If you want to get organized, you need a place to put your stuff.
It’s a simple truth, but one that can get overlooked when you’re in the middle of a decluttering or home organization project. Very few of us live in homes with enough built-in storage to provide a place for everything we use. So, even after you’ve thrown away and donated enough stuff to fill a moving truck, chances are your counters, cabinets and closets are still full of items that need permanent homes. That’s where storage containers come in.
Storage containers are one of the keys to successful home organization. Well-designed containers not only provide places for belongings to go, but also they make putting things away a more enjoyable – perhaps even fun – experience. This makes it more likely that you and your family will stick to your organization plan in the long term.
Despite the obvious benefits of storage containers, few of us really have as many as we need. Attractive storage containers can be expensive, and if you’re looking at organizing several rooms at once, the costs can really add up. Many of us shy away from spending serious money on something that, no matter how thick the plastic is or how nice it looks, is essentially just a box.
Some people also worry, not unreasonably, that when they buy storage containers, they’re adding to their already lengthy list of possessions. It’s hard not to wonder if your storage containers themselves will eventually join the list of objects that need to be organized and put somewhere else.
The solution? Build your own storage containers. Creating DIY storage solutions is fun and easy, and it can save you a significant sum of money. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money on organizing products,” says organization expert Alejandra Costello of Alejandra.tv. “You can just get creative, think outside the box, and still get organized.”
In fact, DIY storage containers have several benefits over the store-bought kind.
- Cost: If you’ve shopped for storage containers recently, you probably experienced serious sticker shock. Those boxes, bins and crates often cost more than the stuff you’re planning to put inside them. The materials needed for DIY containers, on the other hand, usually cost a few dollars or less.
- Customization: When you build containers yourself, you can tailor them to your exact needs. From size to color to shape to materials, your containers are sure to suit your style because you made them yourself.
- Simplicity: When you build storage containers from things you already have around the house, you avoid bringing new items (in the form of store-bought containers) into your home, and you make use of things that might otherwise clutter up your home.
- Fun: Building DIY storage containers is a fun project, and it’s easy to get kids involved. As a bonus, if kids participate in making a container, they’re more likely to use it when it’s done!
Ready to get started? Here are six tried-and-true ideas to get your DIY storage project off to a successful start.
Fabric-Covered Storage Boxes
We’ll start with the all-time champion DIY storage solution: the fabric-covered cardboard box. You can pay anywhere from $10 to $50 for a similar box in a store, or you can create one yourself for next to nothing. If you need multiple boxes (and chances are you do), the savings can really add up.
To get started, choose a clean, sturdy cardboard box that’s approximately 12 inches on each side. You can certainly use a larger or smaller box if you prefer, but smaller boxes may not be as useful, and larger ones can become unwieldy once they’re filled with stuff.
Next, choose a piece of fabric to use as a covering. If you don’t have spare fabric at home, you can pick up a yard of nice-looking material at a fabric store for just a few dollars. The fabric should be slightly more than three times as long and wide as your box. For instance, if your box is 12 inches on a side, use a square of fabric that is slightly more than 36 inches on a side.
Once you have your materials, gather your fabric glue and scissors, and set yourself up in a large, flat work area. If your box has lid flaps, cut them off using a box cutter or sharp scissors. Then, using the same process you’d use to gift-wrap a present, cut and fold the fabric to fit the sides of your box. You can use spray craft glue to attach the fabric directly to the outside of the box, or use standard fabric glue to attach upper edges of the fabric to the inside of the box.
If you want to create lidded storage boxes, check out these fabric covered shoeboxes at Iron and Twine for inspiration. Prefer one with handles? Give this fun project from Handimania a try.
Lightbulbs are tricky when it comes to storing them effectively; the boxes they come in tend to be hard to open and close, and they don’t always do a great job of protecting the bulbs from damage.
This great lightbulb storage idea comes from Alejandra Costello. She used a plastic storage bin (the kind many of us have just sitting around) and glued Styrofoam cups to a piece of cardboard in the bottom. One of the many advantages of this DIY organization idea is that you can store different-sized lightbulbs all in the same container.
If you already have Styrofoam cups and a plastic box (a cardboard box would also work well), this is a storage solution you can create for nothing at all. Even if you need to buy the materials, your total cost should be $5 or less.
If you have kids, you probably have game pieces all over your house. You probably also have plenty of empty baby wipes boxes; they’re the sort of thing many parents set aside, thinking they’ll be able to find another use for them eventually. If so, you’ve found that second use!
This brilliant idea comes from Sandra at Jazzie and Tahlia. She noticed that the boxes from her kids’ favorite games were starting to fall apart, making it difficult to keep the pieces together, so she put each game into a small plastic bin, cut the labels from the broken boxes, and attached the labels to the bins.
Sandra says the new solution is a big improvement over trying to repair the old game boxes. “The games are easy to find in our sea of other games, they are protected, and everything we need to play is in the container,” she says.
Hanging Storage Bins
One of the biggest challenges in home organization is finding ways to keep things in place while still making them accessible. You might not want your pens, notepads and other odds and ends sitting on your desk or countertop, but you also don’t want to have to dig through a closet and open a storage box each time you need one of them.
Hanging storage bins offer ideal solutions to this dilemma. The items you use every day will be right at hand, and they’ll add a little extra visual interest to your home rather than cluttering it up.
Check out these ingenious hanging bins from Ashley at Make It & Love It. She simply attached some knobs to painted wooden boards and used them to hang storage bins made from repurposed disinfectant wipes containers.
This is another established DIY storage solution. You can create a convenient, easy-on-the-eyes place for small objects like buttons, nails, or paper clips by attaching small jars to the undersides of shelves or cabinets. The jar lids are bolted (strong glue would also work) to the underside of the shelf, and you can remove and replace the jars with a simple twist of your wrist.
Jess at Craftiness is not Optional has a great tutorial for this project, and she says she was able to complete it for just $2.50. These DIY storage jars are a perfect addition to a craft room, workshop, office, or even kitchen and can be conveniently placed under shelves of any size.
Here’s another smart idea from Alejandra at Alejandra.tv. Rather than letting your gift-wrapping ribbons get tangled together, use a small shoebox and a bamboo skewer to create a convenient, easy-to-use storage container. When you poke holes through the front and pull the ribbons through, the box also serves as a ribbon dispenser, so you’ll never even need to take the ribbon spools back out.