Hello, my organized readers!
For all those of you who have stocked up on TP, extra dishsoap for your mega-cleaning/sanitizing during Covid, more homeschooling supplies etc., I get that you might be feeling "storage angst" right now, especially if you live in a small home, condo, or apartment. So here are a few dollarwise things we have done in our own past small homes to help you out with ideas you can adapt to your own home, whatever its size.
Note: You might not need to buy anything, or much. You might already have something that can be repurposed.
Read on for examples ...
In the pix above, that was our only bedroom in our former small 710 SF San Diego apartment. I hung curtains we already had over the window and my husband Steve built us a white frame to house several black file bins that we stacked and put all kinds of extra household supplies like soap, shampoo, laundry soap, you name it in there that I buy on sale. Heavy things go on the bottom and most often used things go on the top. We put a tension shower curtain rod inside with easy-to-slide blackout grommet drapes. Later I also added some decorative storage boxes similar to these on top for even more storage. Many of the black file bins we had already before we went paperless so we repurposed them and just added a few more to store household goods rather than file folders.
Now, if you don't want to go to Home Depot right now during Covid to buy shelves, (I hear you!), order the bins online, wash them well, and just stack them up in the corner and forget about building the frame-hideaway-thing-y like Steve did here. That will do. Buy clear bins if you want to see at a glance what's in there. Buy opaque bins if you prefer not to over-stimulate your eyes and like to label things, like me. :)
And you know all those toys your kids or grandkids have strewn all over their rooms and/or the living room during Covid too? And you're stepping on those toys and maybe hearing them break because of that? This bin m.o. works great for those and for teaching them that before they go to bed they need to put their toys in there, and yes, they'll be able to play with them the next day. Homeschooling supplies? Ditto.
I'm not a Mom but I was a school teacher in my younger years and I was once a kid myself too who spent countless hours happily organizing her bedroom and her toys, (yes, some kids are like that!), so trust me that this m.o. works because when kids have a specific place to put things, if they are taught, they usually will. Remember your own Kindergarten school room and your teacher showing (and expecting) you to do that? Yes, I thought so. :)
If you don't want to use stacking bins for your kids' toys, or other things too, these stacking drawers are easy to open and I have them in my closet where I live now, as shown above. I use mine for both clothes and office supplies. These will not hold heavy items well, just to let you know. I wear lots of knit tops, pants, dresses so I just roll them up and stack in the drawers which avoids wrinkles. I label the drawer handles with my favorite label maker. These drawers are lightweight and a great price for so much storage. I never used to be a big fan of plastic at home, but now that I am "mature" I am, because plastic is much easier to clean and lightweight to move around too, compared to say, a big wooden chest of drawers. Wicker gets really dusty.
We already had these great white pantry cabinets before we built the black bin system. I absolutely loved them as the size was not deep and they were clean-looking. We used them for medical and toiletry supplies stockups and we also put some in our living room for overflow grocery pantry supplies. We changed out the handles to go better with our antique-y decor back then, but of course, you don't have to do that if you're just looking for storage. On top I added photo boxes for office supplies etc. I love photo boxes for organizing things and adding decorative flair and color too. (I purposely wanted only white in this instance though.) I found mine online on a great sale of about $2.00 each and stocked up. They are usually laminate on the outside so wipe off quite well. BTW, if you do want to buy more cabinets, these are great. Beware that these cabinets do require assembly whereas the black bins are a no brainer to just stack up if you're not handy, as I am not. Luckily I have a handy husband who likes doing these kinds of projects, but if you don't, then just a heads-up.
I am a big fan of baskets to hide things you want to store, and I'm also a big fan of using the top of your fridge for extra storage. I no longer use wicker baskets though as there are now so many good looking plastic "faux wicker" baskets that are easier to just wash dust off with a shower spray. I mix and match the textures for an interesting look around my house. If you stick to all one color, with varying textures, it's nice. I usually try to buy all white now, but if they aren't available I go for neutral gray or taupe which mixes nicely with the white.
If you've gone (almost) paperless as we have years ago, what did you do with all those filing cabinets you used to have in your home office and that you already paid for? I had four of these at one time in my tiny home office that I share with my husband.
Don't get rid of them. (The cabinets or the husband!) :) Put the filing cabinets in your garage and use them to store extra household and office supplies. Label the drawers. Laundry soap? Check. Dishsoap on sale? Check.
There is NO organizing rule that you have to only keep files in filing cabinets!
And since we're on the topic of organizing "rules" ... I've been doing this a very long time, so please ...
Repeat after me: A container is a container is a container and in our home and home office we will repurpose ALL containers as often as possible to save money, assembly and delivery time, our backs, and our landfills. And when we have no further use for a container ourselves we will generously pass it along to someone who can use it, whenever humanly possible. Amen. :)
Be careful to put heavy items only in bottom drawers and also to secure the cabinets to the garage or house wall so they don't tip over.
What did you do with all your living room bookshelves that you already paid for when you downsized your personal library books to Kindle?
Mine above later became handy shelving in our small off-site storage unit and they worked great for storing various size bins and file bins for archive files that we did have to keep paper copies.
Before we took these shelves to our storage unit when we moved again, we used one on each side of our dining nook for our entertaining dishes. Here's another shot below at how well that worked out in our small dining/kitchen area.
And speaking of storage and repurposing .... see our coffee bar? That's a clothes dresser. We did buy that one new, but you could repaint and repurpose a dresser you already have too that might just be taking up space in your garage or your college kids' rooms they no longer even use. In our coffee bar I stored all my tablecloths and napkins etc. in the dresser drawers which made it so handy as it was close to our table.
These are just some examples of dollarwise ways you can repurpose what you already have and have paid for already to deal with your Covid shopping stock-up challenges.
Think outside the box. Look around your home and ask yourself: "What else could I use that for?" Repurpose.
And last but not least, if you do want and/or are able to spend money right now to buy a good storage shed like we did when we moved to our small AZ modular home two years ago, we still like this shed that we bought back then and would buy it again. And we just bought two of these smaller sheds for additional Covid stockups because we have no garage. We put them on the size of the bigger shed and it worked great. More pix on that later. We stack bins in them so it's easy to see what's in there at a glance. We like these bins as they stack well due to the ridges in the tops and the handles "lock" so that helps keep the lids on better than some bins.
Hope that helps you "expand" your storage space and preserve your dollarwise budget too.
If you need more storage and organizing tips, my many eBooks will help you out. They are just $1.99 now as I want everyone to be able to get organized at home and in their home office, even if your budget is tight.