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18 Clever Storage Ideas for Hard-to-Store Stuff

Camping gear, magazines, boots…they can take over your house and garage! Here are some really clever ideas for storing your most challenging stuff.

Under-Joist Shelf

The unused space between overhead joists in a basement or garage is a brilliant place to install a heavy-duty wire shelf. The wire shelving is see-through, so you can easily tell what’s up there. Store outdoor sports equipment, tackle boxes, coolers and other less-frequently used items out of the way yet still easily accessible. Depending on the width, wire shelves cost from $1 to $3 per foot at home centers.

Light-Duty Extension Cord Storage

To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You'll be able to find the right cord easily, plus you've made good use of the tubes. Check out these other cardboard tube hacks.

Tangle-Free Jumper Cable Storage

Having jumper cables at the ready is serious business in cold climates. Store the cables coiled around the spare tire under the false floor of the trunk. You'll always be able to find them and they'll never be tangled.

Patio Cushions and Camping Gear Storage

Extra-large Ziploc bags (about $2 each at home centers and online) are great for storing camping gear, patio cushions and out-of-season clothes. Here's a slick trick for getting all the air out of the bag before you seal it. Put your items inside and push out all the air you can by hand. Then seal the bag but leave an opening large enough to fit a drinking straw. Use the straw to suck out the remaining air and then finish sealing the bag. You've got to see these 16 genius camping hacks.

Magazine Storage

Can you actually find what you're looking for in your stack of saved magazines? Here's a great way to archive magazines, a method that one of our editors has been using at work for years. All you need is a bunch of hanging folders and a drawer that's set up for hanging them. Cut off the bottom of each folder about an inch below the rod. Drape your magazine over the rod and hang it in the drawer. The spines are easy to read, so you can find what you need quickly.

Garage Door Extension Cord Storage

Ever wish you had one more garage wall to hang stuff on? Well, you do. Your garage door is a perfect place to store lightweight items like extension cords. (Yes, they'll stay put when the door opens and closes.) Install screw eyes diagonally about 8 in. apart and thread bungee cords (with the ends cut off) through them. Now you have a perfect bungee “corral” to hold your extra extension cords.

Extension Ladder Storage

An extension ladder is one of the most difficult things to store. When you need to use it, it has to be easy to get to. But there are long stretches when it just gets in the way of everything else in your garage. Here's a good solution: Mount it on your garage ceiling on sturdy racks made of scrap 2x4s that are screwed into the ceiling joists. Use two 3-1/2-in. screws at each joint to make the rack secure. These racks make it easy to slide the ladder out when you need it. Just make sure to position the racks where they won't interfere with your garage door.

Belt and Other Hang-Ups

Where do you store your belts? How about on this inexpensive and easy-to-make belt holder? All you need is a wooden hanger and some cup hooks. If some of your belts have unusually thick buckles, just widen the cup hook slightly with a needle-nose pliers. This is a great way to hang small handbags, too. We also have tons of storage ideas for the kitchen.

Musical Instrument Storage

If you occasionally put your hammer down to strum a guitar or banjo, you know how tricky it can be to store them. Floor stands are pricey and they leave your instrument accessible to curious children, rambunctious pets and people who can't carry a tune. It's a better idea to hang your instruments on the wall, but instrument wall hangers cost $20 a pop. Instead of hitting the music store, hit the home center. Plastic-coated utility hooks will hold most instruments at a fraction of the cost ($2 to $4), and they're just as tough.

Screws, Doodads and Other Hardware Storage

If you have lots of small hardware on hand, constantly opening drawers or containers to find what you need is a pain. Here's one solution: Store hardware in small, sturdy zippered craft bags (thicker than sandwich bags and available at hobby stores). Punch a hole in the bag and hang it on pegboard. The clear bags make finding what you need a snap and keep dust, rust and moisture at bay. If you need to find a matching piece of hardware, just hold it up for a side-by-side comparison.

Add-On Clothes Rod

Very few people have too much closet space (and if you do, don't brag). Here's an easy way to add space for hanging clothes (or at least clothes that don't require a tall space). Hang a second clothes rod from the upper rod with lightweight chain. Attach the chain to screw eyes directly or use S-hooks or carabiners. Carabiners make adjusting the height of the extra rod a snap. This system works well in kids' closets since they grow quickly (and their clothes grow along with them). It also works well in an adult closet—you can hang pants on one rod and shirts on the other. Check out these 11 other clothes storage ideas.

Ball Storage

If you have kids, you have balls—basketballs, soccer balls, rubber balls and other round objects that roll around underfoot. Here's a perfect way to use that narrow gap between a pair of garage doors (if you're blessed with such an awkward spot). Just install angled “ball ramps” made from scrap wood. The balls fit neatly in the gap, and because the ball ramp is right there at the edge of the garage, kids are more likely to use it.

Vacuum Gear Storage

It seems like the vacuum cleaner always ends up in one closet and the vacuum cleaner bags in another, and the attachments get shoved in a corner or spread all over the floor. Here's a simple tip that will keep everything together and out from underfoot. Screw a hook to the door of your storage closet and hang a mesh or cloth bag on it. You can store all your vacuum cleaner bags and attachments in one place, and the bag lets you carry everything you need from room to room or up and down the stairs in one trip. Vacuum cleaner broken? We'll show you how to fix it.

Closet Glove Rack

If you don't have radiators, finding a good spot to dry wet hats and mittens can be tough. Tossing them into a plastic bin gets them out of the way, but they never dry and it's no fun putting on damp mittens in the morning. This simple back-of-the-door glove and cap rack allows wet things to dry and keeps easily misplaced items organized. Just string clothespins on aluminum wire (it won't rust) and stretch it between screw eyes on the back of a closet door. This also works great out in the garage for drying garden and work gloves. Make your own mitten drying rack with these inspirational ideas.

Garage Corner Shelves

Who couldn't use a few more shelves in the garage? You probably already have shelves in the obvious spots, but what about in the corners? This nifty corner shelf unit takes advantage of existing studs, and it's fast, easy and cheap. Use scrap plywood or oriented strand board to make shelves that fit snugly between the corner studs and support them with 1x1 cleats. These corner shelves are perfect for storing smaller items such as glues, oils, waxes and polishes, which get lost on larger shelves.

Basement Junk Storage

OK, maybe junk is too harsh a word. We're talking about luggage, camping gear, the ugly vase Aunt Martha gave you for your wedding—stuff you need to keep but don't use all the time. If your house has a set of stairs with a sloped closet underneath, you have a huge amount of space that's mostly wasted. Here's how to get the most out of that black hole. Build a custom rolling cart that fits perfectly in the closet. This one is built like a shelf unit and rides on fixed casters so it slides straight out to keep things organized and accessible. When Aunt Martha comes to visit, just roll it out, grab the vase and you're golden.

Fishing Rod Storage

This is for all you fishing addicts out there. When the season ends and the gear comes out of the truck, where do you store your rods? You can buy a fancy storage rack or make one of your own. But either way, you're giving up precious wall space until spring. Here's a quick solution: Screw short sections of wire shelving to your ceiling. If the handles don't fit, just clip out some of the wire with bolt cutters. Your rods will be safely out of the way until your next fishing trip. You can also use PVC pipe for fishing rod storage—check it out!

Spring Clamp Storage

This tray is a nifty way to store spring clamps. It's a slotted piece of 3/4-in. plywood with 1/4-in. plywood fins glued in the slots. Store the tray on a peg and remove clamps when you need them. When you're done, stick the clamps back on the fins and hang up the tray. These are our all-time favorite clamping tricks from woodworkers.

Under-Joist Shelf

The unused space between overhead joists in a basement or garage is a brilliant place to install a heavy-duty wire shelf. The wire shelving is see-through, so you can easily tell what’s up there. Store outdoor sports equipment, tackle boxes, coolers and other less-frequently used items out of the way yet still easily accessible. Depending on the width, wire shelves cost from $1 to $3 per foot at home centers.

Light-Duty Extension Cord Storage

To keep light-duty extension cords organized, slide them into toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Write the length of the cord on the tubes before you put them in a drawer or bin. You'll be able to find the right cord easily, plus you've made good use of the tubes. Check out these other cardboard tube hacks.

Tangle-Free Jumper Cable Storage

Having jumper cables at the ready is serious business in cold climates. Store the cables coiled around the spare tire under the false floor of the trunk. You'll always be able to find them and they'll never be tangled.

Patio Cushions and Camping Gear Storage

Extra-large Ziploc bags (about $2 each at home centers and online) are great for storing camping gear, patio cushions and out-of-season clothes. Here's a slick trick for getting all the air out of the bag before you seal it. Put your items inside and push out all the air you can by hand. Then seal the bag but leave an opening large enough to fit a drinking straw. Use the straw to suck out the remaining air and then finish sealing the bag. You've got to see these 16 genius camping hacks.

Magazine Storage

Can you actually find what you're looking for in your stack of saved magazines? Here's a great way to archive magazines, a method that one of our editors has been using at work for years. All you need is a bunch of hanging folders and a drawer that's set up for hanging them. Cut off the bottom of each folder about an inch below the rod. Drape your magazine over the rod and hang it in the drawer. The spines are easy to read, so you can find what you need quickly.

Garage Door Extension Cord Storage

Ever wish you had one more garage wall to hang stuff on? Well, you do. Your garage door is a perfect place to store lightweight items like extension cords. (Yes, they'll stay put when the door opens and closes.) Install screw eyes diagonally about 8 in. apart and thread bungee cords (with the ends cut off) through them. Now you have a perfect bungee “corral” to hold your extra extension cords.

Extension Ladder Storage

An extension ladder is one of the most difficult things to store. When you need to use it, it has to be easy to get to. But there are long stretches when it just gets in the way of everything else in your garage. Here's a good solution: Mount it on your garage ceiling on sturdy racks made of scrap 2x4s that are screwed into the ceiling joists. Use two 3-1/2-in. screws at each joint to make the rack secure. These racks make it easy to slide the ladder out when you need it. Just make sure to position the racks where they won't interfere with your garage door.

Belt and Other Hang-Ups

Where do you store your belts? How about on this inexpensive and easy-to-make belt holder? All you need is a wooden hanger and some cup hooks. If some of your belts have unusually thick buckles, just widen the cup hook slightly with a needle-nose pliers. This is a great way to hang small handbags, too. We also have tons of storage ideas for the kitchen.

Musical Instrument Storage

If you occasionally put your hammer down to strum a guitar or banjo, you know how tricky it can be to store them. Floor stands are pricey and they leave your instrument accessible to curious children, rambunctious pets and people who can't carry a tune. It's a better idea to hang your instruments on the wall, but instrument wall hangers cost $20 a pop. Instead of hitting the music store, hit the home center. Plastic-coated utility hooks will hold most instruments at a fraction of the cost ($2 to $4), and they're just as tough.

Screws, Doodads and Other Hardware Storage

If you have lots of small hardware on hand, constantly opening drawers or containers to find what you need is a pain. Here's one solution: Store hardware in small, sturdy zippered craft bags (thicker than sandwich bags and available at hobby stores). Punch a hole in the bag and hang it on pegboard. The clear bags make finding what you need a snap and keep dust, rust and moisture at bay. If you need to find a matching piece of hardware, just hold it up for a side-by-side comparison.

Add-On Clothes Rod

Very few people have too much closet space (and if you do, don't brag). Here's an easy way to add space for hanging clothes (or at least clothes that don't require a tall space). Hang a second clothes rod from the upper rod with lightweight chain. Attach the chain to screw eyes directly or use S-hooks or carabiners. Carabiners make adjusting the height of the extra rod a snap. This system works well in kids' closets since they grow quickly (and their clothes grow along with them). It also works well in an adult closet—you can hang pants on one rod and shirts on the other. Check out these 11 other clothes storage ideas.

Ball Storage

If you have kids, you have balls—basketballs, soccer balls, rubber balls and other round objects that roll around underfoot. Here's a perfect way to use that narrow gap between a pair of garage doors (if you're blessed with such an awkward spot). Just install angled “ball ramps” made from scrap wood. The balls fit neatly in the gap, and because the ball ramp is right there at the edge of the garage, kids are more likely to use it.

Vacuum Gear Storage

It seems like the vacuum cleaner always ends up in one closet and the vacuum cleaner bags in another, and the attachments get shoved in a corner or spread all over the floor. Here's a simple tip that will keep everything together and out from underfoot. Screw a hook to the door of your storage closet and hang a mesh or cloth bag on it. You can store all your vacuum cleaner bags and attachments in one place, and the bag lets you carry everything you need from room to room or up and down the stairs in one trip. Vacuum cleaner broken? We'll show you how to fix it.

Closet Glove Rack

If you don't have radiators, finding a good spot to dry wet hats and mittens can be tough. Tossing them into a plastic bin gets them out of the way, but they never dry and it's no fun putting on damp mittens in the morning. This simple back-of-the-door glove and cap rack allows wet things to dry and keeps easily misplaced items organized. Just string clothespins on aluminum wire (it won't rust) and stretch it between screw eyes on the back of a closet door. This also works great out in the garage for drying garden and work gloves. Make your own mitten drying rack with these inspirational ideas.

Garage Corner Shelves

Who couldn't use a few more shelves in the garage? You probably already have shelves in the obvious spots, but what about in the corners? This nifty corner shelf unit takes advantage of existing studs, and it's fast, easy and cheap. Use scrap plywood or oriented strand board to make shelves that fit snugly between the corner studs and support them with 1x1 cleats. These corner shelves are perfect for storing smaller items such as glues, oils, waxes and polishes, which get lost on larger shelves.

Basement Junk Storage

OK, maybe junk is too harsh a word. We're talking about luggage, camping gear, the ugly vase Aunt Martha gave you for your wedding—stuff you need to keep but don't use all the time. If your house has a set of stairs with a sloped closet underneath, you have a huge amount of space that's mostly wasted. Here's how to get the most out of that black hole. Build a custom rolling cart that fits perfectly in the closet. This one is built like a shelf unit and rides on fixed casters so it slides straight out to keep things organized and accessible. When Aunt Martha comes to visit, just roll it out, grab the vase and you're golden.

Fishing Rod Storage

This is for all you fishing addicts out there. When the season ends and the gear comes out of the truck, where do you store your rods? You can buy a fancy storage rack or make one of your own. But either way, you're giving up precious wall space until spring. Here's a quick solution: Screw short sections of wire shelving to your ceiling. If the handles don't fit, just clip out some of the wire with bolt cutters. Your rods will be safely out of the way until your next fishing trip. You can also use PVC pipe for fishing rod storage—check it out!

Spring Clamp Storage

This tray is a nifty way to store spring clamps. It's a slotted piece of 3/4-in. plywood with 1/4-in. plywood fins glued in the slots. Store the tray on a peg and remove clamps when you need them. When you're done, stick the clamps back on the fins and hang up the tray. These are our all-time favorite clamping tricks from woodworkers.
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