New Uses for Things in the Living Room
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.
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.
TV Remote as Hiding Place
Curbed your TV watching? Remove the batteries from an old remote and stuff the empty compartment with emergency cash, a spare key, or anything else you need handy (but hidden).
Aluminum Foil as an Antenna
If your DVD player is stacked on top of the TV (or vice versa) and the picture is fuzzy, the two electromagnetic fields may be commingling, confusing the signals. (This usually happens with plastic casings; with metal it's less likely.) Slip a sheet of foil between the machines to separate the fields.
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.
Fork as Carpet Fluffer
Use the tines to gently fluff plush carpet fibers back to their original height, removing dents left by heavy furniture. Now, that's a real fork lift.
Picture Frame as Drink Tray
Make a chic serving tray with an extra frame. Place a double of your favorite photo (so as not to ruin the original in case of condensation) under the glass and set out the drinks.
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.
Baking Soda as Carpet Freshener
To absorb stale odors from carpet (and to generally freshen up a room), scatter soda on it, wait a few hours, then vacuum up the powder.
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.
Binder Clip as Cord Holder
Keep a windowblind cord out of reach of little hands (or paws). Just gather the cord up at a safe level and clasp.
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.
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.
Button as Board Game Piece
Is your Monopoly game missing its top hat? Replace wayward board-game pieces without missing a beat (or a turn).
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 Cord Keeper
The secret to keeping a retractable cord from rewinding too soon is to clip the cord near the opening.
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.
Cork as Fire Starter
Get a blaze crackling faster. Keep wine corks in rubbing alcohol in a sealed jar (stored away frm the fireplace of course). Just before lighting a fire, toss a few in under the kindling.
Cornmeal as Grease Absorber
Add this to the grocery shopping list for new reasons. Cornmeal absorbs grease on light colored fabric or upholstery. Pour enough on to cover the soiled area and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Vacuum to remove the grains.
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.
Denture Tablet as Vase Cleaner
When residue clings to unreachable spots inside a vase or a decanter, fill the container with warm water and drop in one or two denture-cleaning tablets for every eight ounces of warm water. Let the fizzy solution sit for the time specified on the product's box, then rinse.
Dryer Sheet as Book Deodorizer
Prevent your beloved volumes from acquiring a musty smell by inserting a fabric-softener sheet between the pages.
Duct Tape as Light Bulb Loosener
Safely loosen a hard-to-remove lightbulb. Press the center of a footlong strip of tape to the middle of the bulb. Fold each loose end in half so it sticks to itself. Gripping each end between a thumb and index finger, give a counter clockwise twist to loosen the bulb.
File Folder Labels as Cord Identification
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.
Jewelry Box as Game Piece Storage
Store game pieces, play money, or other priceless rainy-afternoon distractions.
Newspaper as Window Washer
Newspapers deposit less lint than paper towels do and don't leave any streaks. Just spray on a glass cleaner and wipe.
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.
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 Bookends
Keep books straight on a shelf. Add an earthy vibe to your reading collection by subbing in large smooth rocks for bookends.
Rubber Glove as Pet Hair Remover
Put on a damp rubber dishwashing glove and run your hand over hair-covered upholstery—the hair will cling to the glove, not the sofa. Rinse off the glove in the sink (with the drain catcher in place, of course).
Rubbing Alcohol as Permanent Marker Remover
Remove permanent marker from countertops and walls. Pour a bit of alcohol onto a cotton ball and rub on the stain. (Spot test on a hidden area first.)
Seam Ripper as Vacuum Roller Cleaner
Restore a vacuum to maximum power by cutting the lint and hair from its roller brush.
Seam Ripper as DVD Opener
Tear into plastic-wrapped CDs and DVDs without wrecking your nails.
Shoe Polish as Furniture Polish
Spruce up wood furniture by filling in scratches with shoe polish in a similar shade.
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.
Velcro as Art Hanger
Stick a few pieces of velcro to the back of a lightweight frame and to corresponding spots on a wall.
Velcro as Remote Controller
Help the remote from getting swallowed up in the couch cushions by adding Velcro to the device and on the side of the TV.
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.
Walnut as Scratch Filler
Repair hardwood floors by rubbing shelled nuts into shallow scratches. Their natural oils help hide the flaws.
Antacid Tablet as Vase Cleaner
Lift bouquet residue from the bottom of a vase. Fill the vase with water, add two tablets, let sit for a few minutes, wipe, and rinse.
Baking Soda as Crayon Eraser
Sprinkle it on a damp sponge to erase crayon, pencil, and ink from painted surfaces.
Books as Side Table
Stack several of your favorite (but infrequently read) volumes next to a sofa or chair for an easy side table.
Coffee Filter as Screen Cleaner
For lint-free viewing, grab a coffee filter to wipe down dusty and staticky computer monitors and TV screens regularly.
Comb as Nail Holder
Protect your fingers while hanging a picture, by holding the nail in the tines of the comb.
Butter Knife as Curtain Weight
A butter knife can perform the same job as those little weights that help unruly window treatments hang properly. Just slip the knife inside the opening created by the hem.
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.
Lightbulb Carton as Photo Protector
Protect photographs when you send them via snail mail. Flatten the corrugated cardboard box, then slide photos of loved ones (the true lights of your life) inside. Grandma will appreciate the wrinkle-free snapshots.
Lint Roller as Lamp Shade Duster
Run the roller up and down the outside of the lamp shade to get rid of small particles that shouldn't be there. Ah, the satisfaction of knowing that every surface in your living room will pass the white-glove test.
Masking Tape as Scuff Preventor
Keep baseboards free of skid marks when you vacuum. Cover the edges of the vacuum head with masking tape so they won't leave dark smudges when you inevitably bump into the walls. There will be no more black marks on your cleaning record.
Permanent Marker as Lampshade Decoration
To customize a standard linen shade, trim the seamed edges with a permanent marker in a shade that matches your decor. If you don't have a steady hand, use painter’s tape to outline the area to be colored.
Pillowcase as Ceiling Fan Duster
Slide an old case over a fan's blade then pull the fabric back, keeping all the dust and dirt contained.
Place Mats as Coasters
Prevent water rings by cutting mismatched or damaged plastic placemats into smaller squares with pinking shears, discarding parts that are torn or stained.
Planter as Side Table
Supplement your assortment of occasional tables by bringing a tall planter indoors and topping it with a piece of glass.
Plastic Bag as Paintbrush Preserver
You're painting the kitchen when an emergency (kid's sick at school; Brad Pitt is Ellen's special guest) calls you off the job. To keep brushes and rollers from drying out, place them in bags, and tie them or wrap them with rubber bands to keep out air. The tools will stay moist and protected for a day or so.
Press'n Seal Wrap as Fixture Protector
During home repairs and painting, use the wrap to keep dirt and drips away from vents, lamps, and other household items, just tear, press, and seal.
Ribbon as Lampshade Decoration
Update an old lampshade by attaching a strip of grosgrain ribbon to the top and bottom edges with a thin layer of fabric glue.
Comb as Carpet Fluffer
Fluff up a spot in the carpet squashed by a furniture leg.