Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Some Thoughts on Containers

Yesterday I went to a store that kind of feels like organizing mecca to me, The Container Store.  I love this store because everything has so much potential.  How cool would this or that be to hold my stuff and make it look so much prettier.  But as much as I love this store, I rarely buy anything there.  We do have our closet system that is Elfa but it was already here when we bought the house.  It always occurs to me that if I would just let go of some more things I wouldn't need another container to hold it.  However, I am a huge fan of hiding things in boxes instead of having them out for the world to see.

I stroll through the aisles and just love the patterns and sleek displays.  One of the items I always go crazy for are pretty file folders like these.  I have some of these cool folders but I realized quickly that they are hidden in my filing box so what's the point.  Hmmmm, not such a good investment.  Maybe if I had some acrylic shelves where they are displayed in the office though.  Very cool, indeed.  I really love paper products though, anything stationery, journal or with pretty colors makes my heart melt.  I gave myself a good lecture though and moved on without a purchase.
I pondered these shoe boxes for a little while, not because I wanted them but just couldn't imagine buying them.  I really don't have that many shoes though so it doesn't make sense for me.  To me, this is a bit inconvenient but I suppose it does make a nice display if you have a collection of gorgeous shoes.  When you see these amazing closets that come from a fairy tale, they probably use these.  What I can imagine in many closets is a bunch of these boxes sitting on the floor empty because the person was too lazy to put them back in there.  Isn't hanging up clothes enough work?  It seems like it would be a good idea, but maybe not.
This is what we have.  I wish I had those leopard print shoes on mine.

I do love wooden hangers.  Before I got married, all my clothes were on wooden hangers but now G prefers his to be on my our wooden hangers.  I have a mix of these and the plastic ones like you see at the stores.  They are both ok for me, but for the look I always go with wooden.  I bought mine from Target one packet of three at a time so gradually my closet looked all pretty and uniform.  They also sell these at Ikea but I don't like the quality of the wood because they snag your clothes.
One of the reasons I visited yesterday was to look for a spice rack.  My spices are a mess in little packets that I buy from bulk bins.  They are in desperate need of a makeover.  I like the idea of a spice rack, but the living on the counter part I'm not sure I like.  I'm still contemplating solution so if you have any insights, please share.

I must say that I'm always intrigued by anything lipstick related and maybe at one time I would have bought something like this.  Now I like all my makeup hidden in a drawer instead of out for display and organized.  I've been so good at whittling down my makeup and not replacing anything.  I still have my goal of all my makeup fitting in one little bag.  Why should I need more?  As I use up six items of Mac, I am so happy to only leave with one, through their recycling program.  
I honestly left the store with nothing but a bad taste in my mouth.  Even though I love these storage ideas, I just wondered how one might get the wrong idea about organizing.  Organizing isn't about buying more stuff to hold the stuff you don't need. I could go on and on but that's the crux of it.  I worked a temp job a couple of years ago.  The lady that I was working for was a paper hoarder in the worst sense of the word.  Her cubicle area looked like it exploded 10 filing cabinets.  The interesting thing to me was that she had about 20 filing systems started but never used.  Looking for something was useless because you had to look through all her "organization" tools to find them.  The hard part is that you have to be organized before you buy all these things that are supposed to make you organized.  

What are you thoughts on The Container Store?  Do you buy many organizing things and then not use them?  What are you drawn to in the store?  Are you like me and think many of these items are really a waste of money?  I mean, don't shoes come with shoe boxes?  Why do I have to buy another one?  


Adrienne Shubin said...

Great post! I like some containers...but find many gimmicky storage items useless and a waste of moola.

I have a couple of shoe racks that sit on the floor of my closet that really are not working for me. Shoes are constantly falling off, I can't see them because my clothes are hanging down - it's a mess. I need to find a new solution. Leaving them to sit directly on the floor is out - not enough room, and the dust and mildew would damage them - it's an old, damp house.

I also have a couple of long flat containers that I store clothes in when the weather changes. They slide under the bed easily. I had to toss the lids because they wouldn't fit with them on and now the cat likes to sleep in them and shed his little butt off all over my clothes!

Stephanie said...

You are going to crack up. I purchased that lipstick organizer from the Houston container store 2 years ago, right before I decluttered my gigantic lipstick collection. I now have 4 slots filled with lipstick only. A couple of more are holding sample size eye creams. I used to love those stores, now I don't. I'm working hard on getting rid of things and the need to store items is much less.

Unknown said...

I totally agree about the Container Store - it's just buying more stuff to hold your stuff. I did, however, just buy a spice rack from Ikea (

I also buy spice in bulk and it was getting hard to find what we had in all those little plastic packets; we were guilty of buying spices we already had a few times. Not at all expensive, but still a waste.

We bought three of those Ikea spice racks, which aren't cheap but fit my specifications. They are now neatly mounted to the inside of my pantry door, labeled by my handy label maker (totally worth the investment five years ago), and we can easily find what we're looking for.

Anonymous said...

I'm called the "organizing queen" in my circle of friends, and some of my friends have called me in to redo their closets. I love a moderate use of organizing systems, and I get inspiration from visiting The Container Store.

From my experience, one of the fundamentals of organizing is understand how you use the objects you want to organize, whether it's in the office, kitchen or your closet. If an item isn't used often, it shouldn't be stored the same as an item that is used frequently. So my winter scarves are carefully packed away (in a pretty box and wrapped in acid-free paper) while my lighter scarves are in my closet year-round.

I think 70% of the items in The Container Store are a waste of money, but I think seeing how items are organized is advantageous for those seeking inspiration or who can't visualize a good organizing scheme on their own.

the gardener's cottage said...

you know i'm weird b/c i love the shoe boxes that my shoes come in. i like that they are well made and i actually know what shoes are in ea one. like you, i don't have that many though. i've only been in the container store once and i fell in love with the fabric shoulder clothes protetor thingys. but i'm so cheap i didn't buy them, i wish i had though b/c i think about them all the time. my preferred method of storing things is to not. i get rid of everything instead of saving stuff. one day i'm sure i'm gonna regret this.


The Closet Therapist said...

Adrienne-That's so funny about your cat! Do you have the kind of shoe racks that you stick the sole of the shoe into and they hang upside down? What about the shelves that you put shoes into and then you hang all the short clothes on the side that they are on? I really don't know because I can't see it. Sounds like a good blog post to me though!

Stephanie-You have attained the holy grail of lipstick collection size! That is funny that you have one of those because it really does appeal to me. How are you feeling after your scarf collection is gone? I'm at the moment waiting for someone to come pick up my zebra rugs that I decided to sell. Feels GREAT!

Amber-Thanks for that link to the spice rack. It's very modern and different that what you normally see and I'll check it out at Ikea. I'm seeing that we are just a smart bunch of ladies who don't like to buy containers for our junk!

Rebekah-I get totally inspired at the Container Store but I'm just usually too cheap to buy their stuff. You give some really good insights for storing things. I love to organize my friends too! That's the problem with me doing my business is that i love it so much that I want to do it for free.

Janet-Buy those clothes protectors if you are still thinking about them! I save my shoe boxes too but I don't put my shoes back in them. I really don't know why I keep them, maybe I need to delve into that tendency! Hmmmm. About regretting getting rid of things, I've rarely regretted it but I also keep plenty! I try to contain my sentimental things to my old hope chest and when it outgrows that I have to let some things go. It's hard though because now I have my Mom's things, but that's another story.

I'm so happy to see everyone's thoughts on this post! It looks like we all agree! I love that.

Elinette said...

I gave your blog a Stylish Blogger Award. :)

Pauline Wiles said...

Well said! Yes, the Container Store is lovely, but I don't like their message that all you have to do to get organized is buy more stuff.
One of their re-tweets this morning, from a Mom who was about to embark on toy organizing and had clearly spent a bomb at the Container Store first, really irritated me!

Anonymous said...

I have a little different take on the Container Store. While it's true that one must be careful not to buy more stuff to store more stuff (simplicity = serenity) I do find that having uniform boxes to store the things I don't use often (such as craft materials) makes it a)easier to find what I'm looking for b)easier to keep organized because it stacks/lines up neatly, rather than having different sizes of boxes, whether they be shoe boxes, shipping boxes, etc. Having labeled, organized boxes also helps when it's time to pare down, because you know exactly what's where. Certain things are worth keeping because the expense of replacing them someday (again, craft materials) is much more costly than a few boxes from CS.
I also use a lot of CS items for travel - Nalgene bottles don't leak, travel bags are good quality (and can also be found elsewhere, like REI) and the best part is you can return anything that doesn't fulfill your needs. The people are friendly and knowledgeable (usually). Yes, some of the stuff is silly, but there are many good ideas.

And no, I don't work there!

The Closet Therapist said...

Anonymous-You are preaching to the choir! I absolutely adore the Container Store. I totally agree with everything you said. ;) Thank you for commenting.

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