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Weekend Projects: 5 Creative Ways to DIY Your Next Calendar

It's a busy time of year, and while there's much to recommend digital schedule-keeping, many of us prefer something we can actually touch. Here are five creative twists on the the traditional calendar.

It used to be that people relied on the seasons to measure the passage of time, but once the calendar came into common use—well, it stuck around. In recent years, though, many have chosen to go digital, transferring schedule-keeping to the online realm. But perhaps an equal number of us have chosen to stick with our traditional, tangible calendars. You can always buy a new one at the bookshop or stationery store, but since the appeal of a real calendar is that you can actually hold it in your hands, there’s poetic justice to the idea of making your own. Scroll down to see five DIY calendar projects to mimic or to inspire your very own design.

 

1. STICK IT

DIY Calendar - Washi Tape

Photo: modishandmain.com

DIY decorators have made a darling out of washi tape, which is Japanese adhesive paper that not only goes on and peels off easily, but also comes in an endless array of designs. Use the tape to create a border for your DIY calendar, then fill the grid with colored post-it notes, one for each day, as Modish and Main cleverly did here.

 

2. PAINT IT

DIY Calendar - Chalkboard Window

Photo: housebyhoff.com

Plenty of non-energy-efficient vintage windows are homeless and looking for a second life. House by Hoff figure out that for a weekly calendar, a paned window lends itself extraordinary well to use in a DIY calendar. Simply chalkboard-paint the glazed portions of the window and use vinyl letters to define the different days.

 

3. SNAP IT

Photo Calendar

Photo: photojojo.com

From Photojojo, here’s a DIY calendar perfect for any amateur photographers in the crowd. To get started, head outside and start snapping pictures of letters and numbers in your neighborhood. You’ll need 49 total: the numbers 1 through 31, a set of letters or words to represent the different days of the week, and 11 fillers.

 

4. CLIP IT

jennarosejournal.blogspot.com

Paint a regular clipboard and hang it from a nail in your entry hall or home office. Swap in patterned paper and simple print-out calendar templates for each passing month. It’s a quick way to see your month at a glance. For details on the (readily available) materials needed to make your own, head on over to Jenna Rose Journal.

 

5. BOX IT

Daily Calendar in a Box

Photo: witandwhistle.com

Some people use calendars to organize and plan; others use calendars to remember dates and reflect. Designed for the latter, a DIY calendar journal provides space to record your daily activities so that you can revisit them fondly year after year. Wit and WhistleWit and Whistle shows how to create one using only index cards and a recipe box.

, all you need to get started are a stack of index cards (365 of them) and an embellished recipe box for storage.


Beds, Baths and Fortune-Telling at IKEA

In IKEA's latest adventure in hypnosis-powered time travel, the brand puts a spotlight on the unsung importance of the role everyday spaces play in our past, present, and future lives.

Hypnosis at IKEA

Photo: IKEA

Meet Jeff and Beth, the latest participants in the “time travel experiment” IKEA has been running to promote its fall catalog. We previously covered the teaser trailer that first introduced the campaign’s provocative concept: renowned hypnotist Justin Tranz guiding (perfectly willing) shoppers through an experience designed to make the volunteers believe… they’re in the future. When the first full video arrived on the internet, we all watched together as Tranz worked his magic.

Now Tranz has returned, this time leading an unmarried couple through scenes of their potential future together. We actually witness Jeff propose to Beth (and her hilarious reaction). We laugh again as Jeff interacts with the actor portraying the young son he might somebody have. And we cringe when the couple try to appease the teenager they apparently believe to be their own. Skeptical? So were we. So was Jeff! In an interview spliced into the action, Jeff remarks of hypnotism, “I just assumed people faked it all the time.” Afterward, he admits, “Now I don’t know what I believe. I believed I was in the future. I believed we had kids.”

Tranz explains that hypnosis works by lulling participants into a somnambulant state in which they take suggestions as fact. But a large part of the success here must also owe to the totally convincing setting, which was assembled on-site from products available in the showroom. Lately, IKEA has paid close attention to the importance of the bedroom—that’s where the Jeff-and-Beth scenes take place—and of the bathroom, which played such a big role in the first video installment.

Mattias Jöngard, Global Communication Manager at the Swedish retailer, says, “The Time Travel Experiment is our way to start a conversation about the everyday moments that, more often than people think, happen in the bedroom and bathroom.” While the videos simulated adventures amply demonstrate that life events are often beyond our control, we all have the power to make our spaces functional, comfortable, and conducive to happiness. And for that, we can thank IKEA.

This post has been brought to you by IKEA. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


The Right Way to Load a Dishwasher

Are some of your plates and bowls still dirty when they emerge from the dishwasher? The problem might be how you're loading the machine. Read on to learn the right way.

How to Load a Dishwasher

Photo: shutterstock.com

Of all kitchen appliances, the dishwasher must rank as one of the greatest, don’t you think? It’s a true time-saver. While the alternative involves laborious scrubbing, this wonderful convenience of modern life takes just the push of a button to restore a glut of dirty dishes to pristine cleanliness. The trouble is that on occasion you may open the post-cycle dishwasher to find that some items are less clean than you’d like. In such cases, it may be that the appliance isn’t to blame; perhaps you, its user, are the culpable one. Most of us are accustomed to packing in as many cups and plates as possible, but did you know there is a right way to load a dishwasher? Read on to learn how to fill the machine to the brim without sacrificing cleaning effectiveness.

Related Galleries

Safety First
Proper use of the dishwasher begins with knowing which items are safe to put in the machine. While it certainly seems that more and more items these days are dishwasher-friendly, there remain some materials that you ought to hand-wash in the sink—namely, wood, cast iron, bronze, pewter, and leaded crystal. Silver can go in the dishwasher only in certain cases; if you’re not sure about yours, it’s best to be cautious and hand-wash.

How to Load a Dishwasher - Detail Shot

Photo: shutterstock.com

Scrape and Rinse
Before putting any plates or bowls, pots or pans into the dishwasher, be sure to scrape food residue into the trash. With modern dishwashers, running dishes under the faucet isn’t typically necessary. But if your machine is older and tends to struggle, prerinsing can be a good idea. Don’t go overboard, though; dishwasher detergent actually needs some grime to stick to.

Baking Pans and Cookie Sheets
If you use your dishwasher to clean large, unwieldy items like baking pans and cookie sheets, position them along the perimeter of the lower tier. Safely confined to the sides of the machine, the pans and sheets are less likely to impede the sprays that come from the bottom of the appliance.

Plates, Bowls, and Flatware
Load plates and bowls—plus any dishwasher-safe pots and pans—in the lower rack. Staggering larger and smaller plates can help them all get cleaner. Bowls may be placed side by side but tilt each one so that its dirty portion faces down. If your dishwasher comes with baskets for flatware, take advantage. It’s a good idea, however, to point some pieces of flatware up and others down. Also, mix forks, knives, and spoons together in the same baskets rather than grouping like items. Mixing things up prevents a nesting effect that limits exposure to the spray.

Plastic Containers
Place larger plastic containers on the lower shelf and smaller ones on top. All should face downward. Unlike dishes, plasticware should be lodged firmly between dividers so that containers do not become dislodged in the course of the cycle and interfere with the machine.

Cooking Utensils, Glasses, and Mugs
On the top rack, lay long utensils (for example, spatulas) perpendicular to the wire supports of the rack (if laid parallel, such items might fall through and block the spray arm). Next, place glasses and mugs along the left and right sides of the upper rack—and if your machine has one, snap down the protective flap. Finally, rest bowls over the long utensils you already placed. Yes, over the utensils—although it’s usually best not to layer items in the dishwasher, you can get away with it here, because cooking utensils are normally thin and not likely to block the spray of water.

The choice of detergent—liquid or powder—is largely a matter of preference, but for maximum effectiveness, use detergent that’s no more than two months old. Once you’ve got the machine running, go ahead and dirty another bowl with something—ice cream, anyone?—to celebrate the fact that you’re now a pro when it comes to loading a dishwasher properly.


Fill the Awkward Gap in Your Kitchen with a Pullout Organizer

In a kitchen with scant storage, a pullout organizer offers a space-smart way to put every last inch to good use.

How to Install a Pullout Organizer

Photo: rev-a-shelf.com

In nearly every kitchen remodel that involves cabinets of standard dimensions, you’re left with at least one gap between a cabinet and a wall (or a major appliance). You can always live with the void, but if yours is a small kitchen, you probably want to capitalize on every spare inch. I recommend installing a pullout organizer. These versatile, nontraditional kitchen storage options fit into spaces as slender as three inches. The narrowest organizers are perfect for such things as spice jars and cutting boards. Wider pullouts accommodate deeper items you want to keep within easy arm’s reach (for example, pans). No matter the width of the pullout—whether it’s five, six, or nine inches—stored items are accessed not by opening a door and reaching in, but rather by drawing the panel out.

When I redid my own kitchen recently, there was a five-inch space left over in a run of base cabinets. Knowing how our family typically uses the kitchen, I decided to install a pullout organizer here for our collection of cutting boards. (While most fillers are installed at the same time as the regular cabinetry, I was able to install mine afterward by fastening a level cleat to the rear wall.) If you wind up deciding that a pullout organizer would make a good addition to your kitchen, keep these tips in mind as you complete the project:

 

1. Secure the pullout in place

How to Install a Pullout Organizer - Base

Photo: JProvey

The first step is to secure the pullout in place. Having rested the pullout on the cleat I’d put on the rear wall, I proceeded to fasten the pullout to the side of the adjacent cabinet. (Don’t use screws that are so long that they interfere with the sliding action.) Be sure to recess the pullout to a depth that equals the width of the cabinet sheet material. That way, when you attach the cabinet front later in the process, the pullout sits flush with the surrounding cabinetwork for a seamless result.

 

2. Cut the sheet material

Photo: JProvey

Anticipating that the cabinets would leave a gap—and that I’d want to fill the gap with a pullout—I made sure to order extra sheet material along with my cabinets. I knew that some of the sheet material would be needed to create a front for the pullout that would match the cabinets I was installing in the kitchen. Cut yours to the appropriate width using either a table saw or a circular saw and guide. In the picture above, you can see my simple setup for making the cut with the latter tool.

 

3. Tape the edges

Photo: JProvey

This is an optional step, but I think it’s worth doing, not only for aesthetics, but also to protect the wood. Adhere the banding tape to your cut edges with a clothes iron; the heat activates the factory-applied tape adhesive. If it’s not available through your cabinetmaker, banding material can be found at your local home center.

 

4. Sand for a perfect fit

Photo: JProvey

Eliminate sharp edges and excess material by sanding the newly taped portions of the workpiece with fine-grit paper. For best results, use a sanding block.

 

5. Position the pullout front

Photo: JProvey

Prior to attaching the workpiece to the frame of the pullout, use clamps to position the panel in the gap. Drive screws from the inside so as not to mar the facade.

 

6. Enjoy the finished product

Photo: JProvey

As you can see, I outfitted the pullout front with hardware that complements the style of my cabinet pulls. What’s most satisfying for me, though, is that the pullout area sits perfectly flush with the adjacent drawers. Not only that, but—crucial to a professional-looking result—the seams at the sides of the pullout are the same width as the seams between the drawers.

The pullout has been installed now for two months, and I can report that second only to the silverware drawer, it’s the most-used storage space in our kitchen.


How To: Clean Pewter

Regular cleaning helps preserve of pewter pieces. Whether you're simply dusting or administering a full tarnish-removing shine, these steps can help you care for this soft, durable, and beautiful metal.

How to Clean Pewter

Photo: shutterstock.com

Used in everything from caskets to kitchen utensils, pewter remains popular with artisans and crafters in part because it does not easily rust or corrode. Pewter’s easy-clean, low-maintenance requirements make it the perfect material for jewelry, vases, picture frames and sculptures. On the flip side, the soft metal is susceptible to nicks and scratches. But kept clean and protected from extreme temperatures, pewter pieces keep their beauty for generations.

To clean pewter, start by filling a bucket with hot water. Squirt in some mild dishwashing soap. Dip in a sponge and squeeze out the excess water, then proceed to wipe down the surface. You’ll find that doing so eliminates a surprising amount of dirt and tarnish. Finally, rinse off the piece and dry it with a soft cloth.

At this point, you may wish to brighten the pewter with a polish. The best approach depends on the type of pewter you own:

How to Clean Pewter - Plate

Photo: shutterstock.com

Polished pewter has a smooth, shiny surface that’s easier to clean but also shows more imperfections on its reflective surface. Polish this type of pewter regularly with an all-purpose metal polish or a homemade cleaner (see recipe below). How often you polish depends simply on how shiny you like your pewter to be.

Satin pewter has a rougher-grained matte patina that requires only annual washing. If it’s time for a touch-up, the best way to clean such pewter is with a mildly abrasive homemade scrub (see recipe below). Apply the polish with very fine steel wool in the direction of the grain; be careful not to leave scratches.

Oxidized pewter has been treated with a darkening agent to give it an antique look. It should not be polished. A gentle wash is all you want to keep it clean.

If you do choose to polish your pewter, remember that while there’s nothing wrong with store-bought metal polish, you can achieve similar results for less money with an easy DIY concoction:

Mix one cup white vinegar with a half-cup white flour to create a paste (for grainy-finished satin pewter, add in one teaspoon of salt, which makes the paste slightly abrasive and improves its cleaning ability). Use a soft cloth to apply the cleanser, rubbing it in with a circular motion. Leave it in place for 30 minutes, then rinse off with warm water and let dry.

Optional: Boil a small amount of linseed oil, then mix in rottenstone (a powdered limestone available at your local home center). Apply this second paste with a soft cloth. Rinse immediately, then dry thoroughly.

If a pewter piece has sentimental or monetary value, the wise course may be to leave it alone. Talk to a professional jeweler; some collectors prefer not to clean or polish pewter, because the metal gradually takes on a patina that people prize. To preserve this aged finish, many choose to maintain pewter simply by dusting it occasionally.


How To: Paint Tile

If you're unhappy with your ceramic tile, ripping it out isn't your only option. Did you ever consider painting it?

How to Paint Tile - Supplies

Photo: shutterstock.com

You are itching to redesign your kitchen or bathroom, but the color of your existing tile limits your options. Certainly, one possibility is to remove or replace the tile, but that’s an involved process, not to mention an expensive one. Another option—by comparison, a much easier and cheaper one—would be to paint the tile. Yes, it’s possible to paint ceramic tile! Follow the steps below to paint tile like a pro, and proceed with your kitchen or bathroom redesign, confident that any style is within reach.

Here’s the catch: It’s not a good idea to paint tile in the immediate area of the sink or bathtub/shower, because the moisture may cause the paint to peel. Focus your painting efforts on walls, floors, countertops—indeed, any tiled area that isn’t likely to come into contact with a great deal of water on a frequent basis. Also note that because painting tile requires the use of epoxy and other compounds that contain harmful chemicals, it’s essential to ventilate the room well and to wear proper protective gear.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Sandpaper
- Two-part epoxy
- Bonding primer
- Painter’s tape
- Drop cloth (or plastic sheeting)
- High-gloss or semi-gloss latex paint
- Paint thinner
- Urethane sealer
- Paintbrushes (or rollers)

How to Paint Tile - Supplies Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 1
Before you begin in earnest, thoroughly clean the tile. First, sand it. Next, wash the tile with a store-bought cleaner formulated to kill mold, or with a mixture of one cup bleach and about a gallon of warm water. Allow the tiles to dry completely before you proceed any further in the project.

STEP 2
Examine the tile. In order to look its best once painted, the tile should be free of imperfections. If you encounter any chips or cracks that you would like to repair, do so with a two-part epoxy. Mix the product according to manufacturer’s directions, then apply it carefully to the affected area, being careful to make your repair level with the surrounding tile.

STEP 3
Having successfully readied the tile, move on to coat it with an application of epoxy bonding primer. You can use either a brush or roller, depending on the size of the area you are planning to paint. Resist the temptation to skip the primer; you really need it for the paint to adhere in a lasting way.

STEP 4
Use painter’s tape in combination with a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to protect nearby surfaces from errant paint. Next, with a brush or roller, apply high-gloss or semi-gloss latex paint to the primed tile. If you find the paint isn’t spreading evenly, add a bit of paint thinner to the formulation. Once you’ve finished painting, wait for the tile to dry completely. In some cases, drying can take as long as several days.

STEP 5
Finally, apply two or three thin coats of clear, water-based urethane sealer to the newly painted tile. During the process, let each coat dry before you apply the succeeding one. This, too, isn’t a step to skip, because the sealer can be expected to safeguard the tile against threats like scuffs, scratches, and moisture.


Genius! DIY Trash Can Shed

A repurposing pro makes her own trash enclosure for $30—and you can too.

Who hasn’t admired a great product in-store before balking at the price tag? When daring DIYer Anne Davis saw a $300 plastic trash can shed, she was determined to build her own on the cheap. And she succeeded in doing just that—spending only $30! Now, that’s Genius!

This project is par for the course with Anne. “I love the challenge of building and creating things that I see and would like to have,” she says. But there’s a limit to her DIY prowess—when it comes to upholstery, she’d rather buy than DIY.

We often hear from readers who love the idea of DIY but have a power saw phobia. And believe it or not, Anne used to be one of those folks too. “I was terrified to use power tools in the beginning, but after watching YouTube videos on how to use the different power tools, I felt more comfortable trying them out. I bought a small circular saw to start—it was a cordless 6 1/2″ circular saw that was lightweight and easy to maneuver. It was the best tool I ever bought!” 

For readers looking to get their feet wet with power tools, she recommends a shelving unit for the garage. “If you mess up on the project, it isn’t front and center in your home!” she points out.

For pointers on making your own DIY garbage shed, read on.

DIY Garbage Shed

 MATERIALS
- (6) 2x4s
- (25) 3′ fence boards
- OSB board pieces
- (6) 10′ tongue-and-groove pine boards
- #30 tarpaper
- (6) roofing shingles
- Wood pallet
- Hinges
- Clasp
- Handles
- Paint
- Modified wood shed plans
- Circular saw
- Cardboard

STEP 1

DIY Garbage Shed Frame

I found a plan online for a garbage container and wood shed that looked fairly easy to build. I modified the plan to suit my needs and began cutting the wood. All I have is a circular saw, so that’s what I used. I used a cardboard template for the angled roof rafters so I could cut the two pieces with the same angle.

STEP 2

DIY Garbage Shed Walls

Then I built the very basic frame and began attaching the fence boards as siding.

STEP 3

DIY Garbage Shed Build

I used a pallet as the base.

Anne was able to create this project for $30 by using repurposed items she or her neighbors had on hand. Here’s the breakdown.

Here is the list of scrounged items:

- (25) 3-foot fence boards (didn’t use them all)
- Used OSB pieces I found while cleaning out my crawlspace as sheathing for the roof. (I had to add one more rafter in the centre because the OSB kinda sagged, the short piece of 2×4 was left over from the wood I had bought.)
- #30 tarpaper from my neighbor
- 6 roofing shingles found in my shed
- Tongue-and-groove pine boards for the doors (a little warped but serviceable!)
- (3) 2x4s

Bought new:
- (3) 2x4s
- Hinges
- Clasp
- Handles

There are still a few finishing touches that are needed—some lattice, paint and trim and the hinges need adjusting, but this is what it looks like now:

DIY Garbage Shed Brown

Total out of pocket cost: $30.00—a far cry from $299 plus tax!! Now I can have my garbage in my front yard, neatly hidden away. And it’s quick and easy to chuck it out to the curb on garbage day. I need to paint the underside of the roof and attach a couple of pieces of lattice over the triangular openings on both sides. But it looks not half bad, even if I do say so myself!

A year later, Anne gave her DIY garage shed an upgrade with new paint and hardware. It’s certainly held up to the elements and looks great.

DIY Garbage Shed Finished

Thanks to our Genius blogger Anne Davis for sharing with us!

To read more about her first repurposing project a mini greenhouse made from old windows, or check out her successful bathroom remodel, find Anne on her blog


Bob Vila Radio: Reciprocating Saw Safety

It's one of the most handy tools in the do-it-yourselfer's repertoire, but like any power tool (especially ones outfitted with a blade), the reciprocating saw demands special safety considerations.

Reciprocating saws—the ones with a motor and a thin, straight blade that juts back and forth—are one of the most useful tools you can own.

Reciprocating Saw Safety

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON RECIPROCATING SAW SAFETY or read the text below:

Reciprocating saws can cut through wood, metal, and all sorts of construction materials. But they can also be dangerous and need to be handled with the utmost care.

One of the main hazards of recip saws is their potential for kickback. That can happen if you make the mistake of pulling the blade out of your cut while the blade’s still moving. The tip of the blade smacks into the material you’re cutting, and the whole saw, including the moving blade, kick back toward you. If you happen to be on a ladder, that’s especially bad news.

You also need to keep in mind that the blade can bind unexpectedly. That’ll cause the blade to stop moving, but not you and the saw. Be sure to keep a tight grip. One final caution: a saw blade can generate a lot of heat, so give it some time to cool down before trying to change it.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


An Army of Artisans Descends on a California Craftsman

See how skilled 21st-century artisans brought an early 20th-century home back to life.

Craftsman Restoration

Photo: Spectra Company

In La Verne, California, a small, sunny city roughly 30 miles east of Los Angeles, renovation expert Ray Adamyk recently deployed a half-dozen specialists from what he calls an “artisan army” to restore a down-on-its-heels Craftsman-style home to its former glory.

Occupying a prominent corner lot, the residence was built in 1911 for Henry L. Kuns, a mover and shaker in this town that dates back to the late 1800s and was initially known as Lordsburg. Kuns’s father, David, was a cofounder of the college that went on to become the University of La Verne, and Henry himself had a successful career in business, ran a local bank, and served as mayor.

Related—House Tour: Go Inside a 100-Year-Old Craftsman, Recently Restored

After Kuns died in 1930, his home slowly fell into disrepair. The university bought the place in 2012, and Adamyk entered the picture shortly thereafter. “We bought the house from the University of La Verne,” he says. “We looked at it and saw some potential to bring it back to its grandeur.”

That was no inexpensive proposition. The company Adamyk runs, Spectra, spent $400,000 on the purchase. It then dropped another $900,000 on the building’s rehab. For a full year, carpenters, stonemasons, tile workers and plasterers joined the project, laboring not with the breezy insensitivity that can at times characterize contractors, but in the deliberate, painstaking manner of truly expert restorationists.

Craftsman Restoration - Wood

Photo: Spectra Company

The Kuns House typifies the Craftsman style that remained popular from the late 1800s through the 1930s. In its simplicity, the architecture signaled a reaction against the highly decorative—some would say overwrought—Victorian aesthetic that had come before. In no small part influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and the value it placed on honesty of materials, Craftsman homes harbor such signature traits as exposed beams and generous wainscoting.

Inside, the artisans found plenty of wood in need of refinishing. There was the omnipresent wainscoting, of course, but also oak doors and stairs, and wooden windows that had become inoperable. Hardware throughout was made to shine anew. Where the hardware couldn’t be fixed, the artisans replicated exactly what had been there instead of opting for replacements that, while considerably less expensive, would not have shown the same level of respect for the original building.

The goal, however, was not to create a museum. Rather, Adamyk and his artisans crafted a home equally committed to the past and the present. In the course of work, all plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems were brought up to date. Although the kitchen was completely redone, its design is in keeping with the rest of the house. In the master bath, the original tub and subway tiles were retained. And in the basement, what was once a coin collector’s vault is now a wine cellar.

Craftsman Restoration - Hallway

Photo: Spectra Company

Perhaps the most intense restoration efforts went into the granite exterior, large portions of which had become loose or had fallen down. Where possible, stones in need of replacement were switched out for granite from the same quarry from which the original stone had come. Artisans gently pressure-washed the granite that had been there for over a hundred years, then scrubbed it all by hand with natural-bristle brushes before pressure-washing it once again. Finally, the artisans applied two coats of sealer to both the granite and the mortar binding it together, preparing the structure for its next hundred years.

Related—House Tour: Go Inside a 100-Year-Old Craftsman, Recently Restored

Completed two months ago, the Kuns House is now on the market for $1.6 million—and it’s turning heads. Sotheby’s reports that potential buyers are inquiring about the residence on a weekly basis. Much of the credit for that interest belongs to the skilled craftspeople who carefully and lovingly brought the place back to life.

Craftsman Restoration - Entryway

Photo: Spectra Company

J. Michael Welton writes about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. He also edits and publishes a digital design magazine at www.architectsandartisans.com, where portions of this feature first appeared.


Buy or DIY: 5 Ways to Fit More in Your Fridge & Freezer

To buy or DIY: It's one of life's great dilemmas. Whichever route you choose, if you have a fridge that fills up fast, organization accessories can be super helpful, enabling you to pack more food into cold storage.

Refrigerator Organization

Photo: shutterstock.com

Spice racks, knife holders, and towel bars—there’s no shortage of organizational helpers aimed at bettering one’s life in the kitchen. Ironically, though—given how frequently we use the fridge and how crucial the appliance is to our daily lives—refrigeration organization flies under most people’s radar, even those who have eagerly gone to great lengths to improve storage elsewhere in the kitchen. If poor design or lack of space in the fridge or freezer frustrates you on an ongoing basis, it’s time to act. Proper organization can make your next interaction with the fridge a little easier, whether you’re preparing a meal or grabbing something on the go. Scroll down to see five favorite refrigerator organization ideas, any of which can you buy, usually cheaply, or easily create the DIY way.

 

1. WIRE BASKETS
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: After making an extra trip to the market for item X, you return home only to find that you had item X all along, only it was hidden beneath something else. To make it easier for you to see what you have and what you need, buy or DIY at least one wire basket to corral all those packages and bags in the freezer.

BUY
You can keep frozen foods organized with a set of wire baskets like these. Put veggies in one, meats in another, dessert items in a third. You might find that the baskets not only help you create and maintain organization, but also free up space, enabling you to pack even more into your freezer. (Ice cream, anyone?)

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Baskets

Photo: amazon.com

DIY
To make the most of every inch in the freezer, custom-make baskets to fit your freezer’s dimensions exactly. Hardware cloth makes it pretty easy to do this. You’ll need a pair of tin snips, needle-nose pliers, and sturdy gloves. You might choose to use some graph paper, and you’ll definitely want to use this walkthrough from Four Corners Design.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Baskets

Photo: fourcornersdesign.blogspot.com

 

2. CONDIMENT CADDIES
The next time you fire up the grill and set the patio table for an alfresco dinner, wouldn’t it be so much more convenient if you could carry all your condiments outside at once? That’s where the condiment caddy comes in—this is the fridge version of those sweet little handled baskets on the table at your local diner.

BUY
The Refrigerator Condiment Caddy slides right into the door compartment of your refrigerator, and it keeps items like ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce handily portable. When the meal is about to be taken out back, simply lift the caddy out of its perch and take the durable plastic basket along with you.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Condiment Caddy

Photo: rubbermaid.com.au

DIY
Create your own condiment caddy with a six-pack carrier and contact paper. (If you’ve never experimented before with contact paper, trust me—you’re going to love how versatile and DIY-friendly it is.) For step-by-step instructions on how to make your own caddy, run—don’t walk—over to Neat Nest Organizing.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Condiment Caddy

Photo: neatnestorganizing.com

 

3. ABSORBENT MATS
When it’s all over the refrigerator shelves, there is indeed reason to cry over spilled milk. If you don’t clean up the mess immediately, it soon becomes crusty and caked-on. And what about that rotten tomato in the crisper? Or was it a pepper? Yuck! What you need is the fridge version of cabinet shelf liner.

BUY
The Fridge Coaster absorbs drips and can be cleaned or replaced when necessary. It’s available in colorful prints and in an array of sizes to fit different parts of your fridge, such as the shelves, crispers, and door bins. Not only is the Fridge Coaster functional, but it also relieves the stark whiteness of the fridge interior.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Mats

Photo: fridgecoaster.com

DIY
Take a tip from 2 Little Superheroes and make your own fridge mats out of dollar-store placemats. To get a snug fit, simply remove the fridge shelves you wish to cover, trace their outlines onto the placemats, then cut the mats and insert them. These are as pretty as a picture and ready to rock, no matter what messes arrive.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Mats

Photo: 2littlesuperheroes.com

 

4. LAZY SUSANS
Meal prep would be so much easier if you didn’t have to rifle through almost every jar and plastic storage container in your fridge to find the one thing you need. Oh, wait—there’s such a thing. It’s a lazy Susan, and you can definitely have one in your refrigerator.

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A lazy Susan performs the same role in the refrigerator that it does on your dining table: It make things much more easily accessible. And it need not be an eyesore, as this rotating white marble tray amply proves. Remember to measure your refrigerator beforehand to make sure that your purchase will fit in nicely.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Lazy Susan

Photo: worldmarket.com

DIY
With only a few inexpensive materials from hardware and craft stores, you can make your own lazy Susan, customizing the creation to your exact specifications in both functionality and style. Seriously, you can do this. Visit iHeartOrganizing to find out what you’ll need and how to get it done.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Lazy Susan

Photo: iheartorganizing.com

 

5. FREEZER SHELVES
There’s only problem with stacking things Tetris-style into the freezer. Let’s say you do it very well, brilliantly placing a bag or box into all available space. What happens when you want to get something out of there? You have no choice but to undo what you previously did. Freezer shelves come to the rescue.

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With stackable freezer shelves, you can organize like items into separate compartments. This not only makes it a cinch to find what you need, but also makes it a cinch to reach and remove what you want. That’s right—no more tumbling hockey pucks of hamburger hurtling dangerously toward your toes.

Refrigerator Organization - Buy Freezer Shelves

Photo: wdrake.com

DIY
If you’re like me, then these days you are using your paper storage accessories less and less. If you have any magazine files lying around, why not repurpose them into instant, magnificently simple DIY freezer shelves? For details on this project and even more repurposing ideas, visit Aunt Peaches.

Refrigerator Organization - DIY Refrigerator Shelves

Photo: auntpeaches.com