Budget-Friendly and Creative Ways to Make Space in a Cramped Home

Image via Pexels

I hope you all enjoy this informative and creative article written by Karen Weeks of Elderwellness.net which has some excellent storage ideas to keep your home organized and beautiful.

If you feel suffocated in your own home because there is just so much stuff everywhere, there’s no need to go out and buy a bigger house. Make the most of what you have already by cleaning out what you don’t need and using creative storage ideas to organize what you keep. This may be a bit of a time investment, but there’s no need to drain your savings. Not only will the tips below help you organize a cramped home, but they’ll help you do it on a budget. What’s more, these tips are much more affordable than purchasing a bigger home and all that entails!

Never Pay Full Price

In the rare case you do need to make a little investment to create the storage plan of your dreams, commit to never paying full price for anything. What’s more, there’s no need to spend hours sifting through the paper looking for discounts. Major retailers frequently offer online coupons and cash back. So if you couple a coupon code with an additional offer, you won’t break the bank while you’re organizing and beautifying your space. 

Add Function and Style with Floating Shelves

Turn all those books, knick-knacks, and houseplants you can’t let go of into creative decor with the help of floating shelves. Stack long ones on top of each other to create your very own built-in bookshelves. Or, stagger different sizes and shapes to create a unique look of your own. However you do it, it’s a great way to make use of vertical space in your home. You can save money on all different styles of floating shelves at stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond that regularly offer promotions and additional savings on your purchase. While you’re there, you can stock up on other organization staples like hampers, baskets, and shower caddies. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 

You would be amazed at how many awesome ways you can turn what others would consider trash into creative storage solutions. A great example is the cereal box. Your neighbors might flatten them out and throw them in the bin, but to a creative visionary like yourself, an old cereal box can become drawer dividers or a handy mail station. Or, think about T-shirts. We all have extra Tees from this and that event. Instead of throwing them out, why not repurpose the fabric and turn them into cleaning rags that reduce your reliance on paper towels. 

Pack Up Unseasonal Clothes

Your grandmother had the right idea when she took a day each season to change out her wardrobe. There’s not much point in having all your sweaters and heavy coats cluttering your closet in the summer. Use vacuum bags to store your clothes, keeping them fresh and safe from bugs, dust, and moisture. However, there’s no need to invest in expensive store-bought versions; you can make your own vacuum bags for clothing with plastic garbage liners.

Embrace Multi-Function Furniture 

If you have a little room in your budget after saving so much with the above tips, add a breath of fresh air to your home decor with a piece of multi-functional furniture that looks good while providing storage. Look for ottomans, coffee tables, full-length mirrors, and even chairs that have additional storage. Fill your new furniture with chargers, knick-knacks, slippers, or anything else you have just lying around for a less cluttered look. 

Clean-up time

Once you’ve organized from top to bottom, now’s the perfect time to commit to a thorough cleaning as well. From ceiling fan blades to the baseboards, you can make your home a healthy, organized haven. Look into savings for cleaning supplies at major retailers like Target so you can stock your arsenal or take it to the next level and make your own cleaners. 

Think of the money you’ll save

All of this may sound like it’s going to cost you a lot of money, but in the end, getting your smaller house organized and decluttered is much easier — and cheaper — than finding a new home. Not only will you save money by not purchasing a bigger abode, but you’ll also save on the actual move itself. Hiring reliable professionals to handle your move costs money, which you’ll still have in the bank at the end of the day if you stay put and declutter.

A well-organized home is a happy and healthy home. You can achieve this dream for less when you embrace money-saving philosophies like “never pay full price” and “reduce, reuse, recycle.” You can also add function and style by using floating shelves and multi-function furniture. With a little extra elbow grease and some patience, your home will be tidier and more organized in no time.

The Urge To Purge…Clutter, That Is…

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 36630133
Copyright : Ioulia Bolchakova

Over the decades, I have accumulated a lot of stuff, and there are many things I may never have the heart to part with, so they remain somewhere in my home, either on display or in a closet or garage shelf. However, the idea of holding onto something I am not currently using has never sit well with me, so I frequently perform purges in which I deep clean, reorganize, repair, and at times sell or donate belongings which are not being used. Since my mother’s family was notorious for being pack rats (to give you an idea, I nominated my favorite aunt for an episode of Hoarders and they were keenly interested in bringing her on, then she fell ill), I have fought against any inclination to hang onto anything which will merely take up space.

I conduct purges about 4 to 8 times per year, and this includes areas such as my garage, all closets, my kitchen, my bedroom, and my master bathroom. Strangely, even though I frequently get rid of things, I somehow still have so much stuff, and it truly bothers me at times. I guess I am not destined to lead a spartan lifestyle, especially when I hold onto keepsakes like the stuffed yellow dog which was in my crib and can still play “Rock a Bye Baby” from the music box which is nestled in its belly. However, old area rugs, candles which I never used, books I have no interest in reading again, decorative pieces which have been ousted in favor of new ones with a different theme or color story, all end up either on Facebook Marketplace or in boxes which are carted off to Goodwill.

For those of you who tend to be hoarders, especially those of you who hold onto a box because it’s a “good box” (don’t fret, I’ve done that too), it might be a good idea to enforce regular purge sessions so that you don’t get pushed out of your own home by your own clutter!

The Bikini Box

It may be considered strange by some people, but I perform scheduled purges of my belongings on a regular basis. Why? Because they enable me to stay organized, and they also force me to get rid of items I don’t need. Recently, I decided that as part of a household purge, I would go through every single bikini in my bikini box.

The bikini box I am referring to is an underbed storage box which holds all of my bikinis. I established this system several years ago when I began to accumulate bikinis and would use them in photo shoots. After struggling to sort through my collection when I packed for a slew of photo shoots over the summer, I realized that there were suits I had never worn, suits which had been shot too many times, suits which no longer fit, and suits which had never fit.

I tried on every single suit, assessed fit, and determined whether to keep it or give it away. If I decided to keep a suit, I then made sure the top was tied securely at the neck, and also secured the side ties on bottoms, to make it easier to put it on when at a shoot. I also cut off tags so that they wouldn’t poke at me or stick out and create extra editing work for photographers. I also labeled the bags I stored the bikinis in so that the styles could be easily identified without me having to remove the suit from the bag.

It took me five hours to go through that bikini box, which means I averaged about 20 suits per hour. I gave away close to 20 suits and kept the rest, making sure that each suit was in a slide lock sandwich size storage bag. The suits are organized by color, making it easier for me to select suits for a shoot.

Now I am ready to shoot!

Keeping Pace With A Crazy Schedule

George Kontaxis shoot

The last few weeks have been NUTS. I am talking about day after day of so many shifts in my schedule and demands on my time, that I am torn in many different directions, and cannot focus on a darned thing. When this kind of chaos ensues, I begin to lose items, certain basic vocabulary terms escape me, and I feel like I am rushing by everything and everyone, like a bullet train zooming through a bustling cityscape.

For the life of me, I can’t find a gray tank top which I had recently purchased and put…somewhere. I honestly can’t remember where. This isn’t like me, because I am VERY organized, to the point of having all of my clothing organized by color, sleeve length, etc. So why can’t I find that gray top?

I literally run around in my bedroom, grabbing for clothes, rushing, trying to keep up with the stressful demands of being in so many places all the time. It’s starting to get old. Forget about having time to read a book, or watch a TV show, because by the time the dust settles from the crazy days I have been flying through, the notion of blissful sleep is so seductive that I don’t want to do anything else.

What keeps me from unraveling is the consistency I demand with my eating habits and my workouts. I am not joking about this. Despite the insane schedule I have been juggling lately, I still weight train six mornings each week. I attend lyra class one to two evenings during the week. My meals consist of clean foods like chicken breast, salmon, tilapia, green beans, asparagus, brown rice, quinoa, avocado, almonds, oats, and Greek yogurt. I have been drinking plenty of alkaline water. I have also been consistent about consuming MitoXcell every morning (I LOVE this supplement and intend to post more about it when I get a chance to breathe!), and I also take my regular supplements (like turmeric, CoQ10, folic acid, etc.) daily. My energy levels have been decent, and my mood has been generally great, with only a couple of stark exceptions.

There are two days next week which I have designated as clean up and organization days, and I desperately need them. During those days, I will perform the deep cleaning throughout most of the house which the housekeeper always neglects, I will reorganize cabinets and drawers, clean up the garage and patio, and find that gray top!

Depotting MAC Eye Shadows Is Not Fun


Despite the fact that I hardly wear any makeup in my daily life, I have an enormous collection of makeup which I accumulated mostly during 2006 through 2010, when my love for MAC Cosmetics was at its peak. My collection of eye shadows is particularly impressive, with over 80 MAC eye shadows, about a dozen NARS, Chanel, and Chantecaille eye shadows, and roughly 60 MAC loose pigments.

My collection of eye shadow pots was neatly organized in bins, but because I had so many, the shades at the bottoms of the stacks were neglected because I couldn’t see them without digging through the plethora of pots. I kept thinking that I would eventually depot these eye shadows and organize them into palettes, but my busy schedule prevented that from happening for years.

I finally decided last month to depot my MAC eye shadows, and also thought it would be a good idea to depot my MAC blushes, MAC Mineralized Skinfinish bronzers and highlighters, and press the pigments. For those of you who know what all that means, I am sure you are groaning at the idea of depotting that many eye shadow pots, 12 blushes, 17 MSF domes, and all of those pigments. Nevertheless, I was determined.

Before I began the project, I asked a number of professional makeup artists if they had any tips on how to easily depot the eye shadows, and every single one of them told me that it was very challenging.

I decided to start with my MAC blushes. An hour later, I had depotted six of them, but not without denting the pans they were in and crumbling a couple of them, which meant that I was forced to master the art of re-pressing crumbled powder makeup pans. Oh joy. I was so frustrated that I took the rest of the blushes off the list.

MAC blushes depotted and in a MAC Pro Palette Duo.

MAC blushes depotted and in a MAC Pro Palette Duo.

About a week later, I decided to depot my MAC eye shadow pots, which meant sorting them out in groups of 15 by color family, then heating up the pots on my straightening iron. The setup for this project took up the entire dining room table:

Here was my setup for the MAC eye shadow depotting session I had.  The larger pots in the top left of the image are my MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes.  The other pots and small palettes comprise only about half of my MAC eye shadow collection.  The knives, cookie sheet, rubbing alcohol, and magnet sheets you see in the image were used in the depotting process.

Here was my setup for the MAC eye shadow depotting session I had. The larger pots in the top left of the image are my MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes. The other pots and small palettes comprise only about half of my MAC eye shadow collection. The knives, cookie sheet, rubbing alcohol, and magnet sheets you see in the image were used in the depotting process.

The pans were so difficult to wedge out that the pans became dented once again, and shadows crumbled. So I once again had to re-press some of them. I spent about two hours working on the palette pictured below, and became so frustrated with the poor design of the MAC palette and inserts that I moved all the pans over to the Makeup Forever palettes I purchased.

The first palette I attempted.  No more MAC palette nonsense for me!  I got rid of this MAC palette duo, and switched to Makeup Forever palette tins, which are great for the standard MAC eye shadow pans.  The Z-Palette brand is excellent for pressed pigments and domed makeup pans.

The first palette I attempted. No more MAC palette nonsense for me! I got rid of this MAC palette duo, and switched to Makeup Forever palette tins, which are great for the standard MAC eye shadow pans. The Z-Palette brand is excellent for pressed pigments and domed makeup pans.

My first Makeup Forever eye shadow palette with MAC eye shadow pans

My first Makeup Forever eye shadow palette with MAC eye shadow pans

After completing the first eye shadow palette, I got lazy and removed the inner tray from the pots without bothering to remove the pans from them, and placed the trays into the palettes. Less work, and much less frustration meant a happier Stacey.


I spent a third day using my lazy depotting method on the domed MAC eye shadows. I thought it would be easy and safe. I was wrong. I sliced my fingertip and jabbed my right hand three times with the knife I was using to snap the domed shadows from their pots. But after placing them in the domed Z-Palettes, I was a pretty happy camper.


Finally, on my fourth day of makeup organizing hell, I pressed all the small sample jars of MAC loose pigment which I had collected over the years. Those turned out beautifully:


After all that, you would think I was done, but I am still planning to press a portion of the full sized MAC loose pigments I have:

My collection of MAC full sized loose pigments

My collection of MAC full sized loose pigments

I am also considering depotting the MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes, but the thought of them cracking and crumbling worries me. These things are beautiful!

One of my MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes

One of my MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes

A long row of MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes

A long row of MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes

Being Spontaneous Is Good For The Soul


Most people who know me well would describe me as pretty organized and on top of things. I am also so busy all the time that I honestly have to put everything in my calendar so that I know what is happening. As a result of having so much on my plate, I am rarely able to make last minute plans. I often give people the impression that I am all work and no play, and that I am always serious.

But I am a spunky one and thrive on variety. Though I like consistency and stability, I am always keen on new adventures, and much like a horse in a corral, I go a bit stir crazy when I am cooped up in a place or a situation for too long. As a result, the spontaneous part of me sometimes takes over, and I will do something out of character. I honestly wish I had more of a chance to do something on a moment’s notice, but I am a grownup, with a career and some pretty big goals which require my focus and attention.

Every once in a while, I have to contend with last minute schedule changes which usually make me feel anxious. It is pretty challenging for me to have to completely rearrange my schedule when one event shifts, because a domino effect occurs. However, I have been more adaptable in recent weeks, and have even found myself changing things up without having a compulsion to resist the changes. Instead of rushing home after work to do even more work, I have recently allowed myself to visit friends, lounge on the sofa with a cat or two, or take myself out to dinner after a particularly long day.

I also love finding a gap in my schedule and throwing a weekend getaway into the mix, because it enables me to recharge my batteries, escape the rhythm of my regular schedule, and have a little fun. There is also a part of me which yearns for international travel, so much so that I am willing to move everything around to accommodate a visit to another country. My attitude is that life is short, and that you only live once. I have no intention of waiting until the “perfect” time to travel or take a vacation, especially since I was stuck in that mindset for far too long during my 20’s and 30’s. If I can visit a different country ever year or so, I will be a happy camper.

Who knows, you might see me visiting a new country very soon!

I Love My Six Pack Bag Mini…

If you don’t have a Six Pack Bag to carry your meals around in, you really should get one! I have had the Innovator 500, the Innovator 300, and I also have the Innovator Mini. I ran the Innovator 500 into the ground from using it constantly over the span of several years. I love the Innovator 300 and use it when I travel, but the Innovator Mini is absolutely perfect for my daily needs. It’s compact, yet it holds everything I need for a day. I put my alkalizer in one beverage chamber, my BCAA’s in the other chamber, and also have three full meals neatly packed on the shelves inside the bag. The bag is lightweight, and has a thick, cushioned strap, so it won’t dig into your shoulder when you cart it around.

You can check out the review I put together when I first got the Innovator Mini right here:

How Hoarders Process Information

I found the following article to be incredibly fascinating, and concur with study author Jennifer M. Sumner’s statement that hoarders have difficulties with establishing bulk categories for their possessions. This results in a complete inability to organize items, so they accumulate. I have included a link to the original post for reference.

mind of a hoarder


Inside the Mind of a Hoarder
A new study hints at the real reason behind the mess.
By Agata Blaszczak Boxe

When Paul Hammond, a resident of Mobile, Alabama, started collecting used cars and appliances to sell for scrap metal, he probably did not suspect that his habit would one day turn into a serious hoarding issue and land him in jail.

But, over the years, random items kept piling up in his yard, and Hammond just was not getting rid of them. After numerous complaints from the neighbors, who accused him of turning his property into a junkyard, county authorities got involved and cited him for criminal littering. They also threatened to put him in jail if he did not clean up.

When Hammond’s brother came to visit him for the Fourth of July several years ago, he saw about 90 cars, about 50 refrigerators and 100 lawn mowers in the yard. The brother quit his job for four months to help Hammond get rid of the stuff. But the county officials were not happy with the job the men did and they put Hammond in jail for five days.

“I thought I was a law-abiding citizen,” Hammond told A&E’s show Hoarders. Although he was released after the five days, he was still facing up to 90 more days in jail if he did not clean up around the time the TV crew came to film an episode about him.

Hammond is one of the many people with hoarding disorder who end up being overwhelmed with possessions they can’t organize or get rid of. Hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder, for example, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression. To try to understand what mechanisms in the brain may be responsible for hoarding behavior, researchers have recently begun to look at the neurocognitive aspects of the disorder, but studies have yielded mixed results.

For example, one study looked at people with obsessive-compulsive disorder and found that those who had high levels of hoarding behavior performed significantly worse on tests of decision making, planning and properly shifting attention, compared with people with OCD with lower levels of hoarding. However, it’s difficult to conclude that these cognitive traits are responsible for hoarding because another study found people with hoarding disorder actually performed better on the same type of test than participants with non-hoarding OCD.

In a new study, published in Neuropsychology, researchers looked at neurocognitive functioning in 26 people with hoarding disorder and 23 people without the disorder. The researchers thought the discrepancies between the results of previous studies could have been caused by the effects of medications used by some of the participants, so in the new study, they decided to only include people who were not taking any medication that could affect their brain functioning in any way.

The new study found no significant differences in how people in both groups performed on tests examining their verbal memory, attention, or executive functions such as planning, organization and decision-making.

But the researchers did find a difference between the groups: when they asked the participants to categorize different stimuli in a separate test, the people with the hoarding disorder appeared to use different learning strategies during the categorizing task, compared with the controls. Namely, they tended to use explicit learning, which is about developing and verbalizing rules to remember something, explained study author Jennifer M. Sumner, of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. In contrast, most people without the disorder used implicit learning, which is an unconscious, non-linear and non-verbal way to learn new information.

The researchers don’t know for sure how these results should be interpreted. But the findings do make them wonder whether, in people with hoarding disorder, the inability to organize and sort through their possessions might have something to do with how they process information, Sumner said.

It could be, for example, that people with the disorder try to come up with rules as to where different objects should go, but because they may end up creating too many rules, “it ends up being chaotic and cluttered,” Sumner said. Conversely, people without the disorder “might look at objects in their home and have this implicit, intrinsic subconscious ability to know where objects go, to know what is not important and what they can get rid of,” she told Braindecoder. “So they don’t have that clutter.”

In fact, previous research has suggested that people with the disorder tend to be under-inclusive in how they categorize the things they have, Sumner said.

“If you give them 10 objects to sort, they may put them in 10 different categories because they are all unique and complex in their own way,” Sumner said. But if a person without the disorder is given the same 10 objects, they may be able to put them in just two different groups, so they are easily organized and there is no clutter, she said.

“So we have this ability implicitly to decide where things should go,” which many people with hoarding disorder may not have, Sumner said.

R.I.P. To My Palm PDA

Palm Pilot

After relying on Palm and Palm Pilot PDA’s to organize my calendar for the past 14 years, I was forced to walk away from a deeply entrenched habit. Why? Because my most recent Palm finally gave up on me, and since I hadn’t been able to back it up this entire year, there was no point in holding onto what is now considered obsolete technology.

I received my first Palm PDA during my medical residency training, and was instructed to enter my patient clinic schedule on it, as well as anything hospital-related. My obsessive-compulsive need to be on top of my schedule all the time fell in love with the technology, so I continued to use the Palm after I completed my residency training.

I would regularly HotSync with my computer, safely backing up the data on the Palm. However, my Mac stopped supporting the sync software due to 2015 Mac operating system upgrades, and since my Windows 7 laptop didn’t support the Palm OS, I was pretty much screwed this year. I kept dreading dropping the Palm or somehow damaging it. What happened, though, was so weird. I had the Palm with me, and at one point when I had it on a tabletop, it beeped, turned on, then off. After that, I discovered that ALL of my data, my entire calendar as well as notes, were deleted. Thanks Mercury retrograde! I then spent about two hours on Google Calendar, trying to remember everything which was on my calendar. Not fun!

Over the years I have become completely accustomed to using the handwriting tablet on the Palm, and have considered the Palm a sort of security blanket. I loved not having to rely on an internet connection to access my schedule, and I loved having my calendar separate from my phone, especially since my phone has a horrible time holding a charge. Unfortunately, I have been forced to abandon my trusted Palm, and must now get used to using Google Calendar, then accessing it either on my Android, or on a tablet which I reluctantly purchased for the sole purpose of holding my schedule.

I am also ready to stop being teased about carrying a Palm around! For those of you who have engaged in the teasing, I just want you to know that I am updating my life with the tablet and Google Calendar. I know, it’s about time! But guess what? Palms are considered the predecessors to Smart Phones, so have a little respect for the technology! 🙂