Table leaf storage

Setting a beautiful table requires more than fancy tableware when you’re entertaining for Thanksgiving or any large gathering. The humble table leaf only gets dragged out when company comes, usually staying tucked out of sight the rest of the year.

There seems to be no consensus on the best way to store table leaves. Some furniture experts recommend keeping them upright and straight — not leaning — to minimize warping; others insist that only horizontal storage will prevent warping.

The only thing everyone agrees on is that you should try to keep table leaves as close as possible to the table, and store them in a closet rather than in a garage or other potentially damp storage area so that they will be adjusting to the same relative humidity as the table.Table Leaf Storage Bag - 30 x 52 Inch Image

Whether you choose to store your leaves vertically or horizontally, a table leaf protector is a wise and inexpensive investment to guard against scratches, dirt and dampness.

Table leaf storage bags are usually made of heavy flannel or felt material to protect the wood from scratches, but some are constructed of vinyl for protection against moisture.

Underbed Storage Saviors

The ceaseless search for more storage has brought to light the potential of the often under-utilized underbed area. Long considered an awkward space best suited for burying bags of clutter during the ritual “company’s coming” cleanup frenzy, the bed’s basement is now perceived as an acceptable place for storing all types of foldable attire from sweaters to swimsuits, as well as shoes and other accessories.

To organize this formerly chaotic frontier, there are now many types of under bed storage saviors: plastic drawers, wheeled boxes, zippered containers and shoe racks–all sized to fit underneath most beds.

For bed frames that aren’t quite high enough to accommodate underbed containers, there is a simple and inexpensive solution: bed risers, also called bed Platform Storage Bed - King Sized Imageelevators, which give beds a 6-inch lift.

Another option requires more of an investment: the storage bed, a type of platform bed with built-in drawers–and no empty spaces for dust bunnies to breed!

Cookware Storage Solutions

With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, now is a good time to get your kitchen in order.

Ideally, all of your cooking implements — pots, pans, utensils, small appliances — should be located where you can access them easily when you need them, yet out of the way when you don’t. Easier said than done, but not impossible if you utilize a few specialized storage solutions:

Classic Wall-Mounted Pot Rack Image

• For keeping pots, skillets and other types of utensils accessible without using counter or cabinet space, hanging pot racks are great space-savers. They come in a seemingly infinite number of styles — some feature a shelf or include lights. If your wall space is limited, the ceiling-mounted variety is ideal.

• If your pot lids have a tendency to go AWOL, the Roll-out Lid Organizer can help keep them at your fingertips. The slide-out rack holds up to 18 lids (it can also hold cutting boards and baking trays) and prevents them from getting lost at the back of a cabinet.

Note: Roll-out organizers require installation.  Chrome Roll-Out Lid Organizer Image

• An appliance garage is a countertop device featuring a tambour (roll-down) door designed for concealing bulky, frequently used items that tend to live on kitchen counters (e.g., blender, mixer, slow-cooker). Because it converts the space between wall cabinets and base cabinets into storage compartments, this type of unit also requires installation.

Q. Organizing a collection

Q. My son has an extensive rock collection. He has large rocks as large as the size of your head to very small rocks. Right now he has all of these rocks scattered on his desk in his room. Do you have any suggestions for organizers or a way for him to organize these rocks so they are no longer cluttering his desk?

A.  I would imagine that your son enjoys looking at his rock collection, so it’s important to store the rocks in a way that will make it easy for him to see them.  My recommendations are:9 Compartment Storage Cubby Image

1) To display the larger rocks, utilize wooden shelving or bookcases with adjustable shelves; or a cubby unit.


Custom Divided Storage Container Image


2) For smaller rocks, use clear plastic multi-compartment containers with adjustable dividers.




Answer: Roll-out cabinet organizer

Q: ​Do you have roll out organizer racks for vanity cabinets 21 inches deep and 18 inches wide?

A. You’re in luck–there is a roll-out cabinet organizer that has dimensions very close to what you asked for:  it’s 21 inches deep and 17-inches wide.

Other 21-inch deep roll-out organizers are narrower, such as this two-tiered version.

Deep Pull-Out Under Sink Organizer - Chrome Image

Also known as pull-out baskets, this type of cabinet organizer transforms back-of-cabinet “black holes” into accessible storage space.

Halloween clutter solutions

For some, the scariest part of Halloween happens after the trick-or-treating is over–what
to do with the costumes and decorations?!  Here are a few ideas for coping with Halloween clutter:

  • If the costumes aren’t likely to be worn again, donate them to Goodwill or a similar charity.  But if you think they’ll be used for other events or future Halloweens, first make sure they’re clean (launder or dry clean them if necessary) and then store them in a way that will keep them safe from moisture and pests. Rolling Wardrobe Closet and Canvas Cover ImageIris Clear Underbed Storage Container Image
  • Gowns and other fabric costumes can be hung with out-of-season clothes; if you have room, a rolling wardrobe is ideal for this purpose.


Garage organizing tips

A recent UCLA study found that only 25 percent of garages could be used to store cars because they were so packed with stuff.  This is because the garage tends to become a dumping ground for all the things we’re not quite sure what to do with: boxes of old records (both vinyl and paper); infomercial impulse-inspired exercise equipment; small appliances that have outlived their usefulness yet are somehow “too good to get rid of”; and the inevitable unopened cartons of belongings from the last move.

Then there are all those items that actually belong in the garage — if you can find them: tools, gardening supplies, bicycles, camping gear and sporting goods…and possibly even a car.

If your garage is overdue for an overhaul, here’s a step-by-step plan to help you get the job done.  Compact 12 Tote Storage Box Organizer by Albern Enterprises, Llc Image

1. Focus. Think about how you currently use your garage versus how you’d prefer to be using it. For example, maybe you currently use it for “storage” (a euphemism for “dump”) but you’d like to be able to do woodworking or crafts projects there — or perhaps even park a vehicle inside. Decide how you want to use the space, and then sketch out a rough plan.

2. Inventory. Make a list of the general categories of stuff currently cluttering your garage. Then go back through the list and put a check-mark by the categories you plan on keeping in your newly organized space, and a big X next to the ones you plan to eliminate. Keep in mind that “Miscellaneous” is not an effective category. If you can’t pinpoint an item’s purpose or place, get rid of it.

3. Deadline. Set a deadline for getting the job done and then block out time in your calendar for your garage project. Tip: If you tie your deadline to an event such as a neighborhood yard sale, you’ll have a better shot at achieving your goal.

4. Prepare. Assemble any supplies you might need to make the decluttering go smoothly, such as protective gloves, storage containers, boxes, marking pens, labels, trash bins and, if necessary, a Dumpster. (A bulldozer is optional.)  If you think you might need any specialized garage organizers, it’s wise to do some research beforehand.

5. Dig In. Allocate two holding areas (outside the garage, if necessary) designated for “keep” and “don’t keep” items. (Suggestion: The area allocated for “don’t keep” should be at least twice as large as the “keep” area.) Your objective is to fill up the “don’t-keep” section. You may want to divide up this section with three or more containers labeled “trash,” “donate,” “sell,” or any other relevant subcategories. But keep it as simple as possible — creating too many options is counterproductive.

Garbage Can Cart Image
Finally, remember this classic decluttering rule:  Keep the best and let go of the rest.

Hooked on kitchen organizing

Hooks are among my favorite kitchen organizing devices.  They save drawer space and help counters stay clear while keeping frequently used items handy.  And they’re incredibly inexpensive.  Here are a few examples of how to use them:

  • Scissors, pot holders and aprons can be hung on the side of your fridge with magnetic hooksMini Magnetic Storage Hooks - Stainless Steel (Set of 4) Image
  • A small hook installed on the underside of a cabinet above a counter will give you an efficient way to hang bananas, so you won’t need a counter-space-wasting “banana tree” or hammock-style ripener.
  • Use hooks on the inside of cabinet doors for hanging large utensils (that’s why many of them have a hole in the handle) or lightweight cutting boards.
  • Cups and mugs can be hung on small hooks attached to the underside of shelves inside a cupboard.

If you’re not sure where would be the best place to put up non-magnetic hooks, you can experiment by using removable 3M Command Strip Hooks which won’t damage most surfaces.  They come in a variety of sizes and are designed to stay put until you decide to remove them.

Outdoor storage that hides in plain sight

Should you get a storage shed – or should you work on shedding your excess clutter?7.5'H x 10'D Backyard Garden Storage Building

In most cases, you’re probably better off getting rid of stuff than stuffing it in its own littlehouse.  However, a shed is an ideal solution for certain situations. If you want easy access to gardening tools and supplies, sports equipment, building materials or other outdoor-related items, a shed may be beneficial.

But if you just have too much “miscellaneous”, it’s better to shed the stuff so you don’t stuff the shed.

Deck boxes are an efficient and economical alternative to sheds–they can be used for stowing all types of outdoor gear such as patio furniture covers and cushions, pool supplies, toys and sporting goods.

Pool Side Deck Box with Wheels ImageThey come in a range of styles and materials and also do double-duty as seating options, ranging in size from ottomans to chairs to benches. For easy portability, choose a rolling deck box.




Reorganize your medicine cabinet

Look inside most medicine cabinets and you’ll find a whole lot more than medicine crammed onto those skinny little shelves: grooming tools and supplies, cosmetics, dental-care items, first aid materials, contact lens solution, sunscreen…

Acrylic Vanity Organizer - Medium ImageIf your medicine cabinet is a mess, maybe it’s time to declutter and reorganize. Start by eliminating outdated medications and ineffective products. Be ruthless when clearing out space-hogging beauty treatments and toiletries: Jettison bottles of dried-up lotions, toss out ancient nail polish and get rid of old “but-I-may-use-it-someday” items.

Next, focus on preventing future medicine cabinet clutter. You can keep those shallow shelves chaos-free with the help of special organizers that provide limited yet easily accessible storage. These narrow, transparent containers allow you to cluster products often used in tandem, such as skin care (cleanser/moisturizer/toner), shaving supplies (razor/shaving cream/after-shave) and dental care (toothpaste/mouthwash/floss).

Here are my favorite medicine cabinet organizers–all sized at about 3 inches deep or less, they can also be used on counter tops:Pill Organizer - Acrylic Image

  • The 12-compartment Pill Organizer is specifically designed to keep standard-size prescription and small over-the-counter medication bottles organized and easy to access; it also works for organizing nail polish and other similar size bottles.
  • InterDesign’s Vanity Organizer with Drawer features a
    handy drawer plus five compartments of various sizes to accommodate a wide variety of toiletries from taller narrow products (electric toothbrushes, razors,
    mascara) to wider items such as deodorant and toothpaste, while the clear drawer is ideal for storing sensitive items like contact lenses.
  • MagnaPod Magnetic Cosmetic Organizers are 1-inch-deep clear plastic containers that magnetically adhere to the inside of  steel-framed medicine cabinet doors, providing additional space to organize make-up. There is also a MagnaPod Toothbrush Holder.