Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: Creative Storage

I seem to be blessed with great houses that have no storage. My first house was a tiny little "beach house" about 30 minutes from the beach. There was a shelf that counted as a pantry and a tiny little hall closet that counted as storage. We were a new couple, so we didn't have that much to store, and we had two extra rooms, so it wasn't so big of a deal. My second house was about 800 more square feet, and for some reason my husband and I decided to fill up...every bit of it. We had two children within one year, and suddenly we were filling up our house with baby stuff. Every closet, every inch of the attic (we had an attic now!), every available space became storage. Finally, the house we are in now is in between the sizes of the first two. The problem is we had to downsize our belongings. We were short 500 square feet and have little to no storage (and no attic space). Looking around the house, I realized that we are not utilizing the space we have been blessed with. We have a huge room that counts as a laundry room and a pantry, an additional room that could be an office, play room, extra bedroom, or storage room, and we have a large backyard...with a storage shed. What I needed is a refresher in creative storage. And I figured, if I needed it, so do others. So here's a few tips that might get you going in the right direction.

1. Get a support group
Okay, so I know it sounds crazy. I'm not expecting you to go to some community center, sit in a circle and say, "Hi. My name is ______" Hi, ___________ "And I need help organizing." What I mean is to find a blog, a website, or a really good friend or two to give you help in getting it all together. I found a great blog , "I'm an Organizing Junkie," by another mom who just loves to clean. I get an email every day or so where she gives tips on what she's doing to keep her house in order. 

2. Get a plan
Set aside a certain room for each day. Take a few weeks, yes, I said weeks, to put together each room. Don't try to do it all in one or two days. Really focus on a section of your house until is it done. The blog mentioned above has a sectioned called "52 Weeks". This may be what you need to find a plan. Another great website, which I've done, is through A Virtuous Woman. The author of that website has a plan that is 15 weeks long (Mon-Fri) and it includes a bit of a Bible study. This is great, great, great! And is also the reason my house looks so much better than it ever has. I totally recommend this to you. 

3. Finding storage
I don't have a lot of money. I cannot go out and buy tons of those little plastic bins that have drawers and place them all over the house. And in this wasteful society, there are so many things we can re-use as storage. I have recently been collecting items instead of throwing them away, and making them work as storage. Here are some examples: 
  • Gum containers: I chew a TON of gum, so I normally don't even get the packs; I get those little plastic jars gum comes in these days. And they work great as storage. When I'm done, take off the wrapper, label the jar, and then fill it with something that needs to be organized. For example, my son has a ton of little toy animals. They are generally spread all around the room, but when I gave him one that I labeled "Frogs", he finally had a place to store his little guys, and it was one less frog that found its fate inside my vacuum cleaner. 
  • Crystal light container: You don't have to use Crystal Light, but since that seems to be the preferred lemonade in my house, that's the package I use. The great thing about these packages, is that once you take the wrapper off, the container is clear. I use mine to store things from my craft room. I have one for buttons, one for bobbins, and one for hair pieces that I will eventually use to make my daughter her hair bows. 
  • Milk Jugs: these are really great for all kinds of stuff. You can clean them out, cut off the top, and have your husband store his tools, nails, or other "manly" things in them. You can also organize your snacks in them. If you get those BOGO deals that Publix always seems to have of little snacks, buy a few, and then separate them in the jugs. Sweets in one, salty in the other. 
  • Mason Jars: I love, love, love to use mason jars. They look great and can store all kinds of stuff. One example would be coffee. I just recently broke the little jar we had to store coffee grinds in, so I use a mason jar. I also use them to store my dried beans in. I empty the bag, cut the directions off the bag, and put it all in a mason jar. Not only does it seal the beans in, but it looks super cute in my pantry. 
  • Closet Organizer. Just recently Target has, over in its Dollar Section, storage bins. I grabbed quite a bit of items and began organizing right away. I used a cloth bucket in my car to keep all my kids' books. They love to read in the car, so this helped keep the books in good shape and kept the books off the floor. One of my new favorite organizing products is the Closet Organizer that Target had for $2. It's supposed to be one of those things you hang in your closet to hang your sweaters on. I used it to help organize my craft room. Before, I was shoving all the material I had in every available drawer. Now, I have neatly folded the fabric and have stored it in the closet organizer. 
There is really no limit to being creative in storage. Take a room at a time, decide what needs to be done in each room, and find ways to put things in their place. We really do waste so much here in the United States. Even the poorest here in America have it so much better than others do around the world. So while organizing your home, take the time to discard things you do not need (Goodwill!!) and instead of buying fancy storage bins, find creative ways to use all the things around you. 

What is YOUR best tip for storage? Is there one thing that works great for you? Share with us! 

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