The stuff monster lives at my house.
The stuff monster likes to scatter itself all over my living room floor and pile itself behind cabinets. It likes to stack up high on top of desks and counter tops. It has a sweet way of convincing me that no, I don’t need to put it in its proper place right now. It can always wait til tomorrow… or the next day… or the next…
Honestly, I don’t CARE all that much about having a perfect house. However, what bothers me is how much stress the clutter creates and how much time I devote to dealing with it. I have animals & kids to feed, homeschool to accomplish, and music to practice. Ain’t nobody got time to wade through piles of junk all day long.
I confess- I’m not too good at keeping up on stuff and I’m not a natural-born homemaker. Surprise me by showing up at my house any given day and you’ll see what I mean.
Bottom line: I am sorely unqualified to give you any cleaning or organization advice. I stink at it. I need help.
However, I am working towards creating solutions that actually help me to function better on a daily basis. To me, that’s the best part of having a clean house.
Note: The less stuff you have, the less monstrous the stuff monster seems. Clearing out makes organizing a lot easier. Try this minimalist challenge if you’re looking for a fun way to kick-start your purging. I could stand to do it every month.
My husband, Tim, soulmate and amazing man that he is, has a mean organization game and can make a room really nice if given the time to work on it. One of my hubby’s trademarks is to re-purpose free things. What he can’t find for free, he DIY’s as cheaply as possible.
This also applies to our attempts at containing the stuff monster. I’ll show you some of the ways Tim created storage and organization solutions out of things that we already had laying around our house. You may not have all of the same things available, but hopefully this list can serve as inspiration for your own home.
I’m going to focus primarily on kid’s stuff, since that’s one of our biggest clutter culprits. However, a lot of ideas in this post could be used in any area that needs a little extra help!
Without further ado, here are some cheap or free ways to organize All the Things. (Note: Pictures are from our play/school room, and I did NOT do any special cleaning for these photos. Keeping it real, man.)
Baskets & bins: You know all those cube shelves and corresponding boxy baskets? They’re kind of pricey, aren’t they? Thankfully, you can fit things into baskets and bins of varying sizes. You are not limited to a cube. 😉 Here are some free or cheap alternatives:
- Thrift store baskets
- Homemade crates out from scrap wood or pallets.
- Re-purposed wooden bins, plastic crates, wire baskets, or any other container you can find.
In fact, it doesn’t have to be anything special. As long as it holds things, then you can dress it up as a storage basket.
Thrift store basket & old crates from my dad at the kids’ desk.
A wire basket inherited from my grandpa holds toys.
Cabinets & Shelving
Instead of buying special new cabinets for your toys, look for ways to re-purpose old furniture. Could you use a side-of-the-road bookshelf or TV cabinet for storage? How about turning a yard sale dresser into toy drawers? An old desk with drawers could become a child’s crafting supply storage and work space. Lots can be done with a little creativity.
Side of the road kitchen cupboards serve as storage cabinets for our kids’ stuff.
Storage Caddies & Containers
Who says you need specialty caddies to organize the little things? Here’s some of what we use to keep the small stuff contained.
- Old tins
- Oatmeal containers
- An old ammo box
- A mini-filing cabinet
- Wooden or metal trays (We like to re-use the wooden display cases from Melissa & Doug toys- like this one.)
A filing cabinet holding dress-up clothes.
A wall-mounted, homemade little box holds papers above the kids’ desk for easy access.
Shelving: You could buy cheap-o shelf units, but if you have access to tools you can build your own custom shelves. My husband took advantage of a little nook between our chimney and the wall to build a shelving unit for our music books.
(Sorry for the blurry photo…)
Hanging Up: Snag a pack of Command hanging strips and double your walls as art and storage space. My hubby has hung up a whiteboard, an ukulele, and a gigantic book with these things. For a few bucks, it gets the stuff off the ground and up where everyone can see it and enjoy it.
The kids’ reading and writing station. Cause who needs a perfectly white white board?
There’s lots of ways to organize things for free. What do you like to use? Share your genius in the comments!
P.S. Follow me on Instagram for a February decluttering challenge!
For more organization ideas in a variety of areas, check out these posts: