Clothespin as Napkin Holder
Use a clothespin to keep napkins neatly stacked at a cocktail party—or from blowing away at a picnic.
Tinsel as Wreath Garland
Ropes of tinsel, wrapped around a foam circle, make a fun, modern wreath that you can use year after year.
Cake Stand as Soap Dish
Glam up a bathroom or vanity. Stock soaps and washcloths on top, or showcase your prettiest perfume bottles.
Baby Oil as Paint Remover
Dab some baby oil on splatters to remove latex paint from skin.
Tinsel as Ornament Filler
If you have extra tinsel but aren’t feeling a fuzzy tree this year, stuff a handful into clear glass ornament balls. You’ll get tinsel in small, sparkly doses.
Candlestick as Bud Vase
Cut stems short and add water to keep blooms upright for a night. (Alas, beauty is fleeting.)
Cupcake Liners as Candleholders
Nothing holds a candle to dining al fresco, unless it’s so dark you can’t see the food in front of you. Place tealights in foil cupcake liners for a little glow at your next outdoor party. They’re cheap enough to use by the dozen, and cleanup is a piece of (cup)cake.
Toothbrush Holder as Vase
Don’t have a vase small enough to display those pretty buds you picked? A seldom used toothbrush holder fits a small arrangement perfectly.
Ice Scraper as Decorating Tool
Hide your picture-hanging mistakes. Smooth wall filler into nail holes and small cracks with the scraper.
Aluminum Foil as Party Garland
Twist foil into links to make a sparkly garland for an almost-instant party decoration (or a rainy-day distraction for the kids).
Dental Floss as Picture Hanger
Hang a lightweight painting. Wrap one end of a strand of floss several times around one of a pair of screws or hooks attached to either side of the back of the frame. Wrap the other end around the remaining screw or hook, leaving some slack. Knot the ends and hang from a nail.
Beans as Candle Anchor
Pretty and functional. Fill a hurricane vase with beans before adding a pillar candle to help keep the candle steady and minimize mess (the beans will catch the wax).
Gravy Boat as Unique Soap Dish
Fill an antique gravy boat with a bar of soap to transform it into an elegant soap dish.
Cupcake Liner as Decorative Snowflakes
Create a winter wonderland in the entryway. Flatten white paper liners (foil ones will work, too), fold into halves or quarters, then snip out shapes along the folds. When you open them back up, voilà: snowflakes you can string from the ceiling.
Luggage Tag as Decorating Aid
Avoid decorating mistakes. Tuck fabric, wallpaper, and paint swatches inside so you can ensure a perfect match.
Votive Candle Holders as Place Cards
Arrange a luminous table setting. Write guests’ names on strips of parchment paper and wrap them around votive holders, securing the ends with tape. As an alternative, remove the candles, cut snapshots of guests to match the height of a holder, and then curl around the inside wall.
Cupcake Liner as Halloween Decoration
Show what a creative Halloween party “ghost-ess” you are. Turn white liners upside down, attach spooky googly eyes, and display them by a boo-fet of seasonally inspired treats.
Dental Floss as DIY Popcorn Garland
String a popcorn garland for the holidays (after a pit-stop in the medicine cabinet).
Cake Stand as Display Stand
Show off. Display small photos and mementos, which look more important on a platform.
Baby Food Jar as Paint Bucket
Simplify paint touch-ups by pouring a few ounces of each new wall paint into a jar for when those times it’s needed to cover the inevitable nail holes and scuffs.
Marbles as a Playful Arrangement
Add marbles to the bottom of a vase to keep your daisies in the drink and make arranging, well, child’s play.
Paper Doily as a Cake Decoration
You baked the cake. Now you’re expected to frost it, too? Take a break from the sticky stuff and use a doily to stencil on a pretty sugar topping. Press a doily flat on top of a round cake and, using a fine-mesh sieve, sprinkle confectioners’ sugar liberally over the surface. Use two hands to carefully remove the doily post-dusting.
Tutu as Nightstand Decoration
Create an enchanting nightstand from a kitchen stool by wrapping a tutu around the edge of the seat and securing it with double-sided tape.
Picture Frame as Dry-Erase Board
Let’s see—you need milk, eggs…and something to replace the stark white memo board that’s sucking all the style from your otherwise charming kitchen. Frame a pretty piece of fabric or paper, then write temporary to-dos on the glass with a dry-erase marker.
Aluminum Foil as Fixture Protector
Protect doorknobs and hardware in the kitchen and bathroom when you're painting by wrapping foil around them to catch dribbles. The foil molds to the shape of whatever it's covering and stays firmly in place until the job is complete.
Apple Container as Ornament Storage
Store delicate tree decor where the fruit once went to protect items from bumps and bruises. (You can also use wine boxes or egg cartons.)
Birdbath as a Planter
Try this pretty display that isn’t just for the birds. Plant shallow-rooted succulents in the birdbath with soil. The lack of drainage will keep the soil moist, so you’ll need to water even less frequently than usual.
Brooches as Refrigerator Decoration
Instead of tossing out seldom worn or broken brooches, remove the pins with a wire cutter, glue a magnet to the back of each, then use them to mount postcards, children’s artwork, or this week’s grocery list.
Bucket as Side Table
For more serving space (without begging and borrowing from the neighbors) top a bucket with a tray for an instant side table for your lawn chairs. Your guests will have more spots to rest their cocktails.
Cake Stand as Candle Holder
Create a candle centerpiece to light up your wedding (or you dinner table) by using cake stands as platforms for votive and pillar candles in assorted sizes.
Champagne Flutes as Candle Stands
If you find yourself with a mismatched collection―or without bubbly―flip thick-walled Champagne flutes upside down to create a beautiful grouping of candle stands for a shelf or a mantel. Use heavy wineglasses for table centerpieces, as the wider mouths will provide more stability to withstand bumping.
Coat Rack as Art and Photo Display
Display a collection of photos, treasured items, or seasonal ornaments over the mantel or in a hallway. Use ribbons or strings of different lengths to hang the arrangement from the pegs.
Cookie Cutter as Candle Stencil
Repurpose mini alphabet cookie cutters as monogramming tools for pillar candles. Hold the candle steady, position the letter, and tap it lightly with a hammer. Do just an initial or go wild and spell out JOYEUX NOEL or HAPPY HANUKKAH.
Cotton Ball as Flower Plug
Help hollow-stemmed blooms, like daffodils, delphiniums, and amaryllis, soak up water and stay hydrated longer with this fresh idea: Cut the bottom of each stem at a 45-degree angle, turn the stem upside down, fill it with water, and stuff it with a piece of cotton.
Cupcake Liners as Light Embellishments
For a string of minilights that takes the (cup)cake, poke the pointy bulbs through foil cupcake liners. Use them for the tree or around your little girl’s bedroom mirror to make her feel like a holiday star.
Flower Frog as Photo Display
After you’ve thrown out the bouquet, just wash and dry the frog and insert your favorite snapshots.
Picture Frame as Vanity Tray
A fresh perspective changes everything. Here, a gilt frame, laid flat, creates a romantic setting for perfumes and powders. Place a piece of colored paper or fabric inside as a finishing touch.
Picture Frame as Key Holder
Framed hooks will keep keys organized―and looking decorative. Eliminate the glass and paint the backing or cover it with fabric or paper. Then attach the key hooks using an extra-strong glue.
Picture Frame as Refrigerator Art
Your icebox images will pop once they’re no longer buried under lists and bills. Give them an edge by gluing magnet strips to the backs of small frames, elevating snapshots and postcards to art.
Picture Frame as an Earring Organizer
Showcase your gold hoops, pearl drops, and chandeliers with this clever caddy. Here's how to make it:
- Step 1: Gather a wooden frame (without the backing and the glass), piano wire, small eyelet hooks (two for each wire), pliers, and a ruler.
- Step 2: Mark where you want each wire to hang. Screw in the eyelet hooks. Using the pliers, pull the wire taut and twist it around the hooks.
- Step 3: Hang your earrings from the wires. Either mount the display on a wall or place it on a dresser.
Garden Hose Holder as Holiday Light Organizer
Coil strings of holiday lights round and round for knot-free hall decking. Your reward: You won’t blow a fuse trying to hang next year’s light show.
Glow-in-the-Dark Stars as Nightlights
Create a well-lit path he can follow from his room to the bathroom. Line up stars near the baseboard and make sure they get plenty of light during the day. You'll get fewer bumps (or cries for Mom) in the night.
Hair Elastic as Bouquet Holder
To keep all types of flowers in place in a wide-mouth vase, stretch a clear hair elastic around the stems, then let the flowers fall naturally. Your beautiful blooms will be styled in a snap.
Holiday Lights as Wreath
Ring in the season with a brilliant mantelpiece. Start with a wire wreath frame (this one is 18 inches in diameter, but you can use any size). Then wrap a string of lights around the frame, making sure to leave enough slack to reach the plug; otherwise use an extension cord.
Beach Towel as Shower Curtain
Make a summery shower curtain by hanging two boldly patterned towels using clip-on drapery rings.
Berry Basket as Bathroom Storage
Corral bathroom essentials in an eco-friendly (but still pretty) caddy.
Binder Clip as Picture Frame
Use this office supply staple to create an easy-to-update photo display. Stand clips on their flat ends and place pics between the two arms.
Book as Framing Tool
When adhering a print to foam backing for framing, use the spine of a hardcover book to smooth out air bubbles.
Bracelet as Napkin Ring
When a plain napkin simply won’t do, break out the bangles and dress up a place setting.
Bread Plate as Plant Saucer
A seldom-used bread plate from your grandmother's formal china set, placed under a small houseplant, will dress it up while serving the practical purpose of catching excess water.
Business Card Organizer as Photo Album
Showcase favorite walletsize photographs, or make a timeline of school portraits by stashing them in a business card file on your desk.
Cake Dome as Terrarium
Put your cake dome to good use as a terrarium. Covering small potted plants will help speed their growth. And when birthdays roll around you can remove the plants and use it for cake.
Changing Table as Potting Bench
Once the little ones are potty-trained, give your changing table new life as a potting bench. A coat of semi-gloss or high-gloss paint will protect it from the elements. Stack pots on shelves and stash seeds in drawers. Fill an easy access hanging nylon or canvas diaper bag with shears and gloves.
Clothespin as Nail Holder
Avoid hammer accidents (and protect your thumb!) when hanging a picture by using a clothespin to securely hold the nail instead of your two fingers.
Clothespin as Holiday Card Display
Adhere a wide grosgrain ribbon to the wall with double-sided mounting tape, then attach holiday cards up and down it for a jolly–and changeable—seasonal exhibit. Both regular-size and mini clothespins will work.
Coffee Can Lid as Paint Splatter Shield
Paint like a pro. To make a splatter shield for when you’re painting a high surface, cut a slit in the center of a lid and pull the paintbrush through.
Coverlet as Slipcover
Revamp a sofa that's seen better days. Center the coverlet, leaving at least three inches of fabric puddling on the floor in front of the sofa. Use a wooden spoon to tuck the coverlet deep between the cushions, smoothing as you go. Fold back any excess material at the front edges of the sofa and pin it underneath.
Dictionary as Art
Send a message that speaks volumes. Make a blow-up copy of an entry that relates to the occasion (for Valentine’s Day, try kiss or love) and use a highlighter to mark your most heartfelt sentiments.
Electrical Tape as Chair Decorator
Liven up a child’s chair with colorful stripes. (Use lead-free or plastic tape.)
Fortune as Art
Framed inspiration. Glue a favorable fortune onto a piece of colored construction paper, then trim the paper to create a small border around the fortune (as shown above, in red). Adhere the fortune to a mat and stick the mat in a frame.
Magnet as Place Card
Mark playful place settings at a dinner party with alphabet magnets for each guest’s first initial.
Marbles as Potted Plant Upgrade
Add a few pops of color to the topsoil of a potted plant.
Pencil Eraser as Wall Protector
Anchor artwork against the wall. Cut erasers from a pair of pencils and glue them to the bottom corners of a frame for added stability.
Photo Album as Renovation Helper
Stash fabric swatches and paint chips in the album so you can make sure that lamp matches perfectly before you get it home.
Pinecones as Flower-Box Filler
When autumn comes and the temperature dips, outdoor decorating becomes more challenging. Collect pinecones and pile them in an empty flower box for a pretty, no-maintenance display.
Plastic Cups as Party Lanterns
Create festive party lanterns for any season. Count the bulbs on a strand of holiday lights and cut X's into the bottoms of the same numer of small cups. Then push a bulb through each cup's center and hang the string from a doorway or window.
Quilt as Tablecloth
Give your table a cozy vibe by covering it with an extra quilt. Just make sure it is machine washable, so a spill won't ruin an heirloom.
Rocks as Guest Book
Create an unexpected guest book by having everyone sign the surface of a flat stone with a paint pen or permanent marker. Then display in a tall clear vase.
Rocks as Plant Decoration
Insulate potted plants with a layer of decorative pebbles on top of the soil.
Rocks as Tic-Tac-Toe Game
Deck out a rec room by painting X's and O's on top of small stones, and drawing a grid on any square surface (try a chalkboard or an old serving platter). You'll have a pretty game that you'll actually want to leave out on the table.
Rocks as Coat Rack
Construct an outdoorsy coat rack. Use a polyuerthane-based glue (try Gorilla Glue) to attach rocks to old drawer knobs, then screw the knobs into a plank of wood and mount it on a wall at eye-level in an entryway.
Rocks as Bookends
Keep books straight on a shelf. Add an earthy vibe to your reading collection by subbing in large smooth rocks for bookends.
Salt as Wreath Duster
Place a wreath of pinecones or faux evergreen in a paper bag with a 1/4 cup of salt. Fold the top of the bag over and gently shake.
Saucer as Soap Dish
Dish out decorative soap in a refined way and present it on a patterned tea saucer.
Shells as Plant Pots
Grow herbs or other diminutive greens. Layer large shells with soil and plant seeds inside.
Shells as Salt Cellars
Enhance flavors—and your table setting—with a salt pinch pot made from a shell.
Shoe Box as File Storage
Give unattractive filing cabinets the boot and store all bills and documents inside shoe boxes covered in decorative paper.
Soup Tureen as Centerpiece
Arrange an easy centerpiece. Fill with a little water and float flowers on the surface, or stack citrus fruits inside.
Sugar Bowl as Bud Vase
A sweet flower vessel. Your (topless) sugar bowl is just the right size to hold a single head of hydrangea or a half-dozen sweetheart roses. Crop the stems very short so the bouquet is tight, full and spilling over the sides.
Tape as Plaster Securer
Keep a plaster wall from chipping when you hang a picture by placing a small piece of tape over the spot where you plan to hammer in the nail.
Tube Socks as Floor Protectors
Slide socks onto the legs of chairs and tables so they don't scratch the floor when you rearrange the room (yet again).
Vase as Picture Frame
Display family photos inside tall cylindrical glass vases of various sizes for an unexpected arrangement on a bookcase or mantel.
Vase as Bookend
Prop up your bestsellers with an empty glass vase. Make a quick swap with the fillers for a seasonal update.
Vase as Utensil Holder
Tidy countertops by gathering kitchen tools like spatulas and spoons in a widemouthed vase.
Vase as Collection Display
Add personality to a shelf. A collection of seashells, marbles or other small objects corralled inside not only increases the vase’s appeal, but also gives it enough heft to step in as a bookend.
Vase as Herb Garden Container
Assemble an herb garden. Fill the bottom of the vase with pebbles (for drainage) before transferring small potted greens.
Velcro as Art Hanger
Stick a few pieces of velcro to the back of a lightweight frame and to corresponding spots on a wall.
Wallpaper as Clock Customizer
Remove the clock’s plastic front or back and detach the hands from the battery mechanism. Using the existing face as a template, trace the outline on the back of a piece of wallpaper. Apply a multipurpose adhesive to the original face, then affix the new one. Reassemble and hang for a unique design that makes a statement time after time.
Books as Side Table
Stack several of your favorite (but infrequently read) volumes next to a sofa or chair for an easy side table.
Comb as Nail Holder
Protect your fingers while hanging a picture, by holding the nail in the tines of the comb.
Linen Napkin as Photo Album Cover
When the rest of the set is too stained to use, salvage a cloth napkin by turning it into a slipcover for your store-bought brag book with a length of ribbon and some fabric glue.
Farfalle as a Gift Bow
All out of premade bows? Tie up wrapped gift boxes with cooking twine and farfalle pasta.
Artificial Holly as Centerpiece
Plastic greenery tends to look, well, plastic. But place boughs of holly, evergreens, or mistletoe in clear glass jars or vases and they make for a glossy yet understated table decoration. Group various sizes and shapes together for a stronger statement.
Knobs as File Pulls
Make hard-to-maneuver files easier to remove from high shelves with the help of pretty knobs (available at home stores). Punch a small hole in the file with the tip of a pair of sharp scissors, push in the knob, then secure it from the inside with a small screw and nut.
Ladder as Newspaper Holder
Keep your papers in check—and mimic the look of the wooden racks in library reading rooms—with a painted ladder propped against the wall. Drape newspapers over the rungs and let them hang until you're ready to toss them into the recycling bin.
Ladder as Accessory Display
Why keep pretty printed scarves and beloved beads tucked away? Dispatch a ladder to artfully display some of your favorite things―and to introduce color and patterns into a room.
Ladder as Towel Rack
Instead of installing a typical metal rack to hold your towels, enlist a ladder made of bamboo (or some other wood that can withstand humidity) to do the job. No tools required.
Ladder as Kitchen Shelving
All you need is a folding ladder and some lumber (pine or poplar, cut at least ¾ inch thick, works well and can be easily painted). Then follow these steps:
- Step 1: The plank shelves should be deep enough to hold your kitchenware (here, each shelf is two planks deep) and long enough that they extend at least a few inches beyond the sides of the ladder. Cut the wood to size, or let the pros at the lumberyard or home center do it for you.
- Step 2: Set the planks on the rungs to create shelves.
- Step 3: Arrange items. To help keep the system stable, place heavier items near the center of the shelves, taking care not to set objects too far outside the rungs.
Lazy Susan as Egg Decorating Helper
Use a lazy Susan to simplify egg dying―you don't have to precariously pass those cups of green, red, and purple dye. And you won't end up with a "tie-dye" finish on your kitchen tabletop.
Need a quick refresher? Learn how to hard-boil an egg.
Mirror as Centerpiece
Place an inexpensive full-length mirror (the kind you attach to a closet door) atop the dining-room table. Set vases or candles of various heights on the mirror. It's an easy and elegant way to adorn your table.