a reel to reel or something) that I like to stick random electronics in. It has sliding doors on the front, so it’s perfect for hiding that stuff.

    On a side note: we originally bought it thinking we would gut it and completely build our modern media center into it, but since everything still worked, we couldn’t bring ourselves to. Besides, we got some hilariously non-PC 45’s with it and I would be super sad if we couldn’t play them anymore. (It looks something like this: http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NDgwWDY0MA==/z/zVoAAOxyLm9TFhEh/$_72.JPG)

    One other thing: sometimes the trick is just to make it look like that’s the place something “lives” – sometimes for something like a phone it’s enough to put it on a tray or a small mat so that it looks like that’s where it belongs. 🙂

  15. I have this problem too. My work laptop is small/super thin/light weight so it’s pretty easy to hide, but my home laptop which is always in use is massive and not an attractive addition to the living room/dining room decor. I have a drawer in the dining room that just barely fits the laptop, which is an ok solution, but not ideal since I feel like I’m scratching the laptop going in & out of that stupid drawer. Haven’t figured out a better solution yet though.

    Then there’s my purse and my work laptop bag. I hide my purse inside my laptop bag and my laptop just lives on the chair in the kitchen, which renders that chair useless, which means we don’t use the kitchen table much. /sigh I never realized how annoying it is until now, thanks OBH. lol

  16. Well, for me I have a few personal items that often linger around me everywhere in the house. The first one is definitely my cell phone or mobile device like a mini tablet. I often wear trousers with pockets that can fit almost anything and everything. Hence, the mobile gadgets fit cosily in there. Next has got to be my water bottle (I drink out of a bottle instead of a cup/glass for convenience sake) which I can quickly hang on the coat hanger near the entryway should I have guests over. I guess my idea is to act fast and grab any storage solution when the need arises.

  17. I have a standing sitting laptop desk that just functions as a piece of furniture.

    However, we also have an IKEA cube storage thing. I just have an empty cube that I can stack things in for parties and guests. It is great.

    And if you work in the living room a lot – I highly recommend the awesome, but pricey, coffee tables that pull up to be tables. Then you can put the laptop IN there when not using it too! 😀

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