The Best of the Best: Practical, Everyday Storage Solutions!
I am back with the final post of a four-post series that I have put together with the best of the IHeart Organizing best. It's been a long time coming to take everything I have learned over the years, whether it is working in my own home or working with others, and compiling it all in a single place here on the web.
The four-part series includes:
Gearing Up for Your Next Organizing Project with a FREE Printable Kit!
Need helping getting started or prioritizing where to begin? What is the plan of attack? What is currently working well and what isn't? What storage do you need? Trying to get rid of things, but finding it hard to decide what to keep and what to pass on?
I have put together a great printable kit to help you prioritize, sort, and navigate your way through your next organizing project(s), which includes a total of TEN free printables!
FIND THAT POST HERE!
My Top Organizing Tips!
Instead of digging through years of my archives to find individual tips, I am going to compile the best of the best in a single, very informational post! It's going to be a whopper and a really great resource for projects of any size.
FIND THAT POST HERE!
Labeling 101: Quick & Easy Labeling Techniques
I have tried almost every type of label on the market, from vinyl to label makers to stickers and chalk markers, and they all have their place. But what are my tried and true favorites? What do I reach for with almost any project due to time, cost, practicality, and ease? I will be sharing three labeling techniques that haven't failed me yet, and that you won't need any fancy tools to utilize.
FIND THAT POST HERE!
Practical, Everyday Storage Solutions!
If I have learned anything from raising three boys and organizing along the way, it is that storage can be expensive and that our needs are constantly evolving. Gone are the days where I purchase pretty bins and baskets to decorate with. Although I will always appreciate beautiful storage, it has to be versatile and it has to last! With that in mind, there are a few storage products that I have found that continuously work hard for me in a variety of situations, so they end up being the types of products I gravitate toward when working on any new projects. For the final post in the series, I am putting together the ultimate storage source list with tips and products that I have fallen in love with over the years.
So let's dive in with part four of the four-part series: Practical, Everyday Storage Solutions!
As you go through the motions of organizing areas of your home, storage should be the last piece of the organizing puzzle. Storage baskets and organizers aren't always necessary, but they really can be a key component in keeping a simple and tidy space. Here are just a few of the consistent benefits I have seen by utilizing baskets, bins, containers and drawer dividers over the years:
Containers assign items a proper home to return to. Containers prevent items from becoming jumbled and messy. Containers keep items divided into specific categories. Containers allow for easier portability/accessibility. Containers offer a place for your eye to rest and ultimately aid in finding items quicker (by eliminating visual clutter).
A few more container-specific tips I have picked up over the years:
Wait until the very end of any organizing project to determine best container types/overall storage needs (after you sort and eliminate you may find you need less storage than you initially thought). Always keep receipts/tags in and on your storage until you have taken it for a test run. If it isn't making your day-to-day life easier after a week or two, head back to the drawing board. Storage is meant to aid and simplify, so if it is complicating things, ditch it. Think long term. Don't select items that are a specific color, are trendy, or only going to be relevant for a specific season of life. Look into products that will stay versatile as your needs evolve. I have learned over the past 15 years the types of storage that have longevity and versatility and what ends up in the donate pile. My general rule is to select products that are neutral in finish/texture; clear, white, linen, and natural/woven materials always win. Storage can be really expensive, but it doesn't have to be! I will never be above sourcing pretty storage solutions and finding a way to DIY or hack things on a budget. Cardboard boxes can be covered in fabric, dividers can be cut from wood, cereal and shoeboxes can be wrapped in paper, modular pieces can be combined to create dream closets... A little creativity goes a long way and sometimes custom solutions are the best way to maximize and get exactly what you need.
It would only be appropriate to start with my number one favorite storage item of all time:
Why I Love These:
The Multi-Purpose Bins are easily the most versatile bin I have found. They come in a variety of widths for your varying needs, yet are extremely uniform. They are translucent so you can see the contents. They are lightweight. They are easy to clean. They have an open-top so everything is easy to put away. They are inexpensive. They can be used to file anything from papers to foods.
Versatile Ways to Use These Bins:
Create categories in the fridge, freezer, and pantry: produce, condiments, snacks, breakfast items, bread/wraps, cereals, etc... Use in miscellaneous kitchen cabinets for baking sheets, cutting boards, paper products/disposable dishware, water bottles/tumblers, food wraps/bags, drop zone items, and cleaning supplies.
Use under the bathroom sink for toiletries, paper products, and cleaning supplies. File paperwork and magazines in the home office, or use them to corral miscellaneous gadgets/tech, and vinyl rolls/yarn/craft supplies. Because these bins are so easy to clean, they can also be used in the garage for small tools, garden supplies, grilling utensils, small toys/activities, pet supplies, and auto maintenance items.
In the linen closet, these bins are great for categorizing first aid supplies, medication, toiletries, sheet sets, vacuum attachments, and cleaning supplies.
Why I Love These:
Turntables are known for offering easy access to your items with just a simple spin. They are especially great in narrow and corner areas when it can be trickier to access items near the back of a cabinet or shelf.
Versatile Ways to Use Turntables:
Corner cabinets are always awkward to maximize, but we added oversized turntables to two lower shelves and haven't regretted it for a single second. They are so handy and I feel sincere delight every day when I give them a spin and easily grab just what I need. We use them for oils/sauces/spreads and food storage containers, but they would also work well for coffee canisters/mugs, vases/accessories, dishes, and baking canisters. (see our original DIY tutorial here) Use these under kitchen sinks for cleaning and household maintenance products.
In the fridge so that items don't fall prey to disappearing on the backs of the shelves. I finally swapped ours to a version with a lip and it is infinitely better than one without.
Add these in a variety of shapes/sizes to make the most of awkward and deep pantry/cabinet shelves. Bottles, jars, and cans are most common, but small packages and boxes can also be stored on these handy helpers.
Add them to bathroom/linen closet shelves for toiletries.
Put them to work in home offices/craft rooms filled with paints, coloring tools, scissors, glue, small notepads, etc... Pop one on top of the washer to hold stain remover, detergent, dryer sheets, lint roller, and a change jar.
Many years ago I fell in love with these containers for all of our dried goods in our pantry. Since then, I have really reduced the number of items I actually decant on a weekly basis. I have also since discovered some comparable containers from Target that seem to do a much better job of locking in the freshness for longer periods in time. So good that I have made the switch to these for our baking ingredients as well as for beans and snacks in our coffee cabinet.
Since my last fridge post, I also swapped out our produce containers after many, many years. A few months ago I spotted these Prepworks Produce Prokeepers at our local Costco (no longer available) and I instantly appreciated that they were flexible enough to store a large variety of produce types inside of the fridge. They include detailed instructions right on the lids with the best way to get the longest shelf life for everything from lettuce to berries to mushrooms and grapes. These containers have vents on the ends that can be opened or closed depending on the contents, as well as a drip tray that can be used to add or collect moisture. I also appreciate the more compact sizes and that the containers stack and wash nicely.
We began using glass food storage containers for produce, meal prep, snacks, and leftovers quite a few years ago, and I continue to heart them just as much today. I look for containers with snapping/locking lids, and they do such a great job maintaining freshness. The biggest perk is that the containers last forever (haven't had one break on us yet). They also wash beautifully each and every time, no more worrying about trapped food smells or red stains. Finally, many glass storage containers can quickly and easily go straight from the fridge to the oven or microwave without dirtying another container for cooking.
We use two types of containers for snack prep each week. And although both are still plastics, they have cut down on our single-use plastic usage significantly. Each week I do a lot of snack prep for our family which includes peppers, cucumbers, berries, grapes, peas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, etc... These small reusable bags (8 oz) and these stackable containers (20 oz) have both done a great job in getting our snacks through the week while remaining portable for quick grab-and-go moments. A bonus is they are both dishwasher safe, and can also also be used for dry snacks like nuts, granola, pretzels, and crackers.
Why I Love These:
Shoe boxes are another one of those containers that will remain versatile around your home year after year. They are ideal for corralling and categorizing a variety of smaller items in any space. The lids allow them to stack, which is generally a perk for making the most of vertical shelf space. Just be careful, stackable containers are only beneficial when they aren't being used on a daily basis.
Versatile Ways to These Containers:
Shoe boxes work best in cabinets and closets to manage and separate a variety of items. We also like to use them in our garage and storage room on shelves for managing tools and hardware. Here are just a few ways these boxes can work some storage magic:
Small Toys Medications/First Aid Small Tools Hardware for window treatments, furniture, hooks, spare parts, etc...
Craft Supplies Pet Supplies
Candles Party Supplies/Entertaining Accessories Travel Toiletries Nail Polish/Care
Car Kits Essential Oils
Why I Love These:
These drawers can store all of the same things as shoe boxes, but they keep things much easier to access. You can stack them, but you don't have to remove anything to access the contents inside. I prefer to spend a little more on storage drawers (vs. shoe boxes) when organizing high traffic areas.
Versatile Ways to These Drawers:
Under the kitchen sink for scrubbers, sponges, dishwasher pods, dishcloths/rags, soaps... In an office/craft room for small supplies. In a linen closet for medications, toiletries, and pet supplies.
Under the bathroom sink for toiletries/feminine products (not just for yourself, but to keep items divided by person also).
Why I Love These:
Drawer dividers are to drawers what bins are to closets and cabinets. They are a really great way to categorize and separate items, while ultimately preventing jumbled and tangled messes. Opening a divided drawer should allow you to quickly see and access exactly what you are looking for, and will also cause a pause-and-think-moment when putting things away. I have tried a few types of organizers over the years, but there are a select few that I continue to come back to time and time again due to their versatility, sizing, and cleanliness.
Office | Bathroom | Junk Drawers:
I have two favorites for these types of drawers: acrylic and rubber-coated options. Both can easily be removed and washed, both have a variety of size offerings to mix and match and create endless configurations, and both are priced fair due to the longevity and flexibility they offer. Acrylic gives a bonus of seeing through to a pretty liner, but you really can't go wrong with either.
Cooking utensils come in a wide variety of sizes, so I like to look for organizers that offer at least a 14" long option which should accommodate most turners and spoons. We have been known to create custom DIY dividers for most of our utensil drawers, but another great option I have been recently using on some projects are the expandable dividers.
(These bamboo expandable dividers from Target fit IKEA kitchen drawers beautifully.)
These drawer organizers are spring-loaded and can quickly divide drawers in half, thirds, fourths... whatever you like! I have become such a superfan, and although I was skeptical if they were worth the investment, I can officially say that they are.
Again, two favorite methods for organizing clothing drawers that both work so dang well I couldn't name a favorite from the two.
One way I tackle clothing drawers it to look for soft-sided boxes, which are the ideal for the filing method while also creating general categories for pajamas, long-sleeves, short sleeves, socks, undergarments, leggings, tanks, etc...
Another way is to divide from front to back by creating channels to hold folded/filed clothing in place. We have DIY'd this method in the past here, but you can also use the longer spring-loaded options for an immediate solution.
Why I Love These:
The storage flexibility that these boxes offer is similar to that of a shoebox, but they are pretty enough to double as display/shelving accessories. They completely conceal the clutter while keeping things accessible in a decorative way. These are especially ideal on open shelves/closets but are flexible enough to work just about anywhere.
Versatile Ways to Use These Boxes:
Office Supplies Crafting Supplies Batteries Documents/Paperwork
Awards/Ribbons/Metals Memorabilia Tech/Cords Photos Entryway clutter
Media (DVD's, home videos, etc...)
Clothing Accessories: belts, scarves, clutches, etc...
Why I Love These:
Another beautiful but practical piece of storage is an oversized lidded basket. Storage definitely has to be functional first, but when it is attractive? Such a bonus! Woven baskets are extremely timeless, so you can invest once and expect to keep the basket until the end of time. Especially oversized lidded options which look great in any room while fully concealing bulkier items.
Versatile Ways to Use Oversized Lidded Baskets:
Bedrooms: They make the perfect hamper as they trap any smells while concealing the visual laundry mess.
Living/Family Rooms: They are ideal for concealing bulky toys, blankets, and throw pillows.
Bathrooms: They work well for holding clean or dirty linens.
Entryways: They can conceal shoes, pet supplies, winter gear, or handbags.
Home Office: Decoratively stash away bulky supplies like camera gear/lighting, work totes, crafting tools, gift wrap supplies, and unsightly small electronics.
Why I Love These:
Anytime space can be maximized, I am an instant fan! Walls and doors are commonly underutilized potential, and door organizers (which can generally be installed on walls as well) create a lot of storage something out of nothing.
Versatile Ways to Use Door Organizers:
Kitchen: Pantry doors are eager to party with jars, cans, bottles, boxes, snacks, and spices.
Family/Media Room: Add a door organizer to manage technology components, controllers, cords, batteries, photo albums, small games, and media cases.
Entryway: Maximize the back of the door with storage for hats/mittens, shoes, handbags, pet supplies, keys, wallet, sunglasses, and even a mail dropzone.
Bedrooms: Install a combination of hooks, baskets, and rails to organize shoes, accessories, jewelry, and hang outfits. Works for folks of all ages!
Bathroom: The back of the door is a great place to organize paper products, toiletries, washcloths/handtowels, and tub toys.
Laundry Room: Door organizers can be loaded with sponges, cleaners, stain removal products, paper products, rags, lint rollers, trash bags, light bulbs, and so much more!
Storage Room: Project and paint supplies fit perfectly inside of door rack baskets. Keep all of your paintbrushes, deglossers/thinners, rollers, sanding blocks, caulk, rags, drop cloths, and spackle in an easy-to-gather-but-doesn't-take-up-a-lot-of-space location.
Home Office/Craft Room: Gift wrap organizers are all of the rage, and rightfully so! We have all scrambled to put together a last-minute gift, and having everything in a single location behind the door takes away a bit of that panic. Or maybe you don't have a full office and need to organize your supplies, ink cartridges, reams of paper, crafts, etc... in a compact way (or you just prefer not to see all of that).
What kind of organizer doesn't talk about good, old fashioned woven baskets? I have grown to prefer natural baskets far more than any other finish for a few reasons, many that have already been discussed above. Traditional and timeless? Check. Versatile? Check. Textural and beautiful? Check. I still have woven baskets from when we built our home almost 18 years ago because I continuously move them around and find new uses for them. They are made to last from natural material. And did I mention they will always look good? OK then.
I find myself consistently heading to the same places to seek out the best deals and the nicest looking baskets. You can rarely go wrong by heading to HomeGoods/Marshalls/TJMaxx in terms of sizing, variety, and prices. Target always has really substantial, beautiful options, but can be a little more expensive. Pottery Barn and Container Store also have really lovely solutions, so when they have good coupons or sales, I pounce. And of course, you can never go wrong with the BRANÄS baskets from IKEA. The smaller size fits on most cabinet and bookcase shelves, while the larger size is a wonderful match to many of the modular units sectioned by squared openings.
I seemed to have taken a note from The Lorax because this post just kept biggering and biggering as I wrote it. I also love that the more images I sifted through, the more I saw many of these same products on repeat inside of drawers, closets, and cabinets. Each and every one of these storage solutions has been tested by me multiple times over the years, and receive my super-sized stamp of approval.
I also hope that this post was able to give you new ideas for reusing storage you may already have on hand. Versatile should always be the name of the storage game! #CraftRoom #Kids #Bedroom #Bath/Linens #Office