Organizing: valuable and inexpensive

Getting organized is valuable but it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many ways to create customized organizing solutions with a small budget.

I often look around the house to see what items can be re-purposed. We use chewing gum containers to keep office supplies organized. It is easy to see what is in them. They are easy to refill and they have a little slot so they can dispense one item at a time. These containers are the perfect size for cotton swabs and hair elastics, so we use them in the bathroom to organize cosmetics.

Blister pack chewing gum containers and inserts from boxes of chocolates can be used to organize earrings in a jewelry box or craft supplies such as beads.

CraftSanity has instructions for how to construct magazine holders and a literature sorter out of cereal boxes. Lifehacker has an article describing how Lego minifigures make great computer cord organizers and bits of Lego can be used to make key holders. Lego bricks can also be used to make holders for kitchen utensils and napkins. (Interesting fact: the exterior case for the first Google server was built with Lego bricks.)

Discount and bargain stores have great organizing supplies (Dollartree in the U.S., Dollarama in Canada and Poundland in the U.K.). You can find baskets, bins, file folders, desk caddies, hangers, hooks, and over-the-door pocket organizers. And, not to leave out the most obvious, Amazon has almost 500,000 items in a range of prices to help you get organized.

Purchasing unnecessary or unsuitable organizing supplies is one mistake some of my clients have made while trying to get their houses in order. Creating inexpensive do-it-yourself organizers like those mentioned above will allow you to experiment with different organizing systems. Once you find the products and systems that best suit your lifestyle, you may eventually want to purchase a durable, higher quality version that coordinates with your décor.

9 Comments for “Organizing: valuable and inexpensive”

  1. posted by PatGLex on

    I actually use an old ice cube tray to hold my earrings. (Saw it somewhere else and thought it was a great idea.) I use a couple of “enclosed” ice cube trays to make my ice cubes (old refrigerator that doesn’t have an ice maker) so they don’t get bad flavors encased in the ice; so I had these sitting around. I always wash out peanut butter and jelly jars to hold things (paint brushes and — now — decorator icing materials). If it has a screw on top, I’ll recycle it somehow. I’m definitely going to CraftSanity to look at those magazine holders — there are a couple of craft magazines I collect that I’d like to store in holders! (And I’m tired of buying them at IKEA.)

  2. posted by Marie on

    As a former jewelry salesperson, I encourage you to be careful when choosing storage for delicate and porous gems such as pearls, opals, onyx, and turquoise. Many people assume you can toss jewelry around, since metal and diamonds are so durable, but there are many gems that scratch easily and can even crack when exposed to sudden temperature swings.

    If you aren’t sure what pieces need coddling, it’s safe to assume that anything that charts lower than a 7 on Mohs’ scale of hardness should be handled with extra care (this is easily Googled). Keeping pieces separate is your best bet–they can scratch each other in addition to being scratched by other objects–so multiple tiny compartments are safer than a few large ones.

    As a teen, I damaged my grandmother’s pearl studs through careless handling. They cannot be replaced, so I think being overly cautious is worthwhile when it comes to heirloom pieces.

  3. posted by Patty@homemakersdaily.com on

    I definitely agree. I hate spending big money on organizing containers – especially ones that will be in a drawer or cabinet. I love velveeta boxes, ice trays and baby wipe containers. Love the earring holder above. Great idea.

  4. posted by Beverly Brennan on

    I cut the lids off of 18 count styrofoam egg cartons and use them for earring storage. I have small drawers at the top of my dresser and one carton fits in each of them. Gold on the right, silver on the left – yes, I am a bit OCD.

  5. posted by Anna on

    Beverly, you beat me to it with your remark on using styrofoam egg cartons for earrings. The cups are small enough to be space-efficient and large enough to hold earrings larger than studs. As a bonus, they address Marie’s warning about keeping items separate from one another.

  6. posted by liz on

    Since I am at the age of having to take a couple meds every day, I have saved the scripts bottles. They are useful for storing small objects.

    But, I also take vitamins and some other OTC meds. Local drugstores usually have good sales such as buy one, get one free, so I tend to have some larger bottles. These are great for storing nails, screws, etc. I even use one to stash my emergency cash supply – who would think to look in a vitamin bottle for cash!

    I also look at the plastic containers to repurpose – a ketchup squeeze bottle now holds the dishwasher gel. I bought a large size of the detergent and discovered it was too heavy to pick up every time I ran the dishwasher. And it had the darn childproof cap. But the old ketchup bottle
    was the right size. Same idea using shampoo squeeze bottles and filling them up with bleach or vinegar. Easier to buy the larger sizes and refill as necessary. Label the bottles to be safe.

  7. posted by heronmoondesignworks on

    As another jewelry designer/craftsperson, I’d offer a caution regarding storage of earrings with sterling silver content: many creative container materials can contribute to tarnish. Surprising examples include felt, some types of cellulose-based (paper/cardboard) containers, anything with rubber in direct contact with the sterling, and even some types of plastics, latex, and more. These outgas hydrogen sulfide, which causes silver tarnish. Rubber is THE WORST. Polyethylene plastic bags are the easiest and safest protection (Ziploc bags are polyethylene). I love creative storage solutions–and thank everyone for their comments!

  8. posted by Fairfax Avenue on

    I’m very wary of storing anything of value in medicine containers: when my house was robbed, the prescription medicines were among the things that were stolen. I appreciate the info about keeping jewelry separated – I’ll be making some changes to my storage!

  9. posted by Carla on

    I stored a silver dollar in a small leather case. It tarnished very badly. I suspect the leather was the cause.

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