Lisa Hess offers 3 strategies for shopping for storage solutions on a budget.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to visit my daughter in Pittsburgh. As promised, she took me to our happy place.
The Container Store.
Much to my chagrin, The Container Store has no locations within an hour of my house, which means I haven't been to a brick-and-mortar location in over a decade. This, coupled with the fact that my daughter is outfitting and organizing her first apartment, meant we had to go up and down every single aisle in the store.
My husband deserves an award for this expedition. He not only tolerated it, but was patient throughout and even snagged a few things of his own.
But I digress.
This type of a trip can be very useful, but also very dangerous from a budgetary perspective. If you like to organize and/or are in the process of putting rooms/closets/rectangular spaces in order, it's frighteningly easy to spend a lot of money very fast.
If money is no object, this is not a problem. But, for most of us, budgets are real, so it’s important to take a few precautions in order to avoid breaking the bank.
My daughter was all over this. She knew which spaces needed solutions and, together, we went through them ahead of time and made a list. That didn't mean we couldn't deviate from the list (we did), but it meant that we left with the most important things and, if we got sidetracked, we could determine whether or not the off-list item made the cut.
Know your styles.
There are so many possibilities in a store like this that it's easy to go for the shiny objects, literally and figuratively. When you fall in love with a potential solution, look at it through the lenses of your personal and organizational styles. Sure, it's pretty and/or a great idea, but will you use it? It's easy to get swept up by the serenity afforded by matching closet organizers but if your personal style is I need to see it, do you really want to hide everything in a set of bins and boxes that are all the same color? If so, how will you make that work for you?
Keep the numbers in mind.
Sure, that solution looks great but is it worth the price tag? Perhaps more important, will it fit in the space where you want to use it? I know this (and practiced it while shopping) yet I still have buyer's remorse over a few things I bought because I hadn't done the same prep here that we did at my daughter's apartment. Excited by the possibilities, I failed to consider the fact that I hadn't measured spaces before I left my house.
Clearly, I'm a fan of The Container Store, and so I say this with love: going to any store that offers solutions makes it all too easy for us to forget that one size does not fit all. They aren't promising that, necessarily, but it's easy to walk through those doors and think, "This is the place that's going to solve all my problems."
Nope. That's too tall an order for any store. In fact, when I asked one of the clerks about solutions for a particular organizing challenge, she shook her head, acknowledging that they didn't really have anything for that. We chatted for a few minutes about what that might look like and how great that would be. I thoroughly enjoyed that conversation, not just because it was about organizing, but because I appreciated her honesty and her helpfulness.
Will I go back? You bet. In fact, I'd go back this weekend if I had a store near me. What's not to love about a store whose bags are imprinted with the phrase: "Where space comes from"?
Ah, clear space. My favorite organizational outcome.
Copyright 2022 Lisa Hess
About the Author
Transplanted Jersey girl Lisa Lawmaster Hess is the author of a blog compilation, three novels, and three non-fiction books, including the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.