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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
Announcing Rubbermaid's New Bento Boxes...and a CONTEST!

Readers, as I mentioned last week in the Paper Doll 4th Anniversary post, I've been looking forward to spilling the beans on this product's launch ever since this year's NAPO Conference and Expo. The new collection  -- which I'd previously left unnamed because information about the product was embargoed -- even made it into the I Feel Pretty edition of my post-conference recap, albeit with a big

stamped on the post. Since April, friends, fans and Paper Mommy have all attempted to inveigle information about the new line, so I'm thrilled to no longer have to keep my adoration of this product under wraps.

Welcome the Bento Box Collection!


I'll admit, I was a tiny bit predisposed to liking the product line as soon as I heard the name. I've always loved the idea of Japanese bento "boxes" -- small but carefully designed lunch box-like tray containers with smaller sub-compartments.

Perhaps it's the way that a bento box so neatly organizes the food so that sauces or flavors don't drip onto one another (don't you hate that?) which has always appealed to Paper Doll's sense of order and organization. But it's not just order, but compartmentalized, aesthetically-pleasing order, that is the apparent goal of the yummy mealtime bento box.


While Paper Doll was not on Rubbermaid's research and development team, it seems likely that a combined appeal of aesthetics and functional organization was a main goal in creating the Bento line, and I believe they've succeeded. So, without further ado, how about a look at the whole product line?


The Bento Boxes comes in three color schemes -- Paprika,

soft brown and khaki-checked Chadwick,

and crisp Linen --

and four sizes, including the Extra Large (19.61" wide x 12.68" long x 9.9" high) and Large (12.05" wide x 12.05" long x 9.5" high), which are eminently suitable for storing files. Very often, my organizing clients want something practical but attractive for keeping their household paperwork and files, but metal filing cabinets and plastic file crates fill them with woe. Professionals also desire something appealing for their offices, but find little that is neither cutesie nor so leathery that it belongs in a cigar bar. Bento's clean lines achieve the perfect balance.

The Medium (11.42" long x 6.22" wide x 4.9" high) and Small (5.63" wide x 5.63" long x 4.5" high) Bento boxes are smaller, suitable for storing office supplies, electronic gadgets, remotes and cables, gaming equipment or hobby paraphernalia.

The reversible "topper" lids are available for the Extra Large, Large and Medium Bento boxes, and are made of the same heavy-duty material. The dual design allows the toppers to serve as either trays or lids, maximizing your options. For example, if you use your Large or Extra Large Bento boxes for files, turning the topper tray-style makes a tidy in-box or to-file tray. The toppers can also be used as trays separate from the Bento Boxes, themselves, to keep rooms tidy.


At first glance, the most obvious "new" thing about the Rubbermaid Bento line is that the boxes are pretty. Yay. But you know that Paper Doll doesn't care much for aesthetics without function. It has to DO something! And that's why professional organizers at the NAPO conference were so excited about this new design.

The biggest problem with boxes, even pretty boxes, is that the bigger your storage container, the less order that can usually be maintained. One big empty box provides no opportunity to define separate spaces. I have a lovely storage ottoman, and while I can happily tuck away a blanket or a small stack of magazines, there's no way to keep the interior from becoming cluttered if I want to store multiple smaller items. Rubbermaid has found a way around the problem so you can organize, and not merely store, the materials of work and life.


Rubbermaid's Bento Boxes were created with flex dividers that divide the interior space into multiple sections when needed, but they can be popped (well, the noise it makes is more akin to "Fwapp!") into place, against the interior walls, when a larger interior space is wanted or the boxes will be nested and stored.

One Large Bento box, completely open? Check. One box with a smaller inset in one quarter? Check. Four equal boxes? Check. The Medium has nifty dividers that allow two smaller sub-sections on each side, with a larger space in the interior.

Since each flex divider can be adjusted individually, the design options, while not endless, certainly give myriad opportunities to those who like to customize the number and sizes of their sub-sections.


One of the problems we often see with "pretty" design-oriented storage containers is that they stack poorly, keeping you from efficiently using vertical space.

The Bento Boxes, however, can be stacked vertically when in use or nested within one another between projects. Plus, because the Bento Boxes are built to be modular, they can be stacked securely with or without the toppers as lids, offering quick access to items in lower-level boxes.


Unfortunately, photographs really don't do the Bento justice. They are (and feel) much sturdier than they look in photographs. Bento will be in stores in November, so (unless you win the contest) you'll have to trust me until you can check them out in person to get the full "store, stack, Fwapp!!!" experience.


Too often, we have to choose between function and visual appeal and on the rare occasions that we find the right item that will blend in with our homes or offices, it's more than we want to spend. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Rubbermaid Bento Boxes are priced so reasonably, from $9.99 for the Small to $26.99 for the Extra Large.


The Bento Box Collection is made from sturdy CARB-certified MDF covered in durable polyester fabric. Rubbermaid notes that, "The heavy-duty decorative fabric enables it to remain out in your social spaces while complementing your home's decor." Paper Doll thinks the design scheme and style also make the Bento Boxes perfect for home offices and even perking up corporate cubicles.

(Fans of the movie Office Space, don't you think a Swingline Rio Red Stapler would be best kept safely within a Paprika Bento Box?)

That's why I'm so excited that Rubbermaid is making available a set of Bento Boxes for me to give away to a lucky Paper Doll reader in celebration of the blog's four years. Hurray!

The contest is open to all readers with a shipping address in the United States or Canada, and the rules are simple.

1) Use the comment section below to share your favorite Paper Doll post of the past four years and tell us why you liked it. Trouble deciding? Feel free to read last week's anniversary post to get you amped up. (There are also some helpful recaps in the 3rd anniversary post and the Bastille Day post of 2009.)

2) Tell us which Rubbermaid Bento Box style (Paprika, Chadwick or Linen) you like best, and how and/or where you'd like to use it. For some creative suggestions, check out Rubbermaid's ideas for entryways, bathrooms, media centers and other living areas.

3) Note your Twitter ID in the body of your submission comment. (If you don't use Twitter, please provide your email address or some other easy way to contact you online. OnlineOrganizing's blog system doesn't allow clickable links in the comments, so remove the http:// from any link you provide.)

The deadline for submissions is Monday, October 31, 2011 at Noon, EST. One winner will be chosen randomly and announced in early November.

Good luck!

posted on: 10/18/2011 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by Jeri Dansky on 10/18/2011 2:45:34 PM:

Favorite post: This one about organizing your books: www.onlineorganizing.com/BlogEntry.asp?id=1260 Like best: I may like the Paprika best - hard to tell until I see them in person - but for my own home the Chadwick would work better. I can see using them in my office for spare office supplies: cords of various types, spare printer cartridges, etc. On Twitter, I'm @jeridansky.

by Jackie Kelley on 10/18/2011 8:41:39 PM:

I'll gush a bit and say you are one of my favorite writers...(brownie points?) But seriously my absolute favorite post(s) go WAY back to March 2009 with the trio of Vital Signs, and organizing your medical life. SO much valuable information, albeit at the cost of your experience (likely) at the ER - (and most recently sorry to hear about another medical adventure that took you away from MARCPO! Better? I hope). I think the Chadwick boxes are cute (and I'm not a cute type) - but they would work REALLY well in my living room where the 3 men in my household (52, 15, and 12) leave stray reading and electronic items at an alarming rate (meaning Moi raises the alarm way too often about the SH** laying about the house). I'm @CHorganize - and love that you have been writing for 4 years, here's to many more!

by S. Spencer on 10/18/2011 9:07:56 PM:

There have been so many but the ones that jump to the front of my memory were two -- "Mommy knows best" from June 2008 as it seems we must have had the same Mommy, and the one w/photos of books being stored in unique places such as between stair steps in lieu of risers, and creating furniture from unused books. My favorite of the Bento boxes would be the Linen because they coordinate with other storage cartons I have for my yarn and sewing notions; easy to do because they've used their common sense in designing them because they can be adjusted/made a bit custom on the inside. I do not participate in Twitter, texting, and similar technology but I still use email and can be reached through: s4186284 at yahoo dot com. Congratulations on four terrific years, and here's to many, many more!

by Andi Willis on 10/19/2011 8:53:18 AM:

I'm going to have to echo Jeri, I've enjoyed your posts on organizing your books and how to go digital with them. I've been trying to reduce my collection for years! As far as the Bento Boxes are concerned, I am really attracted to the checked Chadwick ones. I could see using them in my closet to organize smaller items like scarfs, socks, etc, or in my office for smaller supplies. I am @glozing and congrats on your anniversary!!

by Susie on 10/22/2011 1:39:54 AM:

The First Step Toward Decluttering... it's such a daunting task... it's overwhelming... where do I start?. I like the Chadwick ones, which would go with my decor. I'm thinking of using the medium box with the tray to make a charging station for cell phones. sulei12345 at gmail dot com

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.

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