Don’t Spare the Rod…Add One! Maximize Your Closet Storage

Don’t Spare the Rod…Add One! Maximize Your Closet Storage

We’ve all got “stuff”, lots and lots of stuff. Living with someone who loves to organize, it’s somewhat of a game at our house to find ways to store it – neatly. If it were up to me, I’d throw everything in a cardboard box, shut the door and call it good. Instead, I was asked, nicely, to solve the closet storage problem.

Take a look at the closets in your house. Do most of them have one rod?  Do you have stuff piled above and crammed below whatever’s hanging there? Why not fully utilize your closet space. Imagine double rods and some shelves. Now how much stuff could that closet hold?

Let’s Do This.

Shopping List:

  • 1×4 lumber long enough to fit in both end walls
  • 1×12 shelving long enough to fit the full width of your closet
  • closet rod sockets
  • closet rod the same length as your shelf
  • one or two shelf bracket/rod holders depending on the width of your closet

closet supplies

  1. Remove the existing rod, shelf, and any of the pieces on the walls, leaving just a bare canvas inside of your closet.
  2. Measure up from the floor 39 and 80 inches and mark with pencil.  Do this in all of the corners.  These marks will be the center of your new rods when you’re finished.
  3. Using your stud finder, locate the studs on the back wall of the closet – mark them. Check the end walls to see if there are any there – mark them.  Chances are, you won’t find any on the end walls, except in the corners. (We’ll get to that in a minute).
  4. Measure the short, end walls of your closet and cut your 1×4 to those lengths.  Pre-drill the ends and attach them to the wall with 2” screws centering them on your 39 or 80 inch marks.  If there happens to be studs in the middle of the wall somewhere, you can also attach the boards there.
  5. Using your level, draw a line on the back wall that is even with the top of the boards on the end walls.  This mark will be where the top of the shelf brackets will go.  Depending on the width of your closet, secure a bracket to the stud closest to the center of the wall with 1 ¼” screws or longer.  You’ll want to space the brackets no more than 3 feet from the end walls or from each other, so it may be necessary to put two brackets on the wall.
  6. Measure from 1×4 to 1×4 in the “hook” of the shelf brackets.  Subtract 3/8” from that number and cut your closet rod to that length.  Set the rod on the bracket hooks and mark the 1×4’s by tracing around the end of the rod.   If you’re only using one bracket, be sure to put  your level on the rod before you mark the ends.closet-rod
  7. Remove the rod and attach the rod sockets to the 1×4’s where you marked them, then replace the rod.  Next measure the back wall on top of the 1×4’s at the back corner and cut your 1×12 shelving to that length.
  8. Repeat this process for the other height on the wall with the materials you removed originally and you have just doubled your closet space!

Another option is to purchase the white wire shelving from a home improvement store, like  Lowes or Home Depot.  You’ll need different tools for installation, like a hacksaw and possibly some drill bits for the anchors, but you can still use the same measurements from the floor. The wire shelving comes with directions for securing them snugly to the walls.


See ya next time when we’ll talk about adding shelving.


Attic Storage – Install a ladder for easy access

Attic Storage – Install a ladder for easy access


The holidays have drawn to a close.  You’re looking around the house and thinking, “It’s good to have this place back to  normal again.”  Now that it’s time to store the Christmas decorations that seem to have multiplied this year, where do you plan to stuff them THIS time for the next 11 months?

Has your traditional Christmas storage place shrunk and you’re searching for options? Could you use that extra clothes closet to store other things, like oh, I don’t know…clothes?

First of all, let’s get your decorations and supplied put away in a manageable fashion.  The containers of preference at our house are clear plastic storage bins with lids.



By putting as much as you can into these containers, you’ll make much better use of the storage area in which you choose to store them.  Granted, not everything will fit in one, but even if you need to buy several, the investment will be well worth it.  Be careful when filling them that you try to balance the load in each so that one container doesn’t feels empty, while another takes two people and a forklift to move.


A great option for new storage space to put your filled containers is your garage attic.  Even if your garage has a drywalled ceiling, you can gain quick access to that space with a pull down attic ladder.  You know the kind, like Clark Griswold had in “Christmas Vacation” only without the ‘slide-out’ ladder extension.


You can find these ladders just about wherever ladders are sold, but there are a couple of things to consider before you head for the checkout.  First of all, check the weight rating.  Consider the weight of the person most likely to be climbing the ladder PLUS another 20 to 30 pounds for what they may be carrying.  You’ll also want to know the height of your garage ceiling so you’re certain to have a long enough ladder to reach the floor.  And most of the time, your garage rafters will be spaced 24 inches, center to center, leaving  a 22 ½ opening.

attic ladderAlthough the directions that come with the ladder are pretty self explanatory, it’s probably not a great idea to begin the install without reading them through first.  You’ll want to plan on asking someone to help you when it’s time to put the ladder into place, but for the most part, the installation is a one person show.

Once you have the ladder installed per the directions, you’re ready to climb the stairs and stow your stuff.  But wait, it’s dark up there!  You’ve got some options:  a.) You can hire an electrician to install a simple pull string light at the top of the ladder, b.) You can use the battery powered light that came in your drill set, or c.) You can think about permanent lighting options while you’re heading up your new ladder wearing your handy headlamp (you can buy them cheap).

half inch OSB

Once up in the attic space I suggest placing some sturdy boards over the rafters to prevent items from falling onto the top of the drywall.  The boards also gives you something to stand on (if there’s enough head room), or crawl around on while you’re preparing your storage “floor”.  My preference is a sheet of ½” OSB (oriented strand board).  You’ll need to cut the 4 by 8 sheet small enough to fit through your attic access opening, then just work away from the opening, securing the OSB to the rafters with a couple of screws.

Even if your garage is unfinished, an attic ladder makes it much easier to access attic space and eliminates the need to store a  ladder nearby or go hunting for one when you’ve got a load to take to the attic.

So there you go. You’ve now got a brand new, easily accessible storage area for your holiday décor!

Until next time~



The 10 Most Important Tools for Home Projects

The 10 Most Important Tools for Home Projects

You don’t have to be overwhelmed when you walk into the tool section of your favorite hardware store or home center.  With just a few tools, you’ll be able to tackle most any small project around your house.  If, at some point in time, you decide to take on bigger, more complicated projects, you can just rent any specialized tool you may need.

Here’s a rundown of some basic tools that you’ll probably want to have handy.

drillNumber one on my list is a cordless drill.  With this tool, you will save a lot of time and frustration with your projects.  Trying to sink a screw in to wood by hand is tedious and tiring.  I do recommend that you purchase nothing smaller than a 14 volt set, though.  The smaller voltage drills have less torque and tend to run out of power sooner.   And, it’s not necessary for you to purchase the top of the line either, unless you plan on doing a LOT of major work.

When you’re shopping for that cordless drill, depending on what your comfort level is, you might want to get a combo kit of some kind.  These have a drill, but also a couple other battery operated power tools.  If you’re into a lot of do it yourself stuff, I suggest getting one with a ‘sawzall’ (reciprocating saw) and a ‘trim’ saw.  A trim saw is basically a smaller power saw for cutting small things.  Be careful though, cutting too much or too big of things will burn them up.

hammerHere are the other recommended tools in no particular order….You’ll want to have some simple hand tools around, the first of which would be a hammer.  For most things you do, a lightweight finish hammer will fill the bill.  Just pick out something that’s comfortable for you and has a smooth face on the hammer head.

A two-foot level is handy for a lot of things, making level or plumb lines, hanging pictures, etc.  If you don’t want something that big, even a ‘torpedo’ level is helpful for small jobs.


If you’re going to be hanging anything on the wall, you’ll want a stud-finder.  These battery operated devices locate the studs in the wall behind the drywall.  For hanging heavy items or shelves, it’s good to know where there’s something solid to attach them.  They’re easy to operate but don’t forget to get batteries, too! J

A good quality tape measure will last you a long time.  Get yourself one that’s at least 12’ long, even though you won’t need that much tape most of the time.  If you thing you might be tackling a deck or something like that someday, get a 20 or 25 footer.  For measuring longer lengths, you’ll notice a ‘notch’ in the tape’s end.  This will hook on a nail head and help keep the end of the tape hooked to something while you’re extending the tape measure.  Notice that when you pull the tape out, that every 16 inches, the numbers are a different color.  That is the typical spacing of the studs in the wall.  So, if you find one, chances are you can find others using your tape measure.

screwdriverEven though you’ve got yourself a cordless drill, there will be times you’ll need a manual screwdriver.  Instead of getting multiple screwdrivers, I suggest you get one that has multiple driver heads with it that can be interchanged.  That way, you will have one screwdriver instead of 4 to 6 for different applications plus there’s only one to keep track of!

A comfortable feeling razor knife is also good to have.  You know how hard it can be to open some of those packages wrapped in that hard, clear plastic.  Besides, you’ll find it necessary if you need to trim drywall or even sharpen your carpenter pencil!  Some of these knives store extra blades in the handle, so you’ve always got spare blades when you need one.

ladderUnless you’re extremely tall, a ladder is also in order.  Most jobs around the house can be handled with a 4 foot ladder.  They’ll get you high enough to paint the top corner of the walls (unless you have tall ceilings) and they’re much easier to handle than a larger ladder.  If you want to have a ladder that’s real versatile but, a little harder to handle, get an adjustable ladder such as a “Little Giant” brand.  There are other brands that do the same thing, but generally cost less.  This style of ladder makes it easier to paint around stair walls or other uneven surfaces and still feel very safe and secure.  If there’s a downside to this type of ladder, it’s the lack of a working surface to hold tools and materials.  Most manufacturers also sell a shelf attachment that will fill that need.

flipOne of the best attachments you can get for your new drill is a ‘flip drill’.  It’s not the technical name for it, but you can take this picture with you and they’ll help you find whatever that brand calls it.  This tool goes in the chuck of your drill just like a driver bit, but the other end is reversible.  With a quick release attachment you can go from your driver bit to a drill bit with a countersink.  This allows you to pre-drill a hole before inserting a screw.  The advantage of pre-drilling is that you’re less likely to split the wood you’re putting the screw into and the screw will go in with less effort.  After drilling your pilot hole, simply use the quick release and your back to your driver bit and can put in the screw without changing things in the chuck of your drill.  Besides the convenience of not changing things in your drill, the end is magnetic so it will hold the screw and make your job easier.  Not to plug any particular store, but Lowes seems to have the best one I’ve found.

headlampIf you purchase a cordless tool kit that doesn’t include a light, you might want to get a head lamp.  Yes, you might look a little dorky, but you’ll find that you always have the light where you want it, when you want it.  Sometimes working under a sink or doing electrical work when the power is off, you’re going to need some kind of light and I found these to work the best. Headlamps are the new flashlight.

Just remember that you don’t have to own every tool out there to do most household repairs.  But these basic tools will give you lots of flexibility to do those small projects.  Various wrenches might come in handy if you choose to do any plumbing work, but we can address those needs in some of the ‘How To’ e-books.  Get yourself a small tool box or bucket and keep them all together and when you go to tackle that project, you’ll have everything in one place.

Now get yourself a few tools and fix those little things that have been bugging you!!