Category: Storage

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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Listen to BOB VILA ON HANGING SHELVES, or read text below:

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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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Listen to BOB VILA ON DORM ROOM STORAGE, or read text below: Read the rest of this entry »

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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Listen to BOB VILA ON THE CUSTOM CLOSET, or read text below: Read the rest of this entry »

DIY Deals: Storage Solutions

There’s no way around it: being unorganized can lead to a lot of headaches. That’s why we have focused this week’s DIY Deals on clever storage solutions to bring order to your home and life. Oh and there’re savings, too!

Pottery Barn Samantha Entry Way Storage/Organization

Samantha Entryway Collection, $229-$549 at Pottery Barn; save $60 on shipping

Get free or reduced shipping on storage and organizing products ordered online at Pottery Barn. Consider the Samantha Collection (shown above), with its cubbies, bench, shelf compartments and hooks—perfect for a front entry, laundry, or mud room.

Visit the sale section of the Crate & Barrel website to find great organizing tools at discounted prices; plus, most wares are shipping at a flat rate of $4.95.

Gladiator-GarageWorks Rack Shelving

Gladiator-GarageWorks's Rack Shelving is now 15% off its regular price of $199

Gladiator-GarageWorks is offering 15% off all products purchased online (plus free shipping on orders over $299) with promo code DONOW6495 through 5/17. Among the discounted products is the company’s heavy-duty metal Rack Shelving in Hammered Granite finish.

Bed Bath & Beyond’s Special Purchase section has great, while-supplies-last sales on items like canisters and spice racks, always useful in the kitchen.

The Container Store Platinum Door Rack

The Container Store's elfa Door and Media Rack, now $74.90 (reg. $93.90)

The Container Store is holding its Spring Organization Sale through Sunday, 5/6. Save big on an extensive selection of closet, cabinet, pantry and drawer organizers, plus clothing, shoe and accessory storage products. is discounting items up to 75% for a limited time only. Check out the garage rafter storage lift, $192.99 (reg. $219.99); we found it exceptionally clever.


IKEA's HEMNES sofa table, $139 (reg. $179) through Sunday

At IKEA, select HEMNES solid wood living room furniture is 20% off through Sunday, 5/6.

For more on storage and organization, consider the following Bob Vila articles and slideshows:

Quick Tip: Garage Storage
Pegboard Storage: A Classic for All-Time
Easy Laundry Room Storage Solutions

The Backsplash: A Kitchen’s Most Underutilized Real Estate

Kitchen Backsplash


One of the areas that many of us consider absolutely last when remodeling the kitchen backsplash. After months of pondering countertop choices, we often settle for the easiest solution when it comes to the backsplash (a result of either running out of time or money, or both). And that’s a shame!  That 18-inch-high space between wall-hung cabinets and the countertop can attract the eye, both with color and texture, and it can provide some valuable, eminently useful real estate, too.

If you have a small kitchen, like I do, your backsplash needs to be more than a decorative backdrop. It needs to perform. So rather than clutter up the counter with messy containers and small appliances, I zeroed in on that six-foot run of narrow wall. To my delight, I realized there are a wealth of manufacturers meeting the challenge of backsplash-friendly alternatives. Here are a few that should help you make the most of your backsplash and your kitchen.

Store More

Kitchen Backsplash

Zero-Gravity Magnetic Spice Rack

This space-efficient Zero Gravity Magnetic Spice Rack by Zevro lives up to its name, as the 1.5 oz. canisters can store spices top and bottom. A locking mechanism on each canister allows you to dispense contents by pouring or sprinkling—great for one-hand use. Choose from the 6- and 12-canister models (each model includes a sheet of self-adhesive spice labels for your convenience).

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Quick Tip: Garage Storage Solutions

Garage storage can simplify your life and add value to your home.

Garage Storage

Photo: Murphy Co. Design

Garage as Work Space
Commonly used as the family dumping ground, the garage is undergoing a revival as a functional workspace. Installing a garage storage system that frees up some of this space can have the same effect as adding a room and it’s a good way to increase your home’s value.

Organize Items for Storage
First, group the bins and bulky items you need to store by their use and measure them so you know how much space you need for each group.

Maximize Space and Function
Tall cabinets with double doors are great, but be sure they come with enough adjustable shelves to optimize the space inside. Include at least one lockable cabinet to keep dangerous chemicals out of reach of children and pets. Add some low cabinets on casters, creating a work surface on top. With some pegboard or a vinyl slat wall system for tools, you’ve got the beginning of a home workshop.

For easier cleaning and less clutter, keep things off the floor: store sports gear and yard tools on heavy-duty, wall-mounted hooks and racks. If you’ve got a lot of ceiling height in your garage, use it. Try an overhead storage rack for seasonal items or as a bike lift.

Choose Practical Storage Options
There are lots of garage storage options, but organization hinges on consistency: choose cabinets and racks of the same color and type. Look for systems made of metal, plastic or wood specifically treated for garage use. And remember that bigger is not always better. You need a garage storage system that will allow you to find your stuff and still leave room for the car.