Dollar Store Heroes (Apartment-Friendly, Low-Cost Clutter Solutions) PART 2 - Fluff n' Stuff


Do you ever get the feeling that The Universe has it in for you?  I swear, I must have tweaked off a Blog God somewhere, because every time I have a spare second to work this year, something happens.  This week, I actually managed to get some of the projects completed and shot (thanks to my awesome mom looking after the Scrunchkin for a bit) but then, when I sat down to edit and write... my space bar died.  How does that even happen?!

Soinsteadofwritingblogpoststhatlooklikethis, we wound up having to buy a new computer.  Kind of funny when I'm highlighting how to save money with Dollar Store purchases.  And in case you were wondering, turns out they don't have a computer section.  Not cool Dollar Tree.  Not cool.

Ah well.  Back to the savings at hand!

Last time we talked, I had done a little reorganizing in the kitchen.  This time I focused on three other annoying areas: laundry storage around the stacked washer and dryer in our dungeon basement;  restructuring our medicine/linen/supplies closet; and gift wrap storage in the nursery closet.


Before I launch into what I hate about this space (everything), let me make my sunshine-y disclaimer: I'm SUPER grateful for our apartment.  There are so many things that we have here that we've never had before (for example, the basement, a linen closet and more than one bedroom...), and I'm aware and grateful for what a blessing it is.  But I believe it's possible to be thankful for something and yet still frustrated by aspects.  Like: YAY for a basement with a washer and dryer! but BOO for the oubliette-like atmosphere that has Mordor looking like a cheery spot for a little R&R.

In addition to the decided lack of light, color and happiness that the basement provides, it also presents some issues with laundry storage.  The stacked washer and dryer are jammed in between the outside door and the water heater and furnace.  Up until now, I had been chucking all of the necessary laundry accessories (dryer sheets, lingerie bags, soap, stain remover, etc) in a black crate on top of a constantly-in-the-way storage table.  But I was determined to make the space a little more user-friendly.

Killin' it with my mad organizing skillz.

The Dollar Tree purchases that made the biggest difference here were a small plastic trash can, magnets, chip clips, flip top snack containers, a glass jar and spray bottles. 

My lingerie bags always seem to be in the way, stuck on something, or missing completely.  I gave them their own space by gluing magnets to one side of the trash can and sticking it to the side of the dryer.  The chip clips also got magneted (totally a word) and are now working as the keepers of lost socks.

Easy, cheap storage solutions for stackable washer/dryers

Everything else was evicted from the crate and sorted.  The detergent and Borax got re-homed into the flip top snack containers (SOOOO much easier to use), a spray bottle was filled with spot treatment, and clothespins were grouped into a glass jar. 

The two non-dollar purchases were a magnetic dryer sheet container (purchased at Walmart for $4, not available online) and an adorable rolling cart ($29.99 from Ikea and one of my favorite purchases ever).  The magnets on the dryer sheet container were a little loose, so I secured them with an extra spot of hot glue and it seems to work fine.  I replaced the in-the-way storage table with the much narrower rolling cart and popped all of the laundry accessories on the top.  I could not be happier with it.  It fits better, it moves more easily and it provides much better access to all of the laundering necessities. 

The rolling Ikea cart is just the right size for a barely-there laundry space.  Plus the pop of color makes me happy!!

Sure, I'd love to have a laundry room (or even closet) to work with.  For now, I've just got to make the most of the space I've got. 

The Household Catch-All Closet

I'm not sure what it is about our linen closet that keeps it from staying nice.  I have a sneaking suspicion it may have to do with the male faction of the homestead and his amazing ability to be completely oblivious to any organizational system I attempt to implement.  I think he may be leading some sort of anti-segregation movement for the linen/medication/light bulb/cleaning supply constituent in our household and his form of peaceful protest is to ignore the oppressive delineation of the shelves and shove things back in in a more homogenized manner.  Power to the paraphernalia.

My most recent attempt was to embrace this proclivity.  For example, I found a large fabric bin to hold all of our medications, band aids, vitamins (etc) and then stacked them neatly inside.  I figured it would be easy to pull it out like a drawer, locate what you want, and then chuck it back in when done.  I hadn't really thought it through, however, and what I wound up with was a mini-pharmacy post-earthquake that was a real treat to wade through with a throbbing head.

So my solution this time was easy and straight forward:  Lots o' tubs.

One of my favorite things to buy at Dollar Tree are the plastic, shoebox-like, lidded tubs.  The size and shape are fairly universal, they stack well and they give you a uniformed look.  I pick some up almost every time I'm there and am always finding uses for them. 

For the closet, I pulled out all of our medications and light bulbs and sorted them into categories (btdubs, keep an eye on the dates on your medications.  Their potency diminishes after their expiration date.  For information on how to SAFELY dispose of your drugs, click here). 

Medications were split into four categories: Stomach, Bandages & Ointments, Cough & Cold and Pain, Allergy (etc).  Light bulbs, which I also struggle to find the best way to store (Stupid cardboard sleeves.  Whose brainchild was that?) were split into Regular, Vanity & Fixture and Specialty.  After everything had a place, it got labeled and stacked.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

In case you're wondering, Yes, all of the built in shelves are lopsided.  It's this kind of craftsmanship that makes a house a home.

After that, the process was fairly quick.  The cleaning supplies were corralled in a portable bin from the dollar store, the towels, washcloths, sheets and pillowcases were folded and replaced on their respective shelves (Linen Segregation Forever!), and all of the spare soaps and travel size toiletries were binned, labeled and tucked away.  (*Quick tip: For easy bed-changes, store folded sheet sets inside one of the pillowcases and stack).  
Neat and Tidy.  Now let's see how long it stays this way.

And finally...

Gift Wrap Storage in the Nursery Closet

You may be wondering why we're storing the gift wrap in the nursery to begin with, particularly when we have a craft space/office/guest room.  The short answer is, we're out of space.  The closet in the nursery has kind of become a bit of a catchall for the overflow in the house.  In addition to the Bumblebee's clothes, it houses my formal dresses (including my wedding gown), scrapbook supplies, diapers and gift wrap.  And the latter of these items was a mess.  

Before the nursery was a nursery, it was the office (read about that transformation here and here), and the wrapping paper was stylishly displayed in a Ballard Design's-esque metal basket.  When the office merged with the guest room, the basket was shoved into the closet.  And it ain't workin'.  

After pulling out all of the gift wrap and ribbon and ditching the basket, the closet became much more functional but I still had to store the items.  The Dollar Tree came through again.  I purchased a few cheap suit storage bags and a spring loaded curtain rod (they don't always have the curtain rods, so if you can't find them, you can pick one up at Walmart for cheap).  

I laid out the storage bags, inserted a sturdy hanger, and slipped in the rolls of wrap.  Perfect!  It took me only two bags to store 24 rolls of paper!  The bags are cheap and won't hold out forever, but for now they're great (and if I need to continue this method of storage, I'll just pick up sturdier suit bags).  

One bag for Christmas and one bag for all of the other celebrations!

The last step was to thread all of the ribbon spools onto the spring loaded rod and wedge it above the bar in the closet (a bookcase would work well too).  Now everything is accessible and streamlined!

I love how NARROW the bags make the footprint of the wrapping paper!

And, because I love a good before and after: 

Look at all that space!!  Who knew?

I'm so thrilled with how these little spots shaped up.  Obviously, there's plenty more I could do with a little more money and time, but for now, the changes are great little morale boosters.  

I'm off to reacquaint myself with my pillow and the back of my eyelids.  Here's hoping we all have drama-free, super productive weeks!  

Cheers, friends! 

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