6 Simple Solutions for Organizing on a Budget

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Walking into a messy house at the end of a long day can be just as stressful as trying to find the time to clean it. However, there are easy ways to ditch the clutter in your home that are quick, inexpensive and practical for any household. Once you establish a good organizational system, keeping mess out of sight and off your mind becomes effortless. While it may seem like an insurmountable task, here are a few tips to help get you started:

  1. Use shelves and hooks to maximize wall and floor space. Most rooms of the house have their own collection of space-consuming junk. A simple wall-mounted shelf costs around $10 and provides a large enough area to store miscellaneous items in various locations. Hooks and pegs offer an alternative to that chair in the corner that slowly collects piles of clothes and used towels. Over-the-door hooks come in handy for bathrooms and closets. Affordable alternatives to real metal hooks can be found in the drugstore for around $8, and come in a variety of finishes to match your décor.
  2. Only buy storage that's easy to access. The most readily available form of household storage is the dreaded plastic bin. These are cheap (around $10) and offer the type of ample, stackable storage that may seem appealing. Unfortunately, they're also completely impractical. In addition to being bulky, plastic bins are cumbersome to take down and reopen. Try using plastic slide-out drawers instead; they cost about the same, and are much easier to use. Avoid under-the-bed storage bins, as well. They tend to get stuck, run into walls and furniture, and generally make it an even bigger hassle to retrieve your stored items.
  3. Take your laundry storage seriously. Perhaps more than anything, an abundance of dirty laundry can quickly become overwhelming clutter. If you live in a household of three or more people, then it's probably an everyday struggle just to figure out what is what. Try getting everyone in the house to begin sorting their laundry into three bins: colors, whites and delicates. You can use lightweight plastic baskets for around $8 each. Make sure no one let's their baskets get too full, or spill over. When the time comes to carry your clothes to the laundry room, utilize the durable plastic baskets. Collapsible hampers tend to do what they do best - collapse - leaving your clothes sprawled out on the floor once again.
  4. Let your furniture multitask. Avoid spending money on extraneous storage containers, and let your furniture do the work for you. Place a bench with a foldout lid in the hallway to store sports equipment, dog leashes and other items that you're likely to grab on the way out the door. A coffee table with drawers is great for holding books, board games and other family room favorites. Even foot stools and ottomans can provide additional storage space for common household items. Having seating that doubles as storage is especially beneficial when you entertain guests. Not only will you have enough seating for all your guests, but your mess will be virtually undetectable.
  5. Maintain countertop appearance. Countertops have the tendency to become completely covered in the aftermath of daily activities. Quite often, a messy countertop can make a room appear more disorganized and poorly tended to than it actually is. Set up rules for yourself. Only allow certain items to remain permanent countertop fixtures. If you use something daily, then it makes sense for it to be stored on the countertop where it is easily accessible. If you use something less than once a day, then consider storing it in a box or a drawer where it is hidden from view, but is easy to get to. Store infrequently used kitchen appliances in cupboards and closets. If you're tight on cabinet space, then get rid of single-use or worn-down tools like that food processor you never use, or that appliance you bought from a late-night infomercial.
  6. Avoid storage units. They are expensive and unnecessary, and chances are that if you're locking something away in a storage unit, then it's not something you need. It's not a bad idea to store a few large pieces of furniture in a storage unit during a time of transition, but try to resist using them as clutter keepers. If you can bear to live without something for months at a time, then you might want to consider selling it or donating it to a local charity.

Smart storage can be accomplished on any budget. Hardware stores carry the same organizational products as high-end home stores and boutiques at a fraction of the cost. Good organization starts early on; it's much easier to maintain your home's appearance and functionality if you implement these techniques before clutter accumulates and takes over. But it's never too late to start. Focus on organizing one room in your house at a time, to make the task less daunting. Enjoy discovering hidden treasures, and hidden space.

Last Updated: January 20, 2012
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About Chanti Burnette Chanti was a freelance writer for IdealHomeGarden.com.

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