With the growing popularity of lofts, flats and condos and many homeowners choosing to downsize, spaces are becoming smaller but that doesn't mean that people have less stuff. This leaves many folks searching for creative and inexpensive storage solutions for the home.

Not only does adequate storage eliminate clutter, it also helps keep you more organized and that allows the household to run more smoothly. The very first step is to sift through those bulging closets with a team/family effort and keep only those things which have a practical purpose or sentimental value. After you've decided what can go, consider recycling the tossed out items or donating them to a local shelter. There's no need to de-clutter your own sanctuary by cluttering up a landfill.

Now that you've cleaned house, it's time to assess you personal organizational needs. Start with your designated storage areas like the utility closet, garage, attic or an empty space beneath the stairwell. In these areas, lightweight storage containers are often a great option. Be sure to purchase the stackable kind with lids to maximize storage potential. Target, Wal-Mart and other discount retailers offer these in different sizes and styles. As you fill each container, be sure to label them clearly and stack them so that you can identify the contents of each easily.

For bedroom closets, incorporating extra wired shelving can be a great addition to containers. This can allow you to hang more clothing, add shoe racks or hanging shoe bags, and it gives you the option of stacking sweaters or clothing on some shelves and stacking large containers, boxes, or suitcases high above your hanging clothes. If you only have room to display one season of clothing at a time, try folding and storing the unused clothing in large suitcases.

In the kitchen and bathrooms, make the best use of your cabinet space by using small recycle containers to store food, spices, arts and crafts supplies or even toiletries. Empty tin cans, shoe boxes, Cool Whip containers and heavy duty zip-lock bags can all be reused.

In areas like the office, which can get messy fast, be sure to use some sort of filing system for paperwork. A good desk can make all the difference in this room. Many desks offer pull out drawers and some include built-in filing systems. You can also buy small filing units which can hide underneath the desk or larger units which may be necessary if you do a lot of business from home. Stackable trays on your desk can help you keep bills and mail in order.

Evaluate the other rooms of your house to make sure that you're making the most of what you already have. Are your movies and CD's stored in your media cabinet? Are there any drawers in your dressers that aren't being used? Are you utilizing spaces beneath the beds? Are all your books stacked neatly in your bookcase?

If you're still desperately in need of more storage, then it might be time to head to the furniture store. As you shop for new furniture always consider the functionality of the piece. Coffee and end tables with drawers are much more practical than those without. Nightstands with additional drawers or shelves can come in handy as well. There are even ottomans that open up and double as storage cubes. A coat stand by the door might be just the thing if you're short on closet space. Bookshelves are great in offices or children's bedrooms. And to hide toys, try trunks or cabinets. There are even plastic containers and baskets that come in bright colors that can blend into your existing décor.

Getting organized doesn't have to be expensive. IKEA is one retailer which really caters to folks who are living in small spaces with small budgets. Target and Wal-Mart also offer assemble-it-yourself furniture at low prices. And if you're on a really tight budget, don't rule out rummage sales or places like The Salvation Army or Goodwill. Sometimes, a little sanding and a new coat of paint can turn another man's junk into a newfound treasure.

Once you finally get organized remember that it's an ongoing process, not just a one time thing. As long as you keep in mind the old saying, "A place for everything and everything in its place," you should be fine.

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