Our best original idea

lilydillyJune 13, 2008

This is kind of the opposite to Talley-Sue's thread about ideas we've adapted from other people, but I did get the idea from her thread LOL.

I thought it might be fun to share our one most original idea, one thing we thought up all by ourselves. One of those flashes of inspiration that make us feel "Wow, where did THAT come from?"

We'll probably find that they're not such original ideas after all, because we are all the same species, so someone else, somewhere, probably thought of it too, but it'll be fun to share them, and fun to know if someone else does it too.

Here's mine:

I really love sea shells, but didn't want them as ornamental knick knacks lying around the house.

We also love our cups of tea made in a pot with tea leaves, and when I was a kid I loved my Mum's old tea scoop. (She still uses it). I needed a scoop for my tea canister, and for the salt crock that I keep near the stove. I'd been looking on Ebay to find an old scoop I loved, but they were all just boring ordinary things.

Meanwhile I was using plastic spoons with the handles broken off, so they'd fit in the tea and salt crocks.

Then one day I picked up two pretty shells on the beach and it clicked! They were those deep scooped pink edged, fluted shells, absolutely the perfect size, depth and shape for salt and tea scoops.

Every single time I get salt or tea out now, I get a little thrill.

The first time my DIL used it, she actually squealed out loud. We thought she'd burnt herself at the stove, but it was just that she was squealing with delight, when she realised my scoop was a real sea shell LOL.

I'd love to hear other people's little or big WOW ideas.

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Well, mine was being the first on the Kitchen forum to tuck an outlet behind a cabinet drawer box so I could charge my mobile phones inside a drawer instead of having them on the counter. After that I went a little crazy and also used one for my Vacuum Sealer. In order to get that off the counter, I designed a flip-down door front (like you'd find for a computer keyboard) so I could have a little extra space for sealing the bag. It works like a charm (or make that a seashell scoop!) I remember seeing someone proudly demonstrate my idea on HGTV (that they'd gotten from their kitchen designer who frequented the Kitchen forum) using the same description I had when I first posted about it, when they showed off their ''Cellphone, sunglasses and key drawer''.

When I added a picture rail around the perimeter of my kitchen, I wanted the benefit of adding light (up) towards the transom windows which I'd be able to see inside/outside. I made the rail deep enough to drop rope lighting behind, and it's a feature in my kitchen (and now bathroom) that I really love. In the bathroom, the light shines up on a reproduction Arts & Crafts frieze that reminds me of a lazy mid-western river. As a night-light, it's highly functional and looks like it has a reason to be there.

Before all that, it was actually taking the space under my front loading washer/dryer and turning a manufacturers add-on of (what was then) shallow drawers, to lift the height of the units slightly, making them easier to access. Instead, I made the drawers deep enough to sort/store my dirty laundry into three bins. Add three more baskets to the top of the units, and I can automatically sort my clothes by putting them in their respective bins. It sure made my life easier! The idea was born when I realized I literally did not have space anywhere else to keep my dirty laundry, yet found it easy to walk it to where the laundry chute used to be. The problem for me at that time wasn't the laundry chute, it was the mountain of dirty clothes at the bottom of it that I had to go through and sort. Talk about your light bulb moment!

Then there's the trash/recycling doors that go directly to the bins in the garage. That certainly cut down on taking out the trash!

Oh! I apologize...Did you only want one?! These are all ideas that had their origins elsewhere, even though I took them to another level. People were putting outlets in appliance garages, adding under-cabinet lighting to their kitchens, and there were shallow drawer pedestals available for washers/dryers. Did I steal the idea? Of course, with a little revision and then made it work for me!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 8:22PM
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We have big collection of pill bottles in the cabinet by the sink. The child-proof tops were making them top heavy (plus, they'd get pushed together by their bottoms, but the wider tops then made them tip slightly, and then they'd fall over).

i told DH we should stand them on their lids, so they'll be more stable. Bingo!

And, one of my mantras has become "label the part you see." I keep my spices in a box, which means you can't read the labels on the front, so I write it on the sides of the lid (bcs I take them out while looking at the sides, not the top).

And I wrote on the edges of DD's marble notebooks, bcs that's the only part she can see when they're in her bookbag. (I wish I could label the sides of DS's textbooks, for the same reason, but they won't let me)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 11:08PM
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In 1994, when we remodeled out kitchen, we put the phone jack/outlet INSIDE a cabinet, along with the answering machine/cordless phone.

Convenient but hidden!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 11:11PM
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I'm crazy about the idea of the outlets behind the drawers!

I took an old seventies plastic spice rack (the one that looks like a grid of diamond-shaped compartments, hangs on the wall, and holds the simple glass cylinder jars with white tops lying on their sides) and set it on its back in a narrow deep drawer, and stood all my short handled tools in it...the vegetable peeler, the lemon zester, the nutmeg grater, the measuring spoons, and so on...no more rustling around in the drawer, and everything is visible and one grab away.

Then when we redid the kitchen, I designed narrow drawers in the lower cabinets beside the stove that held things standing up...two fairly shallow ones on one side for all the spice jars and tins, and one deeper one below it with dividers for pot lids...and on the other side, one deeper one with a single divider running front to back to hold all the oils, vinegars, and sauces I use frequently, and one below it for the quarter-size baking pans and cookie sheets and the 6-cup muffin tin.
I made a list of all my spices, printed it out on sticky label paper, cut them out, and stuck them on the tops of the lids. Sounds tedious, but I only had to do it once, since I use glass jars and buy most things in bulk. For things I buy in grocery store jars, I just use the old lid on the new jar.
Fabulous! I felt happy every time I whipped through preparation and seasoning. Then we sold that house, and I kept the idea of spices and small hand tools standing up in the nice wide, deep drawers in this kitchen (which was already newly renovated by someone else.)

As you say, probably not original in the world, but original to me!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 1:14AM
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Now here I felt like Einstein when I thought of labelling the lids of my spice jars, LOL, but I never thought of using the old lid on the new jar!! I've always peeled off the old label, making them lose their stickiness and the corners start lifting. Duh! Thanks Bronwynsmom.

Our DS put an old welding glove in with his camping gear, and we all fell about in awed admiration on our recent camp trip, when he was able to grab the red hot handle of the camp oven and the cast iron kettle, turn the potatoes in the coals, stir up the logs in the fire, and cook the sausages without pain. Don't know if it was original, but he acted like it was. LOL. And here I'd thought I was smart to pack an old oven mitt in with ours.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 3:43AM
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My bathroom vanity is about 4 feet long. The "feminine products" were not located near enough to the place where they're needed (i.e. toilet!) One day while shopping at Pier 1 I found a basket similar to Toto's on the Wizard of Oz. I realized that I had plenty of floor space making my products handy but discreet!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 9:25AM
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Neesie, I cut down a shoe-pocket thingie and staple-gunned it to the back of the vanity door. Then, when I opened the door, I could reach the stuff on the back of the door in the pockets (I wouldn't have been able to reach stuff on the floor without giving up.

Another idea: mounting shelves or hooks on the SIDES of bookcases. I felt like a genius when I thought of that one (though I'm sure I picked it up from the ether somewhere--maybe even in a Martah Stewart publiation). And in Martha Stewart Kids, I saw the stylists mount stuff on the INSIDE BACKS of the bookcases.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 10:26AM
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I keep utensils in the drawer next to the stove, and many of them have the same handle, and they all slide to the back, so I had to rummage for the right tool. Now, I put them in the drawer handle first! They still slide towards the back, but I can see the working end and grab immediately what I'm looking for. As an added bonus, the space in the front of the drawer holds a few shorter pieces, like tongs or scissors, placed sideways.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 11:26AM
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You're welcome, Lily. I think we just proved that two half-wits make a whole!! ;>)

I solved the problem of feminine supplies by going through menopause. Amazing how much space you get back under the sink.

And I stole an idea from Peri Wolfman's wonderful book ("A Place for Everything"), and put a big round basket filled with rolls of t.p. on the floor next to the john. No more groping around at inopportune moments. The book is out of print, but you can still get it at Amazon, and it is full of simple, clean lined, uncomplicated ideas with great style. She and her husband Charles Gold had a terrific store in SoHo in Manhattan called Wolfman, Gold and Good Company, and they stocked lots and lots of simple stylish white things...linens and china and ironstone and the like...before it was all the rage. I wanted everything in it.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 3:32PM
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I remember Wolfman Gold & Good!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 5:44PM
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In 1993 I put the phone jack under the drawer in the island but did forget to put a plug for the answering machine. So some cords hidden and some not.

Another thing I have done is when my children were little and made all kinds of art at school I would roll them up and put them in an empty paper towel cardboard.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 5:55PM
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My kids' art....
I covered it with clear contact paper, and we used it as placemats until they were funky (then were tossed).

Then we covered more!
The supply of my kids' art never ran low...

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 7:28PM
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Instead of a tote bag for the library, I use one of those old lady shopping bags on wheels. I felt a bit silly the first time I walked in pulling it behind me, but I felt wonderful pulling it out to the car with half a tonne of books in it, instead of having them loaded up in my arms and nearly pull my arms out of my sockets.
I thought it was such a great idea, I fully expected to see some other people using them since, but nope, I'm still the only one. Perhaps no-one else borrows as many books as I do!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 12:15AM
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lilydilly, I could have used your idea this past weekend! A friend and I went to our annual library used book sale and came home with 20 or so books a piece. We thought we were so clever for bringing our kids' backpacks with us to carry our loot home, but my back is still aching two days later. Your wheeled cart would have been a better solution. Oh well! Next time ...

Neesie, I love your idea of the "Toto basket", I'll be looking for one next time I'm out shopping.

My best organizing idea was to use a toast rack to sort my bills. While this might not work for everyone, it fits really well on my desk, holds exactly what I need it to, and lets me use my grandmother's old-fashioned silver toast rack rather than have it hidden away or tossed out.

I've lurked here for a long time and just love all the ideas you guys come up with. You've been a huge help to me in organizing my home, though I have a long, long way to go yet.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 8:56AM
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Great thread -

just want to add my "discreet" storage for having feminine products handy.....

I keep a "months" supply (which is really just a few days) in a quilted (Vera Bradley) cosmetic bag. This used to be tossed in a basket on the floor with magazines and extra TP - but we have done away with that basket after a bathroom remodel. Now the quilted bag just sits on the toilet tank for a few days a month. It's an attractive bag and so I like how it looks :-) When not in use, it is stored in the cabinet with the rest of the "supplies". I had to buy another bag on ebay when my dd started to steal mine. We both restock to the VB bags as needed.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 4:01PM
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For sanitary supplies I hung a straw purse on a command hook near the toilet. Theres already a basket with extra TP on the tank, my cabinet is too far away to reach, and I didn't want it on the floor. Works well with my tropical theme.

I used a rattan flatware tote to orgaize my remote controls, eyeglass case and soduku book.

Along the lines of ETE, I invented a game for myself I called "Take five" every time I leave a room, I look around to see if there are 5 things I can straighten, dust, put away or take away with me. I win the game when I can't find 5 things. If theres been a major disruption to my schedule, I might play "take 10" for a couple of days.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:07PM
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Don't know if this original, but the builders all looked at me sideways when I told them I want to have wall receptacle placed on the walls over the kitchen cabinets. (since they are no longer building soffits) I plan to put rope lights up there during the year and would always have the flexability to place seasonal decorations, a lamp, or who knows what up top without all the wires. I also plan to place pot lights on the very top cabinets, to shine inside the upper glass cabinet doors . The new wireless switches (which will be hung in the pantry) will make this possible. I love the wireless switches and will probably find tons of things to do with them once the house is completed and I am moved in.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:22PM
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I have a tv in the kitchen with a remote control. Remote was always getting loss cause it didn't have a home. I velcored the remote to the wall near the door so it had a home. Believe it or not even the kids and DH managed to put it back when done.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 6:36PM
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Okay, don't think I'm a lunatic but apparently I'm very sleepy and had trouble interpreting the last few posts.

terryinmind, I was picturing your rattan flatware tote in the bathroom with all the remotes! Then citytransplant, I thought you wanted pot lights on top of your kitchen cabinets to grow something illegal until I re-read it, LOL! Maybe it's time for me to go to bed!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 9:33PM
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I don't imagine this is too original...maybe it was a thousand years ago or so...
I have a very small OLD kitchen, so I have very little storage. The drawer that holds my kitchen utensils is full...not stuffed, but full, and something was always getting hung and not allowing the drawer to open. I solved the problem by putting the utensils in upside down....big spoons, jar opener, ladles, pie servers, spatulas etc., face down = no stuck drawers.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 2:32PM
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I do that upside-down thing as well. I only recently discovered that this works.

(I also stored my DD's Barbies that way as well, in a drawer, face down. Bcs their backs are less bumpy)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 3:17PM
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It's also a good idea to store dolls whose eyes open and close, face down. The mechanism will remain in working condition much longer!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 5:12PM
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@citytransplant - If you're still early enough in the process, ask your builders/electrician if they can wire those outlets above the cabinets to a switch. (Haven't used a wireless switch, so maybe that will be sufficient... though I'd worry about losing the switch, LOL)

When we remodeled our kitchen, we put an outlet above each set of cabinet runs and tied them to a single switch. Instead of seasonal lights, I actually have a set of "Christmas" lights (rope lights would work too) up there year-round, and we use them for gentle light in the evenings. (You know, when you're wandering in and out of the kitchen for a glass of water or to put a plate in the sink).

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 11:58AM
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Original? My best idea was to put a 15 mesh pocket shoe caddy on the inside closet door of the front closet. Holds winter gloves and hats, ice scrapers, window defroster spray, etc in the winter, and the Yard Guard, Off, gardening gloves, an small trowel, car cleaning stuff, etc. in the summer. Grand kids are 3&4, so they can get their things in the lower couple rows, and the adult stuff is in the upper ones. Saves digging around in baskets and you can easily see what is there. Don't know how I kept my sanity before...

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 7:12PM
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People laughed at me when I ran a phone jack to the bathroom when I moved in here 28 years ago. I put the jack in the vanity and I put it on the side and a phone in there so it's out of sight but if I'm on the pot (uh, nessie, that means toilet!) or in the shower I can still grab the phone. And if I don't like who it is, I just hold the receiver down and flush the toilet. Course these days with cordless phones so cheap (they were new back in those days and expensive) it's now rather obsolete. But I'm still proud of it since a lot of people who laughed have since put in a phone jack!

And a favorite of mine is two-fold. First I put some lights under the shelves over the peninsula counter in the kitchen. Now I can do paperwork there with adequate lighting that's out of the way. And a little shelf I built under that cabinet is perfect to hold the bills that are coming due and my checkbook and a little calculator, let's see, oh yeah, stamps, return labels, envelopes... and the TV remote. Used to use Velcro on it but it wouldn't stick well to the wood. The shelf doesn't show all that much. But it sure is functional. I also velcroed a letter opener, and a clip to hold scissors and a magnifying glass on the side of that cabinet so they're convenient when I'm sitting there doing bills, taxes, paperwork or whatever. And I charge my PDA for work there. Had a little charging station set up for the cell phones but now I do those by my recliner.

Speaking of Velcro (it has so many uses!) I velcroed a timer to the floor lamp next to my recliner. That way if I forget to set a timer in the kitchen, I can set that one without getting up again. Or if I need a reminder to do something, it'll work for that. I even have used it as an alarm clock when I take a nap so I don't oversleep.

Probably not original, but I put a couple dishpans and totes in the linen closet to keep all that small stuff. Can stack them too.

Again an adaptation, I made my own dryer pedestal when the one I wanted to buy wasn't available. I took four cement blocks and used 2x4s to build essentially a pallet and set on top of it to get it raised up about 14+ inches. Not as much bending over to get into the dryer and the hamper door folds down so it's at the perfect height for me to use it to fold clothes as I take them out of the dryer.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 7:35AM
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I like this thread!

OK, this isn't mine, but my neighbor had a handyman build a 2.5' x 4' "cage" with a large hinged door in the garage with a cat door to the inside of the house. Her cat goes through the cat door to the "cage" where there's a litter box. No litter box inside the house! Clean the box, and it can directly into the trash can in the garage. Unfortunately, my garage isn't attached to the house, so I can't do this....

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 1:30PM
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We had a ceiling fan installed in our outdoor patio ceiling, much to the builder's amusement. But it's perfect for hot still humid nights, and keeps the bugs and mosquitos at bay, when we sit outdoors. Natural breeze when there isn't one around. And I've never seen another one anywhere else do this
. But recently our local council built a kind of show home of ideas and asked for suggestions from all the locals in a questionnaire they sent out. I suggested doing this (we live in the tropics at the coast and spend a lot of time outdoors on our verandahs and patios) and was stunned when they actually did do it!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 6:41PM
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Lilydilly, we did the same thing to an outdoor deck structure, to keep mosquitoes at bay. I needed a non-toxic way to keep from worrying about west nile virus, and this allows us to use our deck, even in hot weather. (I can always tell when we're sitting outside the ''circle'' of breeze the fan creates, as we start getting bit. Mosquitoes always seek a protected place, which I didn't want to provide for them. It's true, that Great Minds Think Alike!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 5:55PM
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Seems like we do :) Have you seen anyone else with an outdoor fan. I'm amazed that they're not common over here in Australia, because we live outdoors, and mossies and bugs are rife. But I've never known anyone else to have one, though nearly everyone I know has them inside.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 6:43PM
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My neighbor here in CA. has a fan on her covered deck. It really helps when it is hot, not that I go out when it is hot...I stay in the AC as long as we have electricity.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 8:08PM
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It seems more common in places that have cover or on porches, although I have always brought a fan outside onto my deck. (Electricity is important!) I've seen them on some porches and in gazebos. There do seem to be more options for outdoor fans than there used to be, so maybe it's an idea that is catching on. I'm tempted to buy a fan I saw the other day that also hooks up to your garden hose so you get a fine, cooling mist along with the breeze to lower the ambient temperature.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 5:43PM
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I live in the upper South (US), and we have a fan in the ceiling of our upstairs back porch. Southern summer air is heavy and humid, and the breeze makes all the difference, as well as keeping mosquitoes and gnats away.
Lily, what is a "mossie"?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 10:56PM
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A mosquito LOL.. I thought they were called "mossies" world wide... we have mossie screens, mossie nets, mossie spray, mossie lotion, mossie coils (to burn for smoking them away) and.... well, I guess we have lots of mossies.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 1:38AM
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Ooops. It's probably spelt "mozzie", because that's how we pronounce it, with a zzz

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 1:41AM
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This is a fun thread.

I put an outlet behind my drawer in the bathroom where I keep my hairdryer. It gets pulled out of the drawer, used and put back. No plugging in! Kinda like the phone charger.

I had my dh build a ribbon storage system in my linen closet. I keep a pair of scissors on a high shelf and never have to worry about where the spool is - even though I can find the 10 foot tail of ribbon that's wound around everything in sight! Here's a photo:

I'm also removing the bottom shelf of my new linen closet and installing a closet rod to hang my pressed table cloths!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 3:22PM
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Wow, I love the idea of a closet rod for hanging pressed tablecloths! My tablecloths are sad and wrinkled from lying stacked on a triangular shelf in the built in hutch in my dining room. I'm on the hunt now to see if I can find some space for them to hang. Thanks for the idea!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 4:02PM
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In the late 80's I insisted on a high kitchen faucet for washing my canning pot. Plumber had hard time finding one but finally put in a 90 degree high angled one from a Bar supplier. Early 90's and in another house (raised ranch) I had a new entry door put in with one of the big half circle windows above. At that time cost of a custom sheer covering was over $400! So I got soft plastic plumbing tubing, cup hooks, and several yards of lace. Sewed the hem to go over the tubing, used the tail gathered portion to make a puff in the center of the bottom sill. Beautiful! Total cost less than $10. About 3 years later both ideas were popping up in magazines and sewing home deck books. I guess I was just ahead of my time :)

Lastly, in my current 1952 house all the old closets had the thick oak bars to hang clothes. As my wardrobe had more and more jeans, the bars were beginning to slightly bend from the weight. So I took the bar (about 5' long) to Lowes and had them cut sections of hollow steel pipe - same diameter. They fit perfectly and are rock solid all across - no more sagging. Nor do I find the thick plastic hangers difficult to swish back and forth as needed. I have 2 more closets to do the same.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 8:20PM
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I put small curtain rods at two heights on the wall beside the door in my cedar closet for my tablecloths. The closet was deeper than the usual 24-30", so there was enough room for them there.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 10:02PM
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The silverware basket in my dishwasher took up too much room, so I found a plastic basket half the size. Now I have much more room in my dishwasher.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 7:13PM
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When remodeling my kitchen, we stole half of the closet from a connecting bedroom for a pantry. Even with shelves on the back wall a foot deep space was limited, I had our contractor leave out the drywall on one side wall and had him put in shelves between the wall studs. The shelves are the width of a can and I measured and had him put in the shelves so that I could stack two cans on each other. Now they will fit 4 cans across and two cans tall. I think I have about 6 or 7 shelves that hold most of my can goods! On the other side wall, we installed a cork board so that I could hang restaurant coupons, recycle can bag, etc.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 12:35AM
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I have forever used various sized baskets or dishpans (two are even clean neverused catlitter trays because size was better) in the fridge and top freezer to sort foods. One basket is for leftovers only. One is for breakfast foods only. etc. I sort beef from pork from chicken in trays in the freezer. I cook hamburgers and freeze them for DH to take to lunch; they are yet in a different basket, along with the buns.

I use this method to store dry goods and plastic storage dishes also.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 10:36AM
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I have a multilevel skirt hanger in the hall closet to hold gloves and another to hold scarves.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 1:34PM
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