Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Dollartree Home Organization Project

Everyone who knows me knows I am disorganized. It's always been a struggle for me. Once I had kids, it was like GAME OVER. I pretty much threw in the towel over the past few years. I'm not entirely sure what switch was flipped. Maybe it was the fact that we couldn't sell our house and somehow have to manage to fit eight people in a three bedroom, one bath house. Something had to give.
Seventy years ago, it wasn't totally insane to have this many people in this small of a home. It was pretty common place. What changed? The amount of stuff people today manage to accumulate is staggering. The only way to make our home situation work is to get rid of stuff and find better ways to store the stuff we do have.
To make things more fun? I have to do it on a budget fit for a church mouse.

One of the first steps to do this was to figure out what worked for me. I had people come in to my home and help me organize before but it never lasted. The things they did just didn't work and before too long, it was back to the disorganized and cluttered disaster it was before. I started watching Hoarding: Buried Alive. It's terrible to admit this, but I saw myself in some of those people. It would be so easy for me to be a hoarder. When I really connected with someone, I paid attention to what the psychologist said and what tips really seemed to work.
And what really worked for me? I need to have a visual space for things. And it can't move. Nobody can touch it. I feel almost like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. I needed to make sure things went where they belonged. Every item had to say "That's my spot." And no one is allowed to change it. Everyone else in the family needs to adapt to ME. Harsh? Sure. But it's working.

After that, it was a matter of using what I had and keeping other organizing purchases to a minimum.
Almost a decade ago, I got on this kick of organizing with metal cubes. It was all the rage in scrapbooking circles. It didn't work for me. Yet my hoarding tendencies took over and I still held on to those crazy cubes! Finally, I found a use for them...in my laundry room!

Each one holds sheets divided by size. Not pictured in this is the milk crate holding flat sheets and a plastic basket holding all the pillow cases. On top of this set up, I store blankets. I am trying to use as much space as I can and have it divided up with purpose.

One of my biggest splurges for organizing was a $40 cube system. Initially, I neatly folded all of my fabric and placed it on the shelves. It didn't take long for it to look like a complete disaster. And if it's visually a disaster, it wasn't going to help me keep things in it's proper place. That's when I stumbled upon my organization gold mine: The dollartree baskets. They were the perfect fit for the cube system and much less expensive than the equivalent from the big stores...we're talking $1 vs $9.

Tell me that isn't a brilliant way to store fabric? Everything is grouped according to type and I have a spot for my scraps.
Needless to say, these baskets have found use in various places around the house! They come in many different sizes and shapes. The largest are perfect for toys and for DVDs and BluRay movies!

The smaller ones have been perfect for my miscellaneous sewing supplies, like serger threads, zippers, ribbons, and general sewing catchall.

I've also placed them on my kitchen bookshelf to hold magazines, cookbooks and "junk drawer" stuff. Ahhh...it's so nice to have all that stuff hidden away!

In total, I've organized things around the house for about $60! I still want to get more of these baskets. I can see so many uses for them. I really wish they held the printer paper. But I can deal with that.

Another great repurposing was a three drawer plastic storage unit. Each drawer holds a different shaped plastic lid. Round or square. The bottom drawer is for potatoes and onions. :) Lunch boxes are stack neatly in the large basket where I used to store the lids.

I really feel like I'm finally getting the upper hand over the organization deficits that come with ADD. Victory at last!


  1. Oh, I like those green stripe bins there. Are they canvas like?? I might have to check out our dollar store to see if they have things like that--- in the past they didn't. They had plastic baskets that were very tempting. I got a few and use them for wet washclothes and things on my top step to the laundry so the wet things don't accumulate (or get set on the floor or carpet). They break to easily for storage bins but work for this.
    Another thing I found at Target or Kmart for under $10 was a nice canvas hanging system that you velcro to a hanger bar in a closet. They go down almost to the floor with 4-6 compartments. Very useful to store items in the closet or even for kids that need a M-Sunday clothing station, or I suppose if each person gets a section too.
    Hmmm, I found these for less, but this is the main idea: http://www.target.com/Household-Essentials-Hanging-6-Shelf-Organizer/dp/B000CEG61G/ref=sr_1_21?ie=UTF8&searchView=grid5&qid=1274226122&frombrowse=0&fromGsearch=true&node=1038576|1287991011&keywords=hanging%20shelves&searchSize=30&id=Household%20Essentials%20Hanging%206-Shelf%20Organizer&searchBinNameList=purchasing_channel%2Csubjectbin%2Ctarget_com_age%2Ctarget_com_gender-bin%2Ctarget_com_character-bin%2Cprice%2Ctarget_com_primary_color-bin%2Ctarget_com_size-bin%2Ctarget_com_brand-bin&searchNodeID=1038576|1287991011&searchRank=target104545&sr=1-21&searchPage=1
    We are moving to a bigger house and I want to try to organize and get everything in its place.
    The great thing about small houses is there is less space to fill and less space to clean!
    Thanks for the great ideas. Jessica

  2. yes they are canvas baskets! We tried those canvas hanging systems, but they didn't hold up well enough for my big kids. I've got to freecycle the ones we have.

  3. i love dollar tree! i wish ours had the stripey baskets - those are too cute! i also see myself in the hoarders on tv - but i love it when everything is neat and organized. i just can't seem to keep it that way. i blogged about trying to organize my fabrics last year:

    the containers being different sizes has bugged me ever since i did that.. maybe i'm the OCD housewife?

    (but the tall one is PERFECT for patterns)

  4. I'd love to see more pics!! great job!

  5. I dig those bins!

    I have the opposite problem - I try to be so minimalist (plus I'm a bit perfectionist/OCD) that I throw things away too soon and then regret it.


Thanks and have a great day!