As a college student studying at home, I have become a little bit of an expert in efficient and budget-friendly ways to store things and keep my spaces clean. There’s nothing my mother hates more than a dirty room and nothing I love more than supplies for all of my crafts. 

So, for anyone in a similar boat as me, I have compiled my favorite solutions below. These are super easy solutions that require a bit of forethought and very little money. With a bit of planning, you can easily keep all of your items safely tucked away. This article is not sponsored or affiliated with any organizations mentioned below.

1. Clearance Sections

Ikea’s As-Is Section usually has discounted and cheaper items on top of their already affordable prices. By using some of the previously loved items in the as-is section you can easily increase the amount of space to your house for a fraction of the cost. I got a pegboard from that section and eventually, I bought the additional supplies that hold all of the components. 

I can fit all of my architecture supplies on this little rectangular board; T- square, rulers, cutting board, pens and pencils, triangles everything all hung up on a piece of pegboard I found in a sale section. If you don’t have an Ikea near you, look for discounted furniture stores or sale sections. 

Clearance Section_©Nia Smith
Nia Smith

2. Shelves

Shelves are a cool solution. Making use of the open space on your walls, a couple of well-placed boards of wood make an excellent storage solution. There are even really creative ways to add shelves to your homethey don’t just have to be wood on top of L- brackets. But the beauty of shelving can be all brackets and a one-by-four, neither of which are very expensive. 

Nia Smith
Anton Giuroiu Oct 2016

3. Wall Hooks

Speaking of space on walls, wall hooks are a budget-friendly solution. I have three little chair hooks I got from Ikea that I hang bags on. Each bag serves a specific purpose and stays off the floor. I use one as my laundry ham. You can swap out and organize those bags however you want, and it makes a fun space-saving solution when I need to have things to hang dry.

Nia Smith

4. Fabric Boxes

If you have basic sewing ability and a couple of extra boxes you can easily create some fabric boxes for your home. Run to your local fabric store, grab some interfacing, and using a pattern, like this one from Annika Victoria on YouTube, you can create easy storage. There are plenty of how-to videos showing different techniques, just pick your favorite. 

Get creative with your fabric choices; use some scrap fabric that you may already have around your home like a blanket or quilt from old t-shirts together.

Nia Smith
Annika Victoria April 2019

5. Storage Ottoman

A great solution is a storage ottoman; I use mine to store all of my yarn and knitting. You can pick one up from a low budget furniture store, a second-hand store, or even a garage sale. 

Storage ottomans are a fantastic way to tuck things out of your space while giving you a functional place to sit down and a decorative piece of furniture. They come in so many different shapes, too! You can pick which shape is most efficient for your space.

Nia Smith
Nia Smith

6. Wrapped Boxes

If you’ve got some old cardboard boxes that are large enough you can even use those. Take a hot glue gun and rope, and wrap it around the outside of the box. You can even line the box with a nice fabric or stiff paper to clean up the inside. It’s a creative way to reuse cardboard boxes and give you one more place to store things.

Leslie Jan 2017
Leslie Jan 2017

7. Trades

Find out what your friends have. If you really like a piece of furniture that they’ve got or a solution that they’re using, see if they’ll swap with you for something you can part with. 

In many cases, some people just have too much stuff. I gave my brother my old nightstand which he now uses as a desk. The drawers he uses to store some of his clothes. Trades are a budget-friendly option to refresh your furniture as well as get new inspiration for your storage.


8. Stuff It Under Your Bed

My mom would always say to keep things out from underneath your bed, but putting things underneath your bed is probably the best way you can store things. If your bed is tall enough, you can even put a couple of drawers under it. 

At the very least, you can put pairs of shoes all around the outside for easy access to them when you’re getting dressed throughout the day.

Nia Smith
Beekeeper 2014

9. Folding 

If you’re storing things inside of a drawer and you don’t have enough room for them, likely your folding technique or where you’re storing them might be a little off. I don’t have a ton of store closet space so I use my closet to hang up my jackets and shove everything else into a three shelved drawer. 

I still have a lot of clothes, so each drawer is folded very precisely to maximize the amount of space that I have in there. You can follow accounts like The Folding Lady to find out how to best fold for your items.


10. Reuse Containers

I really like to collect interesting containers. They’re easy to reuse. If you’re familiar with the Garrett Popcorn tins, they are circular, come with a metal lid, and are awesome for stacking and storing small things. 

I also use glass yogurt containers for coin collection or little trinkets that I’m always losing around the house. Reusing clean old packaging will certainly help store things in your space.

Nia Smith

11. Tupperware in the Fridge

When it comes to storage inside of your fridge, make sure to invest in a cheap set of Tupperware. You don’t have to get the highest ranged top-of-the-line best, you can probably pick some up from a thrift storejust make sure you have the matching lids. 

Putting your leftovers away into Tupperware or a similar solution increases the amount of space you have in your fridge to work with. You won’t be putting big pots in the fridge, you’ll be able to use your pots for other meals, so you don’t have to buy a ton of extra pots. This budget-friendly option means you can keep a few pots, as long as you have enough Tupperware to stack and store leftovers.

12. Tupperware in the Pantry

In your pantry, buying refillable containers is always better than collecting boxes to pile up. If you are a cereal aficionado and you usually buy a couple of boxes at a time it wouldn’t hurt to use an old container or storage jar to put your cereal into that way you can organize your pantry without having so many boxes and packaging to go. It will also encourage you to buy only what you’ll need.

13. Out in the Open

Get creative with in-between spaces as well. Just like the ability to store things under your bed, you can store things next to your drawers and next to nightstands. I keep all of my architectural papers and really long tubes in a corner of my room settled right between my bookcase and my wall. 

Not being afraid to keep things neatly outside of a specific container is a great way to keep them organized. 

Nia Smith
Nia Smith
Nia Smith

14. Clean Out

An easy storage solution is to get rid of what you don’t need. The things that are taking up space could be stuff that we’ve convinced ourselves that we need to hang on to. Paring down every couple of months by giving away, selling, or donating a lot of your unused items will help reveal a lot more space than you have. 

I’m constantly cleaning out my closet from clothes that I don’t wear or items that I’m just not interested in anymore. Solutions like this make it easy for you to find more space to work with and are budget-friendly since they cost you nothing!

15. Clean Up

You can also just work with what you got. You can stuff bags inside bags, reorganize things inside your home, or keep things picked up and out of the way is the best low budget solution to increase your storage space!


Nia Smith is an architecture student at Howard University. She uses her background in fashion to design spaces that are useful and beautiful. As an environmental advocate, Nia focuses on low-income housing made sustainably with circular design theories.