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Frugal and Creative Storage Ideas for Small Homes

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

Creating functional storage for a small home is simple when you're equipped with the right organizational tools.

Creating functional storage for a small home is simple when you're equipped with the right organizational tools.

Unique Organization Methods

No matter what size your house is, the process of creating functional, affordable storage solutions can be overwhelming. If you have a smaller home, the process is that much more daunting because you may not have the closets or basement space that you want. Here are a few tips to get you started before you get into the specific components of this process.

  • Don't get overwhelmed. Instead of thinking about the process of organizing your entire house at once, break the process down into steps.
  • Tackle one thing at a time. Now that you have your steps, make a plan for tackling one thing at a time. Figure out a timetable that will work for you and your family.
  • Remember, you are not alone! Many people go through this process at some point in their lives and will have to revisit it periodically to keep things working. Talk to family and friends who are also going through this for support and ideas. They may be able to give you new tips and storage solutions.
Decorate your oatmeal containers with scrapbook paper and no one will even know what they were originally.

Decorate your oatmeal containers with scrapbook paper and no one will even know what they were originally.

Re-Use What You Have on Hand

There are a number of types of containers that many people acquire on a regular basis that can be used for different purposes. This list includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Oatmeal canisters
  • Paper sacks. While these may not be a long term storage solution, they can be a great short term solution for food items and other items that you will use up. What you can't re-use you can recycle.
  • Glass jars
  • Spice jars
  • Regular grocery bags. If you freeze a lot of food items, bundling them into grocery bags by category can be a great way to organize them for easy retrieval later.
  • Popcorn tins. If you purchase Boy Scout Popcorn or popcorn gifts in large containers, save them for future storage.
  • Plastic buckets. For example, growing up my family used to save kitty litter buckets.
  • Unused shelves
  • Wicker baskets. Look for new and/or vintage baskets that fit with your home décor.
  • Old luggage/travel trunks. Decorative luggage and trunks can serve a dual purpose by storing out of season items while providing an aesthetic.
Installing the pegboard over the stove is a great space-saving option for this smaller kitchen.

Installing the pegboard over the stove is a great space-saving option for this smaller kitchen.

We use a little lazy Susan in our corner kitchen cupboard for our spices.

We use a little lazy Susan in our corner kitchen cupboard for our spices.

Other Affordable Options

Most likely for your home storage, you will not be able to use items that you have on hand exclusively. However, there are a number of affordable options out there, too.

  • Wire shelves. One popular option for kitchen, basement, and garage storage is industrial metal shelving. Consider adding casters to make your shelves mobile.
  • Metal rod and S-hooks. For example, make a functional, decorative pot rack from pipe hung from the ceiling or install piping under kitchen cabinets or in closets to store smaller items.
  • Baskets. Baskets come in many different sizes, shapes, and materials. If you don't acquire any on your own (i.e. as gifts) or find any on the cheap during thrifting tips, check dollar stores and watch for post-holiday sales at craft stores and big box stores.
  • Pegboards. There are numerous options for pegboard storage including kitchen pans and craft tools and supplies.
  • Clear plastic bins. The lids keep out the dirt and moisture while the clear sides let you view what's inside without having to open them up. These bins are perfect for basements, attics, and garages where they can be stacked.
  • Fabric. You can use fabric to hid shelves and other areas that are less organized or simply don't have doors. I've included a photo and link below for just one fabric option. Lots of curtain hanging methods work well for this.
  • Storage ottomans. My husband and I got a beautiful one from a Christmas sale. Many of them are attractive and provide easy access for living room or family room items such as blankets, toys, and games.
  • Lazy Susan. A Lazy Susan will greatly expand the storage space for corner kitchen cabinets. Consider using them for small pots and pans, pot/pan lids, spices, and small food items.
  • Hanging shoe organizers. Consider using shoe hangers on the back or front of any closet door. In addition to shoes, they are perfect for storing outerwear (mittens, hats, etc.), men's ties, craft items, and small office supplies (i.e., tape, extra staples).

Where to Find Supplies

There are any number of places where you can purchase inexpensive storage organizers, but these are some of the most popular options.

  • Dollar stores. Many dollar stores carry a wide variety of storage containers made from different materials (i.e. plastic, glass) in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Many stores have a dedicated storage container section. It's worth checking the kitchen section, too.
  • Thrift stores. Thrift stores can be hit or miss, but it's worth checking them, especially if you go regularly. Just add this to your regular hunt list.
  • Online coupons. Check websites that sell kitchen appliances and other housewares, including Amazon. Coupon-specific sites to check include RetailMeNot and DealTaker.
  • Back-to-school sales at big-box stores. Stores like Target often have back-to-school sections designed for college students. Look for deals on storage organizers there.

DIY Fabric Storage Boxes

For those of you who like fabric storage bins and boxes and are crafty, consider making your own. You can save a lot of money and will have bins that will last a long time. Additionally, making your own allows you to make the sizes that you need with the fabrics that you like instead of having to search high and low for options that will work in your home.

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Read More From Dengarden


DIY Paper Storage Boxes

If you are not interested in sewing storage boxes, there are a number of non-sewing options out there, such as paper boxes using old Priority Mail boxes or empty tissue boxes. These are a great option for craft rooms and office areas but can be used anywhere, such as in the front entryway for mail or in the kitchen for recipe storage. You can decorate them with supplies that you have on hand or leave them plain.



Customize Existing Furniture

Whether or not you already have a shelf on hand that you're thinking about using for storage, hopefully this article will get you thinking about new options for shelf storage. Consider adding baskets as this person did or using other methods for dividing up the items for easy access. A few simple decorations such as picture frames will make the shelf a part of the room instead of simply a storage unit.



Curtains on Shelves

This is just one method for hanging curtains to cover all or part of a shelf that does not have a door. The cafe curtains are clipped on each end and then put on tension rods. Many typical curtain hanging techniques will work for shelves. Scroll through the other ideas on the post linked below for more storage solutions for small bedrooms.

Do a Google image search for lots more under the stairs storage ideas.

Do a Google image search for lots more under the stairs storage ideas.

Hidden Storage in Your Home

Capitalize on areas of space that are not currently being used, especially if it is because they are inconvenient (i.e., difficult to reach). These spots are great for items that you will not use all year round, such as seasonal clothing and Christmas decorations.

  • Under beds. If you are short on closet space, consider using under-bed storage for out-of-season bedding and clothing as well as extra pillows. For other items, use labeled boxes and storage bins to organize and reduce clutter. Look for rolling bins designed for under-bed storage.
  • Corners/back of cabinets and closets. Store seasonal and infrequently used items in these hard-to-reach places.
  • Linen closets. Maximize extra space in the closets that you do have.
  • Laundry room. It's very rare that you'll have guests in this space so it can be a good storage area if there's extra room.
  • On top of cupboards. Instead of filling the tops of your cupboards with decorative items, think about ways that you can use this space functionally without creating too much clutter.
  • Under staircases. Consider installing custom-sized drawers and cabinets to store any number of items.
  • Garage/rafters. Make sure that these storage areas are secured from animals and moisture. The rafters should be reserved for infrequently used items.
  • Soffit space. This space under the stairs or ceilings can be opened in the front and finished on the inside to create new storage areas.

Pro Tip: Make Lists

Making lists of where things are stored in your home can be a life-saver when you're hunting for something specific!

You don't have to keep super detailed lists. For example, with empty containers, make a general list of items that you can add to or subtract from as your inventory changes. One item might be "spice jars" with the number available next to it. For example, with stored items, if all of your Christmas ornaments and other tree decorations and supplies (i.e., tree stand) are underneath your basement stairs, simply putting "Christmas tree ornaments, decorations, and supplies" in your "under the basement stairs" list is fine. You don't need to list all of the individual items.

More Small Home Organization Tips

© 2012 Rose Clearfield


Carol Morris on June 23, 2016:

space is precious in our apartment, so I'm always looking for new storage ideas. Thanks!

peachy from Home Sweet Home on October 03, 2014:

i really love yr ideas

lunacasinouk from UK on January 22, 2014:

I get my clear plastic bins from the Dollar store, but I'm into hoarding/organizing stuff with mason jars. Great article!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 27, 2013:

It's so great to hear that, Casey! Thanks!

Melanie Casey from Indiana on October 27, 2013:

Great, easy, affordable storage ideas that look great! Thanks for the tips!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 23, 2013:

That's great, Codebreak! Best of luck. :)

Gwendolyne Black from Erwin, TN on October 23, 2013:

Great Hub! Saved it on favorites for my new house. Starting Fresh and new with Awesome ideas!! Thanks!!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 14, 2013:

Thanks, Journey! I'm glad that you found so many ideas here that you like.

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on September 14, 2013:

Hi randomcreative, you offer great ideas here including: don't get overwhelmed, tackle one thing at a time, use the pegboards over the stove, use the curtains, and more. There are several highlights in the article that I like. Voted useful.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 05, 2013:

Yes, mason jars are very trendy right now! There are so many possibilities for them.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 02, 2013:

Glad to hear it, phtech!

Skyler Parker from Idaho Falls, ID on July 01, 2013:

Great hub! It will probably steal my wife away from Pinterest ideas and keep us busy for a while. ;)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 01, 2013:

I'm glad that you're using that idea now! Pegboards and hooks are perfect for walls in small spaces.

Rebecca Mayglothling from Binghamton NY on July 01, 2013:

I love this! I always tell people to "look up" because that was the first mistake I made when trying to work with a small space. I didn't utilize the walls. I love the pegboard/s hook idea and will definitely be using it. Thanks!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 30, 2013:

I hope that this is helpful for you, lifeintheworld!

lifeintheworld from The World on June 30, 2013:

I live in an apartment in the city - this is the story of my life! ^_^

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 29, 2013:

I hope that this helps, Diana!

Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on June 29, 2013:

There are very good ideas here. I never have anything organized like I would like it to be. Voted up.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 25, 2013:

Thanks, Hezekiah! I hope that this article helps.

Hezekiah from Japan on June 25, 2013:

Thanks for this, there are so many things that I need to get rid off but difficult to throw away were I live. Nice to have a good storage system.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 25, 2013:

Silvia, I'm glad that some of the online selling sites have worked out so well for you!

It's great to hear that, LensMan! Thanks!

LensMan999 from Trans-Neptunian region on June 25, 2013:

The storage solutions mentioned in the hub are greatly useful. They are capable enough to keep a house clean and beautiful. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful hub!!!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 10, 2013:

Thanks, Kathy! That's great.

Kathy Sima from Ontario, Canada on January 10, 2013:

So many great ideas in here. You've definitely got me thinking of some new possibilities for organizing my things. Thanks for sharing, Rose!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 18, 2012:

Thanks, Kimberly! I'm glad that you have these new resources.

Kimberly Vaughn from Midwest on November 18, 2012:

Great suggestions! I never thought about using things I already have around the house, like oatmeal containers. Very interesting!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 19, 2012:

That's awesome. :) Thanks!

Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on September 19, 2012:

I'm always raiding thrift stores for pieces like this. Great post!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 17, 2012:

Thanks so much, Carol! That's awesome. :)

carol stanley from Arizona on September 17, 2012:

lots of really good ideas. I love the recycled storage ideas. I am really getting into repurposing things I have around the house..Decoupaging coffee cans etc. Thanks for great hub.Voted UP and will share.

FrugalFatCouple from California on September 08, 2012:

Great ideas...and very frugal~!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 17, 2012:

That's great, Monica! Best of luck.

monicamelendez from Salt Lake City on July 17, 2012:

These are some really great options! I need to get more organized and this hub has helped me to see a few ways that I can. Thanks!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 23, 2012:

I'm glad that this is helpful for you, kygirl89!

kygirl89 from West Virginia on June 23, 2012:

We just moved into our house and it seems that one room has become the "anything and everything room," full of boxes and books. Thank you for the affordable organization tips.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 23, 2012:

Thanks, tirelesstraveler! Good luck with your reducing and organizing process.

Thanks, masmasika and nmdonders! I'm glad that this is helpful for you.

cherylvanhoorn, oh my! My mother-in-law is a hoarder, too, although it hasn't gotten quite that bad (yet). Hopefully yours will take to some of these ideas!

cherylvanhoorn from Sydney on June 23, 2012:

Wonderful stuff. I have a mother in law who is a hoarder and the cupboards overflow. She is also addicted to containers but does not know how to use them. Will have to implement some of these ideas.

Nira Perkins on June 23, 2012:

These are great ideas. I know they'll be helpful. Nice hub.

masmasika on June 23, 2012:

I love all these great ideas. They are very helpful. Thank you for sharing these tips. voted up

Judy Specht from California on June 22, 2012:

Loved the under the stairs photo. Great hub. In the process of reducing and organizing.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 22, 2012:

Thanks! It certainly can be, though you don't have to make your storage projects crafty.

dpsimswm from Richmond, Virginia on June 22, 2012:

This looks like a very crafty project. Nice hub.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 22, 2012:

Thanks uNicQue! I'm so glad that this is helpful for you. It's amazing how many things you can store in glass jars.

Nicole Quaste from Philadelphia, PA on June 22, 2012:

I'm a college student living in a really tiny house, in an even smaller room so this is very helpful. I love the popcorn tins and glass jars idea. I currently use small glass jars to hold my hair stuff.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 22, 2012:

Thanks jagerfoods! Do you mean IKEA? They have certainly revolutionized the concept of affordable, not ugly storage for smaller homes. I'm glad that my explanations in this article were helpful for you!

jagerfoods from South Carolina, USA on June 22, 2012:

My wife first introduced me to Akia a couple years ago. I was amazed how they could put so muchstuff into so little of space. I found your post did more then display this but went on to explain it. Wonderfully written. I'd put it at 110 personally.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 21, 2012:

Keeley and BritInTexas, thanks! I'm so glad that this is helpful for you.

BritInTexas from San Antonio, Texas on June 21, 2012:

Fantastic, well written, and a much-needed incentive for me to start organizing what little space we have! Thank you for a very informative article!

Keeley Shea from Norwich, CT on June 21, 2012:

My house is small! These are great ideas! Great Article!!

Kimberly Shelden from Idaho on June 21, 2012:

Great hub- very useful!!! I am sharing you on face Book

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 21, 2012:

Thanks glorgeousmom! I'm so glad that you can benefit from this article.

cloverleaf, that's great! It's good to get validation for many of the ideas here.

Healing Herbalist from The Hamlet of Effingham on June 21, 2012:

Great hub. I LOVE to organize, and have used many of these ideas...including the oatmeal container. I use to live in a very small apartment, and found many ways to "stretch" the space. My husband tells me I could fit a 5 room house into a 2 room Voted up and all. Thanks for a great read.

Glo L Bernadas from Philippines on June 21, 2012:

Great hub and voted up. This hub is a treasure-chest of valuable storage ideas and I'm sure a lot of people(count me in) will benefit from this. Congratulations!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 20, 2012:

Thanks T4an!

T4an from Toronto, Ontario on June 20, 2012:

Excellent hub and advice on how to organize small space. Thank you for sharing! Voted up!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 20, 2012:

Thanks handymanbill! I'm glad that this is helpful for you. I appreciate the shares!

Bill from Greensburg Pennsylvania on June 20, 2012:

Some really great Ideas. people are always asking how to get more storage. I bookmarked your page and will share thanks.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 20, 2012:

Motherbynature, thanks!

jentaylorsc, thanks! Those rolling Rubbermaid storage bins are great for under the bed storage. I know a number of people who also use them for seasonal clothing. Good luck with your house reorganization!

jentaylorsc on June 20, 2012:

I am in the process of reorganizing my house. I love using rolling rubbermaid storage bins for under my bed. They are great as they can easily be pulled out from under the bed. A lot of my seasonal clothes go there. Thanks for the informative hub. It was helpful in coming up with new ways to organize.

Liv Carradine from Los Angeles, CA on June 20, 2012:

Wow. You have a lot of great ideas.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 10, 2012:

naimishika, thanks! You're right that small places are definitely great storage options.

p10, haha thanks! I'm glad.

Abhijit Aswath from India on June 10, 2012:

This is heaven for bachelors like me :)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 09, 2012:

Thanks so much, sacramentobroker!

Daughter of Maat, that's great! Good luck with your organization and writing inspiration. :)

Mel Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on June 09, 2012:

I just bookmarked this hub, there are some AWESOME ideas I can use to organize my scrapping supplies and a wall in my bedroom. Thank you randomcreative! This hub has inspired me to get back to organizing my home! Hopefully it will help with writing inspiration too!

sacramentobbroker on June 09, 2012:

Ingenious space saving quirks. Love them all! Thank you for sharing . Great Hub.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 08, 2012:

Thanks Lisa! I hate clutter, too. Best of luck getting organized!

Lisas-thoughts101 from Northeast Texas on June 08, 2012:

great ideas. My boyfriend is a packrat and we live together. I am going to try a few of these on his stuff. I hate clutter ;) Thanks for a great hub!


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 08, 2012:

Thanks chef-de-jour! Best of luck with your move. I hope that some of these ideas will be helpful in your new place.

Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on June 08, 2012:

Clutter follows me around like a lost sheep

I wake up and find myself knee deep

What a lovely hub but too organised for me I think.... but we're moving house in a few weeks and I've got to get myself chorganised or else!

Ideas aplenty here..... surely I'll find one or two that will help ease the inevitable pain!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 07, 2012:

Thanks Jeff! Yes, for sure.

Thanks John! I'm glad. :) I am not a fan of clutter either. The Container Store is a great option. I bet that there are certain times of year, such as right before school starts, that they have good deals.

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on June 07, 2012:

Hi randomcreative, and you do justice to the philology of your name. This is a very 'random' and, 'creative' hub.

I hate clutter; I'm allergic to clutter of any kind. I live close to Beverly Hills, so I go to "The Container Store" and purchase containers of different size. I don't buy book anymore, but the one I have I store them in these containers; I own 3 of these good size containers.

Voted up


Jeff Gamble from Denton, Texas on June 07, 2012:

Great Hub - I'm a big fan of baskets and clear plastic bins - great ways to store Legos, Star Wars figures, Barbies and more

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 06, 2012:

Oatmeal containers are perfect for Legos! Good luck with your organization.

Leah Lefler from Western New York on June 06, 2012:

I need to use some of these ideas for my boys' playroom! Goodness gracious - that room could use some organization. I love the use of scrapbook paper on oatmeal containers. I could store a lot of Legos in those!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 06, 2012:

Those shoe organizers can be used for so many different items. I'm glad that this is helpful for you!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 06, 2012:

We move every few years, so I'm always looking for new organization ideas. I use shoe organizers on the back of my doors both in the kitchen and bathroom, as Peruvian homes rarely have closets. I like the idea of using cafe curtains and covering canisters with decorative paper. Your photos are great and thanks for the useful ideas!

tipstoretireearly from New York on May 19, 2012:

Creative and economical! I give this hub a vote up!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 17, 2012:

Thanks Susie! I'm so glad that some of these suggestions are helpful for you. Good luck with your storage!

susiempn from Michigan on May 17, 2012:

Loved your article, you have given me some great new tips that I can't wait to try. I live in a small house and I am always trying out new storage ideas, there never seems to be enough space.

joseph on May 05, 2012:

Fantastic And Wonderful ideas.Sharpen your brain more and get Great ideas And Keep on Sharing with us.brilliant post.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 26, 2012:

buckleupdorothy, yep, those are called armoires here. A number of people have commented on how helpful these suggestions are for those living outside of the US. We really take our large living spaces and storage options for granted here.

buckleupdorothy from Istanbul, Turkey on April 26, 2012:

Amazing, and such a help re: how to approach such a large job. No one has closets - of any kind - in Turkey (they buy armoires, if that's what they're called in English - the piece of furniture that was a large white opera-singing lady in Beauty and the Beast), and efficient/aesthetically pleasing storage has become the absolute bane of my existence.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 20, 2012:

Thanks! Sounds good. :)

rmcleve on April 20, 2012:

These tips are just amazing! I can't wait to try the oatmeal one.

am301986 from New Delhi on April 20, 2012:

Great ideas.....I will pick up lots from here... thanks for sharing... cheers :)

johnakc from New Delhi on April 20, 2012:

You are Welcome :)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 20, 2012:

Thanks Marie and John!

johnakc from New Delhi on April 20, 2012:

Lots of wonderful ideas.


Now I think that whole universe can get inside my house. Lolz.. :)

marielavina on April 20, 2012:

This is super helpful. Thanks for sharing.

(PS your Etsy shop has some beautiful items!)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisco