Get Organized-- But Stop Buying Organizers 

One of my favorite ways to outfit our Cottage is by using vintage, handmade, or hand-me-down items in unexpected ways. It’s a wonderful way to uniquely dress up your space and tackle organizational issues while putting sentimental items to use, and without contributing to the rapidly increasing environmental problems due to mass production and waste. If you’re interested in testing the waters, I’d suggest starting with your “junk drawer.” Notoriously messy, these makeshift homes for frequently used, nomadic items are the perfect place to start. 

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You don’t need a custom-crafted or store-bought drawer organizer— just look around your space and consider what you already have available to you. Are there items stashed about that you want to keep for sentimental reasons (or others), but aren’t regularly using? If so, can they be either permanently or temporarily repurposed as a petite storage vessel? 

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Consider items such as used packing materials, compact baskets, chooses, mugs, votive holders, food containers, shells, old iPhone boxes, etc. Depending on the size of your drawer(s) and the dimensions of the objects in need of wrangling, you might have some ideal solutions already at your fingertips. 

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Our shallow “junk” drawer, which is at the end of our kitchen, holds matches, rechargeable batteries, chalk, infrequently used keys, string, tape, eyeglass repair instruments, and more. We access these little odds-and-ends every day, so the drawer can get really messy really fast. In lieu of purchasing a new plastic or bamboo divider, and instead of spending time scouring Etsy for a properly-sized vintage option, I saved time and money by putting some miscellaneous collections of ours to additional use. 

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For example, we have a few jars and recycled tealight cups that we use for candles, but they’re only out on special occasions. By giving them the extra responsibility of keeping our drawer tidy, we’ve eliminated the need to find a dedicated storage space to house them in their downtime. 

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Similarly, Adam and I had a random mix of old mugs that mean something to us, but that we don’t actually use for tea or coffee. Rather than stashing them in the back of the cabinets  (where they’ll consume valuable inches) or donating them, we now see and enjoy them again in this practical, purposeful way.

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This concept doesn’t only apply to drawer dividers, of course. I keep office supplies and handbag contents in vine baskets that are actually vase covers, and many of my little accessories around the house are stashed in woven drinking glass sleeves. And my business documents are filed in old picnic baskets, rather than file boxes

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I know this is a 101 task and concept, but it can be surprisingly helpful in tiny and/or cramped spaces! Start small, and test out how your first attempt looks, feels and functions. If you’re pleased with the results, then tackle more zones. This can actually be a delightful, creative challenge.