Good news for the chronically disorganized: you don’t have to hire a consultant and read a zillion how-to books to get your spaces in order. In fact, you just might be amazed at what can be reused, repurposed, and utilized in unexpected ways.

But how can you organize without your space looking like you just ransacked the nearest office supply store? Chances are you can use some household odds and ends to jump-start your organization project, so here are 4 ways to upcycle your way to organizational bliss.

1. Jars, tins, and cans

Mason jars have become all the rage in homes and with good reason. Not only do they offer a little bit of rustic-chic charm to whatever spaces they inhabit, but they’re also an organizer’s dream. In the kitchen, they’re ideal for storing spices, baking ingredients, and dried foods like beans or pasta. In the bathroom, they’re great for cotton swabs and other toiletries. And if your crafting area’s a mess, your scissors, pipe cleaners, and glitter can have a fancy new home. You can even upcycle your empty jars of pasta sauce (same for your tea tins or coffee cans).

2. Old belts and scrap wood

A wood plank from that “some assembly required” bookshelf, those old leather belts that aren’t going anywhere … what do these things have in common? With a few tricks, they can be upcycled into a charmingly unconventional shelf that’s perfect for storing those loose odds and ends. To get started, mark your bookshelf board 2 inches in from each side. Then, fasten the belts (you might need to puncture new holes to make them the same size). Hammer your belts into the bottom of the plank with 3 nails each, and then add one each to the front of the plank. Finally, hammer the belt into the wall (make sure it’s even — you might want to grab a friend and a level or use one of those nifty level apps on your smartphone). It’s a pretty fun and eclectic way to get organized.

3. Filing cabinets and an old door

Maybe your current desk just isn’t working out for you, or your workspace hasn’t come together yet. The good news: there’s a relatively cheap and easy way to create a fully functional, organized work area. It’s pretty simple: 2 filing cabinets are used to prop up a large wooden board or an old door, and voilà! Instant desk.

Filing cabinets can be found at any office supply store or even a garage sale. As for the desktop? You can often find an old door, often for free, on local buy-sell-trade websites. And if the door is heavy enough, you won’t need to attach it to the cabinets. Otherwise, some industrial adhesive or a few screws drilled in from the underside of the top cabinets will do.

White desk made of two filing cabinets and one door

4. A few shoeboxes

All praise the shoebox! It’s been a de facto organizational savior for eons, and it’s just about to get its due. If you’ve got junk — and we all do — then these can come in quite handy. Since the cardboard is usually sturdy and the tops are often removable, they make pretty convenient helpers for your closet space. But they’re not always the most attractive things to look at.

Here’s where a little bit of DIY prowess comes in. With some gift wrap and double-sided tape, you can turn your old shoe box into a gorgeous storage space for those holiday decorations or thank-you cards. Add some stick-on labels and you’ll be a DIY hero around the house.

Two light brown shoeboxes with pink polka dots stacked on a bookshelf

A little bit of organization is one of the smartest things you can do to keep the inside of your home in tip-top shape — you can even make it a little bit smarter with a few tricks. And as for the outside? Make sure that’s protected with Esurance homewners coverage. Get a quote today.

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Chris

Chris has written everything from fiction manuscripts to pretend newsletters about pirates. He's even edited numerous volumes of work written entirely by kids. As a freelance writer at Esurance, he strives to bring out the whimsy and heart of insurance. Outside of Esurance, Chris is an audiophile, visual artist, and explorer of late-night taquerias.