Wednesday, October 12, 2011

23 Reader Space: Fantastically Free Organizing!

Organizing can be EXPENSIVE!  I admit, I love to splurge on organizing from time to time since it's a bit of a passion and hobby and I only purchase items that I plan on using for an eternity. But I am also just like you.  I like to save when I can and also organize on a budget.  I love to shop my home and makeover thrift finds.  It's even better when I can pull it off for FREE!

Today, I get to share projects from two readers, that made over a closet and a pantry for zero dollars.  Just using the items they had along with motivation to take back their spaces!  Here are their stories:

Andrea wrote:

I just wanted to submit my recent organization for your reader space.  I was able to re-do the nursery without spending any money on the project.  I live in a Brooklyn apartment, which means that everything is small and there are no closets!  Seriously, we only have two closets.  One of them is in the teeny tiny bedroom that our kids share.  It has been very unorganized and needed some help, but there was no money in the budget!  I had to use what I had on hand to complete the project.  It is now so much more appealing to look at, I can find things quickly and access them easily, and I didn’t spend ANY money on this project!  I recently shared the whole story and pictures on my blog:

I adore your blog and have found so much inspiration from it.  I am in the process of “copying” your door-knob wall hooks idea to organize our winter coats for the season.  Keep up the good work!

Thanks for your time,

Let's take a look at the before:

Her son's clothes were organized into plastic tubs and labeled by size.  She already had these containers, they just weren't organized.

She used the same labels that she had designed for her daughter's clothing bins.  They match the Peter Rabbit décor of the nursery.

Her son Nolan’s clothes had to go in the closet because her daughter Elaine’s were already stored under the crib {below}.  Andrea preferred bigger containers, but the closet isn’t very deep so she had to get the only size that would fit.  In the end it was a good choice because she will have to be selective in which clothes she chose to keep for future children.

Back to the closet.  There is a lot of storage room above the shelf, but the height of the door frame limits the access.  Andrea had things in zippered plastic bags {like new comforter’s come in}, but they were all just thrown and shoved onto the shelf and it was hard to find the needed items.

She decided to use cardboard boxes.  She had a lot of them on hand from her business, but she was going for a more visually appealing effect.  So she covered the front of each box with a piece of 12”x12” scrapbooking paper.  She printed off some more labels – IHeart Organizing style – and taped them on the boxes!

All of this gave her a great after:

Her daughter loves to draw and color so she also used some containers already on hand to get her art supplies into shape!

She used a frosting container for crayons and a parmesan cheese shaker for markers!  Love that!!

Here is the before and after side by side, so we can ooh and ahh together at her zero cost hard working closet takeover:

Next up is my girl, Ashley.  She decided she was going to take back control of her pantry.  And again, without spending a single penny!

Ashley wrote:

Hi Jen!

I just completed a huge pantry makeover for $0!  I couldn't be more ecstatic about the results and truly can't believe that I was able to do it without making a single purchase!  I would love to be featured for your "reader space edition."  I just posted the content on my blog:
Thanks Jen!


So here is what Ashley was facing when she started the project:

She started by emptying everything out of the closet:

Then, she washed down all of her shelves and the floor.

Now that she had a blank slate to work with, she sorted and emptied all items into their respective "categories" such as appliances, food, drink mixes, donate and garbage.

The next step was to evaluate the amount of items in each category, how often the items were used and how they were used.

After analyzing the items, she pulled together all of the containers that were already in the pantry and some other supplies from around the home and began to "containerize".

When all was said and done, her pantry looked like THIS:

Here is what Ashley had to say about her newly organized space:

"All-in-all, for a “no purchase pantry organization,” I could NOT be happier! All of my serving dishes are in one spot, on one shelf. Food and drinks can be easily accessed. Appliances are securely tucked away under the cabinets, except for a few frequently used items that are now on the top shelf of the pantry. Alcohol is in one spot and out of reach for children. Our cook books are now held up by a spare bookend we had laying around. Our frequently used items {rice, brown sugar, regular sugar} are now housed in our handy black air-tight containers. And finally, our water bottles and coffee mugs are now being corralled by the box at the bottom of the pantry! Yay!"

I don't know what I like more about these stories.  The big before and after reveal or the incredible feelings of success that is felt after completing such a great project!  Smiles all around.

A final side by side reveal:

So what do you all think?  Feel free to leave some love for these thrifty ladies!

And thanks to these projects this week, I sense a challenge.  Let's organize something on zero budget.  Like free, nada, zilch.  Just like today's readers did.  One day next week I will share the project I come up with and then we can link up our stories and share oodles of free organizing ideas together!  It can be anything big or small, it just can't cost a thing.  Get creative and resourceful my friends and have fun.  I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and un-editted.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More info HERE.


  1. Penny-less organizing makeovers are my favorite!!! =) I need get on the ball and snap some photos of my pantry so you have another to add to the collection ;) ya know, if you want! hehe

    Hope you're having a great week jen! MWAH!

    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

  2. I love these! I have been doing the same around my house - trying to organise without spending any money. I do love all matching containers but sometimes I just can't justify the cost and plus I get a kick out of doing it for free!

  3. I love re-purposing my organizing supplies! I tell clients to keep their best bins, baskets, and small drawer dividers in their basement so they can pull from it when they need something instead of buying. Only my best bins, boxes, and drawer dividers get reused over and over again! Love it!

  4. They are both great make-overs. I couldn't resist to think that you, Jen, would probably have put some wallpaper to the back wall of the pantry and closet to add that little extravagance ... ;)
    By the way, I have much improved my kitchen inspired by all the shared ideas that I find here (buying transparent containers, put nice drawer paper in the drawers and use the inside of the cabinet doors for a spice shelf ...)
    It's so helpful to see all the inspiration that you offer here!!!
    Greetings, Jule

  5. I just adore reading about these organizing tasks!
    I love your blog!
    kerri at HollyMuffin

  6. Love these!! I have a crap...errr craft...closet haha that is in need of project next week!! Thanks for the inspiration & kick in the butt :-)

  7. I absolutely adore both of these makeovers! Nothing disappoints me more than seeing organizing before-and-afters where all the person did was go buy a bunch of pretty containers. Sometimes buying a few things is necessary, but it's just not practical for me on a limited budget. I really relish realistic makeovers!

    Just today I did a little mini-makeover of our laundry "room" ("closet" is more accurate) wherein I poured our detergent powder and laundry brightener into separate wide-mouthed jars instead of using the annoying plastic bags they came in. The wire shelf above the washer and dryer usually houses a cardboard box of extra toiletries and a cardboard box of stuff to mend/handwash. The boxes were ugly, so I took out some cream-colored cardstock and taped it to the fronts, then added some cute labels I'd gotten as a sample in the mail. Voila! Totally free and easy makeover.

  8. I love free organizing options and can't wait to see how others really wow us as these ladies did.

  9. The pantry one hits home for me, my pantry currently looks like the before picture! I need to buckle down and get to it!

  10. I wish I had a bigger pantry! I love organization topics! Thanks for sharing!

  11. FREE makeovers are my favorite! There's usually done the quickest too, because you have everything on hand already instead of having to wait until you can get to a store or order the item(s) you're needing!

  12. I love your blog, read it every day even if I don't comment! I love seeing how oyhers organize, the ideas are all fabulous and for ZERO dollars, you can't beat that! Thanks for featuring these great ladies! XO, Pinky

  13. I wish I had a bigger pantry too! Love the before/after pics!!

  14. yay! I love free! thats better than cheap! I cant wait to link up!


  15. Wow, so inspiring! I just have to chime in because I saw someone who has "diaper inserts" as the label there in this post and wanted to give a shot out to the cloth diaperer. Whoo hoo! (Tara at

  16. I organised my sewing boxes last night. I honestly thought I'd need another container, but folding all the fabric neatly and using a few ziplock bags to corral things like scraps and buttons and an old kids mini backpack containing embroidery threads and it all fits like a glove.

    I also made a big improvement to the top shelf of my larder this week with a couple of boxes (the ones my sons lunchbox drinks come in) to keep packets together as they were spreading out and taking up loads of room. I gained about 1/2 a shelf with that little change.

  17. amazing - just love it

  18. Seriously???? These are THE best makeovers!

    1. No cost= EVERYONE can do this!
    2. Practical: Purge, consolidate, like items with like items: DONE!

    You ladies are AWESOME. Love it!

  19. A while ago I worked with a client re organizing a garage. I had an assistant and it seemed like she wanted to put everything in boxes.

    I saw her butting little boxes into bigger boxes and I was completely lost for words.

    I understand putting loose items in boxes but why a box in a box? Seems like it would be hard for the client to get what they need or at least thats what I thought.

    I really wish I would have taken before and after pics.

    Either way the job got done though and the client was happy, turns out he loves things in boxes haha

    I love both of these though &@no cost!

    Sometimes however, people don't have time or the energy to get home from work and reorganize their living space, which is when they call us.

    What seems to be a little for someone can be a lot to another.

  20. I love free organizing. Anything can look good corralled in Dollar Store buckets and or baskets. Here is something simple I did this week to organize my cords without spending a cent:

    Love the result and the cost! ($0)

  21. I love everything on this site! I just wish you could come to my house and redo the whole house. I am a stay at home mom of a 1 and 3 year old boy, I am a full time studnet, and wife. ALso very active in church and in other activities. My house suffers and so does my sanity. I do not like a cluttered unorginized house and thats the way my house has looked for 3 years now. I am starting today to try some of your tips and ideas on cleaning schedule and caddys. My boys empty out every single bin in there room after I orginize everything and its overwhelming... SO heres to trying new ideas and new ways! Thanks for sharing your life with stangers!

  22. Sharing this link as part of a blog post! Check it out!!

  23. i had a similar problem with my linen closet and a limited budget.This is how it turned out


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