My husband and I have hoarding tendencies that are often disguised as being environmental. Plastic take-out containers, twist ties, Trader Joe’s shopping bags—if it can be used again, it stays.
For other items, like clothing and printed matter, it’s about posterity. We keep every issue of the New Yorker and other specialty magazine subscriptions because we’ve heard print is dying. (Also because we can’t possibly read everything in real time, and because we paid for them. Throwing anything away is literally throwing money away!)
Still, our one-bedroom apartment with one closet—which is outside in the hallway, by the way—doesn’t look too much like a dump thanks to inexpensive shelving from Ikea, a generously-sized pantry in the kitchen, and, most importantly, this transforming coffee table from West Elm.
Maybe I love this table so much because of how easily I got it: on a whim and on the cheap and with a minimum expenditure of physical energy. It showed up one Saturday morning on my previous building’s e-bulletin board for $100, posted by a woman three doors down the hall. All I had to do was walk a few feet, hand her the money, then bring the table (with some help) back to my apartment.
Even without its legendary origin story, the Industrial Storage Coffee Table stands on its own. Made of a solid wood body “lofted on airy steel legs” (per West Elm’s copy), the hefty table features a pop-up tabletop that reveals a significant amount of storage space concealed within—perfect for our stacks of magazines, the one game we own (Bananagrams), and whatever else happens to fall inside.
What’s more, the top also extends to the perfect height on which to eat while watching a TV show from the couch. Not only is it space-efficient, it also rewards bad behavior (TV dinners and a pack-rat lifestyle).
It looks good, too, if you can forgive its trendy natural-wood-and-steel construction, which has held up very well after four years of constant use—in addition to the time it spent with its previous owner.
When the inside of the coffee table gets full, that’s when we know it’s time to reorganize. That means placing any magazine six months or older in a bankers box and hauling it up to the attic, where our landlady has given us an extra closet for storage. We’re spilling out of it, of course, but she hasn’t said anything yet.