Five Dollar Decor - Organizing

Organizing is simultaneously my favorite and least favorite thing. I love to sit down and organize things. I hate and am terrible at keeping them that way.

I'm often struck by the huge change that can be made in a space by doing very little. This week, I'm going to continue with the getting ready for the new year theme by talking about some quick and inexpensive ways to make dramatic changes in cluttered spaces around the house.

1. Use a Hanging Shoe Organizer

...and I don't mean for shoes. We have a shoe rack in our front closet that my mother-in-law gave us. Because we tend not to buy shoes unless we have a repeating need which none of our current pairs can fill, all the shoes we wear can fit on that one rack with a couple of spots left over.

We also have a hanging shoe organizer in our bedroom closet. After months of being frustrated by overstuffed dresser drawers, socks on the floor, and sweaters taking up most of the hanger space we had, I hung an organizer in our closet. Ours has several sizes of compartment, some larger and some smaller. In half the smaller compartments, I tuck all of Mr. Scrimp's clean, matched socks, and in the other half I put all of his folded undershirts. The larger compartments are big enough to hold sweaters, either rolled or folded.

Organizers run the gamut in both price and quality. Ours was from Bed Bath & Beyond and cost about $15 (I already had it on hand, it was a gift), but I've used the cheap ones in the past in the same way and had no problems. You could try using this one from, which is only $4.99.

2. Sort Your Mail

Mr. Scrimp and I throw our mail into a basket on a small table,and it inevitably ends up in a pile that needs to be sorted through before bills can be paid or letters can be read and replied to. Apartment Therapy suggests buying a small plate rack/organizer and sticking it on your desk or front table to hold letters. Because it's designed to hold plates, it will hold larger, sturdier envelopes just as well as small ones.

The photo at Apartment Therapy uses a $10 rack from the Container Store, but you can get a similar one from Ace Hardware for $4.58.

3. Bottle Things Up

I spent four hours today deep-cleaning our house. I scrubbed floors, sorted papers, reorganized things, and wound up, like I always do, with little piles of things that don't really have a specific place to go--pins, thumbtacks, twist-ties, spare buttons, and the like.

I also have, in my medicine cabinet, a fairly large assortment of accumulated pill bottles, most of which have one pill left over from treatments finished or forgotten, painkillers unneeded, or cough medicine gone bad. I'm heading to the craft store tomorrow or Monday to pick up a couple of sheets of scrapbook paper and put into practice this fabulous idea over on Curbly, which involves covering prescription bottles with scrapbook paper and nice labels, and using them to hold all those little odds and ends that don't have any other home.

Even if they just end up back in a junk drawer or stowed on a shelf, I'll know where to find those things the next time I need them, and where to put them the next time I go on a cleaning jag that turns up half a pound of doodads that I have no home for but can't throw away.

And, as an added bonus, all those prescription bottles that I never throw away will also get sorted and dealt with!

4. Boxes in Kitchen Cupboards

I will admit, there is one exception that I allow when it comes to our rule about never storing food in plastic. We have a very small closet/pantry space for our dry goods, and for quite some time it was a horrific mess. Things were sorted more or less by category of food (baking, canned goods, spices, etc.) but the shelves, while narrow, are deep, and every time we cooked we ended up making a mess of things that, more often than not, never got cleaned up. After a while we were just tossing things on top of other things and it was a disaster.

Then I remembered that I had a couple of plastic shoebox-sized totes from my dorm room days that were sitting unused in our guest room. I recruited them for kitchen duty, spent 45 minutes reorganizing, and ended up with a closet that was unrecognizably different from its former self.

This is a great way to bring an immediate visual change to a small pantry space while also organizing it for easy access to whatever it is you need at the moment. With all your spice jars in one box, all your teas in another, a third holding bags of flour and sugar, and so on and so forth, you'll not only be able to locate all your food, but you'll be able to fit even more inside.

My boxes are Rubbermaid that I think I picked up at CVS a few years ago. I also recommend these ones from The Container Store, at $1.29 apiece.

5. Creative Shelving

Our lack of shelf space isn't just a problem in the pantry. With the exception of our kitchen, which has far more shelving than it ought to have given its tiny size, Mr. Scrimp and I can never seem to find enough shelves to hold all of our books and knicknacks. The next time I find a guitar case at a thrift store, I'd really like to have Mr. Scrimp bolt it to the wall in our guest room so that I can turn it into a bookshelf like the one pictured here, which was a project featured on RecyclArt. Seriously, how completely cool is that? (Come to think of it, I might have mentioned this on the blog before. I just continue to think it's an incredible idea.)

If nothing else, I feel like this should inspire you to look at objects around your home as having new potential to become an organizational aid, and you'll end up with a house that is clean, decluttered, organized, and ready for a new year to begin.


  1. I used the baskets that held cookies at our wedding reception to organize our pantry today! All of our loose baking goodies - chocolate chips, many kinds of nuts, etc. - went into one, and onions and potatoes into another, because onions seems to peel all over the place of their own volition. I was very pleased with the start I got, and happy you've inspired me to more!

    I have a project in French General Home Sewn that's shoe organizer inspired. Have you seen this book? It is eye candy for the home.

  2. I love the idea of using a guitar case as a book shelf. I would never think of that. You've inspired me to look for alternative objects to turn into shelving.



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