Purge and repurpose: 3 free storage hacks

Joan Fieldstone

April 26, 2016

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: Interior Home ImprovementInterior Design

When you've got a micro-thin budget but you can't resist the "urge to purge" your cabinets and reorganize, think "repurpose" instead of "purchase."

Here are a few free storage hacks that repurpose the very things you were about to toss in the trash as useless clutter. You can press them into service as storage solutions after some minor adjustments.

1. Spice bottles

Go through your spice cabinet and empty expired or questionably ancient spices, but don't throw out all of the nice glass bottles. Clean them, peel the old labels, then save and amass enough matching empties of only one style so you can store all of your spices in uniform bottles for more elegant storage. Create new labels or put a band of chalkboard paint on each so you can easily change the spice names and dates on the bottles when you refill them. Then you can buy any brand or style bottle of spices and transfer the contents into the matching bottles. They'll fit better on the rack or in a drawer or cabinet. You can even buy bulk spices and not have a bunch of funky plastic bags with who-knows-what kind of herbs piled up in the back of the drawer. If you work with beads or other small items, the bottles you don't keep for spices can come in handy for storing them.

2. Interesting glass jars

Clearly, (pun intended) you don't need to save every pickle and olive jar that crosses your path. They do not all qualify as "interesting," but if you want to safely store foods you need to keep dry and bug-free or display small items like shells, stones or marbles - not to mention nuts and bolts -- they come in very handy. Unlike yogurt or cottage cheese containers, they allow you to immediately see what's inside without removing the lids. They also clean up well. You can also, if you're crafty, cut the threaded tops off and transform them into elegant open containers. Or leave them intact, spray paint them, group them together, embellish each one with different baubles, ties and tassles, fabric, stencils, etc. and use them to store your makeup brushes and nail files in the vanity area or writing implements at your desk. When you're finished selecting the serviceable ones, throw the rest in recycling because in no time at all there will be another mayo jar to replace the one you just tossed.

3. Shoe boxes

Do you store your shoes in the cardboard shoe boxes they came in? Don't, because you will forget to wear them. Use any means possible -- and there are plenty of great shoe storage solutions -- to display them. The boxes and their lids, however, can be cut up to make free (and very customizable) drawer dividers for items like socks and lingerie. If that seems too mundane to put next to your lacy unmentionables, cover the cardboard with scraps of unused fabric or wrapping paper or even washi tape. If you plan to keep anything in the remaining empty boxes, by all means, decorate and label them. Otherwise, recycle.

Make it a habit to frequently -- at least once a month -- survey your stash of empty plastic, cardboard, and glass containers. I live alone, and even I get a sizeable stash of them if I don't relentlessly throw them away. If you've got a family, you're quickly drowning in them. Nevertheless, if money is tight, you can put a few of them to good use.

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