Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Save Money On Home Organization

This article is was written September 5, 2012 for our neighborhood newsletter. I will post previous ones as well and future ones as I write them.


In 2010, and even before, it became difficult for someone with a degree in my field of Interior Design to find a job because of the housing market. Not many people were buying new homes at the time. Instead, they were improving on what they already had.  Little has changed since then.

Because of this, many women have become “Do It Yourselfers” who spend hours daily and into the night reading and searching the Internet DIY Blogs and Pinterest trying to discover new and trendy ways to improve on their homes without breaking the bank. Many of these blogs focus on creating the perfectly organized home.

Most homes today do not come with enough storage space (unless you are lucky enough to have designed your own dream home to your specifications). Any area that can be used for storage is “Prime Real Estate” meaning the space needs to be efficient enough to store everything you need so that items are not in view or taking up much needed counter or floor space.

The biggest trend now is to treat these Prime Real Estate areas as a room themselves. Some of these areas include closets miraculously turned into mini-offices, laundry rooms with coordinating color schemes, and pantries fully wallpapered, painted and labeled. Looking through these pictures of grandeur on the Internet can be daunting especially when you go in search of some of the same items and see what it would cost to replicate in your own home. It is not difficult to quickly spend a fortune trying to imitate what we see in these picture perfect spaces.

To ensure that we do have a beautiful home, use all of the Prime Real Estate efficiently and don’t break the bank, follow some of these simple rules:

 1) Don’t be afraid of the Dollar Store and Goodwill—Both of these places tend to carry a large selection of containers and baskets for a fraction of the price it would cost at the normal retail stores. These stores and garage sales should be your first option. IKEA is also a good option for low priced items for organizing.

 2)  Don’t throw anything away—Those ever popular glass containers can get expensive if you purchase them from a retail store (there are some great ones at Target and Wal-Mart that are relatively cheaper, but it can add up) so SAVE, SAVE, SAVE those jars from your spaghetti sauce and your jams and mayonnaise and reuse them in the pantry or other spaces. You can also use oatmeal containers covered in pretty fabric or paper to store toilet paper or packs of spaghetti. Pringles cans and tennis ball canisters can be used for straws, skewers or paper cup cake liners. Note: The canisters from coffee, powdered drinks and Pringles cans can serve as pretty containers for Holiday cookies for friends and teacher gifts as well. Heavy-duty shoeboxes with thick cardboard can also be covered and repurposed- the larger the shoe sizes the better.

 3) Repurpose— Pretty ceramic bowls can be used to corral keys in the entryway or jewelry in the bathroom. These can be found by shopping in the bathroom d├ęcor section at most stores (cotton ball/Q-tip containers can be used to hold keys at the door or other small items). These can also be found at Thrift stores and garage sales. An old dresser with a fresh coat of paint can be used in an entryway to store items such as dog leashes, sunglasses and other items needed quickly, or seasonal items such as tablecloths, large platters or vases. The same dresser can be used in the living area to hold DVDs or kids’ toys and games. When purchasing dressers or older furniture, it is important to ensure the drawers and any doors do work properly or can be repaired. Larger dressers and chests with a larger number of deep drawers tend to hold more items than the typical entryway table or sofa table. Never be afraid to think outside the box. Manufacturers make tons of money off of creating items that are marketed for one specific use. It is up to us to create new purposes for these items. 

 4)  Make Your Own—Many “Perfect” pantries have everything in uniform containers with pretty labels. Turn to printable Avery labels for creating your own custom labels instead of buying the already made ones. Martha Stewart Home has some that are removable so you can wash or change the container for another use later on. Both the printable Avery labels and Martha Stewart Home labels ($3.00 for 18 removable labels) are sold at Staples. Round hanging labels for baskets can be created by using cardboard from cereal boxes, scrapbook paper, and ribbon. These can be used in closets, pantries and laundry rooms and are easy to see from higher shelves.

 5)Shop Seasonal Sales—There are certain times of year when containers and organizational items are at their lowest prices. Back to School and College sales are great times to shop for containers and bins. Locker organizers can also be used as shelves under the sink in the bathroom or kitchen. During fall and Christmas, larger bins and containers are also discounted because they are fall or Christmas colors. 

Whatever the room of your home that you are planning to reorganize or decorate, remember that every space in your home that can be used to corral our ever-growing items is Prime Real Estate. Items need to be stored close to where they will be used the most. Items not used often need to be stored in the back of the closets or the harder to reach areas of the home. Always look for alternatives to using items before taking them to Goodwill or putting them out in the garage sale. Many times, we toss or recycle items to clear space when those very items could be helping us to save space.

I would love to hear your money saving tips for home organization and design. Be looking for my dresser redo that is currently being used in the entryway of our home. Look for more money saving organizational and design tips in the future. And, in the meantime- have fun making your home the best it can be.

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