Essential Tools

The 4 Container Store Products I Can’t Live Without

September 10, 2018

It was a reluctant attraction. After a lifetime of living in creatively-charged disarray, increasingly smaller living spaces necessitated reluctant organization and decluttering.

It was not love at first sight. I warily stepped into The Container Store on Sixth Avenue in New York's Flatiron neighborhood, unenthused by its vanilla logo and fluorescent lights. It was summertime in the city and I had grudgingly taken the train from Brooklyn to see what the store had to offer—at the very least, I figured I’d get an air-conditioned reprieve from my sweltering walk-up apartment.

First impressions? I was, in fact, totally unimpressed, and a little annoyed. I gaped at sprawling closet displays the size of my whole bedroom, wondering how I was supposed to organize my own teeny closet with bins and racks and shelves that would take up all the real estate I needed for my clothes. The Container Store is the kind of place my Type-A friends dream know, the Monica Gellers of the world. On my first visit to TCS, I lasted about 20 minutes, left empty-handed, and went next door to buy some snacks at Trader Joe’s.

Shop the Story

Looking back, the experience was like a bad first date. I had no idea what I was getting myself into; the attraction was not immediate (and difficult to tell if the feeling was mutual); and I felt insecure the whole time. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was ready for this level of commitment or lifestyle change. Sure, I had my share of flings with Bed Bath & Beyond back in my college dormitory days, but once that flame burned out, I just did my own organizational thing.

But, hey—I’m an optimist. Sometimes. When I got home, I scoured Pinterest for small-space ideas and browsed The Container Store’s website from the comfort of my couch. When I realized that TCS actually cared about me and had products that could improve my life, I couldn’t fight the feelings anymore. Here, the products that sealed the deal:

Acrylic Risers

I think the turning point in my TCS love story was when I decided how to organize my shoes—to be fair, this was my sensible mother’s idea, and she accompanied me to our suburban Container Store so I could shop with backup. My footwear collection is something I’m deeply proud of, and I wanted a way to display my favorite pairs while also maximizing the square footage of my apartment. These risers allow me to have about 20 pairs of shoes “on display,” and I rotate them out seasonally. These shelves essentially doubled the space, and since they’re clear acrylic, they don’t take away from my decor scheme.

A home for all the pretty shoes. Photo by Allison Russo

Acrylic Hangers

I have a thing for acrylic, ok? I bought these hangers at TCS a few years ago to use for my (fondly named) external closet. This is really just an IKEA clothing rack that stores clothes that don’t fit in my normal closet. To make it more aesthetically pleasing, I bought clear acrylic hangers, and it made a world of design difference.

Clear hangers make way for a uniform look. Photo by Allison Russo

Under Bed Drawers

You might have gotten the idea by now that storage is an ongoing issue for me. If you did, you’re absolutely correct. I developed a bad habit years ago of shoving stuff I rarely used under my bed (out of sight, out of mind, am I right?). But after countless mornings of digging for a missing shoe or phone charger in the under-bed mess, I made the leap and bought these two large plastic drawers to keep under my bed.

I bought the cheapest ones they had at the time—since they’re just stowed under my bed, anyway—and they’ve held up pretty well. The drawers make them easy to access, and these are perfect for storing out-of-season clothing and extra personal care products (I basically have a Rite Aid under my bed). I had soft storage bag-type things under my bed for a while, but these ones are much sturdier and I find them much easier to keep organized.

Capsule-Shaped Pill Holder

Don’t be fooled—our relationship isn’t all acrylic and organization. The Container Store is one of those places that has so much stuff, that it’s now impossible for me to leave without buying anything. It’s like the Target effect: I go in for one thing, and leave with a handful of other stuff that’s not essential, though they’re usually helpful. Like these pill holders. So cute, I had to get one even though I’m not getting on a plane for at least three months. I guess you could use these for everyday pill-taking, but I think they’ll make my carry-on luggage a little happier.

Easy Peasy Overnight Oats

My parents have always told me that relationships take a lot of hard work, and when it comes to my romance with The Container Store, they couldn’t be more spot-on—organizing is hard! And so is lugging plastic drawers home on the 5 train.

Are you a Container Store fan? Let us know your favorite products below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sam1148
  • HalfPint
  • Allison Russo
    Allison Russo
Writer, eater, traveler.


Sam1148 September 11, 2018
While some up upscale 'container store' might be good for your shoes and photos. I don't see what it does for food.

However. The potatoes do not care about crafted plastic, I use the plastic dollar store 'bins' with a lid...and nest potatoes in news paper with the lid slightly askew. It's my home made 'root celler'

For Oil..and Vinegar..I use the 90 cent 'squeeze bottle' from the dollar store. The kind of item you'd see at a dinner for ketchup...but translucent plastic. Walmart also sells these for a dollar. These get filled with good olive oil, and normal peanut/veg oil to oil up pan before cooking.

A spray bottle: about a dollar from walmart or dollar store.
Fill with 1/3 oil of your choice, and 2/3 water. Give it a shake and use it instead of expensive cooking sprays. Or as a salad spritzer.

Another spray bottle is filled with 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water for a cleaning solution that costs pennies for the countertops, stove top, windows (use news paper to polish). Go wild and add a couple of drops of 'dawn' dishwashing liquid to that mix for surface cleaning. Leave it out for window cleaning and but add a bit of ammonia and rubbing alcohol--for window cleaning.
Or say nope to mixing and get a gallon of windshield cleaner from Autozone or other auto place for MUCH less than windex. Refill your old windex bottle with that.

Allison R. September 11, 2018
Thanks for the tips! This post was meant to be about how I organized my bedroom, not my kitchen.
HalfPint September 10, 2018
I am a Container Store fan. Love their Elfa shelves. They were what we turned to when we bought our house and realized that we needed storage that was free-standing, ie. didn't need to be bolted to the wall. My home was built in the 1950's and apparently, storage was not a priority back. Anyhoo, we were at The Container Store so often that the staff knew us by name.