Unconventional organizing solutions

Years ago for her birthday, my mother wanted an ice cream cone dispenser. Her pantry had no cupboard doors and given the Victorian style of the house, a big ugly cardboard box just didn’t suit. So, I bought her one.

However, before giving it to her, it sat for a few days on my kitchen counter, waiting to get wrapped. One of those days, an fellow organizer came over for dinner and we got chatting about the dispenser, specifically how else it might be used.

Our favorite solution was as a panty dispenser for women wear small, lightweight underwear. Other ideas were cotton ball dispenser in the bathroom, microfiber cloth dispenser in the garage or workshop, and cloth scraps dispenser for those who are into patchwork or other fabric arts.

My father, who had a workshop the envy of master carpenters, bought an antique printer’s cabinet and used the flat drawers with their small dividers to hold screws, nails, nuts and bolts of all sorts of sizes and shapes.

There are a million organizing solutions out there, often very specific to one particular need. However, sometimes these items can be expensive, or may not live up to their promise once you get them home.

In today’s post, we going to have some fun. I am going to give you some common household items and give you one or two out of the box organizing ideas, then it’s up to you to come up with more to share with other Unclutterer readers in the comments or in the Forum.

Also, we’d love to hear about your own unconventional organizing solutions. What have you re-purposed for home or office organizing whose original design had nothing to do with the solution?

Right, let’s get started.

A wine rack:

  • Lay them on their back, put one on top of the other and you have a way to keep rolls of paper (wrapping paper, architectural drawings, etc.) organized.
  • If you weave, sew, or knit a lot and have large spools of thread or yarn, use the wine rack to store them.
  • Put it in a kitchen cupboard, or on the counter even, and stack glass containers with rice, lentils, etc… (with the labels on the lids instead of the bottles themselves)
  • Store rolled up towels in a guest bedroom or bathroom

A hanging shoe bag:

  • A doll sorter in a child’s bedroom
  • Storage for bottles of cleaners and brushes in the laundry room
  • First aid storage (in a shoe bag with transparent pockets)
  • Apartment Therapy also suggested a way of keeping camping items sorted and off the ground

Now it’s your turn.

What other uses can you think of for an ice cream cone dispenser, a wine rack, and a shoe bag? Are there any other unconventional organizing solutions you could suggest?

17 Comments for “Unconventional organizing solutions”

  1. posted by Janet on

    I use a hanging shoe bag to organize my craft supplies. It’s much easier to find small items, like glue sticks for my hot glue gun, when each type of item has it’s own pocket.

  2. posted by Lisa on

    I use a closet hanging shoe bag, the long, skinny vertical bag, for storing rags of various sizes. It’s easier than a bag or a box, because you can pick out the size you need, without fishing through all the rest.

  3. posted by Zilla on

    Use a hanging shoe bag to hold plastic bags. It will keep them neat and you can squish a lot in there.

  4. posted by infmom on

    Years ago, when a nearby public library was remodeling, I bought a 15-drawer section of card catalog. I use it to hold craft supplies.

    We have a metal shoe rack on the back of a hallway door to hold bags, backpacks and purses.

  5. posted by barbara on

    I have a nice wine rack from the ’70s but none of those ideas or others i have seen make any sense to me as they items take up more space stored that way. Still hoping for the perfect re-purpose. I am usually very creative about re-purposing things but been stumped on this one..

  6. posted by Diana on

    An egg carton bottom for earrings.

  7. posted by PatMcD55 on

    As a knitter I would never store yarn in a wine rack, even the ones with solid sides (and the last two wine racks we’ve had in our house only had bars, so they were more like wine bottle jungle gyms). Yarn should be stored in cover containers to protect it from moths and dust. I use clear storage boxes so I can see the contents.

    And paper towel rolls I buy have a large diameter than wine bottles, so don’t fit in the cubbies.

  8. posted by Linda G on

    We use an empty tissue box to store plastic bags. You can stuff a lot in there and it’s easy to pull out one at a time

  9. posted by Leasa on

    I use a clear hanging shoe bag on the back of my closet door to store swimsuits, sports bras, tights/hosiery, and special purpose socks such as hiking socks.

  10. posted by Penny on

    We always end up with too many wine rack shelves for the Ikea Omar units (we don’t keep that much wine on hand, but I like the racks for when we have it). I mounted a couple on the wall with the curve out and use S-hooks for just about anything that needs to be out of the way. Right now my craft cutting mats, a collection of watches, a camera bag, and a few craft projects are up there, but at various times it has held purses, hats, flashlights, gift bags, and headphones/earbuds.

  11. posted by SusanDR on

    I have used hanging shoe bags for years in my mudroom closet for gloves. When young, my kids could see their gloves and choose the warm ones, the ones for snow, skiing, etc. Somehow, it always stayed organized,and everyone was able to get their own appropriate gloves without rummaging through a box or leaving them out on the mudroom bench! I was also able to see when a glove was missing or easily donate outgrown gloves. The kids are grown up now, but my husband and I still use this system. I nailed one to the side wall of the closet and another is hanging. Both work so well.

  12. posted by SusanM on

    I use a kitchen canister to store small commonly used charging cords – for iPad and smart phones. It sits right next to the coffee canister and looks the same but is taller.

  13. posted by KathyCranstonRI on

    To help organize cosmetics and other medicine cabinet items: When I buy something in a tiny box (such as eye drops, mini-tubes of toothpaste, etc.), I save the little boxes, then cut off their tops and use them as dividers inside an InterDesign medicine cabinet organizer. It’s a good way to keep lipsticks, eyeliners, and such from falling over.

  14. posted by Maryann Aguilar on

    Use the holes in buttons to pair up post earrings. Keeps them together and easy to find in your jewelry box drawers.

  15. posted by SkiptheBS on

    I use the long skinny shoe bag for purses. Small compartment jewelry organizer is used for charger cords, outlet adapters, other small electronics. Large compartment jewelry bag holds larger electronic items and electronics repair tools.
    Craziest storage: my drafty lodgings require draft socks at door bottoms. I made those from a worn out quilted bedspread and sewed 24″ zippers in each. I will pack them with summer shorts and socks over the winter.

  16. posted by Tam on

    I used a stand-up laundry basket to hold my yoga mat and longer rolls of fabric/interfacing, and yardstick. These items are too long for shelves or most cupboards, so it’s nice to have them out of the way (small footprint) but easily accessible!

  17. posted by Odette on

    I use a handmade pottery covered casserole dish as my “junk drawer.” It’s perfect for a few pens, notepads, paperclips and envelope opener.

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