Frugal Storage Ideas for Small Homes: Creative, 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, basement space, etc. 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 time table that will work for you and your family.
- Remember that 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.
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.
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.
- Peg boards. There are numerous options for peg board 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 in out of the way basement, attic, and garage spots 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 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 Purchase
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 a 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 web sites 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.
Storage Organizers and Other Storage Solutions You Can Make Yourself
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.
Other storage boxes (i.e. paper): If you are not interesting in sewing storage boxes, there are a number of non-sewing options out there, such as paper boxes using old Priority Mail boxes (first photo) or empty tissue boxes (second photo). 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 an existing piece of furniture into an efficient storage system: Whether or not you already have a shelf on hand that you're thinking about using for storage, hopefully this post 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.
Enjoy Style and Functionality with these Storage Systems for Kids | Pottery Barn Kids
Curtains: 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.
Where to Store
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.
Stay organized with lists of empty containers and locations of stored items.
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.
10 Life Hacks for a Clean and Organized House! | Carly Cristman
More tips from the author for organization in a small home.
- How to Make the Most of a Small Kitchen: Simple, Affordable Kitchen Solutions for Every Budget
Organize and brighten up your small kitchen space with practical solutions to create a functional yet inviting space for family and friends.
- How to Design and Lay Out a Small Living Room
Designing and laying out a compact or narrow living room presents unique challenges. Take simple tips, such as selecting small scale furniture, to transform your space with ease.
© 2012 Rose Clearfield