I Need A Title For This Post

If June was the month of Tending To My Teeth, then July has been the month of Caring For My Car. Today I had a new rearview mirror installed (it’s part of a campaign that I’m doing with BlogHer); I had an appointment at 9:30 this morning at a place that mostly does stereo installations, I think, and as soon as the little man and I walked in the shop, I knew that we were going to have to find something, ANYTHING to do besides waiting there.

Because it was hot.

And there were some big ole fans.

And sometimes big ole fans just feel like they’re recirculating all the hot.

Fortunately there was a Walmart next to the installation place, so I got my laptop out of my car (when we left the house this morning, I fancied having lots of writing time while we waited), grabbed my child’s hand and set out across the pavement. It was almost like we were pioneers in search of a new land, only the new land had already been totally paved and boasted some pretty impressive outdoor lighting. Not to mention that it also offered a full-service pharmacy and portrait studio. And Subway.

Anyway, once we walked inside the Walmart and were smacked in the face by some blessedly frigid air conditioning, I grabbed a cart and started steering it in the general direction of oh, I don’t know, wherever. I could tell after a few minutes that the new Walmart was in some ways a flip-flop of the Walmart by our house, and the more I thought about the fact that I’d walked into some sort of Walmart Opposite Day, the more disoriented I was.

Seriously. I was like a cat in a room where all the furniture had just been re-arranged. I mean, I didn’t go quite so far as jumping up onto a non-existent table, but I was a little confused.

At some point in all our wanderings I found myself right next to an aisle of adorable storage baskets (I’m pretty sure that they were where the purses would have been in our Walmart), and I stopped for a second because MY WORD, storage stuff is so much cuter than it used to be. After I took a good look at all the colors and patterns that they had, I decided to move along to the health and beauty aids section because apparently I never tire of looking at shampoo and conditioner and hair spray.

Seriously. It never gets old.

Anyway, an hour or so later we picked up my car and drove home, and as soon as I walked in my bathroom, I thought, Dadgummit – why didn’t I buy some of those storage things when I was all turned around in the Walmart? Because here’s the thing: right now I’m fully convinced that my make-up and toiletries and whathaveyou are the most profoundly unorganized that they’ve ever been. I like for everything to be really accessible, and for that reason I’m not really successful with any organizational system that requires me to dig in the deep, dark recesses of drawers and cabinets.

The flip side, of course, is that my current organizational system involves a couple of plastic Lancome make-up bags and an assortment of moisturizers and hair products scattered all over my bathroom countertop. Along with my hair dryer. The hair dryer technically has a storage spot in a basket underneath my sink, but the basket has gotten filled up with make-up samples that Mama gives me whenever she gets a Lancome free gift (hence the make-up bags I mentioned earlier), and I’ve gotten in the (bad) habit of just leaving the hair dryer on the counter. The last time Mama was here she had the idea of using this wire serving piece as a catch-all for my make-up, but there’s so much space between each piece of wire that smaller items fall through and bigger items just look flat-out bulky.

SO, INTERNET: what sort of system do you use to store your toiletries? Do any of you have an on-the-countertop system that’s clutter-free? Have you figured out any way to categorize your products that makes sense? I’m so bad at this kind of thing, but THE STUFF IS DRIVING ME CUCKOO. So please advise.

(And if you want to tell me how you keep all your earrings organized, I’d be perfectly delighted about that, too. Because trying to figure out what to do with all of them is an ongoing challenge.)

(Notice how I said “challenge” all diplomatic-like.)

(I would hate for my earrings to read this and find out that they’ve been on my nerves a little bit.)

Oh – and just FYI. I have four small-ish drawers on my bathroom vanity – and then double doors underneath the sink. In case you need a visual.

And if you have any links to storage stuff that works for you, link away. I’m feeling a little desperate – but so happy that the internet is always kind enough to help.

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  1. Earrings are EASY. Just do this – http://laurathoughts81.blogspot.com/2011/05/jewellery-holder.html

    I’ve no doubt it will change your world.

    You’re welcome.

  2. I use the “keep all your earrings in a big, inaccessible jewelry case underneath the bathroom sink so that you never bother to put any on and the holes close- up in your ears” method.

  3. I stash my make-up in the top drawer of my vanity. I keep in organized with plastic baskets from Dollar General. I have a medium basket for my bigger stuff like foundation and powder and a long skinny one for eye shadow, rouge, concealer, brow filler, lip gloss and lipsticks.

    For my tools, eyeliner and lip liner, I use a small jelly jar I found in my momma’s stuff after she died – practical + sentimental= a winning combo!

    My toiletries, first aid, medicine and contact lenses are keep mostly in the medicine cabinet organized using the same baskets from the DG. Bigger stuff is under the sink in big plastic bins.

    My hair care products are in a pocket basket mounted on the wall while my brushes, curling irons and blow dryer are kept in a three-tier wire basket hanging from the ceiling. I think it was supposed to be used for fruit, but I found it much more useful for this purpose.

  4. Allison B says:

    I use silverware drawer organizers (the kind that slide in and out so they are easily adjusted) in my bathroom drawers to store makeup/brushes/etc. I like using these organizers because 1)they are adjustable and 2) they are dishwasher safe, so I just throw them in the dishwasher when they get all gunked up.

    I keep the hairdryer in a basket under the sink – you do have to put it away every day, but it really only takes 3 seconds. I keep all of my brushes/flat iron/hair products in the same basket, so if I’m going to really “do” my hair (more than a hairbrush and dryer), I just pull the whole basket out and then it’s easy to just put the whole thing back under the cabinet when I’m finished.

  5. Ok, my first piece of advise is “purge, sista, purge”. Get rid of all that stuff that you keep saving “in case you might need it” but know it’s really been sittin’ there for a couple of years.

    I have all my make up in a small drawer. I don’t have a ton of make up products. I like to keep it simple.

    Underneath my sink, I have one of those clear plastic drawer units with three drawers in it for hair stuff. My blow dryer actually stays in another bathroom underneath the sink because the only outlet in my own bathroom is way up high by the light fixture and I feel like a contortionist trying to get the plug in and the necessary angle above the mirrored cabinet. Stupid person that put it in like that… cursing them…… Anyway…I have small dividers organizers in other drawers in my bathroom for odd things. Something I saw the other day that I thought would be a great counter top organizing idea was a three piece serving dish for condiments! It was long, narrow and had the three compartments. It would also work in a drawer or on the back of the toilet. I personally, don’t like things out on my counter if I can help it. But, what really helped me the most was purging things I didn’t really use. Less stuff to find a home for!

  6. I don’t have any makeup storage advice, mine are stored in two free clinique bags (one brushes and gloss, the other makeup). But, I do have a jewelry solution that works. Have you seen the frames with chicken wire on the back? They are pretty common on craft blogs right now and are great for earrings. I store small earrings and necklaces on one of the hanging key organizers.

  7. I have a plastic storage multiple drawer container next to my sink with a basket on the top. All occasionally used large items are in the larger lower drawers and makeup and frequently used items are in the top drawers. The basket on the top holds the hairdryer and hairspray.
    I found some nice divided drawer inserts at Bed Bath & Beyond that I have inside a dresser drawer to keep earrings sorted. It also has a sliding smaller section that sits on top for larger jewelry.
    Good luck it is hard to get organized in a way that works for oneself.

  8. Saw the cutest idea for earring storage this week on the Young House Love blog: attach each pair of earrings to one button (any spares you have around from clothing purchases, etc.), then put them all in a bowl. The buttons keep pairs together, and it makes a charming display!

  9. I don’t like to see my stuff out, so I keep all my make-up and hair stuff in the top drawer of my dresser in handy-dandy IKEA drawer organizers. My bathroom stuff (medication and nail polish and other stuff) are kept in a 3-drawer organizer in our bathroom closet.

  10. Christy says:

    A couple of ideas for your jewelry……If you have any space to put it……One of those containers from Lowes with pull-out drawers that holds nuts/bolts/screws – also good for small office supplies. You could also use those plastic containers used for organizing beads, etc. or in my case – used to hold the little cardboard thingies for cross stitch thread. I’ve also seen them in the fishing dept. to organize lures. You can put felt inside the bottom – or not:)

    • I have kept jewelry – mostly earrings in a tackle box for years. But since it’s not very cute (decorative-wise), I keep it on a shelf in my closet. I have a pretty jewelry box in my room, but the tackle box holds much more and keeps the jewelry separated better.

  11. my daughter has the best idea for storing her earrings. she bought a picture frame and removed the glass. She then used screen (like screen door ‘screen’) and stapled it to the back of the frame. You can paint the frame or decorate it and hang it on the wall. It looks great and keeps them all organized!

  12. I feel the same way about bathroom clutter! I want everything within reach but also organized! I found something like this at Target a few years ago, and it has helped tremendously! I put it in my bathroom cabinet and each drawer is for specific items, i.e. top drawer holds toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, etc., second drawer holds nail polish, files, toe separator thingamajigs, third drawer holds medicines. Everything is still pretty easily reached, but it is oh so wonderfully contained in its own spot.


    (I’m not sure why they’re sold in sets of 6! I bought just one in the store, and it was reasonably priced.)

  13. First off: you will get no help on earrings from me. Mine are all tangled up with my necklaces, which is why you will always see me wearing the same pair of earrings with the same necklace. Any other piece of jewelry requires my husband’s intervention (he’s more patient with tiny little knots than I am) and I’m only willing to frustrate him so much on Sunday mornings before church.

    Second: my organizational system stems from finally admitting to myself that I am too lazy to actually use the drawers in my bathroom. That’s right, I said it: TOO LAZY.
    But not wanting to clean the myriad of products off the counter-tops meant I didn’t clean my bathroom very often. (Truth, I still don’t clean it very often, but that’s because I can’t leave my kids alone in the living room by themselves. They play with sharp objects.)

    So I got one of those wire metal bins that looks semi-nice and I put all of my every day essentials IN the bin. The bin lives on my counter. Everything is within reach all the time, but it looks like it belongs there because it’s in a bin.

    Instead of “put a bird on it,” it’s “put it in a bin.”

    I put all my brushes in a pretty canister and stuck it in the bin. My make-up bag is in the bin right next to my shea butter and coconut oil, plus the hair goo and deodorant. See? It’s like a drawer… that sits on the counter. Then, when I want to clean, I just pick the bin up and move it. I saved myself five whole minutes and I still didn’t have to open a drawer.

    Don’t ever open drawers in my house, by the way. They aren’t safe.

  14. Ice cube trays work great for earrings! Plop a few on top of each other and keep in a drawer or vanity. :)

    • Kathy V. says:

      That’s genius! Why have I never thought of that?! Note to self: stop at Target tomorrow to pick up a couple ice cube trays! Thanks, Janet! :)

  15. I never use the drawers or cabinet space in my bathroom for items I use every day. I have proved to myself time and time again that I just cannot be counted on to put stuff back in the drawers on a daily basis. I have a very fancy and classy organization system that works PERFECTLY in my bathroom: A clear rubbermaid tub sits on top of my counter and holds all of my daily toiletries, including the hairdryer that stays plugged in next to the mirror. When it gets icky, I just wipe out the inside. It ain’t pretty, but it keeps my counter uncluttered, and cleaning up is a cinch. An unexpected bonus: when I am packing to go out of town, I just pop the lid on, and throw the whole thing into the suitcase.

  16. For my earrings, I use the hanger one at TJ Maxx: it has 50 or so small pouches per side and is really great for earring, necklaces and bracelets. $14.99. For makeup, I use a small desk in my bath, and one of the little drawers is perfect with some plastic dividers in it too. Good luck!

  17. Ok, you’ll laugh and I’m sure there are CUTER versions of this same idea (as in, ones that don’t say SUN, MON, or AM/PM on it) – but a great way to store earrings is to use pill boxes. You know, like this: http://www.amazon.com/EZY-Dose-Jumbo-Weekly-Reminder/dp/B0000537JQ/ref=pd_sim_hpc_1. This got started in my house because of all the travel. I like it because I can just pick up the little thing and pack it.

    For other stuff, never underestimate the power of over the door thingys: I have used this for years and LOVE love love it. Esp b/c it has the mirror.

    Have fun!

  18. um, somehow the link didn’t get posted above. Try this: http://www.bedbathstore.com/ovdoorshbag.html?

  19. For my toiletries, etc, I have shelves beside my mirror that keep everything that I need at that moment. I like having it out so I can see it and it’s easy to just put it back up there and I don’t have to bend down to look for it in some dark cabinet. (I’m lazy, okay?) It’s not beautiful, but it works.

    For my earrings, I have one of those tall jewelry chests that has the drawers and dividers and stuff, but I think using ice trays would be a cheap and easy. Of course, if you have bigger earrings, it wouldn’t work as well. So maybe those little egg dishes for deviled eggs?

  20. On Pinterest I saw a photo of a cheese grater used to store earrings. Here it is. http://pinterest.com/pin/63728830/

  21. Not cute, but I have thIs guy hanging in my closet for my jewelry, and it’s SO perfect. And, come to think of it, another one might be perfect for makeup! I know at least my blushes, eyeshadow, pencils would fit great!

  22. About 10 years ago, my mother turned up at my place with an original Caboodle. “I know you used to use these. Do you want it? I got it for a dollar at a yard sale.” It had a tube of blue mascara that I promptly threw out, but that thing is perfect for organizing makeup and hairbrushes.

  23. JustBetty says:

    one of my absolute passions is finding storage solutions and then organizing the heck out of my friends’ stuff — but “I didn’t go quite so far as jumping up onto a non-existent table” has me so tickled i just can’t think straight.

  24. Amy in Italy says:
  25. Susie Sanders says:

    Don’t know if someone already posted this idea…but I put ice cube trays in the top drawer of a dresser and organize earrings like that…easy! Works perfectly!

  26. Some people love books stores. I love The Container Store. There is one in Atlanta and when I go in there I kind of get an adrenaline rush. Their website is http://www.containerstore.com/welcome.htm. I’ve never shopped online but they have SIX pages of just jewelry storage! You are sure to find something there!

    Have a great weekend!

  27. My hair stuff/ general toiletries are all corralled in two large decorative baskets that sit on two shelves in our bathroom. My make-up is in a zippered box that goes under the sink, and the hairdryer and curling iron go under the sink in a plastic drawer unit. There’s nothing creative there, but it works for me.

    Earrings– the best idea I ever read was to put plastic ice cube trays in a drawer and drop the pairs in. My top dresser drawer has two trays, and I usually have 1-2 pairs of earrings in each little “cube”. But I also have earrings scattered across my dresser top and my nightstand…. LOL!

  28. We share a mind. (although you got the functional part). We may be building a house and the first thought I had is finally I can have something built that leaves my hair dryer plugged in and accessible but easily concealable, like an appliance garage in the kitchen but for toiletries. Great ideas in the comments, BTW, like the wire mesh baskets hanging from the ceiling.

  29. I was always having a hard time finding matching earings to wear so I ended up just wearing the same pair all the time. Then I saw in a magazine to use ice cube trays to have a “cube” for each pair… (picked mine up at the dollar tree) I put 4 trays in the top drawer of my dresser and it works Perfect!! I had no idea I owed 48 pairs of earings not including the old ones I threw out!
    As for bathroom storage… I need lots of help in that area too!!

  30. Love the idea about the ice trays for earrings. So glad that you brought this subject up… I like to think I am organized, but my daughter in law has a 8 drawer tool box in her room for all her things. I like that idea…

  31. To build on the purge first comment: i separate into 3 categories.
    1. Stuff that has reached its physical or emotional expiration date. Throw it. No point in organizing stuff you don’t need and won’t use.
    2. Stuff that is used rarely, or that has not reached its emotional expiry. This stuff goes in the less convenient drawers or cupboard in appropriate organizational tubs, etc. I find ziplocs useful for organizing little stuff in tubs. This includes extra make-up, extra medications (you only need out one of the two bottles of ibuprofen you bought in the mega-pack at walmart), stuff like cold medicine that you want handy but, again, don’t use daily.
    3. Everyday usage. This should be in the most convenient location, whether drawers or on your counter, using whatever storage works best.

  32. Molly p says:

    I use a cute silverware caddy that I got from target for makeup stuff and hair brushes. The compartments are great for holding my tools (brushes, tweezers, eye liners mascaraed in one section….blush and eye shadow in another…) I usually stick my products right on top. I keep my hair dryer and Straightener in a galvanized tub. Jewelry gets hung on one of those frames with chicken wire things that someone ingeniously developed.

  33. OH MY. I cannot wait to peruse the comments, as I need several ideas for storage. My cosmetics, however, have been taken care of by a FANTABULOUS tackle box. I wrote about it here:
    I mean, it has ALL the little sectioned off spaces and leveled trays and whatnot. It works PERFECTLY for makeup and toiletries.
    Okay, now I need to go read about everyone’s suggestions! Thanks so much for writing this! :-)

  34. Your son is too old for Melissa & Doug toys . . . but that’s what I use for earrings. My daughter received something from their company as a gift, and it came in this great shallow wooden tray. I hate to throw anything that nice away (come on! why make it so nice and solid just to throw it out??), so I re-purposed it for earring storage.

    I keep my bracelets in another, deeper wooden box that came from a candle gift set, and I have another wooden box from a bath set holding “big” necklaces. I just like the way wood looks . . . and they were free. :o)

  35. Laura Beth says:

    My husband got me this hairdryer holster as a Christmas gift and it is SO helpful! http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0017DC57K/ref=redir_mdp_mobile/182-5325944-4715042

  36. I can offer no advice on makeup — I use this cute (from TJ Maxx) drawer organizer, but then I just throw stuff at it and that’s now the look we are going for. BUT I have the BEST jewelry organizer — and girl I got a mess o’ jewelry (the cheap costume kind). I’ve tried it all, but this is the BEST – http://www.amazon.com/Overdoor-Jewelry-Organizer-White-Longstem/dp/B004D95U0E/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1311956972&sr=8-10

  37. Laura Beth says:

    Well shoot. That one is unavailable, but just search Amazon for ‘hairdryer holster’

  38. I made one of those earring frame holders in Ally’s comment, but I used plastic stitching canvas because sometimes wire intimidates me. And I also attached a pretty grosgrain ribbon. Mostly because I’d made a ton of earrings, and I never wear them much what with the baby who likes to grab and then rip things. I thought I should at least SEE all the pretty things.

    I am a firm believer that people who use the phrase “like taking candy from a baby” have not had a baby. GIVE ME THAT. GIVE ME THAT RIGHT NOW. Silly babies. With their slimy little hands with a death grip on something they found on the floor, lightning quick random movements, and precision evasion skills.

  39. For your makeup, may I suggest hosting a 31 party and getting their new cosmetic bag?! It’s a “hostess-only” special. (No, I’m not a rep but I just had a party last month and got tons of free stuff!) And their Organizing Tote is so good I had to order two of ’em. There are seven exterior pockets and you can fit ANYTHING in it! :) I’m not even kidding!!!! You will be a changed person!

  40. See if you can find a long, narrow (but not too narrow) basket. Make sure it’s sturdy and deep (but not too deep). I got one in the bath section at JC Penney a few years ago (on clearance for only $9.99 – Score!), but couldn’t find anything like it currently available on their site. I leave it out on the counter with my makeup bag tucked inside along with all sorts of lotions and potions, plus nail polish, hair spray, brushes, perfume, etc. It holds a LOT and gives the appearance that I’m way more organized than I really am. Everything is easily accessible, and best of all, I don’t have to go digging in drawers or cabinets for stuff I use daily.

  41. Back in college, I started using an ice tray to store/separate all my earrings. I just put one pair in each cube thing and it works magnificently. The ice tray fits easily into drawers, typically.

  42. If I hadn’t already spent my money on something similar to this http://www.acrylichomedesign.com/shop/AHD-HUA-H-444.html , but larger, I would have purchased this http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/view.2/app.detail/params.item.H164200.desc.Tabletop-Spinning-Cosmetic-Organizer-by-Lori-Greiner when I saw it on QVC. I also want my essentials on top of the counter where I can get to them.

  43. Calypso says:
  44. susan self says:

    Sophie, I use ice cube trays to store my earrings in. It works great for smaller earrings because you can stack them. I put the larger ones on the top trays. It has worked really well.

  45. Wendy T says:

    Make-up: get rid of stuff you don’t use. Put the good stuff in a container (I use a coffee mug) that sits on the counter when being used, then goes in the drawer.
    Earrings: I wear a lot of French-wire earrings (love Jody Coyote) and made a hanging holder from metal mesh ribbon, about 3 inches wide, from Joann Fabrics. It hangs behind the bathroom door.

  46. Melanie says:


    This youtube video inspired me to make something similar but I used a scarf instead of the screen. I attached it to a hanger. It holds all my earrings, including the ones with backs.My earrings were driving me crazy until I saw this video and made this.

  47. You posted this three days ago, which is, like, 200 years in blog-speak, but I thought I’d throw in my method, too.

    I use the small drawer on “my” side of our vanity for the makeup items I use daily. I use BareMinerals, and their starter kits come in these fantastic boxes that fit perfectly in that drawer. I have the top and the bottom of one box in there. In the back one, I have eye shadows, mascara, eye shadow brushes, eye shadow primer, and eyeliner. In the front box I have primer, powder, blush, mineral veil, and the two brushes used with the BareMinerals system. And off to the side of the boxes I have eye make up remover, my headband for when I wash my face, floss, moisturizer, etc.

    My hair dryer, hairspray, seldom-used mousse, and my hair brush are kept in a basket under the vanity.

    And that’s really all I have. My key to organization is only to have on hand what I’m currently using. I don’t have a bunch of different makeup products to cause clutter. When something runs out, I just buy a replacement.

    The top drawer of my chest of drawers that’s filled with close to 100 meticulously-organized bottles of nail polish is another matter entirely. :)

  48. Oh! And remember Caboodles? I have mine that I got back in 5th grade and I use it to hold cotton balls, nail polish remover, lotion, nail files and clippers, orange sticks, base and top coat, etc. Nail polish is Serious Business in my world, so I have to keep all that organized.

    I think Caboodles are still around, so maybe one of those would work for your most-used cosmetics? It’d store easily under the vanity, too.

  49. They sell these awesome little clear plastic ins at the Container Store that fit standard cabinet sizes and pull out easily. They’re marketed in the kitchen section, but work really well wherever you need them. I also use their clear shoeboxes to store everything in the bathrooms – it keeps me sane.

  50. I use a book shelf for all my toiletries. It’s easily accessible and off my countertops.