By Sarah Clark, Certified Self Storage Manager
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays and celebrating New Year’s Eve recently over, many of our homes have become slightly unorganized and untidy. With new toys from Christmas, the need for extra layers to fight the cold weather and a messy kitchen from all those holiday meals, your house can begin to feel unorganized and cluttered.
If you are like me, December is a very expensive month between gifting presents, hosting dinner parties and traveling to visit family. In turn, that creates a low budget for home storage like clothing racks, cabinet and pantry organizers or even storage totes. Rather than buying new expensive things, why not use what your already have around the house to make DIY (do-it-yourself) storage? Don’t spend extra money when you already have the supplies to make your own! Not only that, making something yourself that is useful can make you feel accomplished and creative.
First let’s start with all those extra toys the kids received for Christmas, and how you can store them.
- For soft items like stuffed animals and small blankets, there are several simple DIY storage idea. For example, re-purpose that old bean bag chair by removing the filling from the cover and stuffing it with the soft toys while not playing with them. Or, if the kiddos received a bunch of new stuffed animals and other soft toys, put the old ones inside the bean bag chair for safe keeping. This way you not only stored the toys, but you can also still use the bean bag chair.
- For small to medium sized toys, you can use a hanging shoe organizer on the closet door, in the closet or on your kid’s bedroom wall. Simply fill each compartment with all types of smaller toys. You can organize them by type as well. For example; crayons, colored pencils and markers in one block, coloring books and notepads in another, action figures in yet another block, and so on.
- For bigger bulkier toys, wood crates can be stacked then either glued or screwed together to create a shelving unit. You can make a short one crate high area with three or four attached side by side. Or, you can stack them two or three crates high and two or three crates wide to create a large storage area. To give your shelves a finished look, you can stain them to match the rest of the decor, or grab the kids and have them help paint them however they want. This DIY idea can be used throughout your house for extra storage as well, giving a modern look or a classic country feel, depending on how you finish them.
Now let’s talk about all those extra layers of clothing, boots, jackets and blankets you need to fight against the cold winter weather. There are some really easy projects to tackle these.
- Snowy boots can leave a wet puddle behind, and nothing is worse than stepping in water on the floor in warm socks. Simply take an old food tray, paint it the desired color, place a hand towel on the tray to line it and fill it decorative stones. Make sure to use enough to completely cover the towel so you only see the stones. Then place your wet boots on top. The snow will melt, trickle down through the stones and be absorbed by the towel. If you notice a musty smell after a few weeks, you can simply wash the hand towel to freshen it up. When the season is over, place all the stones inside a small storage container or zipper lock baggie and keep it inside one of the boots, and place the hand towels used (after washed of course) inside the other boot. That way, they are easy to find when winter comes around again. You can even keep the painted tray under the boots or stand it up between pairs where you store them.
- At the end of the winter season, an easy way to stash all those extra layers is by repurposing an old book shelf into a pull-out drawer under your bed. Paint your old book shelf the desired color, lie on the ground face down and screw wheels to the back, one at each corner. If you can find wheels that spin 360 degrees, the new under-bed drawer will be easier to maneuver. Then screw or glue handles or knobs to one or both of the longer sides. If it’s a really long shelving unit, two handles will make it easier to roll out, especially when it is full. Make sure that you begin this project by first taking measurements of the book shelf including the wheels, and the height from the floor to the bed frame to ensure easy access and that it will fit in the available space. When your new drawer is ready to use, simply vacuum seal bags to compact together fluffy winter coats, hats and scarves. If you do not have the ability to vacuum seal your items, take time to neatly fold them and pack them into the compartments as best you can to maximize the space and fit the most items. You can also use this DIY project for everyday storage of items like extra blankets, pajamas and so forth and keep these items easy to get to all year long.
Moving into the kitchen, there are many small items like spices, utensils and recycled grocery bags that can create clutter and disorganization. These are some clever ways to handle these small items.
- If you reuse plastic grocery bags, an easy way to store them for the future is by recycling an old tissue box and stuffing the grocery bags into it for easy access. Then simply sit your tissue box plastic bag holder inside the pantry or cabinet. You can get more creative and sew, crochet or knit a cover for the tissue box to make it look nicer. If you do that you can even keep it on the counter out in the open to show off your artistic side.
- When it comes to all those spices, disorganization can happen very quickly. A simple way to organize your spices is to first separate out the ones you most frequently use like salt, pepper, cinnamon, etc. Once you decide which few spices you use the most, pour them into miniature Mason jars and write on the lid of each which spice is inside. Hang a metal cookie sheet on the inside of a cabinet either on the top or the bottom, and stick or glue a magnet on the bottom of each Mason jar. Make sure to secure the jar lids tightly and place on the cookie sheet. The magnets will stick to the cookie sheet and you will easily be able to grab the spices you need while cooking, without searching through dozens of spices. If you have a tall cabinet above the counter that you feel is a lot of wasted space, attaching the metal cookie sheet to the top so the mason jars can “hang” down will give you the most bang for your buck. You will easily be able to read the spice name on the lid, plus you will still be able to store other items in the cabinet underneath all the spice jars.
- For all those utensils, take a large metal coffee can, remove the paper label and paint and design your preferred pattern on the outside, and inside if you so desire. Then fill it with your cooking spoons, whisks and other kitchen utensils, handled down, and sit on your counter as a display piece. If painting is not your style, you could instead brush on a layer of glue and wrap the can in twine or rope for a more rustic design, or wrap it with fabric or wallpaper.
- Lack of counter space to store those utensils? By hanging a towel bar in the kitchen, you can hang your utensils by simply using utility hooks and the hole in the handles. If your utensils have a small hole in the end of the handle, you can either hang directly by those, or add a larger loop using something durable like fishing line or heavy plastic thread that can handle regularly washing.
- If your utensils do not have holes in the handles to hang from, you can glue or screw a small decorative box onto the kitchen wall in place of the towel bar, and stand your utensils inside of it handles down.
With these tips and DIY tricks, you can transform your cluttered house into an organized dream home, and be creative in the process! For the other items you just don’t have room in the house for or that are too big to store in a closet or under the bed or you are simply out of extra space, you can rent a storage unit online 24/7 or call and talk to our friendly property managers. And if you have more clever DIY ideas, please share them in the comments below.