Portable Closets

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Never enough closet space?  Portable closets to the rescue!

Portable closets, aka rolling wardrobes, are ideal for storing out-of-season or infrequently worn clothes and accessories.  The old-style rolling wardrobe is basically just a garment rack with a zippered cover–it’s only designed for storage of hanging garments. But portable closets tend to include more features, such as shelves and pockets that allow you to also store folded clothing and other items.

Here are three types of space-efficient portable closets, all with fabric covers and smooth-rolling casters:

  • The Rolling Wardrobe Rack offers three storage sections: a top zippered shelving area for folded clothes, hats or handbags; Rolling Wardrobe Rack Imagea steel rod that provides 30 linear inches of hanging space; and a ventilated bottom shelf for shoe storage.  The roll-up door makes it easy to access hanging garments and footwear; the top section has a triangular flap door.
  • The versatile Mobile Wardrobe Center provides  multiple storage options–the exterior features eight mesh pockets (sized for four pairs of shoes), a removable hamper bag for laundry (attached by Velcro and with a shoulder strap for easy transport), a wooden bar for hanging ties and scarves, removable pockets for toiletries, and additional pockets for undergarments and socks.  The zip-up door has a clear section at the top so you can easily view your hangered clothes.
  • The Clothes Armoire with Shelves has four compartments for keeping stacks of folded clothes and accessories organized, Clothes Armoire With Shelves Imageplus a closet bar that can hold up to 50 pounds of hanging garments. The bottom part is fully enclosed (unlike that of the Rolling Wardrobe Rack) to keep the contents protected.

Other types of portable closets can be found here.

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Outerwear organizers with umbrella storage

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Whether or not you have the luxury of an entry closet (aka coat closet), it’s a good idea to have an alternative for hanging rain-damp items and other gear that should be aired out.

A wall coat rack or series of individual coat hooks attached to the back of an entry door (or on the wall behind it) may be sufficient for keeping jackets, coats, hats and scarves off the floor.  But that still leaves the problem of where to stash wet-weather necessities such as umbrellas, rain boots and shoes, which tend to get left in a jumble by the door.

Luckily there are several types of efficient outerwear organizers with umbrella storage. Here are three of my favorites:

  • The practical bamboo 4-Shelf Shoe Rack and Umbrella Stand has four spacious slatted shelves for4 Shelf Shoe Rack - Umbrella Stand Image holding footwear and purses, and a vertical side holder for storing umbrellas, canes and hiking sticks.  The entire unit is a relatively compact 28.37 inches wide by 10.62 inches deep by 25-1/4 inches high.
  • The handsome wooden Hallway Tree offers storage for everything but shoes–it has eight double coat hooks (two on each of the four sides); two center shelves for holding purses and totes; an umbrella stand; and a small drawer for stashing keys, gloves and other accessories. It towers at 72 inches high and is 17 inches wide and deep.
  • The elegant birch wood Mission Style Coat Rack features a lower sectionMission Style Coat Rack - Brown Image for holding umbrellas, four double coat hooks for outerwear and hats, plus two drawers on top for stowing small items. Shoes can be tucked under the umbrella section. It measures a slender 16 by 16 inches and is 60 inches high.

To learn about other kinds of entryway storage systems, see my previous posts on this topic.

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Toilet Tank Organizers

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In a contest for the most over-looked storage space, the toilet tank would be a top contender.

Actually, the top of a toilet tank isn’t as over-looked as the sides. (No pun intended.)  But both of these limited yet accessible areas can be used for storing toilet paper, facial tissue and other bathroom necessities.  The trick is to utilize this precious storage space while camouflaging the supplies–or at least making them look tidy.  To the rescue: toilet tank organizers!   Here are three excellent examples:

  • The wicker Toilet Tank Topper is a lidded basket designed to fit neatly acrossToilet Tank Topper Image the top of a standard toilet tank. It’s divided into three sections sized to hold two large rolls of toilet paper at either end and a square box of facial tissue in the center (there’s a slot in the middle of the attached lid).  The end compartments can also be used for discreet storage of personal supplies.
  • The sleek Ecostyle Bamboo Toilet Paper Holder has a similar three-compartment design but features a removable lid, and is constructed of slatted bamboo lined with mesh material.Over the Tank Magazine Rack - White Image
  • The Over the Tank Magazine Rack is a white wire basket that hangs securely over the top rim of a toilet tank thanks to a specially designed square hanging hook.  The basket is 9 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches high by 3 inches deep to accommodate standard size magazines, catalogs or paperback books.

 

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Pantry Shelf Organizers

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All pantries have one structural element in common: shelves.  And whether your pantry is a spacious walk-in or a single cupboard, there always seems to be a desire for more shelf space.  But adding more shelves is rarely a feasible option.

Luckily it’s easy to make the most of your existing shelf space with the help of pantry shelf organizers.  Here are three types of these super space maximizers:

  • Tiered organizers.  Otherwise known as stair-step risers, these three-level pantry shelf organizers are designed to keep items in the back of a cabinet visible and accessible.  One good example is the Expand-A-Shelf which features an expandable design that can fit within areas measuring anywhere from 14 inches to 27 inches wide.  It’s also available in a larger version, the Mega-Expand-A-Shelf.
  • Slide-outs. Also known as pull-outs or roll-outs, most slide-outs require installation. Two that don’t are the copper Pull Out Pantry Organizer and the plastic Pull Out Cabinet Baskets.
  • Can racks.  Made for storing canned foods and beverages, Canned Food Storage Rack Imagecan racks perform double duty as both storage solutions and dispensers. Can rack shelves are angled so the next can in line gently rolls forward once you remove a can in the front.  The three-shelf Canned Food Storage Rack even has adjustable dividers that keep rows separated so you can easily sort cans by size or type. (For more canned food storage suggestions, read my Can Storage post.)

 

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Answer: Organizer for gloves and mittens

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Q. My daughter and I have accumulated quite a collection of gloves and mittens.  Any suggestions for how we can store them in a way that makes them easy to see?

A.  An over-the-door shoe organizer with clear plastic pockets works well for storing gloves and mittens; each pocket can be used to store one pair.  A good example is the Clear Vinyl Over the Door Shoe Organizer–it has 26 clear pockets that make it easy to both see and access the contents.  It fits on doors measuring up to 1-3/8 inches thick.

This type of organizer actually works well for a wide variety of items, such as socks, toiletries, and crafts supplies.
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Answer: Collapsible shopping cart

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Q. I am looking for a a large shopping cart that folds up small to fit in my car.  I want to use it for hauling groceries from car to kitchen. What do you recommend?

A. I think the VersaCart is one of the best reasonably priced collapsible shopping carts available.  VersaCart Reusable Shop Cart ImageWhen folded up it measures just 8 inches wide by 43 inches high by 9 inches deep. It weighs only 9 pounds yet features a steel frame and 120-pound weight capacity, heavy duty nylon bag with a fitted lid and water-resistant coating, ergonomic handles, double wheels all around, and swiveling front wheels.

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Space-saving laundry baskets

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Traditional laundry baskets take up way too much room. Whether round, oval, square or rectangular, those hard plastic or wicker baskets are bulky space-wasters. (Especially since they’re empty half the time.)

When space is in short supply, collapsible laundry baskets are a better choice.  Here are some of my favorite space-saving laundry baskets:

  • The nylon mesh Pop Up Triple Laundry Sorter is more than just a collapsible laundry basket–it’s divided into three sections to help youPop Up Triple Laundry Sorter Image automatically sort your washables.  This clever laundry container features a flexible wire frame that makes it a snap to pop open and then, when empty, folds away quickly for compact storage.  The handles provide easy transport and also allow you to hang up the folded-up basket when it’s not in use.
  • The Pop and Fold Mesh Laundry Basket and the Pop Up Laundry Hamper are similar to the above but offer an open design (no dividers), with nylon mesh and flexible wire construction, and sturdy carrying straps.
  • A more heavy-duty option is the Rectangle Crunch Container–it’s made of canvas and features a PVC lining. Rectangle Crunch Container ImageThe lining is somewhat rigid to allow the tote to be crunched down, and to expand and stand up on its own. Simply open the tote and form it into whatever shape you need. Both the canvas exterior and the PVC lining can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth. Two comfortable handles provide easy toting.
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Crafty craft carts

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Craft carts are great storage solutions for more than arts and crafts supplies. With multiple drawers and compartments of various sizes, these handy carts can help you keep all sorts of supplies organized and easily accessible: office supplies, beauty supplies, gift wrapping supplies, pet supplies…

Here are three examples of well-designed craft carts:

  • The dual-sided Craft Storage Cart has three built-in drawers, a large open compartment and Craft Storage Cart Imagetwo open shelves on one side; on the back are four dowels, an open compartment and three smaller sections. The dowels can be used for storing ribbons, yarn, rolls of stickers and other spool-oriented supplies.
  • The slim 10 Drawer Storage Cart consists of 10 plastic drawers in five colors (two drawers of each color) on a steel frame.  Each drawer measures 12 inches wide by 15 inches deep and the five colors allow you to color-code stored items; the drawers can be easily rearranged into different color combinations.  Two of the casters lock securely in place to keep the cart stationary.
  • The translucent 12 Drawer Rolling Cart features four large drawers, eight shallow drawers and a spacious 12 Drawer Rolling Cart Imagetop shelf that can be used as a work surface.  The metal frame rises into handles on each side for easy transport. And since the drawers are semi-transparent, it’s easy to see what’s stored within them.

Other types of craft carts can be found here.

 

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Kitchen Drawer Organizers

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Are your kitchen drawers a disaster?  Any drawer has the potential to become a cluttered mess, but kitchen drawers are especially vulnerable since they’re used so often.

Deep drawers and shallow drawers present different challenges. Outfitting them with the right kitchen drawer organizers can make a wonderful difference.  Here are three of the most effective types of kitchen drawer organizers:

  • For deep drawers, the Umbra Kitchen Drawer Organizers set offers a flexible way to create and maintain order.  This is a simple pegboard system designed to keep food storage containers, cookwareUmbra Kitchen Drawer Organizers (Set of 2) Image and other bulky items in place. Two plastic pegboards are included in each set along with 16 pegs; one end of each board is extendable to fit larger drawer spaces (expanding from 17-3/4 to 21-1/2 inches in length).  The easily repositionable pegs lock into the pegboard to organize items of all shapes and sizes.
  • For shallower drawers dedicated to storing cooking utensils, the Silicone Drawer Organizer Set is ideal–it consists of a green silicone base mat (20 inches by 14 inches) that’s cuttable to fit any size drawer in your kitchen, along with 15 dividers (Divitz) which can be arranged on the base mat to keep utensils secure and prevent sliding. The silicone material is easy to clean and food-grade safe, and it’s also available in a neutral color.
  • For cutlery drawers, the Expand-A-Drawer Cutlery Organizer provides five sections for flatware and two large side compartments for kitchen utensils.Expand-A-Drawer Cutlery Organizer Image Constructed of smooth white plastic, the sides pull out to expand the tray from 9 inches to 16 inches wide. When the expandable sides are pulled out, two new compartments are created.  The adjustable compartments can be up to 3-1/2 inches wide, and the sections run the entire length of the organizer so they’ll fit long spoons and serving utensils.
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New shoe storage solutions

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A new year, a new resolution:  Get your shoes in order!

Choosing the right storage system for your shoes is half the battle.  I’ve written previously about the most space-efficient types of shoe organizers.  Now I want to share three of my favorite new shoe storage solutions:

  • The clear, stackable Easy Access Women’s Shoe Box fulfills the promise of its name–it features a front panel that lifts up and locks into place, making the contents extremely easy to access.  Womens Shoe Box - Easy Access ImageThis brilliant shoe storage system allows you to actually see all of your shoes at a glance and grab whichever pair you want, without ever needing to remove a box, no matter how high you stack them.  Each shoebox has ventilation holes to let shoes “breathe”. Designed to fit most women’s shoes up to a size 10 with a heel of 4 inches or under, it’s also available in a larger size that will fit up to a men’s size 12 shoe.
  • The canvas and chrome 10 Pocket Shoe Organizer holds up to 10 pairs of shoes in a freestanding unit that can be positioned either horizontally or vertically.  Attractive enough to be used in an entryway, this shoe organizer also works well inside a closet on the floor or on a shelf.
  • The Modular Shoe Storage Organizer is designed for use on wire racks or standard closet shelving.  Adjustable and removable panels allow the system to accommodate up to 22 pairs of shoes and boots (depending on shoe dimensions).  The compartments can be configured to hold all types of shoes, with T-connectors that slide up or down to adjust the size of the openings.

More types of shoe storage solutions can be found here.

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