Small Apartment Hacks: New Uses for 15 Common Household Items

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Small Apartment Hacks: New Uses for 15 Common Household Items

Jenna Mahoney · Oct 3, 2016

Books, candles and succulent plants on a windowsill.

I live in a small space, and it is cramped! I needed to figure out how to have all the clothes, work items and kitchen necessities without being a major clutter bug—a la Ariel the Little Mermaid.One of the biggest needs and insights to making a small space work for you is to get gear that does double duty. I re-purpose vintage juice glasses and candle jars for everything from bathroom storage needs to bud vases.

My new book, “Small Apartment Hacks,” is a comprehensive lifestyle guide to living in small spaces. It gives actionable tips on how to organize, decorate, and entertain in mini-homes. I like to say it teaches you how to live large in the tiniest shoe box apartment. Here are just a few of the storage solutions tips featured in “Small Apartment Hacks.”

Re-imagine common household items into serious storage MVPs:

1. Stack bangles around a lone candlestick. Choose one with a deep reservoir area; it can be used as a bud vase. Cut the stem down so the flower won’t topple over. Or, wash and reuse a can for a little mini planter (perfect for succulents).

2. Thoroughly wash out tuna cans, then place them in a junk drawer, under the bathroom sink, or on the top of your desk to contain errant odds and ends that have no classification but are important enough to keep.

3. Stash unruly plastic bags in a vacant tissue box or paper towel roll. Plastic antibacterial wipe containers are another great option.

tissue boxes plastic bags

Image source: Space Wise Organizing

4. Use a towel rack to hang cleaning products with trigger handles.

5. House shoes in an old wine box. Turn the box on its side and slide your shoes into each compartment. Wrap the box in fabric affixed with ModgePodge (available at craft stores) to give it a more design-y look.

6. Dryer sheets are reuse superstars. Use one as a lint remover, a computer screen duster, or an iron soleplate degunker. Toss one in your vacuum bag or line drawers with eco-friendly sheets for a fresh scent.

7. Expensive shoes and bags often come with a dust bag, a cloth sack that protects soles from closet wear and ensures the bottoms won’t soil anything else. A shower cap wrapped around a pair of shoes does the same thing.

shoes shower cap

Image source: CBC

8. You cook exactly 15 times a year, so who can blame you that you don’t have a trivet? A mouse pad works just as well. Just make sure it doesn’t have a plastic coating, which can melt off when touched by a hot pan.

9. A vintage (or new) picture frame makes a perfect drinks tray. Place a solid piece of paper in the frame. It’ll look more functional and less re-purposed. Or line it with old hotel key cards for a cool conversational piece.

10. Store your camera in a waterproof travel soap tray. Crafting needs and hair accessories also fit well in the inexpensive, plastic-covered trays.

11. Cut pieces of corkboard into four-inch squares, or trace a cup to make fun little circles. It’s a fashionable and quickie way to make coasters, especially if you use chalk, sharpies, or paint to decorate them.

Cork Coasters

Image source: Factory Direct Craft

12. Place a bento box on your desk to corral office supplies like paper clips, Post-It notes, and iPod chargers. Use the compartmentalized containers to organize your fantasy football stats and  different team info. Or re-purpose a bento box as a jewelry caddy. The multiple compartments can house your earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.

13. Place a napkin holder on your landing strip to serve as a mail collector. Dish drying racks make great file organizers. Choose one in brushed metal for an urban design touch.

14. An accordion-style wooden wine rack is a clever way to stow a few towels. Roll them up and slide into the slots.

15. In the bathroom, a silver-plated mint julep cup is just the right height to hold makeup brushes, disposable razors, and toothbrushes. Cleaned-out candle glasses work just as well; the graphic labels look chic in any space.

small apartment hacks

Jenna Mahoney is the author of “Small Apartment Hacks,”  which shows you how to take advantage of every nook and cranny with endless tips and ideas, including how to shop for second-hand furniture, tricks for dealing with a messy roommate, how to host a swap party, room-by-room storage solutions, the secret to creating a sweet gallery wall, and 15 ideas for re-purposing common household items.

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