Clutter Magnets … And, their thrifty solutions!

By Barb Tobias
NABBW’s Thrifting Expert

Think of your home as a walk in the forest. Do you walk through an orderly, sun dappled landscape covered with fern and fauna, gazing up at towering trees with playful wildlife scampering past? Or, is your walk a study in navigation … through debris, fallen trees, broken branches and tangled undergrowth?

We all want that serene, organized home that is a pleasure to walk through. However, if you are anything like me, you\’re probably suffering from an abundant collection of junk that insists on invading your spaces. I\’m talking about all those areas that somehow collect clothes, shoes, bags, keys, receipts, toys, books…you get the picture. Hang on to your tiaras ladies … there is a cure. But, there\’s also a price to pay! Yep, swallow that yucky medicine if you want to feel better about yourself, your home and your time. Realize that creating a tidy home is a paltry sum to pay considering the benefits.

Okay, you thought that this “Thrifty Diva” was simply about saving money! Ah ha! I\’m also about saving you time . . . and, maybe, just a bit of your sanity! Here are my thrifty time-saving tips that will keep you from being overwhelmed by the clutter in key areas of your home:

Entryways

When we arrive home, tired and hungry, we tend to drop our parcels at the nearest flat surface then rush off to our closest to change into something comfy, or to the refrigerator to grab a snack…all the while leaving a trail of clutter in our wake.

By taking a few minutes to stow brief cases, purses, baby items, mail and wallets in attractive storage units, strategically placed at our entryways, our access areas will always be “visitor\’ ready.

Now, when I suggest storage units, I\’m not talking about red, white and blue plastic store-alls! Think… design savvy…get creative with leather storage units, an antique armoire, a fabulous desk or a chic credenza purchased from your neighborhood thrift store.

This storage-friendly wall was done for under $100!

Before                                                                      After

Clutter Magnets … And, their thrifty solutions!Clutter Magnets … And, their thrifty solutions!

Bedrooms

    The bedroom should be a place of tranquility . . . a serene place where eight hours of every day is spent in peaceful repose. Instead, one often finds a sea of topsy-turvy items within its chaotic walls. Here are a few thrifty tips that will help to keep this area in tip-top shape:

  • Closets: Watch out! Some closets are dangerous to open for fear of getting caught in the dreaded “clothes avalanche.” Although hiring a company to rebuild closet interiors can be expensive, inexpensive organizers can be found at most home improvement centers. Build storage areas all the way to the top to store seldom used items, while creating layered hanging areas for long and short items. Finally, create low level shelving, underneath hanging areas to organize shoes and folded items.
  • Nightstands: Hit your local garage sales or thrift stores and purchase two nightstands that have one to three drawers. (Diva tip: They don\’t have to match …enjoy their unique separateness!) These will serve to organize and conceal items that detract from your bedroom\’s décor. Place your prescriptions, remote controls, flashlights, books, eyeglasses and candles within your new-to-you nightstands rather than on top or scattered around the floor. Now, decorate the tops with attractive lights, alarm clocks and the occasional vase filled with flowers.
  • A clothing stand: Since chairs and chaises become convenient repositories for hastily tossed clothes, buy a clothing stand that will hold your tired threads until the next morning. Refrain from using the reading area as a catchall for your discarded items as they can amass a mountain of clutter very quickly.
  • Drawers: somehow the old adage out of sight, out of mind applies to these sneaky disaster centers. Thrift stores abound with a myriad of drawer organizers. Grab a bunch of dividers to keep socks, underwear, sweaters, sweats, under garments, pajamas, and scarves all neatly organized.

Kitchen

People naturally gravitate to the kitchen. Not only is it the family gathering place, it\’s also a convenient dumping spot for purses, shoes, homework, art projects, backpacks, and toys and games. Reserve this collective area for preparation and meal time. If the front and rear entry ways have convenient storage areas, insist that the family use these areas to unleash their stream of belongings. Otherwise, make it a rule that the family drops their possessions in their respective bedrooms.

Keep a tidy handle on these pesky areas:

  • Refrigerator
  • Pantry – Stair-step stackers, rotating rounds, hooks, shelving, laundry cneter
  • Cupboards – Dishes, pots and pans
  • Drawers – Silverware, junk drawer
  • Bathroom

    Since bathrooms a typically small, it is essential that these areas be kept free of clutter. Countertops that are strewn with toothpaste, perfumes, shaving gear and hair products prove to be not only unsightly but like any clutter, add to the heap of hidden stresses that affects our quality of life.

    Resale shops abound with storage units that will effectively and attractively store linens, cosmetics, soaps, bath toys and medicines.

    Office

    It is a proven fact that an organized work space contributes to one\’s ability to focus on the tasks at hand and increases productivity throughout the workday. A serene and well organized office is not only more pleasant but often stirs creativity as well.

    Thrift shops abound with items that can turn your office into a neat, professional business center:

    • Phone stations equipped with a pen and notepad
    • Whiteboards for reminders and creative thinking
    • Computer station
    • Desk with a good supply of drawer dividers
    • Shelving or storage units

    The Laundry Center

    Depending on where your laundry center is in your home, put some thought into storing your detergents, laundry and ironing supplies in an attractive unit. If possible build or create a folding and hanging area to simplify the wearisome laundry task.

    Recycle Center

    Create a storage center that separates bottles, cans, plastic and paper so that recyclable items can be readily sorted on trash day.

    Garage and basement

    The garage, basements and attics are probably the biggest clutter magnets. These are areas that can easily accumulate a mountain of junk because they are out-of-sight, out-of-mind areas. Once an organizational process is put in place it is up to the adults to enforce that everything has a place and it is returned to that spot … every time. Create areas for tools, charity donations, mementos, seasonal décor, gardening equipment, and car care.

    Barb Tobias is a professional speaker and inspiring coach who renovates lives, homes and wardrobes by sticking her curious little nose into other people’s “thrifty business.” After a lifetime of transforming trash into treasure, this savvy mistress of thrift shares her secrets to finding deals, repurposing before tossing, reconstructing the tattered and renewing things others view as passé in her recent release…Tossed & Found; Where Frugal is Chic. Her “tell all” book is not simply a journey of personal transformation, but teaches a newly frugal nation how to purchase, purge and profit from thrift.