When Storage Containers are a Good Idea

Amidst fanfare and propaganda, The Container Store recently opened in a nearby mall. This store can organize every aspect of your life, even things you didn't know you needed to organize! (Sorry, I never thought of buying storage containers for the inside of my refrigerator.)

A quick Google search for organizing your home yielded 58 million articles to to help you organize your stuff, including information from HGTV, to these 52 Brilliant Ideas. It is obvious that Americans own a lot, so much so that we need 58 million pieces of advice on how to organize it all.

Did I head to The Container Store's grand opening? Nope. I just drove past on my way to work and breathed a sigh of relief that I don't need storage containers. In fact, since our decluttering adventure began last February, we are slowly, yet surely, getting rid of storage containers. This batch went to Goodwill this weekend.
However, the title of this post is "When Storage containers are a Good Idea", so I obviously haven't gotten rid of all of them. Before I list those reasons, here are a couple of things to think about before buying storage containers.

New Purchases

If you buy more storage containers to house new purchases, you might want to think about how much you are purchasing. Are the items much needed? Do they bring you joy? Would the items fit into your regular storage places (cabinets, drawers, closets, dressers, closets) and if not, why? There are some very happy occasions that result in an increase in purchases such as a new baby, or new house; however, it is still a good idea to evaluate why you need those containers.

Cluttered Rooms

If you are tempted to buy storage containers to house items so a room looks organized instead of cluttered, you may not need those containers. Instead, you might need to sort through the piles and decide what you really need to keep. The items you need might actually fit in current storage places. When my husband saw the pile of containers we were taking to Goodwill, he immediately said I should give some to our son for his room. My quick answer was No, he needs to clean and declutter his room, not put it all into storage bins that will just sit in his closet until he moves out. Whenever he "cleans" his room, he just piles things behind his chair, never to look at them again, ditto with his closet floor. I don't want to condone the amount of stuff in his room by giving him storage containers just to make it look nice.

As I mentioned above, yes, we still have storage containers. Below are some of the reasons we keep items in containers versus other storage places.

When Storage Containers are a Good Idea

Craft Supplies

To offer easy access and use of craft supplies, I found containers to be the best option. Craft supplies are pretty easy to organize and I found that if they are easy to access, they get used. I use small open bins that fit in a kitchen cabinet for the day to day craft supplies, which were invaluable as our children worked on homework or just felt like using them. Markers, crayons, glue stix, playdoh, stickers, paints, and craft scissors all made their home in these bins right next to a stack of colored paper.
Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations come in many shapes and sizes, and don't really lend themselves to self organization. Also, they are used once a year and make our lives happier around that particular holiday. Each year as we pull out these containers, I try to go through them and decide if we still want to keep each item we have stored. Does it still bring us joy? Have we used it recently? For example, I just gave away some plastic Halloween plates that we haven't used in years.

Hats, Gloves, Mittens

For as long as I can remember owning our home, we had a bin, similar to the craft bin, for each person that contained their hats, gloves, mittens, scarves etc. The bin was easy to access on the closet shelf and made it easy for everyone to know where their items were. It was really nice to have our own bins and everyone knew that if an item they were looking for was not in the bin, it was up to them to figure out where it was. We lowered the shelves in one half of the closet so the kids could easily reach their bin once they were in grade school. 

Camping Gear

I kind of compare camping gear to holiday decorations. Everything is a different size, and it isn't used everyday. Since we store our gear in the garage under the steps going into the house, it is important to protect it all from rodents and spiders. Also, when we went camping, we were already half packed and just put the bins in the back of the truck. At the campsite, the bins kept our gear dry, because rain is a part of camping in our family :)

These are just some of times we found storage containers to be a good idea. When are storage containers most useful in your house?