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You don’t need Storables to get organized

by respaced on May 25, 2009

Have you experienced this moment? You walk into a Storables or browse through their catalog, see all off the shelves with their matching, labeled boxes, and think to yourself I really need to get organized. Or maybe you get seduced by the bamboo drawer dividers, the shiny glass canisters in a succession of sizes, the variety of containers for storing your spices, and come home a few hundred dollars poorer. But did you know you can organize your home with inexpensive household supplies?

You can skip the expensive containers altogether. Or if you have to display some of your storage out in the open, you can use homemade containers for items stored in a closet, pantry or drawer and store-bought containers for open-storage items.

Here are some household supplies that will store your stuff as well as anything you can buy:

Jewelry boxes, berry boxes, stationery boxes — Use a few in varying sizes for organizing small items in a drawer. You can hot glue them together to keep them from sliding around. I’ve used a couple of berry boxes to organize some of our first aid supplies in the photo above.

Shoeboxes — Great for storing items such as toiletries, light bulbs and cleaning supplies on a shelf in a closet or pantry.

Gladware Containers — If you have a bunch that are missing lids (and who doesn’t?), use those the same way as you would a shoebox. Because they are impermeable to moisture, you can also use these to organize small parts out in the garage or shed. If you have Gladware with lids, you can use them to store small toys (eg. Legos, Playmobil, race cars, dollhouse furniture) in a child’s room. Their small size keeps them from getting too heavy, and if they fall, their lid will still stay closed.

Ziploc bags — Use the big sizes to hold puzzle pieces in the puzzle box. Use smaller sizes to hold game pieces in the game box. They are also useful for organizing Christmas decorations like garlands, soft or wrapped ornaments and tiny pieces of a manger scene in a box.

Empty toilet paper rolls — Wrap extension cords into 6 inch sections and stuff inside the rolls. Roll up narrow cuts of fabric and slide the roll around them to keep your fabric organized in your sewing room.

Baby food jars — Have you seen those tiny glass containers that have magnetic lids and can be stored vertically along a magnetic strip? You can make these at home by gluing a super-strong magnet to the inside of a baby food jar. I recommend using Gorilla Glue, since hot glue doesn’t seem to be strong enough. Also, you can use tiny plastic bottles, if you don’t have any glass ones.

Remember that all the organizing products in the world — homemade or store-bought — won’t do you any good until you sort through every item in the space you are organizing first.

This has been a fun post to write. I’ll continue with more ideas for storage containers you can make yourself in a future post.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill May 25, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Dear Mary Jo,

These are essential suggestions for organizing. If your readers do not have enough storage space for all that organized stuff I can recommend an elegant solution. I recently discovered an upscale yet relatively inexpensive storage system for my home. It is sold as an Art Storage System but I use it for storage in my garage and basement. It holds everything and it is adjustable. It is old by a company called Art Boards they are in Brooklyn New York and can be contacted at 800 546 7985. Look under art storage system on there web site menu.


MaryJo May 27, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Yes, that’s a pretty nice system they are selling. It would look great in a modern- or traditional-styled home.


abbie June 8, 2009 at 4:15 pm

This is such a wonderful post. I had never thought of paper towel tubes for anything but kid-crafts. I suppose you can "roll" anything on there!
I like to use square and rectangle tupperware or kid's dishes with missing lids to organize the small stuff in my junk drawer. I also like to use bins to keep my snack bags in my pantry organized together.
I can't wait to read some more of your great organizing ideas! Happy Organizing,


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