Storage - 3/5 - Bob Vila

Category: Storage

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.


Listen to BOB VILA ON APPLIANCE MANUALS or read the text below:

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.


Listen to BOB VILA ON JUNK DRAWER CLUTTER read the text below:

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.


Listen to BOB VILA ON CLUTTER CONTROL FOR NEW STUFF or read the text below:

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!


Listen to BOB VILA ON CLOSET LIGHTING or read the text below:

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.

Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Closet Organizers

Make the most of tight closet space with these storage-smart DIY projects.

Many new homes boast spacious walk-in closets, but apartment renters and old-house dwellers must often contend with closets that are diminutive by comparison. Those who survive with so little storage are all too familiar with the fact that using every inch is essential. So if you are looking for clever ways to pack more into less space, begin your journey toward clutter-free living with these five favorite DIY closet organizer ideas from around the Web.



DIY Closet Organizer - Plywood


With a handful of dowels, a quartet of closet rods, and a single sheet of plywood, Ana White created this DIY closet organizer—and you can, too, using the woodworking plans she provides free. A versatile solution, the setup includes ample room not only for clothing, but also for miscellaneous personal items.



DIY Closet Organizer - Sliding Pants Rack


Do you own more pairs of pants than you know what to do with? Consider a sliding pants rack. Either build your own or, if you prefer, purchase one ready-made. There are two great advantages to storing pants in this way: one, it prevents creases, and two, it gives you more real estate on the closet rod.



DIY Closet Organizer - Double Rod


For those poor in closets, additional closet rods promise rich rewards. Over at the blog 320 Sycamore, Melissa imposed tidiness on an unruly closet in one strategic stroke: By installing more rods, she brought the dead zones in her closet to life.



DIY Closet Organizer - Door Shelf


A closet door can do more than simply open and close—it can provide storage for those sundry items that, if not corralled, create clutter and chaos. Even novice woodworkers can succeed in building this tiered array of shallow shelves specially designed to fit the back of the door panel.



DIY Closet Organizer - Pegboard


Typically, pegboard organizes tools and heavy-duty accessories in our basements and garages. But Missy of Lookie What I Did ingeniously affixed pegboard to the back wall of a closet, disguised it under a veil of neutral-color fabric, and arranged it to serve as a catchall for ties, socks, belts, and other small items.

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.

Bob Vila Radio: Small Closet Solutions

Starved for storage? You can make the most of every inch in your small closets with these simple yet smart solutions.

A big walk-in closet is a luxury that some people can only dream of, especially if they live in an older home. Homes built more than 50 years or so ago tend to have modest closets and short of a major remodeling project, you may be stuck with what you’ve got. But there are ways to make the most of every square inch.


Listen to BOB VILA ON SMALL CLOSET SOLUTIONS or read the text below:

Small Closet Solutions


Your first task is to clear out items you don’t use regularly—you may be surprised at how much space that creates. Then start hunting for extra space.

The back of the door is a great place to start. Instead of just a hook or two, consider installing a shoe rack or other organizer on the back of your closet door. Use the whole height of the door, top to bottom. Then turn your attention to the shelf—most shelves have three or four inches of unused space below them, where you can slip in an under-shelf wire basket. Finally, check the floor. If yours is a jumble of shoes, clothes, and clutter, you’re wasting precious space. Once those shoes are in a rack and the clutter moved into new baskets, you may be able to fit more shelves or even a small chest of drawers in there.

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.

Storage Starved? 6 Tips and Tricks Anyone Can Use

Author Janet Lee reveals six small space storage solutions as valuable to apartment renters as they are to homeowners.

Small Space Storage Solutions

Photo: Aimee Herring

Over the past 20 years, author, blogger, and television producer Janet Lee has lived in a dozen small apartments, none of them larger than 750 square feet. Small wonder that she’s earned a wealth of knowledge about making the most out of less-than-spacious spaces.

Through her blog, Living in a Nutshell, and her book, Living in a Nutshell: Posh and Portable Decorating Ideas for Small Spaces, Lee offers advice on maximizing the real estate you’ve got, however limited it may be. Her small space storage solutions reveal your home’s hidden storage potential.

Small Space Storage Solutions - Living in a Nutshell


1. Outer Edges of Bookcases
Increase the storage capacity of a bookcase, armoire, or any wall-mounted cabinet by simply attaching racks, hooks, or shelving to the outer sides of the unit. Lee points out, “The trick is to keep the color or materials of the add-on shelving consistent with the style of the bookcase itself.”

2. Over the Fridge
The storage-starved among us typically leverage the space above the refrigerator. Lee suggests organizing items you keep here into coordinating boxes. Or if the appliance occupies an unusually tight space, install a curtain that extends down only low enough to conceal the loose collection of items the top of your fridge holds.

3. A Folding Screen’s Flipside
Capitalize on the fact that guests so rarely see the back of your folding screen: Add over-the-door shoe bags or hang a laundry bag from a small hook. Of course, the room divider must be sturdy enough to support the weight of whatever you choose to hide behind the panel; wood-framed designs are ideal.

Related: 11 Sneaky Storage Ideas

Small Space Storage Solution - Rubber Boating Straps

Photo: Aimee Herring

4. Underneath Sofas and Living Room Chairs
We all know what a godsend a storage bin under the bed can be. So why stop there? Lee asks. Stow baskets and bins beneath furniture beyond the bedroom. A good place to start is the living room sofa. For easy access (and to prevent floor damage), enhance your bins with caster wheels. Lee advises, “Choose sliders you can attach with screws or nuts for a secure fit.”

5.  Hallway Walls
Transform tiny hallways and foyers into stylish catchalls with this inexpensive trick: Stretched across a wall or frame, rubber boating straps can support mail, keys, small toys and shoes—any possession you want to keep within arm’s reach, ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice.

6. Closet Doorknobs
Here’s another great small space storage solution: “When you are trying to maximize your closet’s full storage potential, don’t forget the doorknobs,” says Lee. Hang coordinating tote bags printed with decorative designs to keep stockings, scarves, and socks neatly contained and instantly accessible.

Closet Organization 101

So many closet storage conundrums are solved, not by adding space, but rather by using space more effectively.

How to Organize Your Closet

Photo: ClosetMaid

Though many of us would rather keep the door closed on the subject of closet organization, cleaning up your act storage-wise can yield abundant daily and long-term benefits.

For starters, well-organized closets are time-savers: It’s much easier and faster to get out of the house in the morning when you can put your hands on exactly what you need. And you can dig into a new project more quickly when you don’t have to search the house to find all the necessary tools and supplies.

Ideally, “You should be able to stand in front of your closet and take everything in at a glance, to see which jacket goes with which pants and which blouse,” says Diana Augspurger, a 30-year veteran of the organization and installation business, and the owner of Creative Storage in Buffalo, NY. Having everything at your fingertips “looks good, feels clean, and is energizing,” she says.

While great storage systems could make it easier to sell a house, they could also make it unnecessary to move: The amount of square footage you have doesn’t matter nearly as much as how well you use it. A small house with well-organized closets has room to accommodate more stuff than a larger home with jumbled storage, according to Augspurger.

How to Organize Your Closet - Storage SystemLike many home improvement projects, planning is the most important step in getting your closets shipshape. It’s helpful to have an overview of the way you’d like to use each space eventually, perhaps earmarking future sites for crafts and hobby supplies, sporting gear, or out-of-season clothing. But the good news is that you don’t have to revamp everything at once. This is a project you can tackle over time, spreading out the emotional and budgetary stress.

Pick one specific closet as a starting point and set a goal of what you aim to accomplish. Make a list of what you want to store there and consider how the closet is letting you down now. For example, do you need more shoe space? Among the many options are keeping them in boxes on shelves, hanging shoe bags, or floor-standing racks or cubbies. Not enough room for hanging clothing? Lots of closets can easily accommodate multi-level bars; consider leveraging the full height of available space with a pull-down clothing rod.

Want more places for folded items like sweaters, pajamas, and underwear? Shelves, drawers, cubbies and even hanging bags can do the job.

Big box stores, storage specialty shops, catalogs and the web all offer a huge spectrum of storage options, from the strictly functional to the highly decorative, from wire systems and clean-looking laminates to wooden cabinetry that would be at home in a kitchen or bathroom. Personal preference, available space, and how much you want to spend will influence your choices. With regard to budget, it’s a good idea to keep your budget in proportion with the overall value of the house, Augspurger says.

Depending on the size of the job and your skills, you may feel comfortable doing all or some of the job yourself. A simple solution might consist of weeding out items you don’t use, then organizing what remains by adding a shelf or two, a shoe rack, or a simple freestanding drawer system tucked beneath hanging clothing.

Get ready to measure—not just the space, but also the items you’ll store. Measure clothing while it’s on the hanger, as garments are longer and wider on a hanger than on the body. If you store your shoes in boxes, measure those too, since large boxes for tall boots may require deeper-than-average shelves.

While you’re measuring, take into consideration allowances for drawers and doors that open, or racks that pull down.

How to Organize Your Closet - Wire ShelvingMake use of overlooked space, adding hooks or shoe bags (the pockets are also great for small items like socks, gloves, and scarves) to the backs of doors. Installing high shelves creates a stash for out-of-season items; as weather demands, you can simply swap out the box of bathing suits, shorts, and tank tops for the box of wooly scarves, hats, and sweatshirts. Use transparent bins, or clearly label each container, so you can find what you need at a glance. And make room in the closet for a folding step stool to enable safe and easy access to the high-up storage.

Professional closet organizers will come to your home to talk over your needs, goals, and preferences; take measurements; draw up plans and make recommendations. “I like to see what people are dealing with,” says Augspurger. Before signing on with a pro, ask about their experience, how they learned the trade, and if they’re certified. Some design-assistance employees may be more experienced offering advice as to what will simply fit versus devising a system to best utilize every bit of space.

If you’re truly “stufficating” in possessions you can’t seem to part with, some closet-org pros are clutter coaches who can help you shed belongings.

It may be easier to let go of things if you feel they’re going to a good home. Consider charitable organizations such as Dressed for Success, which provides business-appropriate clothing to women entering the workforce, or, which offers prom and attire for other special occasions to those in need. Check out local coat drives; church or community organizations that need usable items for fund-raising sales; and schools and assisted-living centers that will accept books, magazines, and art and hobby supplies. If you’re able to sell some of your items at a yard sale, on Craigslist, eBay, or through consignment stores, you may even be able to recoup some of the cost of your spiffy new closet organizers!

Storage at a Glance

Find new storage space by planning, rearranging, or renovating.

Storage Space

Photo: Flickr

There’s more than one fit when it comes to storage space. Growing families require extra closets, retirees move to smaller quarters and look for bulk storage, heirs long for an attic to house family treasures. Even the minimalists among us require some space to stash items not in use.

Times Are Changing
Construction technology has changed dramatically over the past 30 years, and these changes have altered a home’s storage capabilities. Construction improvements begin at the base, where poured concrete foundations have taken the place of cinder block and stone. The introduction of Styrofoam® insulating forms has further enhanced the reputation of a poured foundation. Thanks to better perimeter drainage and waterproofing methods, water damage, mildew, and musty odors are under control, making basement storage ideal.

Walk-up attics, on the other hand, are now a thing of the past. Once the norm, full attics were the result of free-frame roof design and high-pitch roofs. Today’s more energy-efficient roof construction includes a series of engineered trusses spaced every 24 inches. As a result, all that’s left is crawl space storage and little else.

If you are waiting to move into a build-to-suit property, you are more likely to affect your options for storage space. If money is no object, you can request everything from a finished attic or basement to additional built-ins. If you are purchasing within a development, however, your flexibility may be limited. More often than not, your only option may be to build above the garage for increased storage. So, be sure to review the plans and take storage needs into account while in the design phase.

Places, Everyone!
You must consider two variables when assessing storage options: First, what requires storage; second, where that storage might best be located. House storage is akin to brain storage. Some represents our ties to the past, like a wedding dress to pass on, or favorite childhood toys. These items require long-term storage. The back corner of an attic, if properly controlled and pest free, might be the perfect stash for them.

Short-term storage, like short-term memory, must remain accessible. First determine whether the items are for seasonal, occasional, or daily use, as this will determine how and where you will store them. Out-of-season clothes and holiday decorations can be stowed near the front of an attic or dormer, in a cedar closet or in the basement. Corner cupboards, armoires, built-ins, or freestanding home furnishings are perfect for everyday needs. Regardless of your options, safety precautions must top your priority list. This includes everything from fire prevention to moisture control, climate control, and pests.

A change in lifestyle often requires a change in storage space needs. The blending of two families into one, downsizing from a four bedroom Colonial to a townhouse, or temporarily housing an aging parent all require us to reconfigure our living and storage space. An established home invites you to think creatively about your existing space, so remember—there is more to storage than meets the eye! Play detective, and seek out new nooks and crannies. They may exist within walls, under eaves, and along existing spaces you have never considered.

Renovating to add storage can range from extensive to moderate. Options abound from raising the roof on a garage and refinishing the basement to adding additional closets and storage units. No matter what route you choose, a careful analysis of every room in your home is recommended so that you can make the wisest and most cost-effective decisions about revamping your space and planning for successful storage solutions.

How To: Store Your Things

Safeguard your belongings by putting them in the right place in the right way.

Ways To Store Things

An electrical inspector points out that storing clothes in this closet would be a safety code violation.

Where you store depends largely on what you are storing. Clothes will smell musty if stored in a damp basement; antique furniture won’t hold up if subjected to extreme temperature changes or high humidity. It’s important to do your homework up front to provide a safe environment for all of your possessions and furnishings.

A Holistic Approach
A house free of fire hazards is essential for the well being of its occupants and the safekeeping of family possessions. Check your home routinely from top to bottom to insure its overall health. Schedule a professional home inspection with your local fire inspector or fire department. In general, use extreme caution when storing flammable materials and never store household chemicals, paints, turpentine, and the like near a heat source. Check attics for mice because these pests can seriously damage goods and even eat through electrical wiring. Also make sure that smoke detectors are present and in good working order on every floor of the home, including your attic and storage spaces.

Water, in every form, is a huge hazard for safe storage. A leak-free roof is essential when storing in an attic; a properly graded foundation with adequate perimeter drainage is necessary for a dry basement. Even occasional water in the basement can make storage a nightmare. Humidity and condensation can cause serious problems for your home and its contents.

Long-Term Storage
When it comes to long-term storage, out of sight should never mean out of mind. Regular inventory checks are critical to ensure that your possessions are free from damage. Mice, moths, silverfish, temperature extremes, humidity, and water can damage valuables beyond repair. Organization and a master plan for storing and safeguarding are critical for responsible long-term storage: Label all boxes; post a map of your basement or attic in a visible location; maintain a regular schedule for spot checks to protect against infestation or damage.

Books and other precious documents are especially vulnerable to environmental factors like temperature and humidity. Temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees and humidity levels between 50 and 60 percent are ideal. While a large collection of books may fare better in a metal cabinet, bear in mind that moisture can damage contents, and corrode your storage facility as well.

Storing in cardboard boxes is a risk. Silverfish, certain types of roaches, and bookworms are attracted to the starchy materials found in book bindings and can even eat their way through the boxes to get to the books themselves. Silverfish lay one to three eggs a day and can live up to three years, so an undetected infestation can result in significant damage. Preventative measures are essential, because infestations are usually discovered too late. If you must store in boxes, purchase fresh ones from a moving company. Also, inspect used and antique books thoroughly before packing to make sure that they are pest-free. Don’t pack too tightly — books need a degree of ventilation. Whenever possible, store books in a bookcase on a main living floor, and use acid-free boxes and protectors for storing documents and photographs.

On-hand Storage
Keeping items ready and on-hand requires tight organization and accessible storage. Closets, armoires, and out-of-sight landings may be perfect for guest pillows, blankets or wrapping paper. Closets can also be outfitted to maximize storage space and organization. Closet systems offer components sold in sections, which allows for a custom build and fit. In addition to closet organizers, bins on rollers, and slide-out drawers make cupboard storage and under-bed storage a snap.

Plastic tubs make excellent containers for bulk storage like clothing and holiday items. Portable wardrobe bags made of durable vinyl are ideal for hanging clothes in an attic or basement, provided the rafters or joists can bear the weight. A cedar closet is an excellent storage solution for a basement or garage. However, while cedar and mothballs prevent moths, they do not eradicate them once larvae are present. Larvae are attracted to even lightly soiled woolens, so make sure to dry clean or launder your clothing before storing.

Attic Storage
Attics are often reserved for the treasures that represent our link to the past. Whether family silver, valuable paintings, rugs, or handmade quilts are being stored, special care and attention are essential in order to assure safekeeping for generations to come. Antique furniture was crafted when homes lacked the luxury of central heating and cooling systems. As a result, the humidity level in the home was fairly stable—60 percent was typical. Today, in colder climates, humidity levels within the home can drop to as low as 30 percent. Most furniture can withstand subtle changes in humidity and temperature—but drastic changes can weaken glued joints, and cause a variety of ills ranging from cracked or split surfaces, to buckled or warped panels. Make sure that your attic is properly insulated and ventilated.

“I Need It Now”
Storing everyday items may not require as much attention in terms of packaging and protection, but organization is essential in order to save time and reduce clutter. Here convenience becomes a necessity. Store everyday items in the rooms where they are most often used. A bed with a built-in captain’s drawer neatly houses excess clothing; armoires and entertainment centers conceal video tapes and games; drawer organizers and lazy susans make the search for pots, pans, and kitchen tools a breeze. Built-ins like linen closets and food pantries should also top your list when moving into new construction. Adding one or both can fit easily into renovation plans, as well.