Friday, September 21, 2007

Little Boxes

The old joke that your kids like the boxes their toys come in at Christmas time more than the toys themselves wouldn't ring true to us if it didn't have a grain of truth. When we were kids, any time my parents bought a new appliance or something fairly large, there were arguments over who got the box and what we would do with it. I remember taking big boxes and setting up little houses in a hollow area of some trees at one point and feeling that I had my own little place in the world and I couldn't be happier. Of course, I was about 7 or so at the time.

I'm not sure of the psychology of our love of boxes. I guess it could be that they represent shelter and we respond to the shape from some primitive part of our minds which associates the general shape with the potential for security, warmth, and safety. It could also be that we are conditioned to like them because so many good and new things come in them. Personally, I think humans have an affinity for geometry which appeals to a shared aesthetic sense. This applies not only to boxes but to any balanced shape.

For some time, I've been trying to solve a clutter solution in my one and only bathroom shelf and have been looking for boxes to hold the necessary tidbits we keep in this small but very necessary space. The box pictured at the top of this post is a Japanese paper box from the local 100 yen shop and it turned out to be perfectly sized to fit my shelf.

This little shelf has always been a bit of a curiosity to me. It's clearly homemade out of leftover paneling material but this particular type of paneling is nowhere in our apartment. Based on the size, I'm nearly certain it was made to hold extra rolls of toilet paper as each little area perfectly accommodates one roll. Since our apartment has no built-in storage anywhere, let alone the luxury of a medicine cabinet, I've always used it to store the sort of stuff most people can hide behind their bathroom mirror back home.

Once the boxes hid the chaos of scattered unguents and potions, I decided to tidy up the big bottles of Tums and pain relievers by decanting them into small, corked milk bottles (also from the 100 yen shop). To distinguish them, I put a letter on the cork. They're up high and the letters can't be seen unless you pull them down but I know which is which based on position. The letters are there for my easily-confused husband who can't keep up with all the re-arranging I do.

My bathroom shelf "before".

With my little ersatz medicine box in order, I couldn't leave the tension bar shelf in the state it was in and also revamped it with recycled plastic drawers from other areas I've purged.

My bathroom shelf "after".

The white paper in the front of the clear drawers helps hide the chaos of the contents. It's still not the model of a pristine minimalist water closet with shiny new fixtures but it's good enough for me (at least for now).

The 100 yen shop had two types of these paper boxes and I incorporated one into my desk set-up to store odds and ends that were previously visible desktop supplies.

I'm not sure how well these boxes will hold up as time goes by since they are made of paper and will likely be impossible to clean should they get too dusty. I also don't know if the humid Japanese weather will eventually undo their glued together joints but they are quite a nice little treat for now.

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