KEEP IT SIMPLE
Tidying expert Marie Kondo has helped many people organize their homes with her book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," which has become a New York Times best-seller. Kondo's method for uncluttering is simple: Keep the items that "spark joy," discard the rest, and then find a place to store every item. Storage can get expensive, but not with Kondo's method, which uses household items that double as convenient storage containers -- and Kondo is adamant about using what you already have. Her motto: The simpler, the better. Whether you're a devoted "Konvert" or a newcomer to the KonMari method, these ideas can make home organization efficient, creative, and cheap.
"I have tried all kinds of storage products, but have never found any other that is free and still surpasses the shoe box," Kondo writes in her book. Shoeboxes are durable, versatile, and often attractive. Use them in drawers to store socks, under the kitchen sink to hold cleaning supplies, or in bathroom drawers and cabinets for extra toiletries. They can also hold rolled-up neckties. Instead of letting the lids sit idly underneath, put them to work. Use them in the cupboard as trays for spices or sprinkles, or stick them in drawers as dividers. If you're not crazy about the design, cover them with pretty paper. Kondo recommends getting rid of labels for a cleaner appearance.
Purses and other bags can be a challenge to store, but Kondo makes it simple by putting one bag inside of another, finding the right fit for each one. For example, a clutch can go inside a larger purse. Small canvas bags, such as grocery totes, are a little different. They can be folded and stored standing in another container -- or add them to the list of items that a shoebox can hold.
The boxes that cellphones come in are great for storing small items. Kondo specifically mentions the boxes for Apple products, such as iPhones and iPods, which "are perfect for storing writing tools," she writes. They're also a good size for tea bags, sugar packets, measuring spoons, and batteries. The box for the iPhone 6S is just the right size for sticky notes. To maximize a box's potential, stand the items inside on end, rather than stacking them -- that's one of Kondo's rules for any storage container.
Leftover plastic food containers, like the ones from pre-packaged lunchmeat, can hold other foods. But they can also be used elsewhere -- such as in a crafts drawer, to store supplies such as glue-gun sticks or puff paint. Some are the perfect size to hold spools of ribbon, stood on end for at-a-glance access. They also work well for makeup, because the plastic makes them easy to clean. Use them in children's rooms to hold tiny toys, such as Barbie shoes or Legos.
With the top intact, tissue boxes can be used to store plastic grocery bags. Cutting the top off provides more possibilities. Use a tissue box to hold spice packets or medicine bottles. Fill them with office supplies or kids' craft supplies. Kondo suggests using them for storing underwear. Rolled according to her method, about seven pairs of undies fit in a tissue box.
Chocolate boxes with compartments are ideal for storing small items in drawers -- think: earrings, rings, necklaces, etc. With the compartments removed, the boxes make handy drawer dividers, much like shoe box lids, but with greater size variety. Some are large enough to hold kitchen utensils or scissors, while others are better suited to office supplies or hair accessories. The in-between sizes can be used as a nesting place for remotes. A word of warning, though: Kondo recommends staying away from oddly shaped boxes, as they waste space. Unless that heart-shaped box sparks joy, it's better to use a square one.
Old or mismatched dishes can used for other purposes beyond crafts. A pretty bowl or teacup can hold rings and other daily accessories. A mug makes a good home for writing utensils or bookmarks. A decorative plate can hold keys and other grab-and-go items.
BOXES FOR DISHES
The boxes from new dishware are often good size, durable, well-suited for storage -- for other items. Use them in cupboards to sort food items such as snacks, mixes, or baking goods. Use bigger boxes for cleaning supplies, or paper towels and toilet paper. The box's utility is determined by its size and its opening; some are simply too big or impractical for good use.
Boxes containing thank-you notes and greeting cards can be placed in desk drawers to organize tape dispensers, paper clips, or binder clips. Or use them to hold spools of thread, buttons, embroidery floss, puff paint, and other craft items. They can also organize makeup. Christmas card boxes provide safe homes for fragile ornaments.
Kondo doesn't mention the cereal-box-turned-magazine-holder, but it seems she would approve -- as long as it's tastefully done. She's an advocate of vertical storage, rather than stacks, and cereal boxes make that possible. Along with magazines, they can hold mail and homework. Cereal boxes also make good homes for coloring books -- one box for kids and one for adults.
JEWELRY BOX PARTS
Jewelry boxes can hold much more than jewelry. Try taking apart an old jewelry box and putting its pieces in drawers, Kondo says. The separated compartments can still organize jewelry but also other small, easily misplaced items, a testament that a little creativity goes a long way in the world of storage.