Dollar Store Heroes (Apartment-Friendly, Low Cost Clutter Solutions!) PART 1 - The Kitchen


Hi All!! Happy Spring!!

Last post I mentioned that I want to work on some of the projects that I've been letting slide.  If I'm completely honest, there are certain areas of my house that I just can't be bothered with.  I think some of this stems from the fact that I live in a rental.  This means that things that I truly want to be able to do (adding shelving, painting cabinets, installing storage systems) I either can't or don't see the point of dumping money into when they'll only be temporary.  That lack of control frustrates me and I just get to a "why bother" stage.  And who doesn't love a quitter?!  Oh.  Right.  Everyone.

I don't know if it's the sunshine or the fact that Mother Nature is starting to clear out her own cobwebs or possibly the four cups of coffee I had this morning, but I am in the mood to take on some organizational challenges.  Okay, so I can't make things exactly like I would if I owned the place.  And no, I don't have tons of money to dump into any projects.  But these restrictions are only inspiration for creativity.  And by "creativity" I mean "going to the dollar store."

Yep!  My goal has been to see what I can get done primarily with dollar store purchases.  There have been a few exceptions - but still things that are inexpensive and transferable.  And, so far, I'm pretty pleased with the changes!

First up?  The kitchen, and, in particular, the kitchen sink.  My kitchen kind of makes me nuts in general, but the under sink area is truly the worst part.  Once upon a time there must have been a shelf, but now it's just a large, oddly shaped hole where bottles and bags breed and multiply when I'm not looking.

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and play Under The Sink Jenga!! Chuck it all in and slam the door!  Cross your fingers that the whole mess collapses and must be dealt with when someone other than you opens it!
The Dollar Store Heroes? Crates, empty spray bottles, a folding storage shelf, a flip top snack container, and some cheerful Con-Tact paper.  The other handy helper was an over-the-door basket I found at Ross for $5.99.

The first step was to pull out absolutely everything.  I removed the tangle of plastic bags, stored some in a bag organizer (that I already owned but hadn't gotten around to mounting) and bundled up the rest for recycling.  Partially used bottles of the same product (how does that happen?!) were combined and the superfluous bottles ousted.  Spare unopened boxes of supplies were relocated to a shelf in the basement.  (Someday I'll have a kitchen with a huge pantry that allows me to store backups, and I'll twirl around in it like Julie Andrews in a state of domestic bliss, but for now I'll just have to walk a few extra steps when it comes to replenishing.)  Finally, when everything was out, I gave the cupboard a good wipe down (because- WOW.  And not in a good way.), and covered it with the brightly patterned paper.  Much better.

Once the cleaning and paring down process was complete, I was able to focus on putting things back in a way that made sense.   

The dollar store does have some great stackable containers but in this case I used one of their folding wire storage shelves and several open bins.  The shelves aren't the highest quality, but if nothing is terrifically heavy, they work really well for giving you a bit of extra surface.  If you're not as cheap as I am, investing in a few sturdier shelves is a good move (I recommend Walmart!).   The bins I chose are bright, easy to clean and keep the products I need within arms reach. 

All of the cleaning products got grouped and then sorted into bins by what I use the most.  Carpet cleaner, glass cleaner, wood polish and counter spray all stayed in the front along with Barkeeper's Friend (I freaking LOVE that stuff).  Extra supplies and products that are used less frequently stayed toward the back on top of the wire shelf - still very accessible.  Underneath, the shelf I stored all of my extra sponges and rags. 

Though I keep my cleaners close, the fire extinguisher and flashlight will always have top billing ('cause, let's be honest, it's more than likely that at some point I'll set something on fire or trip a circuit).
Once I was through with the cleaners, I moved on to the other space hogs.

While the dishwasher pods generally come in a bin that could potentially be stacked, I use them so frequently that I leave the lid off and that cuts down on their stacking power.  Instead, I transferred them to a flip top snack container.  The slimmer, taller shape is way more convenient for storing without taking up major real estate. 

Because I use the white vinegar in several locations (bathroom, kitchen and laundry), I split the giant bottle into three spray bottles, labeled them (I heart my label maker!) and transferred them to each area, leaving a much smaller footprint under the sink.   Another spray bottle houses bleach and water - good for disinfecting counters and flower vases. 

Cleaner cupboards = Happier me.
Aaaaaaaand... that was it!  It's still a work in progress - I may look to add a few more products from other sources, but this was about making improvements with mostly dollar store items. For a few bucks and a little time the results are great!

A few inexpensive products made such a difference.  Everything is so much easier to find!

While I was on a roll, I tackled 2 smaller areas that had been driving me nuts: The baby supplies cabinet and the random counter top crap that manages to accumulate despite my best efforts.  Grr. I hate that stuff. 

The baby supplies cabinet was a fairly quick fix but it's made my life SO much easier.  The main problem was that the cabinet is over my head (what isn't?) and the baby requires lots of little things.  That means a good portion of the pouches, canisters, bags, containers and tubs get pushed to the back where my Keebler Elf self can't reach or see.  This is another place where the bright Dollar Tree bins came to the rescue.  By splitting the food up into containers with handles (one for meals and one for snacks) it's super easy for me to pull the whole mess down and select what I want.  It also allows me to see everything that I have and replenish what I'm low on and the labels make it easy to grab the right bin.  Woot!

Using bins like drawers keeps things looking tidy and easily accessible
The top of the counter was just a hot mess.  One spot in particular has become a drop spot for mail, bills, keys, medicine, vitamins, coins and who-knows-what-else.  At one point, I had tried corralling the whole thing with a pretty tray, but I'm fairly certain a pile of letters surrounded it, overwhelmed it and ate it.  My counter is a brutal place.

One of my non-dollar-store items was an Ikea desk organizer that I purchased for $9.99.  I didn't buy it specifically for this project, but it wound up working great.  I used a few pretty folders and labeled them for mail, bills, and menus, and then used the smaller compartments for sunglasses, pens, pencils, matches, coins and the other assorted items that littered the space.  It serves as a great drop spot for keys as well.  The only thing that this left out were the vitamin bottles that I HATE.  I know it's silly, but they bug me. 

The Dollar Tree came through again however, in the form of these cute little glass canisters. 

The lids looked a little jenky and lackluster, so I hit them with some Krylon spray paint in Ocean Breeze, and then a high gloss sealant. 

So pretty!

I'd like to give them some pretty custom labels, but for now, I'm sticking with my label maker labels so that there's no confusion as to what's in them.  (*Special Note: I will NOT be storing medicines or vitamins on the counter once the Scrunchkin is able to access the area.  And hopefully, by that time, we'll be in a house!)

Once all was said and done, I was left with this:

Can you feel my relief? Three kitchen spaces made MUCH better by a few, inexpensive products.  

Oh, Dollar Tree, how I love thee.  More organizing to come!! 

Have a great week, friends!

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