Solutions: Know when to repurpose your old organizers

Jeanine Matlow

To buy or not to buy seems to be the question I often ask myself when contemplating an organization project of any kind. Should I add to my arsenal of baskets, containers and bins when I already have more than enough understudies waiting in the wings?

Though I know it makes sense to first repurpose my own pieces, sometimes I can’t let go of an idea in my head, which is what happened to me recently.

Since my closet has quickly gone from bad to worse, I have to do something about it before I lose my way and my wardrobe. And though I can’t compare my shoe collection to the Real Housewives of any county, I have enough to store in plastic bins.

While it’s true that I used to have a bunch of these bins, I’ve since given them away and I don’t regret that decision. They were random styles that wouldn’t stack well and they went to a teacher for her classroom so it’s all for the best.

So, I bought some new ones and my entire purchase cost $10 for 10 bins, so it won’t set me back much and they’re already working their magic in my closet. Now I plan to address some other categories that are driving me crazy like my files that need a new spot after being displaced when I parted with an old desk.

Despite my weakness for organizers, I can usually restrain myself. Still, I’m finding that I shouldn’t have to do so every time I see one that might save the day. Currently, I’m on the lookout for the right file boxes and a few other goodies that can help me get my life in order.

On the flip side, I have some ideas to try with my existing pieces, like a spare dresser in a hallway near my bedroom.

With its deep drawers and convenient location, it’s the perfect place for miscellaneous hostess gifts that need a new home after I gave away another dresser. But first, I need to empty the one I kept and sort through the contents.

In addition, I finally decided to rescue some of the wooden wine crates in my storage room that just happen to fit my favorite feature sections from the newspapers that I read in batches.

One unique style that has a divider might even be the right size for my active file folders.

I’ve also repurposed some laundry hampers to hold all those tote bags we need for books and beach towels when we’re on the go. They do the trick without taking up much space.

So, the next time someone asks whether it makes sense to invest in some organizing products, my answer will be simple. For me, it seems to be a combination of old and new that works best for my storage needs. Adding a few essentials to the ones you already have can help with a project that lends a sense of order, especially over a holiday weekend that offers an extra day. One can only hope.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at