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Organizing Done Cheaply

Reported by Taylor Usry

Hello everyone! I know we are all counting pennies these days, especially around tax day. And we are all always on the lookout for creative ways to organize our things that don’t cost much and/or can be incorporated well with things we already have.
I recently gave up my craft room (to turn it into the new baby’s nursery), and have been working hard to not spend any money to integrate my craft stuff into my house. I had some criteria for this project — reuse or re-purpose as much as I possibly could that was already in my house (because who doesn’t love free as a price?), spend as little as possible on anything new I needed to buy, and put things in places where little hands wouldn’t be able to get to them.

Here are some of my favorite containers I use for organizing my craft supplies:
The Snapware Snap ‘n Stack line – I can’t say enough good things about these containers. I happened on the first set I bought at Costco, but they are available for purchase elsewhere. I use the extra large 3 layer square with dividers for storing 12″x12″ paper scraps, oversize chipboard embellishments, and other oversize pieces. The dividers are available for under $1. The 6 sectional dividers fit inside the medium containers and are super useful for small doodads, spools of thread, and ephemera that otherwise gets lost. My medium containers are currently stacked three high and holding a collection of Inkadinkadoo and Memory Box wooden stamps. It’s so easy to just pull the whole thing out and look to see what I want to use! Lids for these containers are available in several different colors, so the system is customizable for your taste. And the containers all fit inside of each other for easy storage (and it is great for on-the-go crafting!). The best part about this durable line of organizers? It all retails for $25 or under!


These little stackable shelving units – they are designed for tool storage and sold in the garage/automotive sections of stores. The one I’m picturing above comes from Sears, but I bought my two at Wal Mart. They are stackable (so you can add-on to them), most are wall mountable (so they don’t take up shelf or floor space), the drawers are clear so you can easily identify what’s in them (or easily label them), and they hold an amazing amount of embellishments. Mine are currently full of buttons, dew drops, brads, eyelets, chipboard letters, acrylic tags, clips, and other fun things. All of it is organized by color, and I can see right into the drawers without bothering to open them up! These are available for $20 or under too. Mine were around $10 a piece at Wal Mart. Just go to the tool or automotive section to find them!

The Rajtan spice jar 4-pack from Ikea. Well, really, I adore everything from Ikea, especially their storage options. These are spice jars, they are $.75 a piece, and they are SO useful! They tilt onto their sides or stand upright and you can fill them with anything. Mine hold Primas, ribbons, ribbon snippets (those pieces that are too long to throw away but too short to put back with the other ribbon), and other small fabric embellishments. What a great “extra” use for these.

Other cheap and useful things I love:

  • Utensil drawer organizers — excellent for sorting pens, adhesives, and tools (rulers, paintbrushes, etc.) in a small space like a desk drawer. Also, if your drawer is deep enough, you can stack them!
  • Old jars – perfect for altering and holding markers, pencils, tools and the like. I have super deep desk drawers, so I have decorated quite a few old pickle jars and separated my pens and pencils, bone folders, filing implements, etc. Just run them through the dishwasher and the labels come right off!
  • Plastic storage bins (on wheels) — can be stored in a closet and rolled out when you need them. or without their wheels, they can be placed on a shelf and hold tons of goodies! I use one to hold envelopes, items waiting to be altered, and extra large spools of ribbon
  • 4″ x 4″ chipboard coasters — I bought a large amount of these in bulk from American Coasters, which I couldn’t find when I searched for them (it’s been awhile – do you know how long it takes to go through 1000 chipboard coasters? {Editor’s Note: yes. yes I do.}). I did find Katz Americas which has similar pricing and availability. Aside from using these coasters for crafty projects, I use them to hold ribbon that isn’t on a spool. I just wind it around the coasters and tape the end in place. Then I put all of my coasters into a plastic basket inside of a drawer. Easy to see, easy to access, and cheap to do!

Okay, these are some of my favorite cheap storage solutions. And because I haven’t spent a fortune on any of it, I feel good about changing and adapting it as necessary. It was a huge relief to reorganize my craft space (translation: go from a room to a small space and need to squirrel stuff away all over the house) and not spend a single penny doing it! I was able to use things I already had – some of it I saw in a whole new light and they are now doing twice the work they were before.

What about you – what are your favorite organizational pieces that you’ve discovered? What have you tried that hasn’t worked? Please share your thought and ideas with us!

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5 Responses to Organizing Done Cheaply

  1. Avatar
    Sue April 15, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    Pegs! I got some to tidy up my scraps of ribbon. Wrap the ribbon round and clip the end….then they stack up nice and neat!
    I wish the rest of my stuff was as neat! not even close!!!! 🙂

  2. Avatar
    kate April 19, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    I reuse those square Rice Containers that are clear and have a twist on lid to store my ribbons,flowers and buttons. Then I tie a string around the top, add a paperclip, and had those guys off some chain or my window curtain!So cute!

  3. Avatar
    kate April 19, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    I reuse those square Rice Containers that are clear and have a twist on lid to store my ribbons,flowers and buttons. Then I tie a string around the top, add a paperclip, and had those guys off some chain or my window curtain!So cute!

  4. Avatar
    cgl1539 April 24, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    I have two 3 shelf bookshelves. I bought 1.50 shoebox size containers at walmart. I can fit 4 per shelf. They are see through and I can organize all my adhesives in one, glitters in another etc. Next I am getting a label maker so it will be even easier to grab the right container. Added benefit, my cat cant get into them to steal stuff. I also have a small 3 drawer bin and a tall 7 drawer bin. They are all organized with more stuff. I love the three deep drawers on the 7 drawer bin, for scraps, stickers, and rolls of paper. I have a cardboard display box, cut short in front, that holds my 12×12 papers perfectly. Plus tons of various old jars, coffee cans, baskets I have received gifts in with pens, markers, etc in. My favorite basket is all metal and I use it to hold items that I heat up, such as glue gun, embossing gun, small light box, then I can put them right back in it even if they arent cooled off yet. I keep all these purse size photo albums they give you when you develop pictures and I slide really tiny items into the pockets. So easy to go into them and see everything without having to dig thru a box. I keep a tote with divided sections inside, you have seen them at walmart, pink and brown things, on my desk. It has mesh outer pockets. In there I keep stuff I use everytime I craft, scissors, pencils, bone folder, craft knife. The inside is perfect for all my glues, oms, all those bottles I dont want put in anything that can tip over and spill.

  5. Avatar
    amynelco December 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    One of the best ways to keep cables and wires neat and tidy is to use cable ties. The best cable ties are industrial strength plastic and are American made. The ones that come from China and parts east can be really cheesy. I get mine at Cabletiesplus.com.