Storage - 2/5 - Bob Vila

Category: Storage

Genius! There’s a Secret Hiding Behind This DIY Photo Frame

Are you old enough to have lived through jukeboxes, cassette tapes, and at least one political dynasty? If so, you probably have in your possession a tech relic that can enjoy a second life as a picture frame and secret stash spot!

VHS Case DIY Photo Frame


By the early 1990s, most middle-class homes had a VCR. Video rental stores sprouted up like dandelions, taking over strip-mall storefronts everywhere. But thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and other online streaming platforms, VHS cassette tapes are now an endangered species. Like calculators and fax machines, they’ve been slowly disappearing from the landscape of our homes. But before you toss the last of your plastic videocassette cases, listen up! These throwaway containers can double as photo frames—and could be perfect for hiding your home’s most valuable possessions.

Finnish home design blogger Heidi Lehto repurposed one of her own cases as a piece of wall art with hidden storage, and we’re glad she did! Replicating this sneaky storage is as easy as hanging up any other photo. Open one up, remove the tape, grab a screwdriver, and use two screws to mount the back of the plastic case to the wall. Then, replace the movie’s title insert in the clear outer flap with a picture of your choice. The tape case is about the same thickness as the standard wall canvas, but hollow; with the tape removed, you’re left with an unassuming stash spot—a perfect fit for important documents, jewelry, or other small valuables you want to keep out of sight. And if you’re an indecisive decorator or a homeowner who regularly rotates artwork, you’ll love the option to switch out the front display.


VHS Case DIY Photo Frame - Videos


Pro Tips: 5 Strategies for Tackling Your Worst Clutter Zones

A best-in-the-business organizing service offers surprisingly simple solutions for bringing order to five commonly clutter-prone zones.

How to Declutter

Photo: Michelle Drewes Photography for NEAT Method

In every home, stuff always seems to pile up in one particular area, be it a kitchen drawer, an entryway surface, or the far corner of a seldom-used room. With locations in nine major cities, the organizing service NEAT Method has plenty of experience helping people stem what often feels like a ceaseless tide of clutter. What makes the NEAT Method so in-demand? They don’t just get your house in order; they set you up to keep it that way. “We make your space functional in a way that works for you so that, when we leave, it’s easy for you to maintain it,” says Marissa Hagmeyer. We asked NEAT Method  for advice on undoing the powerful pull exerted by the magnets for messes we all live with.  Read on to learn surprising—that is, surprisingly simple—strategies for your clutter-prone zones.

1. Be clear in the kitchen.
“If you can see it, you’ll use it; if you can’t, you’ll forget it’s there,” says Hagmeyer, who favors transparent containers, wire baskets, and tiered racks for the pantry and cabinets. Armed with organizers that really show off the goods, group like items together. “If all your baking supplies are in plain sight in one place, you won’t have three jars of cinnamon taking up space,” she explains. Also remember: If you can’t eat it, drink it, or cook with it, banish it from the kitchen. Never mind the fact that there’s no room for it—the grime is simply unsanitary. “We’ve seen countertops strewn with mail, tubes of sunscreen, even hairbrushes,” Hagmeyer says.

2. Keep a lid on the living room.
“Wherever your family congregates most, so will clutter,” Hagmeyer says. That’s bad news, since the rooms where we congregate are the ones we often want to look the neatest. The solution? Place your magazines, toys, gadgets, and more in bins and baskets you can look into, not through. Meanwhile, set a limit. “The key is not only to conceal stuff but to avoid exceeding maximum capacity,” Hagmeyer says. “Once a container is filled, you can’t add another item unless you purge.”

How to Declutter - Baskets

Photo: Michelle Drewes Photography for NEAT Method

3. Focus on efficiency in the bath.
“In the morning, every second counts,” Hagmeyer says, “so bathroom de-cluttering will get you out the door faster.” Throw out expired cosmetics, vitamins, medicines—all those bits and bobs that are making it harder for you to find and grab what you need. Once you have thinned out the ranks, look at the lineup of what’s left and toss anything you no longer use. “Americans are crazy for grooming products but we rarely finish everything we try, so we wind up with lots of half-filled bottles,” she explains. With unnecessary supplies out of the picture, you’d be surprised by how much space you have left for storing your daily go-to items. Keep those within easy arm’s reach, and pay attention to the little details. For instance, if you’re right handed, keep necessities on the right side of the shelf.

4. Redo your drawers.
There’s a little-known secret about dresser drawers: You can probably fit more in, and without taking anything out. Maximizing the limited space depends on applying the right technique. “Instead of folding T-shirts the traditional way, add one extra fold to make a more compact rectangle,” Hagmeyer says. “Then, rather than stack, slip shirts into the drawer as you would a file folder.” The system works for sweaters, jeans, scarves—anything you can fold, you can file away.

How to Declutter - Bathroom

Photo: Michelle Drewes Photography for NEAT Method

5. Bring beauty to personal space.
It’s your workshop, craft room, garden shed, whatever—so isn’t it your right to keep it messy, if you that’s what you want? Sure, if you don’t mind shooting yourself in the foot. “Mayhem isn’t conducive to productivity or pleasure. Organization in DIY areas helps you get more done,” Hagmeyer says. “Plus, these places ought to inspire you!” How’s that for an excuse to splurge on yourself? In the name of productivity, go trash whatever old coffee cans have been substituting for organizers and treat yourself to beautiful, functional storage items. They’ll be sure to make you want to not only to start your projects, but actually finish them.

Weekend Projects: 5 Ways to Make Floating Shelves

Opt for floating shelves to give your favorite floorspace-saving storage method a sleek, modern look. By Sunday evening, you'll have a new spot for reading material, tchotchkes, and anything else you'd like to display or keep within easy arm's reach.


Physically and visually lighter than bookcases—hello, extra floor space—shelves are a favorite storage option for everything from books to souvenirs, suitable for virtually any room. Of all the designs out there, many prefer floating shelves, because with their bracket hardware hidden, these wall-mounted surfaces take on a sleek, modern look. DIY floating shelves are easy for anyone to install. Here are five different ways you might approach the project this weekend.



DIY Floating Shelves - Simple


There’s a lot to be said for simplicity, particularly when you’re pursuing a clean, minimalist aesthetic. Over at The Wonder Forest, Dana created DIY floating shelves from stock lumber. Her secret to keeping the brackets totally invisible? She didn’t use any. Instead, she attached the shelf directly to the wall studs.



DIY Floating Shelves - Book Stack


If you’re sick of running out of space in your library, try this fun approach to DIY floating shelves. Pick up a bargain-priced large-format hardcover, attach a metal bracket to its back, and that book becomes a base on which to rest a stack of other books. For step-by-step instructions, visit The Simply Living Blog.



DIY Floating Shelves - Double


In a storage-starved laundry room, DIY floating shelves accommodate supplies like bleach and detergent, while also providing a surface for separating and folding. Jessica of Four Generations One Roof built hers from plywood, fixing them to the wall with pine cleats. Go now to get the full how-to on her blog.



DIY Floating Shelves - Repurposed Ladder


A utilitarian ladder and a handful of L-brackets: Sounds like part of the materials list for an average home improvement, right? Well, in this case, those materials are the project. Tabitha from Fresh Mommy Blog reimagined the ladder as a DIY shelf, filling the space between rungs with books and collectibles.



DIY Floating Shelves - Corner


In small homes, capitalized on the corners that might be overlooked in a larger space. Mandy at House of Rose offers a terrific tutorial on building DIY floating shelves with a triangle design tailored to fit at the meeting place between walls. We’ll need to practice self-restraint not to put these everywhere!

Innovative Closet Organizing System Means Less Mess

Powerfully built, easily affordable, and designed in no-frills modern style, EZ Shelf lives up to its name, bringing customizable storage well within reach of just about anyone.

EZ Shelf - Garage


Clutter and disorganization are familiar foes to most, but a new shelving system promises to tame the turmoil once and for all. Whether your problem area lies in the garage, bedroom closet, the home office or elsewhere, EZ Shelf expandable products provide a versatile solution for a fraction of what custom shelving costs. With EZ Shelf, just about anyone, even novice do-it-yourselfers, can incorporate truly useful, durable, and stylish storage into their homes, quickly and easily.

EZ Shelf - Bedroom


Installation couldn’t be more straightforward, as each shelving unit expands (3 sizes are available from 40″-73″, 28″-48″, and 17″-27″), with no cutting, no complicated measuring, and no drilling (into drywall) required. “The EZ Shelf system takes less than a third of the time it takes to install conventional wire shelving, and has fewer than half the number of parts,” says David Jablow, President and CEO of EZ Shelf. “Contractors and handymen will be able to charge consumers reasonable prices, or if you feel comfortable with a screwdriver it is an easy one-person installation.”

EZ Shelf products also give you the power to customize your own solution, as each unit allows for multiple handy configurations. Simply choose whichever one corresponds best to your needs. And when you combine units, the possibilities are nearly limitless, allowing you to custom-tailor a storage system that fits perfectly, even in a laundry room, pantry with awkward dimensions, or in a mudroom where nothing else has seemed to work in the past.

Further, you can always be safe in the assumption that your EZShelf installation isn’t going to fail unexpectedly. Powerfully built from tubular steel, the product provides significantly more strength than conventional wire shelving. Whereas conventional wire shelves hold 60 or 80 pounds, EZ Shelf can handle more than twice that weight, having been rated to securely support at least 200 pounds.

EZ Shelf - Walk In


“EZ Shelf expandable products are the first economical alternatives to wire shelving that’s come out in the past 50 years,” explains Jablow. “So many people don’t like wire shelves—they look cheap and are hard to clean. So we asked an Italian design studio to help design EZ Shelf so that it is aesthetically pleasing, with a nice modern look.” Offered in white and silver, two classic colors that never go out of style, EZ Shelf looks good no matter what your decorating scheme. And though European-designed, over 75% of the product components are made in the U.S.A. and backed by a lifetime guarantee—a definite plus for those seeking maximum value.

EZ Shelf offers a selection of helpful closet organizing hints on its website, where we found a special closet makeover video that perfectly demonstrates why EZ Shelf is gaining popularity. Watch it now!

This post has been brought to you by EZ Shelf. Its facts and opinions are those of

Weekend Projects: 5 Bike Racks to DIY on the Cheap

A simple, sturdy bike rack can help you clear up that jumble of two-wheelers in your garage or scattered around your yard. Try one of these DIY bike racks, and you'll have everything stored and tidied up this weekend.


Depending on where you live, you may be completely surprised or utterly unimpressed by this fact: Worldwide, bicycles outnumber automobiles. America’s love affair with bikes began in the 1800s, and that relationship continues to evolve today. Bikes are no longer solely recreational. In urban areas in particular, they are fast becoming a common mode of everyday transportation. But while most home designs include space for an owner’s car, one rarely sees similar accommodation made for pedal-pushed two-wheelers. No matter: You can create your own storage solution. For inspiration, check out these five favorite DIY bike rack projects.



DIY Bike Rack - PVC


For less than $50 in PVC—and armed only with pipe cement and a handsaw—you can build a DIY bike rack identical to the one shown above. Though large enough to hold the bicycle collection of an entire family, this easily completed assembly is also lightweight enough to be moved from one location to another in the home.



DIY Bike Rack - Storebought


Browse the aisles of a sporting goods store, and you’re destined to find a selection of ready-made bicycle storage products. In many instances, it’s possible to build your own approximation of these designs with off-the-shelf items sold at your local home center. The DIY bike rack shown here cost less than $100 to put together.



DIY Bike Rack - Scrap Wood


To make this rack, you won’t have to look any further than your basement or garage workshop, if you keep a stash of scrap wood in either locale. Only straight cuts are needed, at least in the examples pictured, so woodworking expertise is not a prerequisite. If you choose, paint or stain your creation once complete, or leave it unfinished.



DIY Bike Rack - Handlebars


Where floor space is limited, here’s a compact and cool-looking—and yes, somewhat quirky—DIY bike rack idea, perfect for those who love, love, love bikes. Detach the curved handlebars from a vintage racing bike (available online, in thrift stores, or from repair shops) and mount them to the wall with a metal flange.



DIY Bike Rack - Pallets


A shipping pallet needs no alteration to function as a DIY bike rack. The slats are spaced far enough apart—but not too far apart—to hold a bicycle wheel. Lean the pallet against a wall, whether in your garage or in the garden, and poof—problem solved. Best of all, pallets are readily available, if not for free, then for very little.


Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.

Bob Vila Radio: Preventing Moths

During the rush to stow away winter clothes and blankets and welcome the arrival of spring, don't forget to moth-proof them. Follow these precautions to make sure these pesky insects stay out of your winter wardrobe.

This is the time of year when we shed our winter wardrobes and slip into warm-weather fabrics. To be sure that your clothes and blankets come out of storage in one piece next fall, take a few moments now to moth-proof them.

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Preventing Moths


One important step before packing up woolens is getting them cleaned. Those telltale holes in moth-eaten sweaters are the work of the larvae, which can cling to clothing invisibly and wreak havoc while they’re stored. Wash or dry-clean your items first to be sure they are free of larvae before you store them away.

Store anything made of wool, fur, or cashmere in an airtight container—you don’t want adult moths getting in to lay eggs and create new larvae. Plastic tubs with airtight lids will do the trick, as will Ziploc bags.

The smell of cedar repels adult moths, but it takes a lot of the scent to be effective, and you’ll need to replace or sand cedar blocks or balls to maintain the intensity of the smell.

The one thing you probably don’t want to use is the old-fashioned mothball. Not only do mothballs smell bad, but they can be toxic when inhaled. You would not only have to keep them in an airtight container, but you’d have to clean all those clothes again in the fall to get rid of the fumes and the smell.

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.

Bob Vila Radio: Save Your Appliance Manuals

Upon purchasing a new appliance, store its documentation in a central location for quick and easy access when and if necessary.

When you buy a new appliance, it’s a good idea to hold onto your original documentation, including the owner’s manual, any warranties, and your purchase receipt. If you misplace the manual, you can usually track down a copy online. But it does you no good to have it if you can’t find it when you need it. Consider setting up an easy-to-maintain, accessible filing system to keep your manuals handy.

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Appliance Manuals


Filing cabinets are handy for this sort of thing, of course, but when the alarm system starts chirping at three in the morning, or the oven broiler won’t ignite when you have a dining room filled with guests, you don’t want to start fumbling around upstairs in the file drawers.

A handier option is to put your manuals in three-hole-punched sheet protectors or pocket folders, and store them in large binder kept in a central location. You can separate the binder into divisions, such as “Appliances,” “AV Components,” or “Outdoor Equipment.”

Another approach is to keep a separate folder in each room in the house that contains manuals for all of the appliances in that room. The truly organized may choose to separate out manuals for stoves, boilers, and other fixtures that stay with the house when it’s sold, so they can be passed to a new owner.

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.

Bob Vila Radio: Junk Drawer Clutter

The start of a new year is perhaps the best time to tackle household clutter—but it’s impossible to do it all at once. Set modest, achievable goals and tackle them one at a time.


The coming of a new year is a good time to tackle some of that household clutter, but it’s impossible to do it all at once. It’s best to set yourself small goals and tackle them one at a time.

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Junk Drawer


One of the easiest, most rewarding places to start is with the junk drawer. Every home seems to have one—it’s that place where batteries, scissors, paperclips, twine, small tools, and other oddball items gather in a tangled heap. Getting your junk drawer organized can make your life much more efficient, as you’ll spend far less time rummaging for that screwdriver or safety pin when you need it.

Start by pulling out the things you truly don’t need, like the chargers for cameras and phones you don’t own anymore. Set those aside for electronics recycling day. Items that are rarely used should go into deeper storage—keep handy only what you use regularly. Then sort things into categories—tools, stationery items, fasteners, whatever you need near at hand. Use a utensil drawer divider to organize your items by category as you put them away. With one drawer taken care of, you’ll be ready to start thinking about organizing the garage!

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.

Bob Vila Radio: Clutter Control for New Stuff

During the season of giving (and receiving), take some time out to re-evaluate what to keep, what to get rid of, and where to store it all.

It’s great to get holiday gifts from family and friends, but it’s not so great figuring out what to do with all that new stuff. This is the perfect time to re-evaluate how much you really need, and where to put it.

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Clutter Control

Photo: shutterstock

One easy way to handle incoming gifts is to think of each item as a replacement for something you already own. If someone gives you a beautiful set of candlesticks, for example, take a look at what candlesticks you already have and choose an older pair to give away. This works especially well with kids’ toys—for every new toy or game that came into your home this holiday season, choose one to pass on to another family or a charity.

If you find it hard to part with sentimental items from your past, consider starting a special photo album for them—take a picture of the item, even write a few lines about where it came from and why it was important to you. Then donate the item and keep the photo. You’ll still have the memory and the sentiment, but those don’t take up much storage space!

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.

Bob Vila Radio: Closet Lighting

Good lighting is crucial everywhere in your home— but especially in the closet, where small or seasonal apparel could get lost in the dark.

If you’re lucky enough to have large walk-in closets in your home, you probably already know the importance of good lighting. After all, there’s no use having the luxury of a great storage space if you can’t tell your blacks from your navies when you’re in there!

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Closet Lighting


Even if your closets are a bit more modest in size, you still need good light. Whether it’s picking out matching shoes or finding the right cleaning product, you need adequate light when you reach into a closet. That used to mean a single naked light bulb or a battery-powered stick-on light. New high-tech choices provide better light, use less energy, and don’t require an endless supply of fresh batteries.

Ribbons of stick-on lighting strips, like those commonly found under kitchen cabinets today, also work great in small closets. Installed under the edge of a shelf, or on the ceiling just above the hanging rod, these ribbons provide nice, even light and don’t use much energy or generate much heat. You can even have the ribbon wired to a jamb switch, so it turns on when you open the door and off when you close it.

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.