In my ideal world, I'd decorate my home like the expensive rooms in catalogues and probably order nifty products online several times a day. Instead, I mostly have to stick to finding clever other uses for household items. It means I spend a lot of time trolling the Internet for creative solutions to everyday problems, and — on the plus side— means I get a ton of satisfaction when I achieve a result I'm happy with and have spent basically no money.
When you're living on a budget and don't have a ton of disposable income like me (and by "a ton," I mean "basically none at all,"), life hacks to save you money that also help you feel like you're actually indulging a little can feel vital to a sense of day-to-day comfort. And I'm not saying I need to feel like I'm living in the lap of luxury to feel happy; I just like coming home to a nicely decorated space and feel like I have some basic comforts to make my life easier. For example, I generally don't have the money to dry clean, but I do have special dryer sheets that kind of make my clothes feel and smell dry cleaned — and I'm not above admitting that they put a little spring in my step.
Basically, I'm always on the lookout for creative and inexpensive ways to repurpose everyday items. And if you're like me — working within a budget but in need of some household basics, or looking for ways to just spruce things up a little, take a look at these eight ideas for reusing everyday household objects.
1. Sheets As Summer Curtains
On the lifestyle blog Living Well, Spending Less, lifestyle blogger and home decor expert Ashley Ann Campbell recommended using patterned sheets as awesome curtains. "I often use discount sheets (like the Walmart brand) for my curtains. Adding some trim or a band of cute fabric turns them into great curtains. I also use sheets for outdoor tablecloths and large pillows. Even with a 50 percent off coupon at most craft and fabric stores the fabric is typically still more expensive than a sheet," Campbell said.
2. Wine Bottles As Flower Vases
This is my super favorite, super self-explanatory re-use for old wine bottles. Not only does it give a room a slightly rustic, DIY feel, but you can often find shapes and colors that you would never usually find in a typical flower vase.
3. Coffee Grounds As An Odor Eliminator
On a piece in Good Housekeeping by Heloise about unusual uses for everyday items, Heloise recommended using coffee grinds as a natural odor absorber. Put it in your fridge if it's not smelling too fresh, or keep a small container by your sink to rub on your palms after chopping things like onions and garlic.
Folgers Ground Classic Roast, $8.95, Dollar General
4. Milk Gallons For Exercise
This tip isn't just a great way to re-use old milk or water gallons, but it's a super cheap alternative to buying at-home dumbbells or kettle weights. and Plus, the "weights" are totally adjustable, since you can add or subtract as much water as you want to lift — you're actually getting multiple weights for free!
5. Olive Oil For Makeup Remover
This tip is great if you're in a bind and out of your favorite makeup remover, or if you just want a cheap alternative to brand products. YouTube beauty expert Michelle Phan also said olive oil is a great natural moisturizer that actually won't leave your skin feeling greasy.
6. Dryer Sheets For Static Buildup
In an article for Real Simple, Behnam Pourdeyhimi, director of the Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center at North Carolina State University said, "Dryer sheets contain positively charged ingredients that are released by heat and movement, such as the tumbling motion of the dryer. These ingredients bond loosely to any negatively charged fabric surface, such as a piece of clothing with static cling, neutralizing the charge and acting as a lubricant.”
Dryer Sheet, $9.99, Target.com
7. Cupcake Wrappers As Decorations
In an article for Martha Stewart Living about ways to reuse common household items, the Martha Stewart team suggested using cupcake liners as decorative tops for jars you might be giving as gifts, like jams or preserves. A patterned liner and a bow instantly makes a simple jar look festive and special.
Standard Baking Cups, $4.96, jet.com
8. Organizers From Soda Bottle Bases
Stumbling upon this tip about a year ago seriously changed my life. I would constantly bemoan not having enough organizers on my dresser for things like hair pins and makeup brushes, while also constantly throwing out and recycling plastic bottles — a 100 percent free solution to my problem. These are also a great temporary way to stay organized until you have time to make it to the store for more permanent organizers.
You don't need a ton of money for household basics that will make your life easier— you can usually get everything from cute curtains to totally usable organizers with things you already have or things you can find super cheaply. Sometimes it's just a matter of reframing how you think about the items you already have lying around!
Images: Theresa Thompson, normanack, Leo Guan/Flickr; YouTube (3)