Organizing with Key Hooks


Key hooks aren’t just for keys.  But they can be a key to keeping an organized home.

Whether used singly or grouped on a rack, key hooks are great–and economical–for easy-access storage of many types of grab-and-go items.  For example, near (or on) a door or entryway, it’s helpful to have hooks for frequently forgotten or misplaced things such as caps, sunglasses and dog leashes–and, of course, keys.

Here are five other efficient uses for key hooks:

  • Key hook racks are ideal for hanging multiple necklaces and bracelets inside a walk-in closet or on a bedroom wall.  Some racks even include extra features such as a shelf or pocket for holding non-hangables.
  • In the bathroom you can hang a hand mirror (the kind with a hole in the handle) so it’s always handy when you want to check the back or side of your hairstyle.
  • A key hook attached to the underside of a cabinet above a counter is a space-saving way to hang bananas.
  • Do you forget to bring your reusable bags when you go to the supermarket?  Put key hooks on the back of your exit door and hang up your reusable shopping bags there.  They’ll be hard to miss and easy to grab on the way out.
  • Small but powerful magnetic hooks let you hang items such as scissors, pot holders and aprons (or whatever you use most often) on the side or front of your fridge. They’re also useful on on any magnet-friendly surface (such as a metal file cabinet) for holding any small hangable items that are used regularly.

More ideas for organizing with key hooks can be found in my post “Hooked on kitchen organizing.”


Photo storage solutions


Digital photos may be great, but print photos aren’t disappearing anytime soon.  If you have drawers stuffed with disorganized photos and half-finished albums, you ‘re not alone. (There’s even an organization called the Association of Personal Photo Organizers for those seeking help with their photo clutter.)

Although there are various types of print photo storage systems (the shoebox style is perennially popular), few provide a way to easily view photos in addition to storing them.

Here are three different types of space-saving photo storage solutions that let you actually see the pictures you’re saving:

  • The Fotoview Photo Organizer Box allows you to view, store and organize up to 300 4-inch by 6-inch photo prints in six compartments made of clear plastic.  The compartments are attached to a base and angled to swing open and closed.  This photo organizer can also store various photo discs and CDs. Labels are included which make it easy to clearly mark each photo storage compartment, and the entire unit is made of acid-free plastic.
  • Picture Pockets are hanging photo holders that store and display up to 80 4-inch by 6-inch photos in 40 double-sided pockets (you can insert photos on both sides for twice the storage). This type of “hanging photo gallery” can be hung on a wall or even from the ceiling.
  • The clear Plastic Photo Storage Box comes with six individual removable cases that hold 100 4-inch by 6-inch photos (for a total of 600 photos); the cases all fit neatly inside the box. Constructed of transparent acid-free plastic, the cases provide a simple way to organize your photos by event, chronological order or any way you see fit. The box and each of the cases snap closed to ensure safe storage of your photographs.



Hearth Organizers


Santa Claus appreciates a tidy hearth.  But if you have a working fireplace, firewood clutter can be a problem.

Luckily logs and kindling needn’t be a jumble of lumber, thanks to the help of space-saving hearth organizers.  Here are three different types that will make Santa smile:

  • The hammered steel Hearth Essentials Wood Rack is thoughtfully designed with three open compartments.  The main Hearth Essentials Wood Rack Imagesection is large enough to contain a full night’s worth of firewood; a shelf on the bottom is ideal for neatly storing a stack of newspaper; and a side holder is perfectly sized for kindling and firestarters.
  • Also of hammered steel, both the Log Rack with Tools and the Compact Hammered Steel Log Rack with Tools provide two-section storage for firewood and kindling, and include three essential fireplace tools–a shovel, poker and small broom, which hang handily on side hooks. These log racks require only a minimal amount of space, with a footprint of just over one square foot.
  • The Firewood Carrier Bag and Rack is a two-piece firewood storage and collection system consisting of a roomy Firewood Carrier Bag and Rack Imagecotton-duck canvas bag and a sturdy hammered-steel rack. The vertical arch rack design provides maximum log storage while occupying minimal hearth space. The bag, which has a side pocket for storing kindling, can be removed from the rack to collect firewood and then hung back on the rack when filled.  Another helpful feature is that the bag keeps chips and dirt off your floor.

More hearth organizers–aka indoor firewood racks–can be found here.


Storage Step Stools


Storage step stools are handy double-duty storage solutions. Even though they only provide a relatively minimal amount of storage, they’re ideal for certain purposes.  For example, there are storage step stools designed for holding various tools and supplies, while others work well for toys and “kid stuff”.

Here are some examples of those two very different types of space-saving storage step stools:

  • Two-step.  Usually made of wood, two-step storage step stools are often (but not always) designed for children. The 15-inch-high wooden Step Stool is a good height for use next to a high bed; it features a concealed storage area under the bottom step which is handy for storing socks, slippers, knitting supplies or whatever you want to keep by the bed but not on your nightstand..  The 12-inch-high Kids Storage Step-up has a similar design but with storage hidden in the top step and side-slot handles for easy transport.
  • Single-step with lift-out tray.  Constructed of heavy-duty molded plastic, this type of storage step stool–really a cross between a toolbox and a step stool–usually features a hinged step-surface that flips up to reveal a removable divided tray atop a deep storage compartment.  A good example is the Stand ‘n Store Step Stool –with a weight capacity of 300 lbs, this double-duty dynamo is a favorite with gardeners since hand tools can be stored inside while the height (15 inches) is comfortable for sitting when working in the yard. The lift-out tray measures 14 inches wide by 8-1/4 inches deep by 1-5/8 inches high. A similar storage stool is the Step Stool Tool Box which differentiates itself by its tongue-and-groove design that keeps water out of the inner compartment; the toolbox is contractor-grade quality, with a strong latch on the front that keeps the lid secure.

Other types of step stools can be found here.


House plant storage systems


It’s easy to accumulate house plants. Finding room for them is another story.

Plants can take up a lot of space inside your home. But since certain indoor plants also function as air purifiers (according to the NASA Clean Air Study), an abundance of them may be justified.  Unless, of course, your plant collection has outgrown your space and morphed into plant clutter.

Having efficient house plant storage systems can keep your indoor garden looking tidy.  Here are four space-savers designed to help you make the most of your green thumb:

  • The Urbio Wall Planter is a magnetic container that attaches to any magnet-friendly surface, such as the side of your refrigerator, or to a magnetic wall board.  It can hold up to five pounds of anything (mail, vitamin bottles, office supplies, toiletries) but it works well as a small plant holder.
  • The Corner Folding Bakers Rack utilizes vertical corner space, with four ventilated metal shelves set in a wrought iron frame that can be folded away when not in use.
  • The Indoor Plant Pole is a spring-loaded metal tension rod that can be adjusted to fit floor-to-ceiling spaces of 7 feet to 8-1/2 feet, with three adjustable arms for hanging up to three plants at a time; each arm can support a 5-pound plant. It’s especially handy for when you need to temporarily bring outdoor plants indoors to protect them from harsh weather.
  • The metal 3-Tier Plant Stand features three shelves that fold down individually for space-saving when not in use. The tops of the shelves are made from Travertine stone; the frame legs are flared outwards for stability. The Metal Plant Stand, with slate shelves, has similar features. Both can be used outdoors as well as indoors.

More types of house plant storage stands can be found here.


Battery Organizers


National Fire Prevention Week is coming up–time to clean out that junk drawer and organize your batteries!  Why single out batteries?   Because batteries stored in drawers surrounded by metal objects (including other batteries) and flammable items can be hazardous:  Battery posts that come into contact with metal are capable of inducing enough heat to spark a battery fire.

So now you know why batteries shouldn’t be stored loose in a cluttered drawer. (There are those who also believe batteries last longer when stored in the freezer or refrigerator, but Everyday Einstein explains why that’s a fallacy.)

Luckily, there are battery organizers that make it easy to store batteries safely and accessibly.  Some are designed to hang inside a cabinet door or on a wall; others are made to fit inside a drawer; and some even include a battery tester.  There are even battery organizers that have all the above attributes.  And there are portable battery caddies too.  Here’s a sampling of the different types of battery organizers:

  • The Battery Storage Rack (which includes a removable battery tester) can either be stored in a drawer or mounted using the included screws and wall anchors.  It has compartments forBattery Storage Rack Image four 9-Volt batteries, six D batteries, eight C batteries, 39 AA batteries 25 AAA batteries and five button batteries.
  • The portable Storacell Original Battery Caddy is a compact, easy to access battery dispenser and organizer. It holds 12 AA’s, four AAA’s, two C’s and one 9-Volt battery. Originally designed for pilots, it allows you to dispense batteries with one hand for safety and convenience.  It also provides terminal protection at both ends regardless of how the battery is inserted, and a built-in hook for hanging.
  • The drawer-oriented Battery Storage Organizer is also portable, thanks to attached snap-close lid.  Constructed from clear polypropylene plastic, it features four compartments sized for 12 AAA batteries, 12 AA batteries, six C batteries, and four D batteries.

There are also similar individual battery storage boxes made for specific sizes of batteries.

More battery organizers can be found here.


Pegboard Storage Systems


pegboard storagePegboard storage systems are among the most versatile types of organizing solutions. And they’re not just for tools and garages–they’re also effective in bathroom cabinets,  laundry rooms, closets, home offices and kitchens.  (In fact, one of the most famous pegboard storage systems was in Julia Child’s kitchen–it’s preserved in the Smithsonian!)

Nowadays, the best pegboard organizers aren’t actually made of pegboard since metal (heavy gauge steel) has proven to be a better material.  Thanks to metal pegboard’s strength and durability, there are many pegboard possibilities–the basic type with hooks has evolved to accommodate all types of holders, including baskets, bins, shelves, clips and pockets.

Here are several different kinds of effective pegboard storage systems:

  • The Pegboard Basket and Hook Station is especially useful for laundry room, home office and crafts organizing–it’s a spacious wire basket with eight large hooks underneath; each hook is capped with silicone for added protection. It has attached pegboard hooks along with mounting hardware.
  • Wall Control Pegboards come in a wide variety of styles (even pegboard jewelry organizers) and in eight colors; the pegboards feature slots (for holding brackets) as well as hook holes.
  • The modular metal Garage Wall Storage System and Tool Organizer is a hybrid–it’s a pegboard system attached to a frame that also features shelving, wire baskets, hooks and bins. It includes an array of interchangeable and expandable components made from heavy-gauge epoxy-coated steel.  The mounting hardware provides a variety of hanging storage options for saws, hammers, screwdrivers, pruners and other household and gardening tools.

For more pegboard organizing ideas, check out the Family Handyman’s Organize Anything With Pegboard.


Answer: Vertical storage


Q. My husband had a stroke that affected his swallow mechanism, so it takes him a long time to eat and therefore a meal can take two hours. Because he is at the table so long, a lot of items he needs stay on the table for a long time.  I have tried baskets and trays, but the result is the same – a spread out mess on the table.  The table is next to a wall, so I know there must be some way to use that wall for vertical storage, but I don’t have time to shop.  Your suggestions will be much appreciated.

A. To create vertical storage on your dining table, I recommend a stand-alone, three-level tiered shelf organizer, designed to sit on a flat surface so you don’t need to attach it to the wall.  Also known as stair-step risers, they’re available in a variety of sizes and styles.

You might also consider using a three-tiered rolling cart next to or under the table that can be easily rolled away after mealtime.


Junk drawer organizers


Ah, the classic junk drawer.  Filled with items that you just know if you ever discard them, you’ll finally need them.  A jumble of seemingly useless yet occasionally useful odds and ends.

An organized junk drawer may sound like an oxymoron–but think about it.   How handy would it be if you could quickly find whatever you needed, instead of wasting time rummaging around and getting sidetracked by things you forgot you had?

Junk drawer organizers are available in a variety of configurations.  The best ones offer some type of flexibility.  Here are five effective types of junk drawer organizers:

  • Double-decker. The Junk Drawer Organizer consists of two trays: a sliding top tray that’s about half the size of the bottom tray.  Together they comprise 22 individual compartmentsJunk Drawer Organizer Image of various sizes. Decals are included that can be used to designate specific sections for a variety of items such as pens and pencils, notes, scissors, stamps, and screwdrivers.  The trays can also be used side by side for more drawer coverage.
  • Modular. Interlocking Plastic Bins are useful for creating a completely customized drawer organizer. The bins come in various sizes and feature an interlocking lip so they can be easily joined together.
  • Sliding. The Acrylic Expandable Drawer Organizer is a clear tray with multiple compartments, designed to slide on drawer sides to allow quick access to items in the drawer space below.  The tray features square rails to fit on drawer side frames measuring one-half-inch thick, and expands to fit in drawer spaces measuring 11 to 18-1/2 inches wide.  The clear acrylic lets you see what’s in the drawer beneath the tray.
  • Adjustable. The Bamboo Adjustable Drawer Organizer includes three removable dividers that can create anywhere from six to 13 storage compartments.
  • Dividers. The Expandable and Adjustable Kitchen Drawer Dividers kit components includeExpandable and Adjustable Drawer Dividers Kit Image a pair of spring-loaded dividers that fit in drawers measuring 17-1/2 inches to 21 inches long, plus three additional slide-in dividers that provide for greater custom organization.

For more types of drawer organizers that can help you get your junk drawer in order, read my earlier post on makeup drawer organizers.



Answer: Organizer for vitamins


Q. My husband takes about 20 different vitamins and supplements and the bottles are always cluttering up our kitchen counter.  He also sometimes has difficulty opening and closing the bottles. So I’ve been trying to find an organizer-dispenser that can accommodate up to 20 separate batches of large tablets and capsules. But all the ones I’ve seen are either made for small pills or they don’t have enough compartments.  Do you have any suggestions?

A. I think the 20-drawer Small Parts Storage Cabinet could work well as a space-saving dispenser and organizer for vitamins.  Each clear drawer can be pulled out completely for easy access when filling, and you can put adhesive labels on the drawer handles for identification.  (If you use Erasable Labels, you’ll be able to make changes easily when needed.) Small Parts Storage Cabinet Image

The only drawback is that this is not a totally air-tight container; therefore you might want to store it inside a cupboard, on the most accessible shelf.

More ideas for vitamin and pill organizers can be found here.