Organising outside the box – Or inside the box as the case may be.

As you know I don’t talk much about organising here at 365lessthings. I have said before that once you declutter your home, the organising almost takes care of itself. However, a little imagination can make things more organised than you expected.

Over the last few years of decluttering and especially over the last 13 months there have been a lot of storage containers that have become redundant because there is nothing left to store in them. Or is there? :idea:  I have since discovered that if you look “outside the box” it is amazing what you can put inside the box.

The images above show a piece of genius my husband came up with to make it easy to access my small plastic kitchen storage items, pots and pans. He knows I hate deep cupboards because they are difficult to access and to keep tidy. The plastic coated metal basket drawers actually belong in our closet but were excess to our needs, they are perfect for holding pots and pans. While the plastic drawer set up had been used for craft storage is now an excellent  way to keep my plastics  organised.

These plastic drawers that once stored copy paper and stationery in our office are now coming in very useful to organise all the little bits and pieces that get stored under my kitchen sink. The top drawer stores cleaning items that are in use the second holds spare cleaning items and the third, a fire blanket and shopping bag. This set up is far more functional than when they were stored in open baskets or stacked on the shelf. Easy access to that fire blanket may be crucial one day.

I found another use for a set of three drawers in the pantry. This is just an experiment at the moment because there could be smell transfer issues with medicines in the top drawer, tea, coffee and bits and pieces in the middle drawer while onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and garlic reside in the bottom drawer. It has tidied things up a bit so I hope it works.

Some of these handy storage containers were sitting out in the garage unused, looking down the barrel of being sent to the thrift store with my other donations. I couldn’t justify keeping them unless I could find a use for them, and I am so glad I made the effort because my house is all the more organised for it. Do you have any containers that you have freed up while decluttering that you could utilise in another area of your home. Use your imagination and see what you can come up with.

Today’s Declutter Item

A lovely lady gave these puzzle books to Liam when he was in hospital but he already had a good supply that I had given him with so we donated these to charity. People aren’t going to care if they don’t have covers.

Puzzle Books 8FEB2011

Things I am grateful for today

  • Coming up with a new card design.
  • The joy I get from helping others.
  • A cool day at last.
  • Having a lazy day.
  • Having Bridget here to chauffeur Liam around.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I like your ideas! I put my old wicker basket with lid into better use. It now stores my mobile phone battery charger, headphone for Skype calls, external hard drive and my USB sticks.

    • Hi Anne,
      no matter how much you declutter there is always a use for a small wicker basket and they are especially useful for those little bits and pieces that you need handy.

  2. During my decluttering so far I have emptied 13 assorted wicker baskets in the bedroom eek! Funny thing was when they were full of stuff I never realised how many there were around the place. I’m now looking for ideas to use them for organising in different areas of the house.You have inspired me to think “outside the box” thanks.

    • Hi Liz,
      that is a lot of wicker baskets. They come in handy to hold face clothes or spare soaps etc in the bathroom cabinet. Also useful as the catch all for car keys etc or cables for the computer. There is always something that isn’t going to be decluttered that could do with being organised. You will find a use I am sure and if you end up with leftovers give them to your family and friends I am sure they could use them.

  3. I love those wire baskets your pots and pans are in.

    Good job putting your organizers back to work!

  4. Looks great! I thought you were storing your pans in the dishwasher when I first looked, which seemed like a bad plan…

  5. Oh how I love those images. Pure organisational beauty……….off to find a container to repurpose!

  6. Such a simple, obvious solution, and yet I’ve never thought of it. I used similar plastic drawers for clothing, but using them under the sink or in the kitchen, obvious as it should be, never even occurred to me. Thanks for this piece of inspiration!

    • Hi Adam,
      sometimes solutions are sitting right under our noses and we just don’t see them. I hope you find some interesting uses for your excess organising containers.

  7. I’ve been ruthless with all my baskets and plastic containers. As soon as they were emptied of clutter they were GONE! Most I left on the nature strip, and was recently told by a lovely neighbour that she was so grateful to me for leaving them out so she could make use of them 🙂

    Looking around the house, I can only see/think of 6 wicker baskets (kids’ toys and library books) and 2 of the long underbed plastic baskets (Lego) that are in use. I figure if I ever need more, the local op shops are literally TEEMING with them!!

    • Hi Loretta,
      “deliver us not into temptation” was the inspiration to declutter those containers I bet. I hope that you never have the need to go the the op shop and pick up replacements. It must have been nice to know that your neighbour is finding them useful, not for clutter though I hope. 😉

      • Colleen, I need to add that YOU were the inspiration behind getting rid of the containers. Especially the ugly plastic 4-drawer kind, for paperwork/stationery. When you got rid of yours a while back, I thought “No, I NEED mine, where would all that stuff live?” A few weeks later, I looked at it again (it took up so much space on the computer table) and rehoused or tossed stuff. My husband didn’t even realise it was gone until the other day!

        Plus, I love the Things you are Grateful for list. It sounds like you have a wonderful life (and it makes me feel less guilty for not working outside the home, and enjoying coffees and walks).