Category: Storage

5 Ways to Clear Summer Sports Clutter

It takes neither the salary of a pro athlete nor the commitment of an Olympian to wrangle the sports equipment that accumulates this time of year.

Sports Storage


Summer brings flowers and sunshine, but it also has a way of dragging outdoor sports right into your front hall. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways for homeowners to get things under control for little money, and with a minimum of elbow grease. Start with these five ideas.


1. Park Sports Gear in the Garage

Sports Storage - Garage


Relocate sports storage from your front door area to the garage, where your family members can easily retrieve or replace whatever they need upon exiting, or climbing into, the car.

Bungee cords, scrap lumber, and existing studs make for a readymade framework to organize bicycles, skateboards, tennis rackets and other miscellaneous pieces. Alternatively, choose from a vast selection of retail garage storage systems.


Sports Storage - Laundry Bins


2. Laundry Bins Labeled by Sport
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to create instant sports storage is by applying homemade labels to heavy-duty laundry baskets.

Place the baskets on built-in or modular shelves wherever you can spare the real estate. As they’re returning from the field, your family members can toss their things into the appropriate baskets.

Of course, each family is different, so consider whether labeling the baskets by sport or by family member makes the most sense in your household.


3. All-in-One Standing Organizer

Sports Storage - Organizer


A no-frills organizer is perfect for families in which several members participate in different summer sports. Choose whether to set yours up in a central location or an out-of-the-way corner. When the season is over, collapse the assembly and store it until next summer, or swap in skiing, hockey, and ice-skating gear.


Sports Storage - Basket

Photo: the

4. Basket Wall
Wall-hung baskets systems have become increasingly popular options for storage around the house, be it in the bathroom, mudroom, laundry room or even the entry hall.

Shop online or visit your local home improvement center or hardware store to find an inexpensive, ready-to-install system, one that fits neatly into the space you have available.

Slidable hooks in combination with mesh or wire baskets enable you to customize sports storage for the specific needs of your family.

The feature I like best is that each basket’s contents are clearly visible, which means I don’t have to waste time digging around in search of that elusive lacrosse ball.


5. Contain Clutter in a Closet

Sports Storage - Closet


Get soccer cleats and roller blades off the foyer floor, where they are not only unsightly, but also a tripping hazard for family members and guests. Use hooks, rods, bins and shelves to transform a closet into a sports storage zone that’s out of the way of both eyes and feet.

A basket on the inside of the closet door works well as a holder for awkwardly shaped items, such as helmets, while hooks fixed to the rear wall keep field hockey sticks and golf clubs in place.

If there’s no better place for them, put balls on the closet floor, nailing a two-by-four across the foot of the space in order to keep them from rolling out the door. Oh, and remember to add some air freshener or potpourri to mask the inevitable odors!

Planning Guide: Attic Conversion

Though it's rarely a breeze, attic conversion holds tremendous appeal for homeowners seeking more living space under their own roofs.

Attic Conversion - Family Room

Photo: Borges Brooks Builders

Want more livable space in your home? Don’t want to spend a king’s ransom? Attic conversion has fit the bill for countless homeowners over the years.

Unlike many basements, attics are dry, and being free of major appliances (e.g., the furnace), they are also quiet. You can devote the finished space to any number of purposes: Attics are suitable as home offices, TV rooms, art studios and even bedrooms—the list of possible uses goes on at length.

Related: Planning Guide: Basement Remodeling

Before starting on an attic conversion project, you’ll need to negotiate a gauntlet of building codes. Of course, these vary from one municipality to the next, but most codes correspond to one or another edition of the International Residential Code for One- and Two-Story Dwellings (IRC).

To view the latest IRC codes (as well as previous editions), go here. If you’re confused about which edition bears relevance to your individual home, ask an official in the building department of your city, town, village or hamlet.

Is Your Attic a Candidate?
Of course, it’s beyond the scope of this article to detail every code, but you should be sure to discuss them all with your designer, contractor, or local building official. What follows is an overview of the most important codes affecting the majority of attic conversion projects:

Attic Conversion - Storage

Photo: Dijeau Poage Construction

Area. Habitable attic space must satisfy the same requirements that govern rooms in the rest of the house. To pass code, there must be at least 70 square feet where the ceiling height is 5 feet or higher.

Windows and Openable Area. Minimum glazed area is required to equal or exceed 8% of the usable floor area. So let’s say your attic has 200 square feet over which the ceiling is at least 5 feet high. Your window area must be at least 8% of 200 square feet (16 square feet). Meanwhile, the 4% openable area requirement means you need 8 square feet (4% of 200, that is) providing access to the outside.

Ceiling Height. At least 50% of the usable area (calculated above) must have ceilings of at least 7 feet. In other words, if your attic has 200 square feet over which the ceiling is at least 5 feet high, then for a minimum of 100 square feet (50% of 200, that is), the ceiling height needs to be at least 7 feet.

Some homeowners satisfy this code by installing a dormer. In effect, a dormer raises the height of a ceiling that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to walk beneath. Doghouse-style dormers admit natural light and promote ventilation, while shed dormers maximize usable attic space. Consult an architect in either case; few “improvements” compromise the look of a house like an ill-conceived dormer does.

Heating. Code requires the heating system in your home to be capable of maintaining a steady attic temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit (assuming the annual low temperature outdoors). Homeowners usually find no cause to extend their heating systems, since hot air rises through open stairwells and attic insulation does an effective job of keeping in that heated air.

Support Capability. For a habitable attic served by fixed stairs, code requires a load capacity of 30 pounds per square foot. You can use an online calculator to aid in your assessment of the floor’s strength, but in order to use a tool like this, you must know a host of details about the framing of your house—the width and depth of joists, their span, the amount of spacing between them, and what species of lumber they are.

Ultimately, the building department official in your municipality is the one to decide such things as whether your floor is strong enough. Observing all codes is a contractor’s responsibility, but if you plan on handling your own attic conversion, be prepared to acquaint yourself with every pertinent specification.

Attic Conversion - Bedroom

Photo: Cuppett Architects

Designing Safe Stairs
In the course of a conversion project, the codes surrounding attic access can often be challenging, since most attics were designed, not to be lived in, but rather for storage, utilities (e.g., air handlers), or both.

If you currently reach the attic by means of a hatchway or pull-down stairs, then you will need to carve out space for a length of permanent stairs—several square feet in the attic and on the next level down.

Code stipulates that stairways must be 36 inches wide (or wider), with treads that are 9.5 inches deep (or deeper). The maximum rise from one tread to the next is 7-3/4 inches, and head clearance has to meet or exceed 80 inches. Winding stairs are generally permissible, though some restrictions apply.

Existing attic stairs rarely conform to today’s code. Before moving forward, it’s best to discuss the matter with a local building department official. Exceptions are sometimes granted when upgrades are not feasible. For a complete picture, visit the Stairway Manufacturers’ Association.

Note that, in addition to access by stairs, a habitable attic needs at least one operable emergency escape-and-rescue opening. Codes regulate this opening’s minimum dimensions and proper placement.

Finishing the Attic
My preference is to push the knee walls close to the eaves, creating as much floor space as possible. Low cabinets and bookcases fit snugly in the space under slanted ceilings. In a lot of attic spaces, ceilings are what you see, more or less, so I think it’s worth splurging on them; consider wood boards. When it comes to flooring, wall-to-wall carpeting over a plywood subfloor is one popular option. A much less costly approach is to paint the plywood and add a few area rugs. In the end, finishing your attic conversion is largely a matter of personal taste. There are no codes governing your choice of paint color, thankfully!

Bob Vila Radio: Rafter Storage

Hunting around your house for space you can use as storage? Don't forget to look up.

If you’re just moving into a tiny starter home, making room for growing children, or downsizing into smaller quarters after the kids have moved out, chances are you’re in search of extra storage space.

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Rafter Storage


There are lots of places to look for a few more square feet, and don’t forget to look up. Exposed beams and rafters—whether they’re in a garage, attic, or basement—are excellent places to carve out some storage space. If you have access to the first floor’s exposed floor joists from your basement, there are plenty of storage opportunities up there.

Rafters and exposed floor joists are especially good for storing long, skinny items like scrap lumber, skis, or drapery rods. For those, you just need to screw in a few hooks to hold the items, or screw in a few cross-pieces.

For heavier items, you may need to screw in a more substantial plywood bottom. There are even kits you can buy that let you create pull-down storage bins between the rafters or beams. Be sure to protect your stored items from dust or moisture by keeping them wrapped in plastic or old sheets.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 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.

Finally, a Sure-Fire Cure for the Sagging Closet Pole

If your closet rods are straining under the weight of the clothes they need to carry, give them a lift—and a break—with this clever how-to.


A simple prop holds the closet rod level under the heaviest of loads. Photo: JProvey

My wife and I recently reorganized our bedroom closet and added several new accessories, including a double rod hanger, canvas shoe cubbies, and a column of hanging shelves. We were really happy with the results, but our closet rod wasn’t. It sagged, and then sagged some more with every item we hung on it.

Fortunately, I had some wooden closet pole left over from another project and used it to build a prop. While I was at it, I added some dowels for my wife to hang her belts and handbags. Now we’re all happy—no more sag and another place to hang stuff. The total cost was under $10.

Skill level: About as easy as it gets, but you need to be comfortable with an electric drill.

- Handsaw and miter box
- Drill
- 1” diameter spade bit
- ¼” diameter twist drill
- 1-3/8″ wood closet pole
- ¼” dowel
- Paint and small brush (optional)
- Beads to cap ends of dowels


1. Carefully measure the height of your closet rod. Be sure to measure the height it’s supposed to be, not the height with the rod deflection. Mark this height on the wood closet pole, then bore a hole in the pole so that the bottom of the hole is at the marked height.

Drilling hole in wood closet pole

Photo: JProvey

2. Saw through the hole to create a notch on which the closet rod can rest.

Sawing closet rod to make pole support

Photo: JProvey

3. Bore ¼” diameter holes near the top of the pole and insert ¼” dowels.

How to Fix a Closet - Insert Wood Dowels

Photo: JProvey

4. Bore 1/4″ holes in plastic, wood, or clay beads. For safe drilling, first secure the beads in a clamp or vise with padded jaws. Then place the beads on the ends of the dowels.

Drilling hole in wood beads

Photo: JProvey

Now that your tools are out, take the opportunity to check your bookcases and cabinets for sagging shelves. Much of today’s storage furniture comes with 5/8″- or ¾”-thick melamine-laminated particleboard shelves. They hold up fine if the spans are two feet or less and if the load limits are not exceeded. For wider cabinets, however, sagging shelves are a common problem.

Measure the distance between the cabinet bottom and the underside of the sagging shelf. Measure where the shelf meets the side of the cabinet so you get the correct height for the shelf, not the height where the shelf has sagged. Then cut two strips of 1⁄4″ x 1″ wood to that length. Attach one to the cabinet back and the other behind the center stile. Together, they will prevent the shelf from sagging. Use double-sided tape to attach the wood strips so they can be removed if you decide to change the shelf height in the future.

Supports for sagging cabinet shelves

Wide shelves made of particleboard are likely to deflect under heavy loads. Make these simple shelf supports to solve the problem. Photo: JProvey

To add support to multiple shelves, place additional wood strips under the next highest shelf in the manner described above. Don’t skip a shelf, however. The load must be carried to the cabinet bottom.

Weekend Projects: 5 Creative Ways to Build Shelves

From old textbooks to the latest printing of Harry Potter, and from VHS to DVD and now Blu-Ray, we can’t stop collecting and hoarding rectangular objects! So instead of letting them sit in a messy pile for another eight months, why not display them proudly on a simple set of DIY shelves?

With the help of these outstanding tutorials on DIY shelves from around the web, you can finally find a spot for that Windows ’95 software package that, for some strange reason, you can’t bear to part with.


1. DIY Pipe Fitting Shelves

DIY Shelves - Pipe Fittings


Would you call your style Industrial Chic? Then these pipe-fitting DIY shelves from The House Hippos would be the perfect storage solution for your space. All you need to supply are pipes, pipe fittings, and a few slats of wood—ingeniously assembled, of course.


2. DIY Ladder Shelf

DIY Shelves - Ladder


Ladder shelves can be vertical or horizontal, wood or aluminum, made from classic ladders or step ladders—but this hanging, wall-mounted version from Dandelion Express stands out from the crowd.


3. DIY Pallet Shelf

DIY Shelves - Shipping Pallets


If you can get your hands on a shipping pallet (or several), the possibilities for DIY shelves are endless. Try rearranging the slats to make these charming shelves, following in the creative footsteps of bloggers Seth and Kait.


4. DIY Shoebox Shelves

DIY Shelves - Shoe Boxes


I’ve heard of making rubber-band guitars out of shoeboxes, but shelves?! This DIY project from Creme de la Craft is a one-of-a-kind DIY success. Just paint and hang!


5. DIY Wine Bottle Shelves

DIY Shelves - Wine Bottles


More advanced DIYers will love this wine bottle shelf from Zero Waste Design. Who can say no to a little upcycling?


Sunday Morning Project (if you’re looking for something a little less labor intensive):

6. DIY Floating Book Shelf

DIY Shelves - Floating Books


Want to tackle a smaller project so that you’re free to spend the whole weekend watching Homeland? Then these “floating” DIY shelves from Crunchy Farm Baby are just what you’re looking for. All you need are a few L-brackets!


For more DIY projects, consider:

5 Things to Do with… Bottle Caps
5 Things to Do with… Wine Bottles
5 Things to Do with… Cinder Blocks

Adding a Closet Where There Is None

Add a Closet - Freestanding Wardrobe

Photo: Usona Home

It’s not difficult to add a closet, but doing so will probably be more costly than reorganizing an existing one. So exhaust all other storage options before taking the plunge.

There are several ways to add a closet to your home: purchase a freestanding wardrobe, build in a wardrobe, opt for an open closet, frame out a new closet, or create one from “found” space. The path you take to adding a closet depends upon the amount of space you can afford, the amount of money you wish to spend, and whether or not you need a permanent or temporary solution.

A freestanding wardrobe is a quick and easy way to add a closet; like cabinets, freestanding wardrobes come with the sawing and finishing already done. Small units are only a few feet wide, while multiple units may be used side by side to achieve greater width. Heights range from six to eight feet, but custom units may of course be built taller.

Add a Closet - Drawer Storage

Photo: DNG Interiors

Freestanding wardrobes, typically constructed of plywood or fiberboard, can be real space savers. While a conventionally framed closet devotes four or five inches to studs and drywall on three sides (occupying at least six or seven cubic feet), freestanding units waste almost no space on construction. In addition, they can be positioned either against a wall or several feet into a room—divider fashion—effectively creating a walk-in closet.

Related: Closet Organization: 9 Pro Tips to End “Stuffication”

Built-in wardrobes are a more permanent solution. They may be carcass built (like one or more large cabinets), frame built, or built behind a wall of sliding doors. Built-in wardrobes tend to make better use of available space than freestanding wardrobes but are more expensive as well. Multiple built-ins can be arranged in rows or at angles. If used at right angles, plan ahead in order to use corner spaces with maximum efficiency.

Add a Closet - Open Closet System

Photo: Container Store

Open closets are built using closet organizer components, but they are not enclosed by walls or doors. Open closets are commonly used in garages, sewing and craft centers, playrooms, media centers, home offices and bathrooms. Organizing systems for making an open closet come in many styles, including coated wire, melamine-coated fiberboard, and solid wood. You don’t have to spend a lot—a closet pole hung from hooks, a back-of-door rack, and a clothes tree can all serve as open closets.

Related: Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Closet Organizers

It’s also possible to add a closet in “found” spaces. This approach is usually less expensive than others, because the enclosure already exists. Common spots include under staircases, at the end of a kitchen cabinet run, or in a wall that fronts a void (typically an attic or the eaves). Found-space closets need not be small. If you find yourself with a spare room, you can convert it into a walk-in closet and turn it back into a bedroom should you want to sell the house. (Bedrooms typically add more to resale than closets.)

Add a Closet - Under Stairs Storage Solution


Conventionally framed closets are permanent and are designed to look like part of the house. Stud walls are erected from floor to ceiling, skinned with drywall, and painted. The opening is fitted with the doors of your choice, while the trim and door hardware are selected to match the surrounding room. If you want this type of closet, however, you will have to brush up on your framing and drywall taping skills.

For more on storage, consider:

Easy Laundry Room Storage Solutions
20 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage
6 Simple & Easy Closet Door Transformations

On-Campus Living

Dorm Ideas


There’s no time like college to get acquainted with beginners’ DIY projects. In most on-campus living scenarios, you’re virtually given a blank slate (in the form of a spare or even bare dorm room). People don’t want to feel as if they’re living in borrowed space, least of all during the ‘glory days’ of college, so here are some ideas on how to make yourself at home.

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Bob Vila Radio: Hanging Shelves

Who doesn’t need more shelf space? Hanging shelves is a great do-it-yourself project that can help you get organized.


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Bob Vila Radio: Dorm Room Storage

Whether it’s back to the dorm or just back to school, making room for kids and their stuff gets harder as they get bigger. Here are some tricks for maxing out your space!


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Bob Vila Radio: Custom Closet

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—or reading—to Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day. Today, it’s all about the Custom Closet.

Custom Closet

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