Organizing New Uses for Old Things
Everyday products that help conquer clutter.
One of the most popular kitchen tools also happens to double as a clean-up aid. Before draining the tub, use a colander to make scooping up small toys fun and easy.
Bangles bulging out of your jewelry box? Slip them over a candlestick and let them accessorize your dresser.
Kids can see inside the glass jars to find what they’re looking for, from crayons to pompoms. Leave off the lids for extra long supplies, like pipe cleaners or colored pencils.
Toting more than one bottle to a party? Slip a wristband over one to prevent banging or breaking.
Roll up pairs of stockings or leggings and wrap hair ties around them to keep the rolls from unraveling. It will be easier to find a specific pair on mornings when you're, well, tight on time.
To prevent balls of yarn from tangling, string the end of each through a colander hole.
With the cameras flashing and all eyes on you, there’s a lot of pressure to look your very best. Stash extra makeup—think lip gloss and concealer—in an empty glasses case and tuck in your purse for quick touch up’s throughout the day.
Sending Grandpa a shot of the all-star soccer team but don't want the postal journey to bend it (like Beckham)? Sandwich the picture between the large panels of a flattened box.
Use extra paper party hats to corral candy on a display table—or fill them with popcorn to hand out to kids.
Pack small amounts of your favorite spice (red pepper flakes, anyone?) in old Tic Tac boxes, to season food on-the-go.
It's a cinch to keep belts organized and visible: Coil them into spirals and stack them on top of one another in a large clear vase. (Put favorite belts at the top for easy access.)
Use leftover, adhesive gift tags to label file folders. Holly leaves = medical records, Santa = bills (obviously—you owe him for the bike, the LEGOS, the dollhouse…).
Turn a tangle of ribbons into a neat presentation. Hang coordinating colors over the prongs of a tie hanger.
When utensils are wrapped together, guests can grab what they need in one go—great for a buffet table.
More lovely to look at than the branded box from the store, but it still slides easily into the pantry for storage.
Clip one end of the spool to keep the ribbon from unfurling in your giftwrap drawer.
Pack delicate items. Wrap frames and figurines with several pieces of newspaper, and then crumple the remaining sections to fill extra space in the box.
Fill a large Mason jar with a strand or two of battery-powered lights to add whimsy to a walkway or a nightstand.
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.
Turn your fridge or stove hood into a memo board. Glue a magnet to the back of a pin and use it to hold reminders, invitations, and photos.
If you're the flaky type, cereal boxes (including the single-serving minis) can corral desk-drawer chaos. Slice off the tops and the bottoms and fill them with loose odds and ends.
Keep a retractable cord from rewinding too soon. Just clip the cord near the opening to prevent the cord from being sucked back in too quickly.
Said good-bye to soda? Fill the mouth of a dry 20-ounce bottle with uncooked spaghetti; the opening holds enough for a hearty single serving.
Store chargers, power cords, and extra headphones in the clear pouches of a hanging jewelry organizer. You'll be able to find exactly what you're looking for and packing your tech is that much easier. Submitted by: jloper
Roll pool towels and store them vertically, so your kids can grab one before taking a swim.
Avoid decorating mistakes. Tuck fabric, wallpaper, and paint swatches inside so you can ensure a perfect match.
Use paper clips to keep wrapping paper from unraveling.
Curb countertop clutter. Drop keys and bills on the stand instead.
Prioritize bills and mail in a rack positioned flat on a desk or countertop.
Show off. Display small photos and mementos, which look more important on a platform.
Trim off the edges of a shoe box lid and wrap string lights around the flat cardboard. Then slide the whole thing inside the box. This will keep lights untangled and tidy during the off-season.
Store your car insurance, registration, manuals, and maps in a neatly bound holder to avoid an avalanche of papers every time you reach in for your sunglasses. It's the first step to getting your car chaos under control.
Hang a clipboard on the wall (or inside a cabinet) to clamp down on place mats—and that old “I can’t find them!” excuse from the person setting the table.
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.)
Stretch a rubber band around an opaque container. Each time you scoop out the flour or coffee, move the band down to mark the supply level. No need to lift the lid while making your grocery list—you can see how much is left in a snap.
Stash supplies for scrapbooking, knitting, or sewing in one of these sturdy, transparent pouches so all of your materials and tools are in one place.
Store sets of napkins clipped together and they’ll always be ready to set the scene at dinnertime. You'll restore order to your linen closet and save minutes searching for elusive matching colors.
Reduce handbag clutter by catalogging the family’s club cards and gift cards according to store name. Your back will thank you for toting a lighter wallet around.
Neatly coil the cords of your small, tangle-prone cables and earbuds and tuck them into the empty plastic holder. If you have several, label each case with a sticker for clear identification. It'll be the end of crossed wires.
Hang a skillet on a kitchen wall and you’ll have a convenient magnetic spot to display recipes, important reminders, and anything else your brain is too, well, fried to remember.
Hold small coats in place on adult-size hangers. Use clips with rubberized grips to help items stay put. Not only will you have an organized coat closet, but you'll save money by not having to buy special kids' hangers.
Use clips to prevent silky sleeveless shirts and dresses from slipping off the hanger. And you can say goodbye to wrinkled sundresses on the closet floor.
Catch the sticky stuff from bottles and jars in cupboards. No more shelves that require a full wipe-down after every spoonful of honey, slather of jam, or glug of olive oil.
Store your best-loved (and most frequently worn) necklaces and bracelets within easy reach on a wall-mounted coat rack. Bonus: they'll stay tangle-free when not decorating your neck.
Easily transport non-prescription pills without all the bottles. Pop it into your handbag and you'll have a headache remedy handy when the man in seat 7A drones on about his herniated disk. Plus you'll keep pills out of contact with everything else in your purse
Silence cabinet doors that slam by slicing a cork into thin disks and sticking them onto the inside corners of cabinets to muzzle the closing noise.
For the 359 days of the year when you’re not hauling cupcakes, use the cups to store jewelry or craft supplies.
Sort cookie sheets, cutting boards, and jelly-roll pans in the kitchen for easy access (and no more cymbal-crashing sounds) in an overstuffed cabinet.
Scoop up small toys―Lego blocks, jacks, Barbie shoes, plastic soldiers—with your dustpan and brush, so you can reclaim your living room for grown-ups.
Face it: That long-lost earring is probably gallivanting with a wayward sock in Ye Olde Land of Misplaced Items. (What a stud!) Let its lonely, abandoned mate rebound as a pretty thumbtack on a bulletin board.
Courtesy of reader Bailey Mulholland of Appleton, Wisconsin
An unused glasses case makes a convenient storage spot for nail files, clippers and other manicure essentials while on the go.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Corral bathroom essentials in an eco-friendly (but still pretty) caddy.
Keep a windowblind cord out of reach of little hands (or paws). Just gather the cord up at a safe level and clasp.
Organize coloring books in the main basket and corral crayons, pencils, and markers in the silverware holder.
Attach adhesive file-folder labels with the names of the cords' owners (for example, phone, computer, fax, and lamp; or TV, DVD, VCR, and phone) near the plugs. This way, you can quickly ID which cord belongs to which machine—and you won't unplug the wrong one.
Unspool stamps by cutting a slit in the side of a film canister and threading the end of the roll throught it.
Free up some counter space by using a clip-on high chair as mail catchall. Great solution for rounding up keys and stashing mail and permission slips.
Superglue the lid to the underside of a cabinet and gather bits and pieces—thumbtacks, say, or nails—into the jar itself. Then screw the jar into the lid to whisk clutter up, up, and away.
Store game pieces, play money, or other priceless rainy-afternoon distractions.
Those little boxes are so sturdy and tidy that you hate to throw them out, so don't. Instead, clip them together to create a neat divided storage area for pens and pencils, lipsticks, plastic flatware—whatever it is that clutters your drawer.
Prevent produce from bruising on the way home from the store. Give grocery bags traction in the trunk of a car by lining the compartment with a pad.
Stop pens and paper clips from rolling to the back of a desk drawer with a layer of liner.
Make glassware stay put on a serving tray, so breakfast in bed doesn't lead to mopping up orange juice in your pajamas.
Find the number for your favorite restaurant faster by clipping its page in the phone book.
Corral bobby pins and hair clips in a paper clip holder. The magnetic ring makes them easy to dispense.
Prevent good china from chipping by layering paper plates between each piece of your formal dinnerware.
Corral unruly comptuer cables by running them through a spare tube.
Run junk mail and private documents through the device and turn the crank.
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.
Fold a packet inside the tin to keep tissues dry and intact in your purse or beach bag.
File frequently used business cards in a brag book (two will fit in each slot) for a purse-ready Rolodex.
Stash fabric swatches and paint chips in the album so you can make sure that lamp matches perfectly before you get it home.
Organize delicate jewelry by placing necklace chains, charms, and small earrings in individual vellum envelopes inside the box.
Orchestrate a multicourse meal by displaying all the recipes you need on a single stand so you never miss a beat (or an ingredient).
Contain rain-boot runoff by placing a tray near the entryway when wet weather descends.
Carry unwieldy packages by twisting several feet of wrap into a sturdy rope, tying it around a box, and knotting the rest into a handle.
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.
Keep books straight on a shelf. Add an earthy vibe to your reading collection by subbing in large smooth rocks for bookends.
Give unattractive filing cabinets the boot and store all bills and documents inside shoe boxes covered in decorative paper.
Arrange gift wrapping supplies so you can easily locate bows, ribbons, scissors, and tape.
Organize the spice cabinet by transferring canisters to the pockets and mounting the holder inside the pantry.
Sort and hang scarves by threading them through rings hung on a closet rod.
Use these squat, clear-topped jars (sold at kitchen supply stores) to keep all those loose bits cluttering your desk drawer—stamps and Post-It notes, thumbtacks and rubber bands, safety pins and stickers—under control.
Neatly file bills, mail, and invitations between the coils on your desk.
Rest your soles. Store shoes on the tiers of a stool in the closet.
Keep off season linens and other decorations in a suitcase when you're not traveling.
Streamline tangled cords. Shorten a too-long one by looping the center and wrapping with a tie, or secure several cords together.
Keep Fido’s bowl from migrating away from its designated spot with a few pieces of Velcro on its bottom side.
Inspire housekeeping habits that will stick. Affix the rough sides of a few strips to the wall, and the soft sides to the backs of stuffed animals. The act of putting away toys will gain all-ages appeal.
Help the remote from getting swallowed up in the couch cushions by adding Velcro to the device and on the side of the TV.
Stop a seat cushion from tumbling off a chair by adhering strips of Velcro to the bottom of the cushion and the top of the seat.
Place a small piece of Velcro next to a desk calendar and on a pen so you’ll never have to search for one again.
Roll several cloths and stack in the box in a guest bathroom so no one has to poke around in your cabinets hunting for them.