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.
For a creative alternative to the bedside table, try a stepladder. It's the right height for a reading lamp, and it provides just the spot for other nighttime essentials, like a favorite mystery or a glass of water.
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.