What happens when you desperately need to organize your home, but can’t afford – or don’t have time to buy – all the fancy storage systems you see on Pinterest? Don’t let cost and time prevent you from getting your house in order. Learn how to organize your life with free and cheap storage ideas I use in my own home.
My heart races and my voice’s volume reaches an unhealthy decibel – all because I can’t find my keys while I race out the door.
The inability to find what I need causes me mental and physical anguish and drives my family nuts.
When I first recognized the damage caused by my lack of organization, I looked to Pinterest for help – but instead, I found hundreds of photos of gorgeous kitchen pantries with perfectly labeled matching bins. Rather than organize my own home, I wasted hours online ogling other moms’ fantastically tidy spaces and became more and more discouraged.
At one point I had a troubling thought.
I thought I needed specialized, matching storage containers for everything in order to have an organized and tidy home.
What’s so wrong with pretty, matching containers?
A few years ago my container obsession led me to acquire a whole lot of plastic bins and specialty organizers.
I thought I was so smart, but there were a few problems:
- The cost of bins and organizers added up.
- I bought organizers before purging and sorting, so when I finally took this critical step there were a lot of leftover expensive plastic organizers.
- I missed the opportunity to help the environment by reusing and recycling items already in our home.
So while there’s nothing wrong with (expensive) matching containers, they aren’t my first choice anymore. Why? I figured out it’s possible to organize your life with stuff you already have and a few versatile, cheap items.
Let me show you how I do it!
How to Organize Your Life With 14 Free & Cheap Storage Ideas
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1. Organize Craft Paint With an Old Shower Caddy
After we remodeled our bathrooms we didn’t need these plastic shower caddies, so I removed the suction cups from the back and hooked them onto the pegboard in my craft room. Now they’re perfect for my collection of craft paints.
2. Organize Medicine With an Old Shower Caddy
Apparently, I have a thing for shower caddies because not only are they in my craft room, but there are also two in our medicine closet. Both of them are from my college days! I added a simple tag dressed up with washi tape, and now the kids’ thermometers and medicines are all in one easy-to-grab free bin.
3. Organize Drawers With a Play Food Crate
If your little kids enjoy Melissa & Doug play food as much as I do, then you probably have a lot of these little wooden crates. They cluttered up our playroom before I repurposed them in our craft room desk to hold tape, hooks, glue, and other odds and ends. Bonus: they’re paintable!
4. Use a Multi-Tier Skirt Hanger to Dry Hats and Mittens
5. Turn Leftover Tile Into a Jewelry Tray
Don’t toss unused tile samples! There are lots of crafts you can make with tile, including a simple jewelry tray like mine.
6. Organize Desk Drawers With a Snack Box
Classic multi-pack snack boxes are the perfect height for shallow drawers, and an easy way to organize craft supplies, office supplies, and loads more.
7. Organize Small Kitchen Items With a Cereal Box
It’s not pretty, but this cut-up oatmeal box is a kitchen helper and works well in narrow drawers.
8. Store Small Bottles in a Berry Box
Little extract bottles are easily lost in the back of your cabinet, but not if they’re contained in a left-over plastic berry box!
9. Use a Utensil Organizer to Tidy Up China Cabinet Drawers
An old utensil organizer is a great solution in our china cabinet drawer, where it holds napkin rings, corn holders, candles, and skewers. Check your local dollar store or Good Will store for a cheap one if you don’t already have one.
10. Keep Coloring Paper in a Shoe Box
If you have a shoe obsession like I do, you can justify your purchases by reusing the boxes for all kinds of things. Recently I tamed the paper clutter in our kitchen’s arts & crafts cupboard with a basic box jazzed up with a little washi tape to hide the brand name and a pretty label. The bootie box is the perfect size for my kids’ coloring paper.
11. Buy a Cheap Plastic Bag Holder to Encourage Grocery Bag Reuse
Although we shop with reusable bags most of the time, some days we forget. Many stores double-bag, which creates an excess of plastic grocery bags.
This cheap plastic bag holder is awesome for containing and dispensing all those extra bags when we need them. I have two: one in my cleaning closet on the first floor, and another upstairs in our medicine closet.
12. Organize Your Laundry Room with Cheap Hooks
Command hooks are cheap and incredibly versatile. I use hooks in my laundry room to hold extra hangers and a plastic bag to collect lint.
13. Use Plastic Shoe Pocket Organizers to Control Closet Chaos
These over-the-door plastic shoe pocket organizers are lifesavers in our coat closet. They not only hold our family’s gloves, hats, and mittens, but also flashlights, sunscreen, bug spray, and other little things we need on our way out the door. I also have one in our cleaning closet, where it holds loads of household cleaners, sponges, and cloths.
14. Hang Dollar Spot Magazine Holders to Control Kids’ Papers
In our mudroom, simple wire magazine holders from the Target Dollar Spot are mounted on the wall with Command hooks. My kids’ school papers and artwork land here before they’re displayed, toss, or filed.
Don’t Wait for the Perfect Container
An organized home doesn’t require expensive matching containers. If you wait to find the perfect matching set of containers, you’re just living longer in your disorganized space, and then unnecessarily spending money.
Before you hit the stores, look around your home for:
- Boxes, jars, cans and other kinds of packaging
- Unused containers you can repurpose (like I did with the shower caddies)
- Extra home improvement supplies like hooks and tiles
Then, fill in any gaps with versatile, cheap storage containers and organizer.
Now you know how to organize your life, spare your bank account, and help the environment.
Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve earned it! 🙂
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