The Return of the Milk Crate

Once upon at time, in the funky streets of Fitzroy, lived 4 poor university students.  A bag of clothes and a mattress each, a large pot for cooking and a coffee making contraption was the sum total of their worldly possessions.  With their small income earmarked for the food kitty and beer, not a cent was to be found for furniture.

Staggering past the local supermarket in the wee hours of one morning, what should they see, but a large pile of empty milk crates.  The perfect structure for a bed base.  Several weeks later, not only did each of the students have a “bed”, but also a wardrobe, a desk and a couple of stools.

The milk crates were ideal tools for moving home and migrated from share-house to share-house for several years.  Until, one day, the students woke up to find that they were no longer students.  A wave of responsibility and respectability washed over them, and sadly the milk crates were returned to where they were found.

End of story.

Side Table.

Side table. Source: Poppy Talk.

Milk crate seats.

Seats. Source: Apartment Therapy.

Pendant lights.  Source:  Arch Daily.

Pendant lights. Source: Arch Daily.

Garden Tower.  Source:  Made by Tait.

Garden Tower. Source: Made by Tait.

Side table

Marble on milk crate. Source: Design Sponge.

Vintage milk crate.

Vintage milk crate. Source: Etsy.

Feel free to share your uni-days story about “resourcefulness” in the comments.  

 Real names not required.




15 thoughts on “The Return of the Milk Crate

  1. Thanks for a trip down memory lane.

    I doubt my first uni flat purchase in 1980 will ever appear in a stylish home feature – a two tone plastic toilet sea in lurid green……

  2. joan55555 says:

    In his student days your father propped up his 3 legged bed with a stack of bricks. One of your grandfathers made clever furniture out of kerosene tins. If the shop was round the corner I would have to have that orange crate coffee table. Oh that reminds me, we still are storing off the street furniture from your student days, will you be needing it soon?

    • You obviously failed the part where you are supposed to palm off all your unwanted goods to your adult children while they are still desperate. I’m afraid you’ve missed your moment. xxx

  3. mariashumptydoo says:

    What an interesting story, Jo! The resourcefulness of youths…

    No space for crates!:
    In Paris’ Quartier Latin, fifty years ago, the poor students lived in tiny rooms underneath the roofs of 19th century buildings where there was just a bed and not even space for crates… , so they studied in the local cafes. They became addicted to short blacks as they had to consume drinks every two hours under the watch of overpowering ‘garcons’ , and of course a short black was the cheapest drink! Hence the ‘bad’ reputation of the Sorbonne University students spending their life in cafes…

  4. trixee says:

    I have an old crate lying around that I’m planning to upcycle into an outdoor stool. I’ve even bought the paint and everything! Just haven’t got around to doing it yet.

  5. Who knew milk crates were such a versatile decor item, haha. Though I have seen milk crates with casters at cafes going for a certain low-rent aesthetic…
    (There’s milk crates in lieu of bench bases on our deck right now. I graduated six years ago.)

  6. Once upon a time, there was a young freelance journalist who bought a very crappy-looking house and moved into it with her new puppy. In lieu of real chairs to offer guests, she used camping chairs and to warm the cold floors bought a new, black and red $20 made-in-China faux Persian rug on eBay that she was convinced looked like the real deal. She insisted on keeping that ugly rug for years and is embarrassed now that she did.

    I love this post Johanne. I like crates and all, but always feel a bit dubious when I see them used as seating in hipster cafes. C’mon cafe guys, we give you money, fork out for some real chairs that don’t show the world my plumber’s crack. Your house is looking awesome by the way and love your post on choosing a builder. Really good advice and you are so right about reviews…. can’t trust them sometimes.

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