1 of 50 Sang An
Repurpose an old frame for a vanity tray that’s pretty as a picture. Place a piece of colored paper or fabric inside as a finishing touch.
4 of 50 Aya Brackett
At a party, stash ice in a colander set on top of a bucket or a bowl. Water will drain out, and guests will get only the solid stuff.
5 of 50 Monica Buck
Stop searching high and low for hair clips and elastics: Store them tidily on an empty TP tube.
6 of 50 Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Pick up interesting cardboard coasters at restaurants and bars you visit along your travels. Punch a hole near the edge, thread some ribbon through, and voilà: homemade gift tag.
8 of 50 Burcu Avsar
Vegetable oil will put a shine on leather shoes. Use a damp cloth to remove any dirt, then run a soft cloth with a drop of oil over the surface to (literally) add polish.
11 of 50 Mark Lund
Have an old cassette case hanging around? (Oh, you know you do.) Coil iPod earphones and tuck them in to keep wires uncrossed.
12 of 50 Beatriz da Costa
One of readers’ all-time-favorite ideas: the LifeSaver as birthday-candle holder. (Candies in the original rolls provide the best fit―LifeSavers sold in big bags are larger and don’t work as well.)
13 of 50 Beatriz da Costa
Forget unruly plastic bags that seemingly regenerate under your sink. An empty tissue box keeps them neatly corralled and ready for use.
14 of 50 Thayer Allyson Gowdy
A giveaway shower cap becomes the perfect wrapper for shoes when traveling, preventing them from dirtying clothes packed in your suitcase.
15 of 50 Mark Weiss
Brand anything as yours―books, binders, Tupperware, a stapler―with a return-address sticker.
17 of 50 David Prince
A hard plastic soap case is the perfect size to protect a camera stashed in a carry-on bag.
19 of 50 Kana Okada
A supermarket bag, tightly secured with a rubber band, will keep a brush (or roller) moist for a day or two in between painting sessions: the end of dried-out bristles.
21 of 50 Charles Maraia
A binder clip serves as a key chain/money holder you can clamp to your waistband for a purse-free morning walk.
22 of 50 Antonis Achilleos
Pretty ribbon revives an old lamp shade. Apply a thin layer of glue and press on each piece of ribbon, matching the ends neatly.
23 of 50 Sang An
Save a countertop with an old mouse pad turned trivet. (Make sure it has a nonplastic coating.)
24 of 50 Quentin Bacon
No more oops! moments when painting, if you cover doorknobs and hardware with aluminum foil.
25 of 50 Kana Okada
That straightening iron works on more than rambunctious hair: Use it to press between buttons, where a regular iron won’t fit.
26 of 50 Kana Okada
Gardeners can go easy on their jeans with homemade knee pads. A couple of plastic bags tied on keep them grime-free.
27 of 50 Frances Janisch
When traveling, eliminate clunky bottles for nonprescription meds from your purse by popping the pills into a contact-lens case.
29 of 50 Gemma Comas and James Merrell
A clear hair elastic binds blooms together for a better arrangement in a wide-mouth vase. Stretch the elastic around the stems, then let the flowers fall naturally.
31 of 50 Kathryn Barnard
Rubber bands give little fingers a better grip on a chilly or slippery glass.
32 of 50 Formula Z/S
Why pack with Styrofoam peanuts when you can pack with popcorn (plain and air-popped). No air popper? Be sure to cover the item with a plastic bag.
34 of 50 Monica Buck
The cardboard tube from a spent roll of toilet tissue is a wonderfully simple tool for keeping extension cords tangle-free.
36 of 50 Rick Lew
A lemon works to remove tough food stains from a plastic or light-colored wood cutting board. Squeeze on the juice of one half, rub it in, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing.
37 of 50 Kana Okada
Avoid batter splatters and flour dustings on a cookbook by wrapping a plastic bag around everything but the page you’re using.
39 of 50 Aya Brackett
Stick a sparkler in Play-Doh, then light it up. The container protects hands from flying sparks, preventing burns.
40 of 50 Amy Wilson
Change dirty water in a flower vase by using a turkey baster to suction up the liquid without disturbing your arrangement. Add fresh water directly from the tap.
41 of 50 Gemma Comas and James Merrell
Silence cabinet doors that slam with cork sliced into thin disks and glued onto the inside corners.
43 of 50 Kana Okada
Cut down on the amount of potting soil needed by crumpling plastic bags to fill the bottom of a deep pot (just be sure that you don’t cover the drainage hole, if there is one).
44 of 50 Mark Lund
Organize bills―arranged in the order in which they need to be paid off―in an unused napkin holder.
48 of 50 Mark Lund
Liberally apply cooking spray to both sides of a plastic or metal shovel before clearing away snow, and ice will slide right off instead of building up.