Is it crazy to spend $400 on organizing containers?

firstmmoMay 19, 2010

I went to the Container Store and found about $200 of stuff to organize drawers, makeup, shelves...I seriously could have spent another $200 in a blink of an eye. I almost bought some clear shoes boxes that I thought would look so cool to have in my closet, but thankfully stopped myself (they were like $7 each--would need a ton for my shoes!

My DH thinks it's crazy to buy shoeboxes and transfer shoes from one box to another just because it's clear. He also think organizing items are a total waste of money.

I prefer my life nice and orderly--with kids, pets and family, I am not sure I could function well without it! But is it crazy to spend tons of money on organizing items?

P.S. You can re-use those lettuce boxes for shoes too.

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I like things organized too, but I would never spend money like that to do it.

I prefer to buy my organizing boxes at dollar stores and department stores. If you think outside the box(so to speak) lots of containers made for other things will work just as well. I bought fishing lure boxes at walmart to organize my sewing supplies. A cultery drawer insert for my make-up (though you could use a fishing lure box for that too) A box meant for magazines for my knitting yarns,and both were bought at the dollar store.

Your husband is right about the shoe boxes. The original box is as good and as stackable as the clear plastic ones. If you want to fancy them up cover then with wrapping, wall or some other fancy paper. A label on the front can tell you what's inside the box. After all the point is to be organized and how many people ever go in your closet.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 7:07AM
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I am very organized...
and would not spend that kind of money, especially on shoe boxes.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 8:19AM
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I made the mistake of storing cardboard boxes in my attic. I had my kids' school papers that I was saving in them. Roof developed a leak, which I only discovered after the water had "percolated" down to my kitchen. Papers in the attic were destroyed. Did I mention full of bugs and spiders? I wouldn't spend big bucks on an organizing system, but I would store as much as possible in bedroom closets, which (so far) have never had water or insect problems.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 8:46AM
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Yuck, Jannie, that was an awful problem. (But, in an odd sort of way, because they got ruined, now you and your dtrs won't have to deal with them in other threads...a blessing in disguise?)

Firsthome's situation is different. Oilpainter has a very Martha Stewart-y suggestion with covering the boxes instead of buying clear ones. I would never spend money on boxes like that, nor would I cover them, because I figure it's just a closet and don't care! I am not all that well-organized, I am a keeper, but hundreds of dollars on boxes? I can't even imagine having that kind of money! My DIL would buy the boxes, my son would have a fit! My own hub would have me institutionalized if I came home with $400 in boxes....

So, firsthome, IMO you should give yourself a project and cover the boxes or make do with what you have. And remember, The Container Store just wants your money!!!


    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 10:07AM
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One thing about clear plastic shoe boxes--they'll all be the same size, so perhaps a bit more stackable. And if they're the drawer version, you can stack them relatively high, and still safely pull out the one in the middle.

But I also think there are other ways to be less expensive.

I'm also, however, a huge fan of infrastructure. The *right* infrastructure, however; not just "ooh, a cool box!" infrastructure.

And I have splurged (think a $180 filing cabinet instead of a $45 one), and have blessed the quality that the extra money brought me every day.

So, I would spend a lot of money--but only if I truly believed that the infrastructure I was buying would really make a difference.

My problem w/ clear plastic boxes is that I think sometimes there is a less expensive way to deal with it--though in some instances, I think spending money on clear plastic is worth it (says the woman who intends to go to Target today to buy clear plastic drawers. With shoes, I think a photograph on the end of a cardboard box would be sufficient.

And if the "slightly different sizes" of all those very different brands of shoes was enough to make me crazy, or to physically get in the way, I'd probably get cardboard boxes and stick the pictures on the end.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 11:09AM
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I think you need to re-frame the question, plus it all depends on your frame of reference, and your budget.
$400 is not a lot to spend on organizing closets and cabinets, (especially if you emphasize the plural). If you moved into a home with closets with typical one-rod-one shelf design, there is huge wasted space that will become a mess.

It is like a lot of other things--what is the value to you, and are there other ways to get it. Even though you spend a bundle for a home, it frequently lacks key items that you "need" ( I know it's all relative) on a daily basis for good efficient functioning, on the inside or the outside. Need a tool rack, need more closet shelves, need bookshelves, need coatrack, need turntables in cabinets, need landscaping, need stepping stones, need a water spigot....So the budget needs to include personalizing and customizing for those things that can really improve your daily life, based on what you do and how your do it. But, most people can't have everything, so you prioritize.

However, the Container Store is definitely the high-end, eye-candy ripoff (except that it does sometimes have JUST what you need and can't find somewhere else!).

So you might need "containers", or you might need more shelves, or drawers, or whatever. Or you might need less shoes!

So it's more about looking at your spaces and brainstorming. You can browse some of those closet-organizing books or on the web; though they tend to focus on custom build and Container Store items, they do give you some additional ideas.

For shoes, one thing I've used is those press board stacker things, 30" or so long and with 2 shelves, up on closet shelf. Much easier to put pairs of shoes on and off, and still protect from most dust ( I don't wear high heels, so that may be why these work for me) . Regular shoe boxes, labelled clearly, work fine for special shoes (dressy, seasonal). If you play with the plastic boxes, you'll often find they don't work as smoothly as you would like, plus a lot of how they do or don't work depends on the height at which you will store them.

And don't forget LIGHT! Good light helps a closet about as much as organizing stuff.

Also I use a lot of less expensive plastic bins and boxes where they don't show much. Sure, you can drool over bamboo and teak boxes and suedecloth covered stuff, all beautifully color coordinated, and you might decide that's exactly what you want to see when you open your closet. It just has a price.

Hate to generalize too much , but IME, DH's are usually the last to recognize that a "space" needs something else in order to make it work. They tend to just shove stuff in or watch it overflow when it doesn't fit (e.g. buying the economy size cereal box that won't fit in any cabinet). That doesn't justify throwing $$ at it, but it does mean you may be the one to be trying to think of how to fix things up. So you may not get any more credit for fixing up the closet for $50 compared to $400, since DH may continue to wonder why any of it was necessary in the first place.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 11:22AM
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My DH thinks it's crazy to buy shoeboxes and transfer shoes from one box to another just because it's clear. He also think organizing items are a total waste of money.

But I bet that you could easily find some $400 worth of items that he has purchased that you consider frivolous. Just because HE doesn't understand it doesn't mean it is a waste of time.

I get an overall feeling of wellness and peace when I am in the Container Store. Organization is to you what [fill in the blank] is to him.

If you can afford it and it makes you happy, you should not have to justify it to anyone. This pearl of wisdom took me years to figure out.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 7:16PM
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I understand the draw of stores like The Container Store. Many years ago, I lived in Taiwan and when I went to the supermarket one day, I ventured to their basement which was full of plastic (containers). I felt like a kid in a candy store. I still have and use many of those that I had purchased back then. Lucky for me, it was extremely cheap compared to the cost in North America.

It really does depend on your budget to know whether or not the cost makes sense. If you can afford it, then I think it is a worthwhile purchase. I bet these organizers will put a smile on your face whenever you use them.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 9:20PM
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Well, I have been saving those lettuce boxes for about a year and have about 12 pair of shoes in them. So, that's my clear box cheap solution....but my utensil drawer really needed the $18 plastic organizer and my makeup seemed to really work well with the $15 little plastic box thingy. I put my jewelry in the $9 craft you get the picture. I literally could have bought on and on.

The Target in my area is really really terrible. They always have empty shelves and I can never figure out why. We have no Walmart, but we do have a Costco. I bought some of my stuff on line and some of the stuff seems to be somewhat less expensive, but mostly with shipping and tax, it's more expensive.

I totally LOVE seeing everything organized but I have just remodeled a 1950s house and need a huge bunch of all new ideas/storage/organizing solutions. Talleysue mentioned "infrastructure" and I guess that's what I am looking for when I think about buying a knifeholder or some laundry baskets or a wrapping paper storage box. Making the infrastructure help my daily life. But for $400?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 9:25PM
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I think organizing can provide mental well-being for some people. Now that one of my sons is off and married and the other in college, I have taken to making my life simpler and more organized. I see nothing wrong with that and because my husband and I make a good total income, I buy better things, mostly from Pottery Barn but if there was a Container store nearby, oh goodness. I'm in the process of customizing all my closets with systems that include drawers and pull-out shelving and all the neat things I could have never afforded when I was younger.

If your budget allows you the ability to do this and you are not sacrificing the necessities for it, I think you should get what you want. When I completely redo a closet system or a drawer or any type of storage, I get a mental boost that I'm keeping my house orderly and tidy. Could I do it for cheaper? Sure. Could I skip it completely? Definitely. But, for me, it's a cool distraction to the drudgeries of daily life.

Now my BFF bought a P-touch to label all the containers in her pantry (nothing is in its original box/bag/container). For her it's a fun task; I think that's a little over the top for even me!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 11:12PM
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Hmmmm may have just nailed me...I asked for a P-Touch a few years ago for Christmas and I love it! I label everything. But I don't switch things in my pantry--most things already come in a labeled box! I just label lunch boxes, magazine holders, binders, toy boxes (How many Lego containers????), etc.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 1:35AM
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I found shoe boxes for 2$ and bought 50 of them, they are almost transparent, with a white lid. I would have preffered the super clear ones though, in hard plastic.
It gives me immense pleasure to see them all lined up in my closet, so I'd say that was 100$ well spent, and they'll last forever I hope.

I find that cardboard develops a stale smell over time.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 6:13AM
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Have you checked the Container Store website? If you buy a case of 20 boxes, you only pay $1.49 per box!

Here is a link that might be useful: Shoe boxes

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 7:54AM
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I'm finding that I'm willing to spend more on items to make them look nice. I used to buy things piece by piece, but there is no guarantee that the matching items will be there where you want or need them. The prices quoted seems a little high, but if you can get all of the storage containers needed for the space and it fits your budget, then it'd be worth it to me.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 1:17PM
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The key to investing $$ in organizational tools & supplies is making sure you are already using and loving a system you have in-place and use well already.

If you are buying organizational supplies for the purpose of "getting organized", but are not sure a particular tool or system will be something you like or will maintain is a completely different story, and a waste of money in my opinion.

I suggest rigging up trays, boxes, or systems with free things you have and make sure the system works for you...and you can work the system before buying the supplies & figure out later your brain and daily routines don't follow through.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 4:01PM
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Gayle0000 wrote, "The key to investing $$ in organizational tools & supplies is making sure you are already using and loving a system you have in-place and use well already."

I'm not sure I agree with the "already"; there are too many times when the infrastructure is simply key to making the system work. Jury-rigged boxes may be so hard to use that you won't bother; once the plastic drawers slide smoothly, you find you really respond, sometimes. . And you don't want to buy it twice (once cheaply to test it, and the second time more durably).

But you do want to be sure you've really thought out the investment.

(and WOW on that per-box price when you purchase them by the case!)

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 8:00PM
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I bought clear plastic shoe boxes from the dollar tree. The best thing about organizing them was I decided to get rid of over half of the shoes. I ended up with more space for storage.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 8:02PM
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instead of buying clear boxes (which I would never do) - I just take a thick marker (red, black, something that is easy to read from 4 ft away), find a clear spot on the box or put a white label and write on the face front of each box a brief description of each shoe - "red AK sandals", "blue suede", etc. I always know each shoe's name - they are your best friends, right? That way I still use the box they came in with, and when I clean/rotate out of season shoes, I make sure they go into their own box. The ones that are out of season or dress shoes that I rarely use, all get stacked on highest shelf in the closet. DH comes handy when I need to reach them ;-) If he is not home, I just use step ladder that I need to have in the house anyway - my 5ft vs his 6ft.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 2:24PM
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I don't think it's crazy. I have lived in my house 18 years. I finally bought heavy duty, all matching shelves for the basement - 6 units at Loews. I spent $380. DH thought it was crazy, but even he now acknowledges that having matching heavy-duty shelves allows us to get more stuff off the floor, which makes me basement "bigger." Best $$ I've ever spent on the house!

Thanks for the "shoes in the lettuce box" idea too. I hate to throw those boxes away but never could think of a good reason to keep them. Now I have a great reason!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 12:00AM
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If you think its worth it

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 10:36AM
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