An Underused Organizational Hack: Make the Most of Your Vertical Spaces

Using vertical space is almost always a great idea because it reduces the need for horizontal surfaces, which are clutter magnets. Also, the smaller the horizontal footprint, the less cluttered a space tends to feel, and be. People don’t always think about or take advantage of the great resource available to them with vertical spaces, so read on for many ways to make the most of them.

* Accordion Band: What’s not to like about accordion files? They take up very little horizontal space, but hold a lot of paperwork—tax information, receipts, and more—in their labeled, segmented sections.

* Climb all the mountains: If filing your desk paper equates to making it disappear, try a vertical desk file cabinet. These drives hold files in a graduated, vertical fashion, so you can easily see what you have. Remember, however, that the files you choose for this storage location should be the ones you use daily, weekly, or perhaps monthly; nothing should reside there that you use less frequently than that.

* Magazine, anyone? If you want to store magazines, newsletters, owner’s manuals, catalogs, maps, brochures, or construction paper, try magazine holders, which come in many materials to match your decor and tastes. You can label the spine or place it us its spine so that the contents face you and are easily visible.

* Five Gold Rings: Or maybe 12 rings, whichever comes in a standard package of shower curtain rings. Whether made of plastic or metal, they can hold bags, umbrellas, scarves, purses, and many other things when hooked to the clothes rail in a closet.

* Q, R, ‘S’ Hooks: Like shower curtain rings, ‘S’ hooks are great for hanging from closet rods to hold umbrellas, brooms, mops, and empty backpacks. The strongest ones can contain bags full of other things like gift-wrapping sundries, bath linens, beach towels, rags, craft supplies, yarn, and winter accessories.

*Pinch Me: One idea for hanging long, unwieldy items like rakes, hoes, mops, and brooms is to use snap-lock straps—those “clamps” that clip onto tool handles and hold them against the wall.

* Can: Just as cups, crocks, tumblers, and vases can hold pens, brushes, kitchen utensils, razors, and toothbrushes upright, tall bins and tins can hold things like umbrellas, rolled up posters, maps, and rolls of wrapping paper. Trash cans may contain rakes, shovels, brooms, canoe paddles, hockey sticks, and baseball bats. Putting garden tools in an old golf bag even allows you to carry the tools around the garden.

* Throw in the towel: Towel racks are, naturally, great for hanging towels, but when installed inside closets and on the backs of doors, they can also hold folded tablecloths, blankets, and other linens, as well as ties and scarves. These items also hang nicely from hangers that have split paper towel tubes strung on their bottom edges. Towel rings, although smaller, can hold hair bands and necklaces.

* Pots, pans and skillets, oh my! We’ve all seen photos of gleaming copper pots hanging from pot racks in large kitchens. You can do the same thing by hanging your pots and pans from a rack attached to the ceiling. Or try hanging sports equipment or tools from a suspended pot rack in the garage or basement.

* No glass ceiling here… In the garage or basement, attach a ladder, wire rack, lengths of chain, or a garden trellis to rafters and hang everything from lawn chairs to sleds to bikes from “S” hooks or bungee cords.

* Mount the rails: There are many systems on the market that include some type of rail that attaches to the wall, with bins or baskets that hang from that rail. Try them with kitchen supplies, office supplies, or shop hardware and tools if drawer, counter, desk, or workbench space is tight.

* Do the laundry: Lingerie bags are great, mesh bags with a drawstring or a zipper that allow you to machine wash lingerie or a group of small items that might otherwise get lost. They also make great holders (and drip dryers) for kids’ bath toys when suspended from a shower caddy or bathtub faucet.

* Suction power! Suction cups with attached hooks can hold all sorts of individual items, or even small organization units, in the kitchen, bathroom, or shower stall, saving counter and vanity space.

*On the stands: I have a friend whose spices reside in what she calls her “spice stand,” a graduated elevation unit that allows her to see the labels on all the little jars that would otherwise obscure each other in the cupboard. If you want to think big, she stacks several tiers together to create a spiced “stadium.”

* Hang it up: There are also fabulous spice racks that attach to the inside of the doors. They work well because they accommodate various sizes of spice jars, but they aren’t deep enough to prevent the door from closing. Similar shelves are available that hang over doors to accommodate CDs, DVDs, books, towels, and tall bottles in or near the pantry.

* Ski with ease: Ski racks, sets of “knobs” that hold the tips of your skis together, are great in the basement or garage because they keep your skis on the wall and don’t fall on unsuspecting people or objects below.

*Mail this: I’m not a fan of bulletin boards, because so much of their (usually large) usable surface area gets covered by the very things that hang on them! Also, I think those things quickly become just another part of the wallpaper, the opposite of what should happen. But, if you really like the concept, consider a cork or magnetic band instead. You can mount one or even a row of them in smaller spaces, and they don’t waste space because the items hanging from them cover the wall space, not the rest of the usable surface.

* Poor Susan… The two-tier version of the “lazy Susan” is ideal for spice jars, bolts, buttons and small office items, while the single-tier version accommodates tall bottles of cooking oils; beauty, cleaning and laundry products; and items in the fridge. The giants can hold condiments and napkins at the table.

* Do you have milk? While I’m glad to leave the days of milk crates as furniture behind, they really are nifty, especially when you create a shelf by turning them on their sides and stacking them in multiples.

* Against the wall: Many types of baskets or bins can be mounted to the wall to serve as magazine holders, mail catchers, and mailboxes. (Just make sure you clean them very often, or they’ll overflow and become useless.) current Magazine or mail rack can also hold rolled towels in a bathroom. And try nailing coffee cans or sand pails to the garage walls to store small garden tools, spools of string, or packets of seed.

* Handy Towel – A wine rack can be placed on the bathroom floor, or attached to the wall, to become a smart place to store rolled hand towels and washcloths, bath mitts, brushes, and rolled magazines.

* Flip Your Lid: I love pot lid racks as-is, mounted inside a cabinet door, holding pot lids, but they’re also great as mail and magazine holders when mounted elsewhere.

* You Stud, You: Nail boards through exposed studs in your garage or basement, and you’ve got great vertical pens for catching rakes, hoes, shovels, hockey sticks, and baseball bats.

* Double Rail: By crisscrossing ribbons on a wall or board and tacking them together, you can clip or slide notes, photos, tickets, greeting cards and invitations under them for a decorative wall storage option.

* Dig, so to speak, the picture: Displaying art and photos on picture rails, rather than hanging them on the walls, offers more flexibility because you can rotate, add, and edit them without driving more nails.

* Coats and layers: An independent coat rack is a classic vertical concept, and if there is an umbrella stand or shoe rack at the base, much better. Try one in the bedroom for bathrobes and clothes to wear again.

And now, thinking more broadly… Here are some time-honored vertical storage gems. Run with them and apply them in new ways!

*First and Best: Blue Ribbon Winners Have to Be Hooks and Pegs: The chairs that hang from pegs in Shaker Homes reveal their beautiful simplicity and utility. You can store a lot of things on a peg or hook (or even a bare nail), as long as it’s the right size and shape, and attached securely and solidly.

* Hang belts, necklaces, scarves, keys, bags, backpacks, clothes, kitchen utensils, garden and workshop tools, brooms, dustpans, sports equipment, sleds, hoses, ladders, bicycles, hair dryers and much more, not only from walls, but also from ceilings, inside or under cabinets, inside closets, and on the front and back of cabinet doors and doors.

* A pegboard (or wire grid system) is a very versatile option. Some people even suggest painting outlines around the hanging items so you always know where they belong, but I don’t agree: if you add or remove even one thing, then your system crashes. However, if you like the idea of ​​outlining, use chalk, it’s much more forgiving.

* Stack Them Up: Stack sets of baskets, bins, drawers, or boxes… with or without lids… that are clear or well labeled… they can be placed on shelves or placed in cabinets to hold everything from nappies to root vegetables (although probably not at the same time). If you put your stacking game on wheelsyou can even “go mobile”.

* File cabinets and hanging files are oldie, but goodie – you can add casters for mobility, cover the cabinet with a tablecloth if it’s ugly, or combine it with a partner to support a door or wide tabletop to make a sturdy desk.

* Shelves – need I say more? They are classic, and stand up book and magazine holders us vertically adds even more to its efficiency. They can also house baskets or bins that contain smaller objects.

Go Vertical: Hang it, stand it, stack it, rack it, and embrace that vertical space that many people overlook to maximize your organizational potential!

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