Getting Organized = $

Do you have a corner of your home that needs some TLC? Spring started last week and because our society professes it the best time of the year to clean, ’tis the season for household projects! Unless you’re like me and gave your closet a makeover in January. Our spare bedroom is primarily an office and stores many a DVD and blu-ray. And that’s just what’s in the actual room! The spare closet used to be filled with VHS tapes, comic books, CDs, two bookshelves, two plastic stacking drawers, our luggage, a guitar, tents, sleeping bags and some extra clothing that was never worn. I had dominated the entire upper shelf with heavy yearbooks, binders, boxes of sentimental paraphernalia and every diary I’ve ever written in since childhood. You should have seen the look on my husband’s face when he saw that I not only kept every note ever passed to me since middle school, but had them organized in a binder. There was so much weight up there that the entire shelf was sagging in the middle and clothes could not be hung on most of the rack because the two were pressed against one another. This is the city dwellers version of a basement or garage. Anytime we received something that didn’t have a home, it was adopted by our spare closet. I’m happy to say those days are gone and fortunately for me, I don’t have a good “before” picture to show you.

A good place to start when taking on a project of this sort is, “what can I sell to pay for the changes?”. Naturally, my first instinct was to sell of all my husband’s stuff. Instead, what we did was pull out the contents and separate what we wanted to keep from what we didn’t. I came up with two bags of things I figured were unsellable and donated them to Goodwill (tax write off!). My husband chose some DVDs he didn’t want, cut his VHS and comic book collection in half and sold every thing to Amoeba Music in Hollywood.

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This cleared out an entire closet bookshelf, one which I had owned for far too long and happily gave away. We also emptied the two plastic stacking drawers and sold them for $5. Because I love to sprinkle my posts with Craigslist tips: if you are simply trying to get rid of something and profit is not the primary purpose, sell it in the $5-$10 range. People will think it’s a good deal even when the item is worthless to you. I originally put these drawers on our curb hoping someone would take them within a few hours. When I noticed no one had, I swooped them back up and posted them on CL. The guy who ended up buying them thought I had meant $5 a piece and offered me $10 total. (I didn’t take it.) The point is, someone else thought our trash was worth double what we asked. A valuable lesson for future sales. We also sold a DVD player, a GPS and a backpack for $10 a piece and some free weights for $5. That’s $40 for useless-to-us stuff. Eric got $87 in store credit from Amobea, though had he taken the cash instead, it would have been around $65. That could be $105 towards a closet makeover.

In the past year, we’ve accumulated so many board games that we had to divide where they were stored. Half were in the spare closet on a shared shelf that also held toiletries, and half were inside a trunk in our living room. Needless to say, this was sloppy and inconvenient. I took the brackets off an old shelf that I had just taken down in the kitchen (left by previous tenants) to make more room for the kitchen island project. Then I threw out the actual shelf to replace it with a large wood sign I made and didn’t like. I flipped it over to hide the writing and screwed in the brackets to create a second and much larger shelf for storage (for free!). Now all the board games are in one place and the bathroom supplies have moved.

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I look at The Container Store as a playground for adults. That is: neat, efficient, organized adults who value system and order. That’s all of us, right? Hello? They carry clever storage solutions that many retailers do not. Last year during an Elfa sale I was able to get an over-the-door wrapping paper unit for our living room closet, which has been a great space saver. They make many versions of this nifty contraption and I had remembered there was one specifically for media. Elfa was having another sale in the winter, so I sprang for it and got the entire unit for $74.68 down from $107.90. I fit all of my husband’s remaining VHS tapes in it, along with two racks of CDs. I also bought two plastic Christmas bins that were 50% off for $20. We used them to consolidate our respective containers of personal items, thereby minimizing the amount of space needed on the upper shelf. I threw away seven small boxes and recycled hundreds of pieces of paper; did I mention I also saved every greeting card I ever received?

I had some scraps of wood on hand that I was able to use to prop up the sag in the middle of the upper shelf, opening up the entire rod for potential clothes hanging (free). Once we were done replacing the contents, there was way more empty space, very few hangers in use and only one bookshelf left. We put a hook that we already owned (free) on the pivot door for bags and managed to store some things under our new bed frame and in our recently emptied trunk. The spare closet is feeling pretty spacious these days. It’s certainly not as neat as one of those closet organizing systems with fancy shelves and whatnot; but it’s a DIY version of that at little cost. We spent $55 to make these changes if you subtract the amount for items sold on CL. And had we cashed in on the Amoeba sale, the entire cost would have been covered with a $10 profit. That could be your story. Alternatively, we could have spent nothing, kept the cash and found even more creative ways to store things. That’s money in the bank. What could you sell today that would buy you a closet makeover tomorrow? Happy Spring cleaning!

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2 thoughts on “Getting Organized = $

  1. I have waaaay too many DVDs. I hate the cases for them, though I worry about throwing them away. I bought a 500 DVD binder from Fry’s, and put all the cases in a box in the garage. I don’t miss them at all, and it gets rid of the clutter. Much longer without looking at them, and I’m selling them.

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