Let’s face it – we all have way more stuff than we really need in our homes. I’ve been fascinated recently watching TED Talks about minimalism and frugal living. I know I could really never be a minimalist, but I like the idea of just living with less stuff and having the stuff we do keep in the house purposeful and organized.
When my husband was in the Army we moved a lot. In one way this was really good for us because it forced us to take a long, hard look at each item we owned and decide if it deserved a place in our new home. We usually ended up decluttering quite a bit every time we moved. We really pared down the time we moved from Massachusetts to Tennessee and could only afford a 16′ truck! Everything we thought we could part with got set to the side in case we had room (which of course we didn’t!) and it all had to be donated.
Since then, though, we have purchased a house, had four kids – and collected stuff. Granted, we have a lot less stuff than most people I know but still more than we actually need. I’m working hard at decluttering now that I have read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That book was so eye opening! You can check it out here:
Now, let’s take a look at how to declutter and then organize what’s left like a pro!
Step One: Declutter Ruthlessly
The first step is to get. rid. of. stuff. I mean a LOT of stuff. The book said to get all of your items in each category in one place starting with clothes. Bring all of your clothes out in one place at one time and go through them all. Keep only those things that make you feel like a million bucks. If it’s something sentimental, keep it or you can always take a picture to remember it by. Clean that closet out!
Then do the same thing with other items in your house. Be ruthless. If it isn’t functional or beautiful it needs to go. I’m still working on this myself but we are getting there! I’ve been selling a lot of my maternity and baby items on ebay now that we have had our last baby. It feels so good to be getting rid of some of this stuff we’ve had sitting around for years!!
Step Two: Organize What’s Left
Okay, so now you’re down to things that you think actually really belong in your home. Hopefully you have some more space to store it now that you’ve gotten rid of a bunch of stuff. Let’s look at some brilliant ways you can organize on a budget.
For All Rooms
Dollar Tree bins are really a great idea in any room. I love to use them in my almost every room in my house: kitchen, bathroom, kid’s rooms, etc. We also make use of a lot of the closetmaid cube organizers. They are great for holding different types of bins and for a piece of furniture they are budget-friendly. Here are some styles we like:
These have been a life saver for us with our boys’ toy storage. We have the 12 cube unit pictured above and half of the cubes are filled with bins that hold different items. One bin holds vehicles, another play food, another holds figures, etc. Then, the cubes that don’t have bins are home to various types of large vehicles that usually fit 2 per cube: fire trucks, police cars, etc. It works out so well for us!! We do have the storage bench that is pictured above, too. It is at the foot of our bed and holds some of my craft supplies. 🙂 We use three three cube units in our closet. They fit really well on a shelf turned sideways. My husband stores his T-shirts in them this way since we don’t have space for a dresser. All of our clothes are in the closet and this type of cube for around $20 is super helpful!
My husband and I are both foods teachers so we have a lot of stuff in our kitchen because we cook a lot. We keep it organized, though! Here are some of our favorite ways to organize on a budget in the kitchen.
For our pantry, we use a ton of the Dollar Tree plastic bins. I started this with just a few to create a snack area for the kids where they could choose their own snacks to take to the car. This was super helpful since we walk right by our pantry on the way to the garage so I try to keep healthy packaged snacks handy (either purchased in individual packages or portioned into snack size ziploc bags). I liked the plastic bins so much I expanded it to use for other pantry items (kid’s lunch stuff, chips, etc). If you want a lot of these and want them to match, try DollarTree.com – they will let you special order items and ship them to the store!!! Here are some of the items online I found when I searched for storage:
We personally have the Plastic Locker Bins with Handles and I love them. Head over to the main Dollar Tree website to search for their storage items. You can see that with a lot of things you have to order between 24-36 items so if you don’t want that many check your local store.
You can also make great use of command hooks inside your cabinets to hold your mixer accessories, pot and pan lids, etc. Command hooks are amazing!
A great way to store produce is to get it off the counter and hanging on the wall in one of these great wire organizers. We like to store onions, potatoes and bananas in these types of baskets hanging on a wall in the kitchen.
Make use of small plastic baskets to organize your drawers. I use the small, 2″ tall white baskets to hold hair ties, nail stuff, etc in my drawer and it really helps to keep everything organized. You can use the same Dollar Tree bins to help organize your linen closet, medicines, and first aid items, too. These bins are also amazing at under-sink storage.
If you’re crafty, you could easily make some wooden crates to hang on the wall and hold towels, cosmetics and more or you could buy some pretty inexpensively at a craft store. This is a great style:
You can also use the same baskets I use in the kitchen for produce in the bathroom as well. They can hold towels, hair dryers and straighteners, etc.
For our bedrooms, we make great use of the Closetmaid Cubes and bins. We also purchased several plastic crates and attached them to the wall the same way you can hang wooden ones (just don’t put anything too heavy in these!). We put our boys’ costumes and lighter toys in these. At $10 or less per crate you can’t hardly beat it for cheap storage.
We also utilize some under the bed storage bins and some fabric bins on shelves. I like this under bed shoe storage unit that costs a little over $10 and these two other storage units for $15:
You can also buy the plastic under the bed storage containers with lids but they are more expensive. Dollar Tree has some fabric bins that are nice but they are pretty flimsy and you will eventually have to replace them (especially if you have kids!!). We personally like these storage bins that cost a little over $20 for six but they hold up better:
I hope this post has inspired you to live a less cluttered and more organized life! We are nowhere near where I would like to be with our organizing, but it’s slowly getting better. After all, it’s a journey – and we’re having a ton of fun along the way! 🙂