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order and chaos

Moving into a new home is challenging because you have to take a new space, figure out its shortcomings fast, and come up with solutions to make it work — in theory before you go insane, but you know just arriving at the new place was pretty nutty.

Organizing is always hard, but when you’re new to a home and everything’s chaos around you, it’s that much harder to make it work, because you likely look around and just see a FEMA-level disaster in the making.

Another thing about organizing is, if you’ve got a lot of money to throw at it, it’s really easy to solve your space problems. But if you don’t have the cash? It gets tough. That stuff is pricey, man!

Get creative, man!

The trouble is, most of us live on planet Earth where your money’s spread thin over three zillion things you need to do/buy/deal with in real life, not just in moving, so you likely want a $5 solution, not another $50 solution, since all those purchases add up to mind-blowing numbers fast.

And kitchens, well, hey, they’re a gaping hole of funds if you let ‘em take charge of your wallet.

The trick to getting organized without going broke is getting creative. Think of what you’ve got. You need to turn your space into a canvas for a solution, not just a problem.

Assess the storage situation

What wall space can be used? What cupboard space have you got? How many drawers are there? Where can you take shortcuts and respect yourself in the morning?

In my new kitchen, it has one drawer. One. If you’re not counting the two intended for pots and pans, that is. The other storage, it’s questionable. I have two 3-shelf cupboards that are a whopping 8-inches wide. Yeah, that’s good for organizing.

Embracing my limited budget, I’ve so far installed a 3-foot shelf for spices and hot sauces under my cabinet, and installed 14 hooks, 8 for large pots and pans, and 6 for large mug. Total? A whopping $20 investment that increases my storage space by over 30%. Plus, it looks funky and old-school, suiting its 1930s bones. I’ll be sharing a post showing these solutions later, aimed at cooking nerds who like Julia Child’s “put it where you’ll use it” organizing ethos.

Those are creative storage solutions at its best, friends. Hooks and shelves, baby.

Transform spaces your way

When you incorporate shelving and hooks, space-dividers and more, you can transform spaces. When you move out, it’s easy to fill aka Spackle the holes and repair the destruction you’ve meted out, but it’s really, really worth it in the present versus the 2-3 hours of wall repair on your move-out. Never underestimate the value of hanging six big mugs on hooks, or using things like magazine holders for other uses.

I use an office drawer caddy to organize everything I might want to have handy when I’m watching TV — from napkins for eating with to manicure goodies, dental floss, and more. It goes in an armoire when I want to tidy, but is my vegging enabler when I want to be catching up on movies and reality programming.

From budget shelving, like these small-and-strong-but-versatile metal shelves , to hooks and office supplies, the creative-minded organizer can accomplish a lot.

Not all of your ideas will work, but they might be a stepping stone to finding a solution that really does work.

All kinds of commercial solutions exist too, especially if you’re willing to spend a lot to make it happen, such as with built-in options. Some adjustable kits for closets and cupboards can give you a lot of flexibility, and some systems will redefine your space in surprising ways.

Your chance to make your space your own on the first day

Don’t accept your space for what it is. Know it, understand its limitations, and try to find ways to compensate for what it lacks. Use the internet and people around you for inspiration. Never forget that walls are just vertical storage opportunities, and that if you can think it, there’s probably a way to make it happen.

Do your planning well so you have fewer bumps in the road. Take your time to make sure it’s the right solution. Consider other options before you lock in on a plan.

And then, go forth and creatively organize. Make a good place a better place. With a little ingenuity, some money, and some time, you can create storage opportunities that maximize your space’s potential while giving you a home you love that much more.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.