Why I Almost Never Buy Storage Containersposted by Andrea | 01/10/2014
You might think that someone in my line of work would have a serious infatuation with all types of storage containers… but in my case, you would be wrong.
You see, I almost never buy storage containers.
I’d be lying if I said that the enormous stacks of brightly colored, perfectly matching storage containers at all our local stores don’t make me drool just a little bit. I almost always walk a little slower past the storage container section, just to get a good look at all the amazing storage products available these days.
But I almost never purchase anything… honestly!
The last storage containers I purchased were baskets for our Master Bathroom renovation (which was 2 1/2 years ago!) And before that, I think the last storage containers I purchased were to organize our basement at our old house (and that was at least 4 years ago).
So how can I get by without purchasing more and more storage containers?
(cloth bins in the nursery closet — a baby gift off our registry)
Two Reasons I Almost Never Buy Storage Containers
1. I don’t STORE a lot of stuff!
This might sound kind of obvious, but since we don’t hang onto mass amounts of decorations, memorabilia, craft supplies, baby clothing, etc. we don’t need storage containers to store them in
By simply doing regular purges throughout the year, I’m able to maintain the stuff we have, and do not need to purchase any more storage containers. In fact, I’ve actually been purging so much this past year that I have 3 or 4 completely empty storage containers sitting in our basement right now!
In my opinion, it’s just a better use of time and money to take a few minutes to purge than to take a hour to drive to the store, buy a new container, only to realize that container won’t work for your project anyway.
2. I make due with what I already have on hand.
This one is HUGE for me — because although I’d love to just hop on over to Target every single time I want to store something, I don’t. With the various baskets, trays, food storage containers, small boxes, etc. that we already have lying around our house, it’s extremely rare that I can NOT find a suitable storage solution already sitting around our house.
And of course, that’s a much cheaper and easier option than loading Nora up, driving to the store, buying a few different containers, figuring out which one fits our needs, and then driving back to return the others (especially since you all know how much I love shopping — not!)
The Storage Containers I Actually Use:
Although I haven’t actually purchased storage containers in years, I do definitely still use a variety of storage containers in and around our house.
Most of our storage containers are boxes, baskets, or bins that we’ve accumulated (for free) over the years — other containers were specifically purchased for various storage needs in and around our home.
Below are 3 of my favorite storage containers:
1. Basement Storage Tubs
Back when we lived at our first house, we purchased these really heavy-duty metal shelving units from Menard’s. At the time, I worried that we were spending too much — but based on how much we’ve used them over the years (and how sturdy they are) I would definitely say it was a quality purchase, and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for an extremely customizable, durable, and sturdy storage shelving unit.
After we decided on the best configuration of the shelves, I measured how much space we had between shelves and also how much stuff we needed to store. Then (and only then) did I head to the store to find the perfect storage tubs for our needs.
Since I was buying them at the beginning of a new year and EVERYTHING was on sale, I decided to get all matching tubs for a cleaner look — and I opted for clear just so I could see what was inside — but I don’t necessarily think clear containers are best.
I purchased approximately 10 of these Sterilite 66 quart rectangle storage containers with latching lids and am SUPER happy with how they’ve held up and performed over the past 4+ years. (NOTE: I only paid a few bucks for each one from Target… so the Amazon price is definitely not the best one I’ve seen.)
I love that the Sterlite containers are true rectangles (not curved around the edges). I also love that they actually have a latch to close them — so they don’t accidentally pop open if they are bumped or nudged.
These containers are definitely my go-to organizing containers for our basement storage needs — mainly because they aren’t too expensive, they are the perfect fit for our shelving unit, and they keep everything clean and dry.
2. Wicker Baskets:
I’ve gotten SO many wicker baskets as gifts over the years — often, they are the just the “wrapping” for the gift, not the actual gift.
I usually donate most of these baskets — but I do save some of the smaller to medium size baskets that are rectangular or square in shape. They are perfect for office supplies, craft supplies, toys, toiletries, etc. etc. and they look really nice sitting out.
As I mentioned above, the last storage containers I actually purchased were wicker baskets for our Master Bathroom — and they were purchased specifically to fit the little “open-concept linen closet cubbies” we designed — and are still loving so much!
These baskets hold extra toilet paper, extra toiletries, other bathroom essentials, and the very few extras towels we have.
They look lovely, they fit our space almost perfectly, and they are rectangles (so they hold more). Plus, I got them for only $5 each using $10 off coupons at World Market!
3. Shoe Boxes and Diaper Boxes:
If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard me profess my love for shoe boxes more than a few times. However, after having a child in diapers, I must now add large diaper boxes to my list of favorite freebie storage tools!
If you come to my house, you will literally see shoe boxes and/or diaper boxes used as organizational tools in almost every room of our house. We have shoe boxes in our sock drawers (for socks of course!), in our office to organize envelops and small pads of paper, in our bathroom for extra toiletries, and even in our freezer to stack bags of cheese, baking supplies, frozen veggies, chocolate chips, etc.
I use diaper boxes to corral toys, as donation boxes in the bottoms of our closets, to organize gift wrapping supplies, and so much more.
And if worse comes to worse, cover the diaper box with paper for a fun child-friendly art project!
Never underestimate the organizational power of a small to medium size sturdy cardboard box!
General rules if you ARE going to buy storage containers:
So if you’ve read my post, purged some of your things, searched your home for other containers, and are still convinced that you must purchase some new storage containers… here are a few things to think about before you do.
1. Don’t buy anything until you’re FINISHED purging, sorting, and organizing.
There is really no way you can know what type of storage container(s) you need until you are completely finished with your organizing project. So even if you are half-way through and know you don’t have any suitable containers in your home… just wait! Resist that urge to run to the store and purchase those shiny new containers.
It’s amazing how your storage needs change as you go through an organizing project. Who knows, you might end up purging more than you think — which means you might not need to buy any storage containers after all!
2. Go for square or rectangle containers
Unless I’m storing soup, I will almost ALWAYS opt for a square or rectangle container versus round or oval. They stack better, they store more, and they waste much less space overall.
3. Make sure you know the dimensions of the containers you need BEFORE you go to the store.
Seriously, you will save yourself SOOO much time, energy, and money by knowing exactly what you need before you head to the store. Don’t just walk in aimlessly and pick the container you THINK will work — or the one you are most visually attracted too.
Your storage containers should work for you — not the other way around!
(using freebie boxes to store our small amount of extra baby clothes)
Basically, my best advice for buying storage containers is “don’t do it”!
I’m not trying to be silly or cheap either!
I’ve witnessed time and time again that we can most likely get by with something we already have on hand… or we can do a little purging to make everything fit once again.