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Overview: Organization the easy way

Do certain areas around your house just refuse to stay organized? I’m thinking of under the bathroom sink, inside shop drawers and the top shelf of your refrigerator. If so, you’re going to love this batch of clever organizing tips. Here are 18 simple ideas and products that will help you organize the most troublesome areas around your house and keep them organized for good.

Binder-clip cable catcher

If you haven’t run across this particular cable-organizing tip yet, it’s time you did, because it’s dirt simple and pure genius. Clamp a binder clip to the edge of your desk to holster USB cables. No more cables slipping behind your desk into the dusty darkness below.

Put a lazy Susan next to your stove

Having to reach into a cabinet or drawer for frequently used oils, vinegars and sauces is a recipe for frustration. Instead, store them on an attractive lazy Susan on the counter next to your stove. Top it with a plastic mat for easy cleaning. No more frantic searches in the middle of cooking dinner (and all those condiments in full view will make you look like an expert cook!).

DIY drawer dividers

Here’s an easy way to make your own inexpensive drawer organizers. Attach thin strips of adhesive-backed foam weather stripping to the inside of your drawers (either to the sides or to the front and back, depending on which way you want your drawers divided). Then set 1/4-in. plywood strips into the drawer with the ends pressed against the weather stripping. Add as many dividers as you need, and voilà—a perfectly organized drawer.

A better hose wrangler

Here’s an easy way to make your own inexpensive drawer organizers. Attach thin strips of adhesive-backed foam weather stripping to the inside of your drawers (either to the sides or to the front and back, depending on which way you want your drawers divided). Then set 1/4-in. plywood strips into the drawer with the ends pressed against the weather stripping. Add as many dividers as you need, and voilà—a perfectly organized drawer.

Top organizing tip from a pro

“When it comes to organizing, a few minutes of clutter-clearing each week takes far less time than attacking an area once a year or even once a month.”

Elizabeth Larkin, home organizing expert

Skinny laundry room cart

A lot of laundry rooms have a narrow wasted space either next to or between the washing machine and dryer, and it’s usually a hideout for socks and lint. To take advantage of this space, build a simple plywood cart on fixed casters to hold detergents and other laundry supplies.

Storage above windows and doors

The empty wall space above doors and windows is organizational gold! Hang a shelf there and use it for bathroom towels, toiletries, books, files, tablecloths—the list is endless.

Open you mail over your recycling bin

That way, you’ll be less tempted to save unimportant things for later “when you have time.” You’ll keep what’s really important and immediately recycle the rest.

Turn-of-the-century office supply holder

Screw hose clamps to a board and mount it on the wall in your home office. Secure mason jars in the hose clamps to create clever storage for office supplies such as stamps, paper clips and string. The clear jars let you immediately see where everything is. This is also a great idea for bathrooms and workshops.

Build shallow drawers

I have a pretty organized shop with lots of drawers, and here’s my tip. If you’re going to build drawers, build lots of shallow ones and very few deep ones. Here’s why. Just about everything you store for a shop is fairly thin— hand tools, blades, fasteners, sandpaper, etc. If you have a ton of shallow drawers, you can dedicate each one by category. Plus, it’s easier to find what you need when it’s not buried under 8 inches of other junk in the same drawer.

Travis Larson, Senior Editor

Keep a virtual shopping list

I often found myself at a home center wandering around thinking, “I know I need something else...” but I could never remember what it was. Now I keep an open “notes” tab on my iPhone with a rolling shopping list. I add items to my notes whenever I think of it, and then when I’m at the store, I have my latest and complete list.

Paul Kupprat, Field Editor

Keep you spray bottles in line

It can be hard to keep spray bottles from falling over and making a mess under your bathroom and kitchen sink. To keep them upright, hang them from a short tension rod (about $12 at discount stores) in your cabinet.

Put a lazy Susan in your fridge

If your refrigerator is like mine, the door shelves are filled with salad dressing and mustard and the rest of the condiments get lost behind leftovers on the top shelf. Keep everything in plain view by storing overflow condiments on a lazy Susan on one of your fridge shelves. One spin and that small jar of capers will be a cinch to spot.

Elisa Bernick, Associate Editor

Tape measures always within reach

I have a dozen tape measures, but there was never one around when I needed it. So I bought a bunch of electrical junction boxes (about 50¢ apiece) and nailed them up in strategic locations—next to the miter saw, the table saw, on my workbench, in the garden shed—and put a tape measure and pencil in each one. No more searching for a tape in the middle of a project.

Gary Wentz, Senior Editor

Reel-easy extension cord management

The Cordpro has been around for a few years now, and it remains ridiculously popular in online discussion boards. The gadget organizes a cord, hose or cable into two separate flexible chambers, one for each half. This allows you to access either end independently, so you only unwind what you need and the rest stays coiled. There are lightweight and heavy-duty versions and a new holiday light version available. Prices range from about $8 to $35. Visit cordpro.com.

Clothes storage

Folding hanger rods collapse against the wall when they’re not in use, saving valuable space in tiny rooms. They’re great for wet clothes and hunting gear. The Arrow Hanger single- and double-hanger versions shown (about $15 and $39) are available through our affiliation with amazon.com.

Wire dispenser

A plastic crate is a great place to store anything on a spool. Just slip the spools onto a piece of metal conduit and secure the conduit with washers and bolts. There’s even space below the spools for tools or scraps of wire.

John Collins, TFH reader

Add a cabinet shelf

Almost everyone has wasted space in their kitchen cabinets. This is especially true in upper cabinets where you house glasses and coffee cups. Take advantage of every inch of room by setting shelf pegs close together to gain extra flat storage for trays, placemats and cutting boards.

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