Answer: Recycling system


Q. I am looking for a space-efficient recycling system for collecting batteries, cell phones and ink cartridges at our “Green” school. I need 3 containers in all, that won’t take up much room in our school hallway & will encourage parents to drop their items in easily so I can periodically collect the batches to send off to the recycling plant. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

A. I think the Stackable Recycle Bins could work for your school hallway–they come in a set of three, each a different color (green, yellow and blue) so you can easily color-code your recyclables. The bins are designed to stack with or without the lid to save space, and each has a carrying handle and a front flap that can stay open or be left closed.   Stackable Recycle Bins (Set of 3) Image

Another good recycling system (but pricier) is the Stainless Steel Three-Compartment Step Recycle Center, which features three step-open compartments with removable bins for storing and organizing recyclables.


Room dividers with storage


Room dividers usually serve three main purposes: to divide a space, create privacy and/or hide an unsightly area (such as a cluttered desk or a water heater).

But some room dividers do even more–they also offer storage, via shelves or pockets, making them useful for creating a home office, a study space or even a mini crafts room.  And of course they’re also ideal for organizing dorm rooms and other shared spaces.

Here are three different kinds of room dividers with storage:

  • The Walnut Room Divider with Book Shelves features four wooden shelves in a four-panel folding wood frame.  4-Panel Book Shelves Walnut Finish Room Divider by O.R.E. ImageThe shelves simply slide into the panels to create space for books or whatever else you want to store and keep handy. Depending on how you configure the panels, the shelves can be threaded through so that there is shelving on both sides or on just one side. You can also use this room divider without the shelves.
  • The 4-Panel Folding Screen with 2 Display Shelves is a more classic style of room divider but with shelving on both sides.
  • The 3-Panel Fabric Room Divider with Pocket Holders includes 24 fabric pockets (all on one side) attached to cotton canvas suspended on three wood rods at the top, middle and bottom of each panel.  The rods are removable and the canvas is washable.  The pockets are sized well for everything from office supplies to accessories (each is approximately 7 3/4″ tall x 5 3/4″ wide), and they can be labeled, decorated or left unadorned.
    More varieties of room dividers can be found here.

Kitchen counter space maximizers


Seems like there’s never enough kitchen counter space. Even kitchens that aren’t small have a tendency to run out of surfaces that are the right height for working on multiple dishes.  This can lead to dangerously crowded counters–and the frustration of not being able to find an ingredient that you saw just a moment ago (before you put something else in front of or on top of it).

Luckily there are several simple solutions for expanding your food prep surfaces. Here are three types of efficient kitchen counter space maximizers that can help you counter chaos:

  • An Instant Counter gives you an attractive way to transform your stove top or kitchen sink into a temporary food prep or storage surface. Instant Counter - Gerbera Daisy Image Constructed of tempered glass with silicone “feet”, the counter is 21.5 inches wide by 11.88 inches deep, and adds 2 inches of height to any surface, making it a comfortable level for doing prep work. Instant Counters are available in several decorative styles.
  • Stove burner covers are another type of product designed to let you utilize your stove top as counter space. Placed over burners that aren’t being used, these metal covers (round or square) also help protect the burners from crumbs and splatters.
  • The Stainless Extendable Over-Sink Dish Rack is a counter space-saver that allows you to let dishes Stainless Extendable Over-Sink Dish Rack Imageand glassware drip dry right over the sink, thereby eliminating the need for a space-hogging dish drainer.  It doesn’t accommodate silverware, but if you require one that does, there’s the clever Collapsible Over The Sink Dish Drainer: it includes a removable holder for utensils, yet uses a third less storage space than other dish racks (it folds flat to one-third its in-use size).


Linen closet organizing tips


Keeping bedding, towels and tablecloths organized is a challenge even if you have a large linen closet.  One of the most common linen closet problems is too-deep shelf space that makes it awkward to access items stored in back.

An easy way to unstuff those shelves is to hang linens instead of, or in addition to, stacking them.  Using towel racks on the inside of your linen closet door, you can hang bed sheets, over-size bath sheets, tablecloths and other long linens. You can also hang linens on hangers in any closet that has a rod.

Here are three solutions for hanging linens to help keep your linen closet organized:

Other types of Hinge-It racks are also available.


Beer Storage Solutions


“Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall” may sound like efficient beer storage, but according to beer experts, beer should be stored upright in a cool, dark place.  This usually means the refrigerator–a place where there’s never enough room for all the stuff you need to keep cool.

So with beer storage space at a premium, you’ve got to think outside the box.  Here are a few noteworthy examples of beer storage solutions:

  • The Acrylic Refrigerator Bin by Fridge Binz is a clear, stackableAcrylic Refrigerator Bin Image container sized perfectly for storing beer bottles and cans upright.   A center divider makes it simple to keep items organized, and the molded handle lets you easily pull the bin out.  If you just want to be able to grab a single row of beer cans or bottles, the narrow Refrigerator Storage Bin and the Stacking Refrigerator Bin are both good options.
  • The BottleLoft is designed to double your bottled beer storage by allowing you to magnetically suspend bottles from your fridge’s ceiling. The system consists of two plastic strips, each containing three high-strength magnets that are strong enough to hold over three times the weight of a typical 12-oz bottle by its cap alone. The two strips, which hold a total of six bottles, attach to your refrigerator ceiling with special heavy-duty peel-and-stick 3M adhesive strips made for use in lower temperatures.
  • For the serious beer collector, the Glass Door Beverage Refrigerator can hold up to 135 Glass Door Beverage Refrigerator Imagetwelve-ounce bottles on three adjustable wire racks and a bottom shelf.  Designed to fit underneath a kitchen counter (it’s about the size of a dishwasher), this bev-fridge features a digital display panel with push buttons for controlling the internal temperature.  The clear glass door plus an interior light allow you to gaze adoringly upon your beer collection–and you can even lock the door to prevent unwanted entry.




Answer: Storing fabrics


Q. I am needing to transfer and store various fabrics: extra shower curtains for vacation rentals, bedspreads I alternate seasonally on our guest houses, and fabric for planned projects, curtains changed out, etc. I have them in overly large bins that are impractical, large, heavy to move or stack or store anywhere. They are now cluttering up my bedroom edges. I have a closet space I think might hold some of this after I purge some more. It stands 68-70 inches tall (space inside is higher due to framing) 18 inches wide, 20 inches deep.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

A. I recommend storing all of these items by hanging them–folded carefully–on heavy-duty open-ended hangers. Comforter and Blanket Hanger ImageThe Comforter and Blanket Hanger (pictured) is a good example.  This type of storage solution also works well for storing tablecloths and quilts.

For additional hanging space, you can install towel bars on the inside of the closet door, or use an over-the-door towel rack which requires no installation.


Cabinet door organizers


Cabinet door organizers make it extremely easy to access frequently used items. These “doorganizers” turn kitchen, bathroom and office cabinet doors into space-saving storage solutions.

Over-the-door cabinet organizers are probably the most popular type, but there are also magnetic and door-mounted styles worth considering.  Here are three different kinds of cabinet door organizers that have multiple uses:

  • Over-door towel racks with baskets perform double duty by utilizing both sides of a cabinet door.  The outside section is a towel bar–handy for keeping a dish towel or hand towel at your fingertips; the other Towel Rack with Basket Imageside is a basket where you can store everyday supplies. Items up to 10.25 inches high, such as bottles of mouthwash or cans of shaving cream, will fit in the Towel Rack With Basket (pictured); smaller supplies, such as sponges and scrubbers (up to 5 inches tall), can be stored in the Over Door Towel Rack with Basket.  (If you just want a cabinet door towel holder without storage, there are many different types to choose from here.  Or if you want only an over-door storage basket without a towel bar, those are readily available too.)
  • Magnapods are 1-inch-deep clear plastic containers that magnetically adhere to the inside of steel-framed cabinet doors. Ideal for medicine cabinets, they’re also useful for small office supplies when attached inside or outside metal office cabinet doors, drawers or file cabinets.
  • Wall-mounted spice racks can be mounted inside a cabinet or a cupboard door, and their storage Three-Tier Mounted Spice Rack - Chrome Imageuses aren’t limited to spice jars–they can also hold items such as nail polish bottles, vitamin and pill bottles, and small arts and crafts supplies.The steel wire Three Tier Spice Rack features three shelves, spaced 6 inches apart; as with most wall-mounted spice racks, the top shelf is open allowing for containers of different heights.

Produce Storage Solutions


Storing fruits and vegetables isn’t rocket science.  But keeping those fruits and veggies from spoiling is another story. Who hasn’t encountered forgotten fruit or “mystery vegetables” that have morphed into alien life forms?

Of course, different types of produce require different types of storage. While some fruits and vegetables need refrigeration, others should be kept at room temperature. And certain types of produce should never be stored together.  (Yes, it gets complicated.)

This infographic offers specifics for keeping produce fresher longer.  For a quicker fix, here are three effective produce storage solutions that can help you get your unruly fruits and veggies under control:

  • The Hanging Fruit Baskets - Twist ImageThree-Tier Hanging Fruit Basket is a classic–it takes up no counter space, provides plenty of storage, and the open wire design allows good air circulation so fruit ripens evenly.  (Also, for fruit fanatics it’s ideal since the three separate baskets let you easily organize and display your fruit collection.)  This type of fruit storage solution is available in a variety of styles.
  • The OXO Produce Keeper (available in three sizes) is a clear container with an elevated ventilated basket inside that can be removed and used as a colander to rinse off vegetables and fruits. The lid features an air vent that can be adjusted to accommodate different types of produce. Also included is a replaceable carbon filter that absorbs ethylene gas, to prolong the life of stored produce.
  • The Vegetable Storage Container is a ventilated BPA-free clear plastic bin with two removable dividers to keep your produce separated.  It’s stackable to maximize fridge space, and also has an ergonomically designed handle for easy grabbing.  A similar option with different dimensions: the Divided Kitchen Storage Basket.

You can find more types of produce storage solutions here.


Purse Organizer Inserts


Is your purse like a black hole that constantly swallows up your wallet, keys, phone, glasses, pens, coupons or whatever else you’re frantically looking for?   An organized purse may seem unattainable, but there’s hope.

Purse organizer inserts not only make sure your purse stays organized, they also make it easy to switch purses. These handy handbag organizers feature interior and exterior compartments sized to neatly hold just about everything you like to carry in your purse. Here are three examples of purse organizer inserts that can create and maintain order inside even the most chaotic purses:

  • Pouchee Purse Organizers feature nine exterior pockets (including one that’s perfect Pouchee Purse Organizer - Pink Cotton Imagefor holding pens), two metal ring handles at the top, and a magnetic snap closure.  The interior has three main divided sections, one zipper pocket inside (ideal for carrying cash), two small interior side pockets and a wide slip pocket sized for receipts or coupons. The Pouchee is available in several styles and a range of colors and materials.
  • Chameleon Handbag Inserts come in six sizes and both a structured and unstructured version, all with 16 pockets; one of the designs even has a removable pocket.
  • The RFID Blocking Purse Organizer provides plenty of pockets inside and out, plus protection from tech-savvy identity thieves with long-distance RFID readers. It features RFID blocking technology that prevents unauthorized access to credit card numbers and other personal information.  The four inside pockets are elasticized at the top; there’s also a large central interior pocket, three open outside pockets and a long zippered outside pocket.

For other purse organization ideas, check out my purse organizing tips and purse storage solutions.


Answer: Storing framed photos & artwork


Q. I’m trying to organize an unearthly amount in a basement. We live in a very small home. We are using a basement bedroom for storage. In our previous home I had a very large photo collage wall full of black-framed family adventures. I don’t have plans to put it back up….yet. I also have large frames of artwork that we rotate throughout the house. I have a 5 foot square area all taken up with these frames and stored art. I have no idea how to manage it. Ideas?

A. Your framed photos can be stored in a large multi-drawer chest such as the Iris Wide Three-Drawer Storage Chest.  Be sure to layer them with a piece of cardboard between each framed piece to prevent scratches, and label the drawers to make it easy to identify which photos are inside.Iris Wide Three-Drawer Storage Chest - Black Image

For storage of the large framed artworks, simply stand them upright in a cardboard carton; to protect the frames, sandwich them between cardboard or poster boards that are slightly higher than the frames so you can label them (like file dividers) for easy identification.