16 great ideas for organizing using vintage objects

Since the summer I’ve been constantly amazed by the organizing ideas posted on Pinterest. I’ve gathered up a few, 83 to be precise on my Organization board over there. I’ve also shared 16 of my favorite ideas that I use in my own home here. I hope you find one or two (or more) that inspire you to try them out. If you do, please leave a comment below! (I love comments.)

So as you, like many of us, take stock of your house situation for the New Year, consider some of these creative ideas for organizing. Perhaps don’t just head to the Container Store, but look around for interesting items to re-use instead.

  • Old galvanized buckets: I have several and they work for everything from organizing backyard toys in a cute and shabby way to something to soak your tootsies in on a hot summer afternoon. I use them for planing invasive herbs like mint, or for stashing coiled garden hoses.
  • Vintage TV trays: Pull the legs off (they usually snap on the back), hang it on the wall, and it’s a super cute magnet board.
  • Chalkboard Contact Paper: With a pretty punch, make great labels for all sorts of containers that can are frequently reused for varying storage needs.
  • Old wooden crates: On the wall they’re rustic shelves. On the floor next to a heat vent, they’re a great place for corralling winter boots. In the garden, they are a pretty holder for little pots of flowers or herbs.
  • Wooden clothespins: I always keep a vintage clothespin sack in my kitchen. They’re great for pinning closed bags of sundries, or glue them to an old, weathered yardstick for displaying schoolwork and important reminders. For embroidery floss, wrap around the pin to keep your thread neat and tangle-free.
  • Blue Ball glass jars (the ones with the zinc lids): Oh my gosh…endless ideas. Votive holders (wrap bailing wire around the neck and hang several from a tree in your yard), dry good canisters, planters, tiny clutter holder (all those little things that end up on a mom’s kitchen window ledge), cotton balls. Refer back to the chalkboard labels to make this one work even harder.
  • Antique tackle boxes: Great for everything from jewelry storage to crafting supplies. I have one that I keep stocked with basic tools in case I get a bug to make something while we’re out in the camper. I have another that I use when I go to markets with Bluebird Goods that holds my markers, price tags, calculator, receipts, and business cards. Fill one with a supply of pretty thank you cards, stamps, and a favorite pen to make correspondence convenient.
  • Vintage cake plates: On my kitchen island, it holds salt, pepper, cinnamon, sugar, and honey…all the frequently used breakfast needs gathered up in a pretty way. Stacked in the craft room, they hold 2 tiers of glitter, tape, small jars of buttons, you name it.
  • Interesting old wooden dresser drawers: Use them much the same way you would old crates, but if you can get your paws on some old stair spindles, whip up some legs and turn it into a storage table. Make a lid for a storage ottoman and stash your knitting and reading in it next to a favorite chair. I’m working on one right now to make into a butler tray for holding cocktail mixers when we have friends over.
  • Thick branches: This is probably my favorite brainstorm from the year. Go off into the woods, find yourself a thick branch, suspend it from the ceiling or wall using attractive cording. I used mine to hang my instruments, but on a smaller scale, it could be so pretty in a bathroom for necklaces, or over a dining table for hanging votives. Best of all, it’s free!
  • Vintage clothespin bags: I tied one to the side of our porch room daybed for holding remotes and a handful of coasters. Other great uses include hanging on your most commonly used door for keys and those “don’t leave the house without” items. Hang it on your guest bed nightstand with travel-size lotions, a piece of chocolate or two, and a book for visitors. Perhaps hang one where it would be handy to sort mail.
  • Old lunch boxes: Spray paint white, add a bright red cross, and use for a homemade first aid kit. Keep a couple of them well-stocked, one for your car, one for home. Another use: paint it a bright color and make a road trip kit for the kids. One for each, filled with fun things to make the time pass. Check out my road trip tips from last summer.
  • Old tin loaf pans: Use one in the fridge for all the small bottles that tend to get lost in the back of the shelf. Then just pull out the pan and voilà! There are those sneaky capers!
  • Vintage printer drawers: On the wall they make great storage for jewelry or nicknacks. If your daughter collects Japanese erasers like mine does, it’s a nice way for her to display them. In a sewing room, use them for organizing anything from spools of thread to little jars of needles and buttons.
  • Collect old hard-side suitcases: Stacked up they make a cute end table with tons of storage. We have a daybed in our porch room and I use them for storing linens for guests. Also, another great and fun way to store games and activities. My daughter has one devoted just to her magic tricks. I keep my toddler’s wooden train set in another. Stack them up, they make a cute display, then when they’re ready to play, they can drag the activity case to any room they’d like to hang out in. We don’t use them so much for general toy storage, but for keeping all the pieces of a certain activity together.
  • Thrift store china cabinets: Not just for dishes…paint it (think Anthropologie) and add some interesting hardware. Now you have the prettiest linen cabinet in town. Or use it like a Hoosier cabinet in a kitchen that could use some extra storage. Or in a guest room to stash craft and sewing supplies to make the room work a little harder.

I just like anything that’s an alternative to an object with a specific intended purpose, especially new ones which don’t seem to add character to my surroundings. Why use a new plastic bin when you can repurpose an old canvas bucket? See? So much more interesting! If you have ideas of your own to add to this list, or if this list has inspired you to try something out, would you please leave a comment below? I love hearing your ideas!

Organizing ideas