Tag Archives: Storage solutions

Tiny Tuesday: Hang a basket on the wall

This functional basket replaced a cute but useless plaque next to the shower.
This functional basket replaced a cute but useless plaque next to the shower.

Baskets seem to be a theme lately — and for good reason: In a small space, a well-placed basket can mean the difference between a cluttered mess and an attractive living area.

Our bathroom didn’t look terribly cluttered, but some of my storage strategies weren’t as convenient as they could have been. Case in point: washcloths. I had the washcloths stacked in the cabinet above the toilet — neat and out of sight, but nowhere near the shower, which seems silly. Meanwhile, I noticed some more underutilized space above the towel ring between the medicine cabinet and the shower, so I decided to take down the decorative plaque that was hanging there and replace it with a water-hyacinth basket.

A single-unit storage cube would have fit in that space, too, but the one I had on hand was an open-backed model that would have been a pain to hang up, as I would have needed special mounting hardware. All I needed was a place to store a stack of washcloths and maybe an extra bar of soap or two within easy reach of the shower. As you can see, the basket serves that purpose nicely, and being made of natural materials (or maybe crumpled paper designed to look like natural materials), it will coordinate well with the rest of the bathroom when I finish painting my faux-stone mural in there.

When we build our tiny house, I’m planning a permanent structure, but a lot of tiny-house enthusiasts like to build theirs on trailers to avoid some building-code hassles and allow themselves freedom to travel without leaving the comforts of home. If that’s the direction you’re considering, you’ll want to swap shelves and cabinets for baskets wherever possible to keep your home’s weight down. (And yes, I’ll explain the building-code workaround I’m planning in a future post.)


Tiny Tuesday: Repurpose a dishrack

I swiped an idea from my mom while I was helping her with the Thanksgiving dishes Thursday.

Mom and Dad redid their kitchen not too long ago, and their old dishrack wouldn’t fit well on the new counter, so they bought a new one.

Rather than throw out the old one, Mom stuck it in the bottom of one of the new cabinets, where it keeps the pan lids organized and easy to find.

Repurpose an old dishrack as a neat storage center for lids.
Repurpose an old dishrack as a neat storage center for lids.

Given the weight of some of those lids, I’m not sure how well this would work with a flimsy plastic dishrack, but the one Mom used is made of heavy wire coated with plastic, and I am fairly certain it’s been around longer than I have, so it’s obviously pretty sturdy.

The rack takes up more room than the lids would if they were just tossed onto the bottom of the cabinet willy-nilly, but for me, part of the appeal with the tiny-house movement is its emphasis on organizing your things instead of just cramming them in wherever they’ll fit and forgetting where you put them. I love the idea of having all my possessions in close proximity to each other so I can access them quickly and easily, but if my cabinets aren’t organized well, I’m going to lose that advantage.

If I were using a dishrack for storage in my own kitchen, I’d probably use that space to the right of the lids to keep my big wok out of sight but within easy reach.

Take a look around your kitchen and see what items you could repurpose to organize your cabinets. I’ve found a streamlined space makes food prep faster, easier, and much more pleasant.


Tiny Tuesday: One more IKEA project

This is the last of my IKEA fangirling for a while. I promise. I spent years rolling my eyes at IKEA and trying to figure out how their flat-packed furniture could possibly be any different than Target’s or Wal-Mart’s or anybody else’s — and then we got a store in St. Louis, and I walked through it and realized the difference is that their designers come from places where living quarters are often tight, which means their products tend to be versatile and space-conscious and fit well in smaller homes. Some of the furniture looks dodgy, but some of it is well-designed, and their storage tools? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

I’m not sure this counts as an actual “IKEA hack,” because I’m not altering anything — just repurposing it — and it’s a common item you could buy at your local lumberyard, so it’s hardly exclusive to IKEA, but I’m posting it anyway because it worked well and made effective use of an underutilized space.

We’ve always been in the habit of hanging our dishtowels off the oven door, because the oven door is handy, and really, where else would you put a dishtowel? In our house, the answer is “not there,” because Songdog has picked up a bad habit of standing right next to the oven, wagging his tail and knocking the towels onto the floor, and Walter recently noticed that dishtowels have fringe, which is obviously the Greatest Cat Toy EVAR, so now we’ve got two animals throwing my towels on the floor and covering them with their cooties. Gross.

Got pets? Mount your towel bar (or a big drawer pull) above the sink to keep them from messing with your towels.
Got pets? Mount your towel bar (or a big drawer pull) above the sink to keep them from messing with your towels.

On our IKEA run last month, I found a solution to the problem in the form of a cabinet-door handle that looks nice and projects out just far enough to serve as a towel bar. I drilled a couple of holes in the side of the cabinet above my dishrack, hung it up, and got my dishtowel up out of reach of overenthusiastic collies and marauding cats without giving up any convenience or any space I was already using.

Bonus: The handles were on sale in packs of two for $7, so I’ve got a spare I can hang somewhere else when I figure out a good place for it.


Tiny Tuesday: Shoe-hanger spice rack


Living comfortably in a small house depends, to a great extent, on how efficiently you use all of your available space — including areas that in most houses are underused or overlooked altogether.

The back side of my basement door, which is right next to the refrigerator, was one of those underused areas. I considered custom-building a set of shelves to install on the back of it to hold jars of spices and boxes of tea, but then I remembered I’m lazy, so instead, I just went to the dollar store and bought a $6 over-the-door shoe rack.

If you’re willing to spend more, you can get similar racks with clear pockets so you can see what’s in them, but I wasn’t willing to spend an extra $5 to $10 for that feature, so I just labeled the pockets with a Sharpie, which works fine.

It’s not the prettiest storage system I’ve ever come up with, but it doesn’t need to be; it’s not as if we’re entertaining guests in our unfinished basement, and if we were, I’m sure they’d be too busy shuddering at the cave crickets under the stairs to pay any attention to the shoe rack full of spices hanging on the back of the door anyway.

Each pocket was designed to support the weight of a shoe, so keep that in mind when you’re figuring out what to store in there: Big plastic jars of spices are fine, but canned goods probably aren’t. That was fine with me, as I have a lot of spices in large containers, and sticking them in the pockets freed up shelf space for heavier items.

If you want something nicer, Pinterest has all kinds of plans for building custom door-mounted pantry shelves, but if you just want to reclaim some unused space without spending a lot of time or money, a dollar-store shoe rack will work perfectly well.