Organizing New Uses for Old Things

Clear the clutter with these repurposed everyday items.

Colander as Toy Scoop
Photo: Erica McCartney; Styling: Kristine Trevino

Everyday products that help conquer clutter.

01 of 100

Colander as Toy Scoop

Colander as Toy Scoop
Erica McCartney; Styling: Kristine Trevino

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.

02 of 100

Candlestick as Bracelet Holder

Candlestick as Bracelet Holder
Philip Friedman; Styling: Linden Elstran

Bangles bulging out of your jewelry box? Slip them over a candlestick and let them accessorize your dresser.

03 of 100

Glass Jar as Arts and Crafts Organizer

Mason jar with crayons
Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: Kristine Trevino

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.

04 of 100

Wristband as Wine Protector

New use: wristband as wine protector
Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: Kristine Trevino

Toting more than one bottle to a party? Slip a wristband over one to prevent banging or breaking.

05 of 100

Hair Elastic as Tights Bundler

Hair Elastic as Tights Bundler
Philip Friedman; Styling: Linden Elstran

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.

06 of 100

Colander as Knitting Assistant

New Use: Colander as Knitting Assistant
Jamie Chung

To prevent balls of yarn from tangling, string the end of each through a colander hole.

07 of 100

Glasses Case as Makeup Organizer

Glasses Case as Makeup Organizer
Erica McCartney; Styling: Kristine Trevino

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.

08 of 100

Cereal Box as Photo Saver

Cereal Box as Photo Saver
Philip Friedman; Styling: Linden Elstran. Photo in box: Renee Keith/Getty Images

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.

09 of 100

Party Hat as Candy Dish

New use: party hat as candy dish
Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: Kristine Trevino

Use extra paper party hats to corral candy on a display table—or fill them with popcorn to hand out to kids.

10 of 100

Tic Tac Box as Spice Holder

Tic Tac Box as Spice Holder
Erica McCartney; Styling: Kristine Trevino

Pack small amounts of your favorite spice (red pepper flakes, anyone?) in old Tic Tac boxes, to season food on-the-go.

11 of 100

Glass Vase as Belt Corraller

Glass Vase as Belt Corraller
Philip Friedman; Styling: Linden Elstran

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.)

12 of 100

Gift Tags as File Label

New use: holiday tag as file label
Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: Kristine Trevino

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…).

13 of 100

Hanger as Ribbon Organizer

New use: hanger as ribbon organizer
Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: Kristine Trevino

Turn a tangle of ribbons into a neat presentation. Hang coordinating colors over the prongs of a tie hanger.

14 of 100

Ribbon as Utensil Holder

New use: ribbon as utensil holder
Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: Kristine Trevino

When utensils are wrapped together, guests can grab what they need in one go—great for a buffet table.

15 of 100

Gift Box as Sugar Holder

New use: gift box as sugar box
Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: Kristine Trevino

More lovely to look at than the branded box from the store, but it still slides easily into the pantry for storage.

16 of 100

Binder Clip as Ribbon Organizer

New use: binder clip as ribbon organizer
Nicole Hill Gerulat; Styling: Kristine Trevino

Clip one end of the spool to keep the ribbon from unfurling in your giftwrap drawer.

17 of 100

Newspaper as Packing Material

Newspaper as Packing Material
Photos: Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran

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.

18 of 100

Holiday Lights as Night Light

Mason jar filled with battery powered Christmas lights
Levi Brown

Fill a large Mason jar with a strand or two of battery-powered lights to add whimsy to a walkway or a nightstand.

19 of 100

Dental Floss as Picture Hanger

Dental Floss as Picture Hanger
Photos: Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran

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.

20 of 100

Clothespin as Refrigerator Magnet

Clothespin as Refrigerator Magnet
Photos: Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran

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.

21 of 100

Cereal Box as Drawer Organizer

Cereal box drawer organizer
Levi Brown

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.

22 of 100

Clothespin as Cord Holder

Clothespin as Cord Holder
Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran

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.

23 of 100

Soda Bottle as Pasta Measurer

Clear plastic soda bottle holding dry pasta
James Wojcik

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.

24 of 100

Silverware Holder as Bathroom Drawer Organizer

Silverware holder as bathroom organization
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

Use a utensil tray in your bathroom drawer to keep small items like tweezers, nail clippers, and makeup brushes organized. Submitted by: Margaret2580

25 of 100

Hanging Wash Bag as Cord Storage

Hanging wash bag as cord storage
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

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

26 of 100

Magazine Files as Kitchen Storage

Magazine files as kitchen storage
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

Corral boxes of waxed paper, aluminum foil and plastic wrap in a magazine file. Submitted by chels926

27 of 100

Metal Magazine Rack as Towel Holder

Metal magazine rack as towel holder
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

Roll pool towels and store them vertically, so your kids can grab one before taking a swim.

28 of 100

Luggage Tag as Decorating Aid

Luggage tag as decorating aid
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

Avoid decorating mistakes. Tuck fabric, wallpaper, and paint swatches inside so you can ensure a perfect match.

29 of 100

Paper Clips as Wrapping Paper Holder

Paper clips as wrapping paper holder
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

Use paper clips to keep wrapping paper from unraveling.

30 of 100

Cake Stand as Counter Organizer

Cake stand as counter organizer
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

Curb countertop clutter. Drop keys and bills on the stand instead.

31 of 100

Tie Rack as Mail Organizer

Tie rack as mail organizer
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

Prioritize bills and mail in a rack positioned flat on a desk or countertop.

32 of 100

Cake Stand as Display Stand

Cake stand as display stand
John Lawton; Styling: Linden Elstran

Show off. Display small photos and mementos, which look more important on a platform.

33 of 100

Shoe Box as Holiday Light Storage

Shoe box used to coil holiday lights
James Baigrie

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.

34 of 100

Accordion Folder as a Glove Compartment Organizer

Accordion file folder with car keys
Aya Brackett

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.

35 of 100

Clipboard as Place-Mat Holder

Clipboard as place-mat holder
James Wojcik

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.

36 of 100

Apple Container as Ornament Storage

Ornaments stored in plastic apple containers
John Lawton

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.)

37 of 100

Baking Sheet as a Memo Board

Baking sheet used as a magnetic bulletin board
Monica Buck

Set the baking sheet inside a 16-inch plate hanger mounted to the wall. Make sure the sheet is magnetic—so good ideas will stick.

38 of 100

Rubber Band as Canister Measure

Rubber band as canister measure
James Wojcik

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.

39 of 100

Zippered Bed-Linen Bag as Art Supply Carrier

Bed linen bag for art supplies
Aya Brackett

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.

40 of 100

Binder Clip as Linens Organizer

Clips and papers on a table
Monica Buck

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.

41 of 100

Business Card Organizer as Gift Card Holder

Gift cards organized in a Rolodex
Mark Lund

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.

42 of 100

Cassette Case as Cord Organizer

Headphones in a cassette case
Mark Lund

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.

43 of 100

Cast-Iron Pan as Recipe Board

Cast iron pan as a recipe board
John Lawton

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.

44 of 100

Chip Clips as Clothes Hangers

Chip clips holding a kid's jacket on a large hanger
Aimee Herring

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.

45 of 100

Clothespin as Hanger

Dress hung with clothespins
Antonis Achilleos

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.

46 of 100

Coaster as Drip Catcher

Coasters and condiments in a cupboard
Monica Buck

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.

47 of 100

Coat Rack as Jewelry Holder

Necklaces hanging on a coat rack
Frances Janisch

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.

48 of 100

Contact Lens Case as Pill Storage

Pills stored in a contact lens case
Frances Janisch

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

49 of 100

Wine Corks as Cabinet Silencers

Kitchen cabinet with wine cork cushion
Gemma Comas and James Merrell

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.

50 of 100

Cupcake Carrier as Knickknack Organizer

Cupcake carrier as knickknack organizer
James Wojcik

For the 359 days of the year when you’re not hauling cupcakes, use the cups to store jewelry or craft supplies.

51 of 100

Desk Organizer as Cupboard Divider

Desk organizer holding kitchen items
Andrew McCaul

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.

52 of 100

Dustpan as Toy Herder

Toys gathered in a dustpan
France Ruffenach

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.

53 of 100

Earrings as Pushpins

Earrings as pushpins on a bulletin board
John Lawton

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

54 of 100

Eyeglasses Case as Manicure Kit

Manicure kit in a glasses case
Kirsten Strecker

An unused glasses case makes a convenient storage spot for nail files, clippers and other manicure essentials while on the go.

55 of 100

Picture Frame as Key Holder

Picture frame used as a key hanger
Sang An

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.

56 of 100

Picture Frame as Refrigerator Art

Refrigerator covered with picture frames
Sang An

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.

57 of 100

Picture Frame as an Earring Organizer

Picture frame as earring organizer
Sang An

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.
58 of 100

Garden Hose Holder as Holiday Light Organizer

Beatriz da Costa

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.

59 of 100

Berry Basket as Bathroom Storage

Berry basket bathroom caddy
Antonis Achilleos

Corral bathroom essentials in an eco-friendly (but still pretty) caddy.

60 of 100

Binder Clip as Cord Holder

Binder clip used to secure windowblind cord
Jim Franco

Keep a windowblind cord out of reach of little hands (or paws). Just gather the cord up at a safe level and clasp.

61 of 100

Dish Rack as Art Supply Organizer

Dishrack used to organize coloring books
Antonis Achilleos

Organize coloring books in the main basket and corral crayons, pencils, and markers in the silverware holder.

62 of 100

File Folder Labels as Cord Identification

File folder labels used as cord labelers
Antonis Achilleos

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.

63 of 100

Film Canister as Stamp Dispenser

Film canister holds spool of stamps
Mark Lund

Unspool stamps by cutting a slit in the side of a film canister and threading the end of the roll throught it.

64 of 100

High Chair as Mail Holder

High chair used to hold personal items
William Abranowicz

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.

65 of 100

Jar as Knicknack Organizer

Jar lid used to clear off a desktop
James Baigrie

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.

66 of 100

Jewelry Box as Game Piece Storage

Jewelry box used to organize a drawer
Kathryn Barnard

Store game pieces, play money, or other priceless rainy-afternoon distractions.

67 of 100

Jewelry Box as Drawer Organizer

Jewelry box used to organize a drawer
Antonis Achilleos

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.

68 of 100

Nonskid Rug Pad as Trunk Mat

Nonskid rug pad used on a serving tray
Kevin Kochey

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.

69 of 100

Nonskid Rug Pad as Drawer Liner

Nonskid rug pad used to line drawer
Burcu Avsar

Stop pens and paper clips from rolling to the back of a desk drawer with a layer of liner.

70 of 100

Nonskid Rug Pad as Breakfast Tray Liner

Nonskid rug pad used on a serving tray
Kevin Kochey

Make glassware stay put on a serving tray, so breakfast in bed doesn't lead to mopping up orange juice in your pajamas.

71 of 100

Paper Clip as Phone Book Marker

Paper clip used to mark phonebook
James Baigrie

Find the number for your favorite restaurant faster by clipping its page in the phone book.

72 of 100

Paper Clip Dispenser as Bobby Pin Holder

Paper clip dispenser used to stash bobby pins
Aya Brackett

Corral bobby pins and hair clips in a paper clip holder. The magnetic ring makes them easy to dispense.

73 of 100

Paper Plates as China Protectors

Paper plates used to protect china
James Wojick

Prevent good china from chipping by layering paper plates between each piece of your formal dinnerware.

74 of 100

Paper Towel Tube as Cord Organizer

Paper towel tube used to corral cables
James Wojick

Corral unruly comptuer cables by running them through a spare tube.

75 of 100

Pasta Maker as Paper Shredder

Pasta maker paper shredder
Andrew McCaul

Run junk mail and private documents through the device and turn the crank.

76 of 100

Pencil Eraser as Wall Protector

Pencil eraser used to anchor artwork
Monica Buck

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.

77 of 100

Peppermint Tin as Tissue Holder

Peppermint tin used to hold tissues
Frances Janisch

Fold a packet inside the tin to keep tissues dry and intact in your purse or beach bag.

78 of 100

Photo Album as Business Card File

Photo album used to file business cards
Monica Buck

File frequently used business cards in a brag book (two will fit in each slot) for a purse-ready Rolodex.

79 of 100

Photo Album as Renovation Helper

Photo album used to store fabric swatches
Aya Brackett

Stash fabric swatches and paint chips in the album so you can make sure that lamp matches perfectly before you get it home.

80 of 100

Photo Box as Jewelry Organizer

Photo box used to store jewelry
David Prince

Organize delicate jewelry by placing necklace chains, charms, and small earrings in individual vellum envelopes inside the box.

81 of 100

Photo Tree as Recipe Holder

Photo tree used to display recipes
Andrew Mccaul

Orchestrate a multicourse meal by displaying all the recipes you need on a single stand so you never miss a beat (or an ingredient).

82 of 100

Plastic Trays as Boot Holders

Plastic trays used to contain wet boots
Mark Lund

Contain rain-boot runoff by placing a tray near the entryway when wet weather descends.

83 of 100

Plastic Wrap as Box Handle

Plastic wrap used to carry unwieldy packages
Antonis Achilleos

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.

84 of 100

Rocks as Coat Rack

Rocks sued to make coat rack
Anna Williams

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.

85 of 100

Rocks as Bookends

Rocks used as bookends
Solutions Book

Keep books straight on a shelf. Add an earthy vibe to your reading collection by subbing in large smooth rocks for bookends.

86 of 100

Shoe Box as File Storage

Shoe box used store old bills
Antonis Achilleos

Give unattractive filing cabinets the boot and store all bills and documents inside shoe boxes covered in decorative paper.

87 of 100

Shoe Organizer as Gift Wrap Storage

Shoe organizer used to hold gift wrapping supplies
James Baigrie

Arrange gift wrapping supplies so you can easily locate bows, ribbons, scissors, and tape.

88 of 100

Shoe Organizer as Spice Rack

Shoe organizer used to organize spices
Formula Z/S

Organize the spice cabinet by transferring canisters to the pockets and mounting the holder inside the pantry.

89 of 100

Shower Curtain Rings as Scarf Storage

Shower curtain rings used to store scarves
Kirsten Strecker

Sort and hang scarves by threading them through rings hung on a closet rod.

90 of 100

Spice Containers as Office Supply Storage

Spice containers used to hold office supplies
David Prince

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.

91 of 100

Spring as Desktop Organizer

Spring used to file bills
Anita Calero

Neatly file bills, mail, and invitations between the coils on your desk.

92 of 100

Step Stool as Shoe Organizer

Step stool used to store shoes
Annie Schlechter

Rest your soles. Store shoes on the tiers of a stool in the closet.

93 of 100

Suitcase as Linen Storage

Suitcase used to store seasonal clothes
Beatriz Da Costa

Keep off season linens and other decorations in a suitcase when you're not traveling.

94 of 100

Twist Tie as Wire Gatherer

Twist ties used to tidy cords
Antonis Achilleos

Streamline tangled cords. Shorten a too-long one by looping the center and wrapping with a tie, or secure several cords together.

95 of 100

Velcro as Pet Bowl Securer

Velcro to secure pet bowl
Aya Brackett

Keep Fido’s bowl from migrating away from its designated spot with a few pieces of Velcro on its bottom side.

96 of 100

Velcro as Toy Storage

Velcro used to secure stuffed animals
Antonis Achilleos

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.

97 of 100

Velcro as Remote Controller

Velcro used to secure TV remote
Antonis Achilleos

Help the remote from getting swallowed up in the couch cushions by adding Velcro to the device and on the side of the TV.

98 of 100

Velcro as Cushion Keeper

Velcro used to secure cushions
James Baigrie

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.

99 of 100

Velcro as Pen Minder

Velcro used to secure pen to desk
James Baigrie

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.

100 of 100

Window Box as Towel Storage

Window box used to hold towels
Monica Buck

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.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles