Storage at the cottage is always a problem, especially when you have friends and family coming and going, staying for days on end, and making themselves at home. In my experience, smart storage is the key to making the cottage enjoyable for both the guests and the hosts. If boatloads of people are coming for the weekend, it’s too much to expect the host to do everything.
There are some simple design and decor strategies hosts can use to make life easier at the cottage, and most have to do with storage. Don’t believe me? Consider the following scenarios.
Everyone arrives after a five-hour trek from the city, and there are rooms to get ready. It’s too much to expect the host, who has also travelled, to make everyone’s bed. Bunk beds are a great cottage idea on their own, but if you add a storage compartment below to store bedding, there’s no reason the guests couldn’t help out by making their own beds.
It’s Saturday morning, and everyone is hungry for a big breakfast before hitting the dock. It’s not fair to expect the host to prepare every meal. (And if you do this as a host, stop!) People are more than willing to chip in, and if you make it easy for them, they’ll do it more. For example, if the essentials for cooking are readily available—and at eye level above the stove—there’s no excuse not to help. My brother-in-law could probably come up with a few, but he’s a unique case.
The same goes for dishes. If people can see them, they will help set the table. I have to admit that it took me a while to catch on to this. I used to be the one sitting on the veranda, drinking wine and acting slightly surprised when I heard dinner was ready. I give my sister credit for pointing out that the dish shelf was installed with my height in mind. And yes, I can reach every plate and platter on it.
And if you’re going to have shelves, why not make them pretty? That’s what I always say. Just add a bit of ribbon with some hot glue, and you have a unique shelf that says a lot more than just storage.
You can never go wrong with a bench for storage—just make sure it has a bottom shelf. Benches can store magazines, books, and games, and because they’re narrow and long, they can run along a hallway. Plus, if you have more dinner guests than expected, just pull out the bench and you’ve got all the seating you need.
Storage seems like such a small thing, and many cottage owners don’t think about it until they need it. But I truly believe it can be the biggest factor in making people feel at home. Your cottage shouldn’t be a resort for your guests. They want to contribute and do their part, and smart storage options let them do just that (even if it’s just to get an invitation back). Right now I’m working on a storage solution that says to my guests, “Yes, it’s 6:30 a.m., but feel free to get up with my toddler while I sleep in—the diapers and wipes are all right here.” The struggle is making a change table look like it belongs in the living room. Suggestions are always welcome.