Saturday, April 10, 2010

Storage solutions: They aren't what you think

Going Green Mama is the first to admit she may not have a clean home. Ever.

Organizational systems. If you've found one that works for you, great. For me, I've found my ever-evolving life has meant I'm struggling to keep on top of the changes.
What worked during apartment life failed in my first house. The systems I used in my first home didn't work in our second. Toss in a child or two, college, you name it. I find I'm continually having to reinvent myself. And, along with it, how I use the things I own.

Take my curio cabinet. It's been home to VHS tapes, cassette tapes, knick-knacks, photos (and film), baby bibs and burp rags. It's latest incarnation stores my Cricut cartridges handed down from my mother. Or our child-size suitcases that are perfect for storing and toting building blocks or play dress-up clothes around the house. Or baskets that seem to reinvent their purpose on a weekly basis.

Sure, you're thinking. It's easy to find something new to put in a cabinet, or a box or a basket. It's a little more challenging to have a use for some of the other things that come to us in our lives.

Take my poor cookie jar. We got this Jayhawk jar as a gift many addresses ago. In fact, I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I'm diabetic, and at the time we were childless. Instead, it was packed away for sometime when. Flash forward a decade or so, and it's found new uses - just not what you'd expect. It became home to a host of bottle nipples and diaper bin filters for a time in our Kansas-basketball-themed nursery (quite possibly the only one in Indiana). It recently found a new life actually in the kitchen - this time to house our bags of bulk spices. Yes, the exterior may say "cookies," but it's never seen a crumb. But it's found useful work nonetheless.

Or our latest find. The garage has been the bane of our existenance, as we've yet to install the cabinetry we'd wanted to store things that truly need to stay out of reach most of the year. In the interim, we've gotten creative in how we handle things. Some of the smaller (not sharp) items have taken refuge on a discarded bookshelf from a coworker. Two little red wagons I'd found curbside a year ago with the best of intentions of repainting have found new uses holding soccer balls and other outdoor toys - in easy reach of little hands.
And just last weekend, a neighbor randomly offered us her microwave cart. I nearly said no but accepted, and am so glad I did. The old, beaten cart in a few minutes' time has become an organized home for my gardening gloves, supplies and pots that were haphazardly tossed around by my husband as he tried to find other things in our garage.
My point? As you're spring cleaning and determined to once and for all make changes in how you run your household, you might not need to make a beeline to the home improvement or container store. Or even for a resale shop, for that matter. The things that might work best for you may be right under your nose!
Have you creatively tackled a storage challenge? Share your favorite ideas that have worked for you!


concretenprimroses said...

You have definitely gotten your use out of that cookie jar!
Hmmm. Storage and picking up have always been a problem for me. (Meaning I have too much stuff and its scattered everywhere.) I recycle what I have but also tend to buy old things that I like (relatively)cheap at yard sales and flea markets and then use them.
I have my bulk spices in nicely shaped jars that were too pretty to throw out, most of them were jam or jelly, tho a few my mom gave me with spices in them when I moved out many years ago. The most commonly used 20 or so sit on an old wooden desk drawer liner (turned sideways with an additonal "shelf" added) hung to the left of the stove, next to another one with wider dividers that holds tea. I keep corks in my Memere's old bean pot which is in an old wooden open 6'h x 4'w shelf unit to the right of the stove on which I keep both decorative things and pots and pans and platters. My cookie jar which is on this shelf holds chocolate when I have some.
I keep broken up china for mosaic by color in those cheapo clear plastic containers that deli food comes in, but storage for mosaic is a work in progress.
And why do I keep corks anyway? I'm not certain. Someday someone might need them.

Green Bean said...

Great reminder to make use of what we've got and get creative. :)

Robbie said...

Hi Kathy, I saw a great idea the other day - glue two corks together as a "resting place" for a knife so it doesn't turn in the drawer. Interesting!

Wonder-ful said...

I have a similar thing with my mini-coffee canister that came with Grandpa's christmas gift one year. It has held everything BUT coffee.

I left something on my blog to show how much I appreciate reading GPB. You guys rock!


Juliana Crespo said...

Hi, I appreciate your post about storage solutions! I am constantly trying to get rid of more things because I'd rather have empty space than filled-up space. Strangely enough, just as I think we've opened up new space, we get something else that takes up that space again! Someday we'll get there ... but for now, I think I just need to be relaxed about the whole thing. We do have a 7-month old baby as well, which certainly makes it impossible to live the minimalist lifestyle (plus it wouldn't be fair to our daughter, Luna!). We'll be building our own yurt in a few months so it'll storage will definitely be an issue then ... we'll have to get real serious and get rid of things we know we'll never use! I suppose it's a process, like most everything.
On another note, come by and check out my blog if you'd like:

Daisy said...

I've been using an old rabbit hutch/ cage as a place for my gardening tools and extra pots. Each time I consider taking it apart, I remember how handy it is to have this easily accessible little sheltered area for my goodies.


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