Saturday, March 5, 2011

Storage solutions: They aren't what you think

Originally published at the Green Phone Booth, April 2010

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 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!

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