LEXINGTON, Ky. — I had mountains of ideas about what I wanted to do with my dorm room, and after I moved off-campus, my house space:
A new chair for the desk that was stacked with packing boxes of desk supplies and books. A captivating mural for the wall that was hidden behind shoe boxes. An Anthropologie quilt for the bed that was covered with bags of winter sweaters, stuffed toys and linens. And a rug for the floor that was buried beneath a sea of suitcases and duffel bags.
See the trend?
When I moved in I had a load of ideas to revamp and decorate my room, but my space was being overrun with boxes and luggage.
From my days living in the dorms and at my current off-campus space, I was able to find storage for most of my items, but I still had a few boxes left unpacked.
Most people probably don’t have hours of time for organization, but living in a dorm, apartment or small house, there is not much room for disorganization. Literally.
I devised a few easy, DIY storage ideas that are easy on the eyes and equally easy on the wallet.
No, I’m not dumping my stuff.
The first step to creating a place for your things is deciding what deserves a home and what does not.
Most college students have done the “big chop” by downsizing to only the “necessities.” But if too much is left over, another chop might be in order.
Cutting down was difficult for me, especially when it came to clothing. But storing my off-season items cleared a lot of space in my closet.
Here’s a tip to decide what goes and what stays: Look at it, and if you cannot make a decision to keep within five seconds, it just might end up on a shelf all season.
DIY: Here is my quick and easy way to store off-season clothing and other items. Vacuum-seal bags can get pricey, and this is a less expensive way to go.
• A few large garbage bags (Wal-Mart, $7.48)
• A vacuum with a detachable hose (Wal-Mart $14.84)
• A plastic storage container (Lowe’s, $4.98)
Package folded clothes and extra items in a garbage bag. Insert the vacuum hose into the opening of the bag and hold the bag tightly around the hose. Vacuum the air from the bag until it is flat and air is gone from the bag. Still holding tightly around the bag opening, twist it and knot it.
Store vacuumed bags in containers in a cool, dry place.
I sent some of my tubs back to my parents’ house and will retrieve them when needed, and I keep some tubs under the bed.
Sweetest jewelry stand
I confess, I have enough chains and bracelets to put fake gold and silver teeth on at least 10 rap artists, but in my new place I had no idea where to put them. I had too many to put in a jewelry box, and professional jewelry cases were out of my price range.
I needed something tall enough and with enough hooks to hold my collection — and then some.
I decided to create my own jewelry stand modeled after a cake stand.
DIY: So I made the sweetest and most customizable jewelry stand. No need for the expensive stuff; nothing in this project cost more than $1. You’ll need:
• 2-3 plates (Goodwill, 25 to 50 cents each)
• 1-2 vases (Goodwill, 50 cents each)
• Something to fill a clear vase, if using
• Hooks (Wal-Mart, pack of 8, 98 cents)
Wash all plates and vases. Once dry, measure for the center of each plate; it’s where you’ll place the vases. Assemble the stand (plate, vase, plate, vase, plate) and test it before gluing to be sure it is balanced and centered. If any of your vases are transparent, fill it with beads or stones to add color if you’d like. Once satisfied with the stand, put it together using super glue or a glue gun with high heat glue sticks. Glue as many hooks as necessary around the edges of the top two plates. Let your creation stand for at least 24 hours before adding jewelry.
All-in-one shadow box
It’s the little things that make up life — and most of our room clutter. A shadow box can be an easy way to create storage for extra items. Shadow boxes are simple wooden boxes with clear windows. Using shadow boxes for storage can move items off desks or dressers and onto the walls.
DIY: All you need are:
• Shadow box (Michael’s craft store, $9.99)
• Paint (Hobby Lobby, $5.99)
• Sponge brush (Wal-Mart, 68 cents)
• Foam board (Wal-Mart, $1.48)
• X-Acto knife (Hobby Lobby, $3.99)
• Craft paper, optional (Michael’s craft store, 19 cents a sheet)
For shelves, measure the length and depth of the box. Cut strips from the foam board accordingly. I made my strips a millimeter longer so they would fit tighter. Set strips aside. Measure the paper to line the inside back of the box and set aside. Paint box the desired color and let dry completely before final assembly. Glue down craft paper; paint it if desired. Use hot glue on the shelves for sturdiness. Let dry completely before mounting and use.
Where I can see it
Growing up, if I could not see the mess, it wasn’t there. So for me, open spaces make for neater rooms. Instead of buying a five-drawer dresser, I opted for a cube storage system. The openness of the cubes made me conscious of my clothing and other items, so I was neater with more room to spare. This furniture style is trending now, with its sleek and modern style. I took what originally was meant to be a bookcase and repurposed it with a few cloth baskets. That way, I was able to organize my clothing without it taking up too much space. I built my storage system myself using the Sauder Beginnings Collection Organizer Bookcase (Wal-Mart, $29.88).