Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

DIY Storage Solutions for Your Home

By: Danny Lipford

Storage space is at a premium in most homes, so it only makes sense to maximize the space you have. Watch this video for some great do-it-yourself projects to increase the storage space in your home, including:

  • Closets: How to add an adjustable metal wire shelving system to your closets.
  • Under Bed: Construct a large drawer on casters to make storage under your bed easy.
  • Laundry Room: Build shelves, cubbies, and a fold-down ironing board for your laundry room.
  • Attic: Add shelf brackets and shelves to your rafters for easy attic storage.
  • Kitchen: Install a lid or cookie sheet rack inside kitchen cabinet doors.
  • Bookcase: Build a bookcase in your den, living room, or bedroom for added storage.
  • Bathroom: Add a window seat, medicine cabinet, and toilet topper cabinet to your bathroom.
  • Charging Station: Make a built-in charging station for cell phones and iPods.

Read episode article to find out more.

Print   Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: Everyone needs more storage, but you don’t have to buy a bigger house to get it. This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re digging in to nine great storage solutions that can make your house feel bigger. So stay right here for some tips you can use.

You know one thing we can all agree on is the need for more storage around our homes. And we’re about to tackle nine different projects that will maximize the space you already have available. Now, I’m working on a little project here in the workshop that will be a great storage solution for a bedroom, and I’ll show you how that turns out in just a little while.

But if you don’t have a workshop or a garage or the time or maybe the skill to put together a little project like this, then you can just pick up the phone and call many of the specialty companies or a handyman service that can help you on your storage solution, or you can go to the home center and buy something that’s already pre-made and install it in your home. That’s a much more manageable project, and that’s exactly what Allen and Jodi are tackling right now.

Allen Lyle: Jodi and I are kicking off the storage solution show with the place where everybody needs some help—more space in the closet. Now of course you can get systems built for you by professionals, or you can try it yourself. And actually I’m going to learn a little bit today, because Jodi’s done this quite a bit before. We’re going to build a system. What have we got Jodi?

Jodi Marks: Well, actually, we went to the home improvement store the other day, and we picked out a system just right off the shelf which I love. Now there are different types of styles that you can get, but the one that I like the best that’s so easy to install is a track system where you install the track along the top of the closet and then you have standers, Allen, that hang down and you can adjust those to varying widths and then you can either put a hanging rod or you can put a shelf there to just kind of help you keep your clothes and things organized. I love them.

Allen Lyle: And we also picked up a system that’s got some drawers that we can hang on the same standers, right?

Jodi Marks: Right. Yep.

Allen Lyle: All right, well, let’s get started.

Jodi Marks: Okay, good.

Allen Lyle: Earlier we removed the old shelf and hanging rod that were here so we could start from scratch. Now we’re ready to open up the boxes for our new system so we can see what we have to work with.

Now even with a package system like this one, you’ll need to do a little test fitting to determine exactly how you want the closet configured. And believe me, it’s time well spent before you begin marking walls and drilling holes.

Because having studs right where you need them is a hit or miss composition at best, this system comes with a generous supply of toggle bolts which are mounted on the track before it goes on the wall. Now on the odd location where we do actually hit a stud, we’re using some long wood screws that are also provided.

When the tracks are level and secure you can begin laying out the vertical supports, or the standers. This positioning is important because the shelves have to end over a support and you need one at least every 24 inches along its length. We’re using a reciprocating saw to cut the shelves but a hack saw or bolt cutters would work just as well.

When you’re certain of the locations for the vertical supports, they’re also secured to the wall with toggles or screws. We’re adding the hardware at the bottom for the drawer unit before we move onto the upper shelves and hanging rods that mount beneath them. All in all, looks pretty good.

And there you have it. We’ve spent about 100 dollars, I think, on material for the shelving and for the drawers. And of course about two, two-and-a-half, three hours.

Jodi Marks: Oh, we did not, Allen. No we did not.

Allen Lyle: Ok, we sang songs, made s’mores.

Jodi Marks: We did, we did. We took a break.

Allen Lyle: But not too much effort, not too much time, not too much money; and you have really maximized use of this closet space.

Jodi Marks: We really have, and the nice thing is that this is a great beginner DIY project because it is so simple. We used very simple tools. We used a drill, we used a level, we used a recip saw where needed, but you may not even need to use that, you can use a hack saw, and now we’re just touching up the paint here, and voila!

Allen Lyle: It’s done.

Jodi Marks: It looks great.

Danny Lipford: While Allen and Jodi were tricking out that closet, I’ve been working on my storage solution. I’m using MDF, or medium density fiberboard, to build it. And this stuff is great for storage applications, because it’s fairly inexpensive but very strong.

It has a smooth surface on both the face and the edge so, unlike plywood, there are no raw edges that have to be covered. This stuff is also great for customizing closets if you have some decent carpenter skills because you can make shelves or cubbies any depth you’d like.

Speaking of cubbies, they are a great addition, not only for closets, but also for laundry rooms. Storage tip number two, add cubbies to a laundry room and make each one large enough to accommodate a laundry hamper.

With several of these spaces, you can assign each member of your family their own hamper or use them to separate the laundry by color and type of fabric before it goes into the wash.

Now, this is our number three storage solution: utilizing all the space you have available under the bed. Now recently I moved my daughter into her college dorm room and everybody in the dorm was utilizing that space under the bed. Some people were even raising the bed up a little bit to even create more space.

Now, what I did in the shop is basically create just a shallow little box with casters on the bottom and a handle on the front that is customized for the space we have under the bed. That’s one of the advantages of building it yourself because you can buy these ready-made that are plastic and usually clear plastic with the casters that you can use under the bed.

And also, we’ve even used some old drawers from a chest of drawers with wheels on it and it already had the handle on it and could move it right in and out from underneath the bed. Now we could paint or stain this if you wanted to but that’s one of the advantages of it. Because once you slide it under the bed, it disappears.

Joe Truini: I’m always looking for effective ways to organize my workshop. And here’s a system that’s worked really well in the past. I went out and got a couple of these clear plastic boxes that are used for tackle, fishing tackle, and I use them in the shop. Now, here’s a smaller one you see I’m using for fasteners, different screws and nails.

What I really like about these boxes is that they come with these plastic dividers and you can plug them in anywhere you want so depending on the size of the fastener, you can customize the storage. Now the larger boxes I like for hand tools.

And again, they have the plastic dividers so you can set the dividers wherever you need to to accommodate the tools you’re storing. This particular sized box is perfect for longer items, because if you remove a divider you can store something as long as 13 inches. And these boxes only cost anywhere from four to five dollars apiece.

The other advantage to this system is that it’s clear, so you can see exactly what you have. You don’t have to open it up to see. Some of them even have this little hanging system so you can put it on the wall of your workshop. But what I really like is they latch securely closed so you can just close them up and take it with you.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of very simple storage solutions. Nine to be exact and we’ve already shown you three, and now we’re about to tackle the fourth solution in this hot attic.

Allen Lyle: Now, the problem with an attic, it’s like that junk drawer in your house that gets everything thrown in to it. The attic is like the junk drawer of your entire house. Take a look at all the stuff that’s up here.

Now here’s the problem. So often, the stuff gets put everywhere, even where it shouldn’t be. We had a lot of boxes on the ductwork here. Never a good idea.

Danny Lipford: And rarely do you have a wall like this that you can build traditional shelving so we’re having to solve this problem by building a little shelf section here by hanging the shelf off the roof rafters.

Allen Lyle: Now what we did was actually just create some L brackets out of two by fours. We measured, gott the right distance there and again just used a little bit of drywall screws putting into the rafters here, here, made sure it was level and plumb, and that got all the weight off of our duct.

Danny Lipford: It makes it a lot easier if you have a reference point. So, we used a chalk line to top a line across the top part of this so that the top part of the brackets would all line up. That way when we put our shelf board in, everything works out really nice.

Now we only have the three brackets up right now so that we can kind of wiggle our shelf board in. We’re about to put up a couple more so that we can make sure it will support any of the weight we put on this.

Allen Lyle: While we finish up our attic shelf solution, why don’t you take a look at Joe’s number five storage tip that he recently shared with Danny.

Danny Lipford: We get a lot of emails wanting us to show more kitchen storage ideas. Joe has got a great one here.

Joe Truini: The biggest challenge in any kitchen is how to store the lids for your pots and pans. Too often they simply get tossed into the cabinet then you can never find the right lid for the pot you’re using. My idea was to use a towel rack mounted on the back of the door to store the lids.

All I did is I mounted one bracket to the back of the door then I held the second bracket in place, so that I could mark the bar to length. Then I cut it with a hacksaw and used a piece of sandpaper to smooth off the edges. Now I just have to screw it to the back of the door. If you could hold that for me.

Danny Lipford: Ok, sure.

Joe Truini: And what you have to make sure you do is replace the screws that come with the bracket because they come with one and a quarter inch screws which are too long. These are one-inch screws, which work perfectly. Then you can just slip the lids right behind there and the handles keep them from falling throw.

Danny Lipford: Now I guess, depending on the size of the door, you could actually put a second one down there for smaller lids.

Joe Truini: Right, you can see this we actually could have raised up a little bit and would have allowed room for a second rack. But the most important thing is that the lids are neatly organized and you can just store them away.

Danny Lipford: The family room is another great place to maximize storage and built ins are the way to do it. An offset between two walls is a great place for a built in, so the spaces on either side of this fireplace are ideal for a set of bookshelves and corner entertainment center.

The homeowner, Scott, starts building the bookshelves in small sections in his workshop. These sections, which are also made from the MDF material we used earlier, will be joined together later. The shelves and the dimensional lumber that will be used to trim them out are primed and painted before they head inside. The two by four base he’s attaching to the walls and floor will raise the shelves up and give them a toe kick area, making them look more like cabinetry than just stand alone shelves.

The individual shelf sections are set in place on top of the base then attached to it, each other and the wall studs. At this point it still looks like a set of shelves, but when the pre-painted trim beings going in to cover the raw edges and frame the piece, it begins looking a lot more like cabinetry.

The top helps an awful lot too. It’s still just a piece of MDF which has a cove detail routed into the edge to match the adjacent mantle. The opposite side of the fireplace gets only one bookcase so that the remaining area can be used for a corner entertainment center. It will be built in place starting with the toe kick to establish the footprint.

From there, the sides and base are added, along with the central shelf for video and audio equipment. The work slows down here a little bit because all of the detail involved in matching the angles for the diagonal front of this section.The top is a bit more complex, too, because of the size, but eventually, it all gets done and a final coat of paint goes on before a new set of doors are added to complete the cabinetry look and the project.

The bookshelves provide plenty of room for family photos, knickknacks and of course a few books. And the electronics cabinet, this large cabinet, plenty of room for all the equipment to keep everybody entertained. CDs, DVDs, and of course all those video games.

You know the thing that’s nice about this of course it has a very nice built in look and it actually takes up less floor space than the furniture that was here before, so it makes the room appear a little bit larger and definitely has improved the value of this home.

Hey, Jodi has a Best New Product this week that can really help you if you’re thinking of a project like this.

Jodi Marks: We’ve seen a lot of new products come out lately to help with hanging pictures and putting up shelving. I’m talking about some really cool, space aged, hands free, shooting lasers, Buck Rogers type tools.

But sometimes, it’s really the simple ideas that are the best. Take a look at this 36-inch Gecko Grip level from Black & Decker. You see these little orange pads on the back? These will grip the wall so you can level with just one hand, and it won’t leave any marks on the wall.

But here’s where the simplicity really shines. These marking targets slide so you can align them with them with the mounts on the back of the picture you want to hang. Then, place the level on the wall, and mark the surface using the targets and you’ll be able to hang things with picture perfect results everytime.

Now, here’s the 24-inch model. It’s got the same gripping pads, but look at this. It has a smaller torpedo level inside and check this out. Inside the torpedo level is a stud sensor that will also detect wood or metal studs. Both these items do a really good job at giving a new meaning to level headed ideas.

Danny Lipford: One area of the home that’s always a problem in finding enough space for everything is the bathroom. Now many of you may have a vanity like this bathroom does, and it does hold a lot of stuff, but if you use it for towel storage, it’ll fill up really quick. So, our number seven storage solution, is a toilet topper cabinet, readily available at home centers, or you can have Joe build you a custom one.

Joe Truini: Thanks Danny. This two-shelf toilet topper I built out of three quarter inch MDF. Then I added a simple pine face frame. And the nice thing about building it yourself as opposed to buying one, is that the store bought ones are typically only about eight or nine inches deep. This one is twelve inches deep, so you see, there’s plenty of room for full sized bath towels.

Now in the construction, I added two cleats to the back, and then that allows me to drive screws through the cleats and into the wall studs. And that’s really important that you drive screws into the studs so it’s really secure and it won’t come off the wall.

Now the other thing that’s important to remember is that when you’re building with MDF in the bathroom, you have to paint all surfaces and all edges to seal off the moisture.

Danny Lipford: And the thing about this type of project too is that you can take your measurements and you can do all the work outside, prime and paint it, come right in, install it on the wall, and you’ve gotten that towel storage problem taken care of.

Joe Truini: Now this is a great idea if you have open storage. But sometimes in a bathroom, you want lockable, secure storage.

Danny Lipford: In a trade show earlier this year, we found a new take on the medicine cabinet from the folks at NuTone. This one locks so that the contents are kept safe from those little hands. A built in medicine cabinet is a great way to maximize space in the bathroom because it takes advantage of the vacant space between the studs and the wall which would otherwise go unused.

It’s just the right size for small toiletries and other items you need to store in your bathroom. So, it’s a great solution. Like other medicine cabinets, it’s designed to fit between existing studs. So instillation is easy for new construction or renovation applications. And the locking feature makes it safe for the whole family.

Allen Lyle: Our number nine storage idea is to create extra space using the area between your wall studs. And I’ve got a great idea that’s going to help bring this 40 plus year old kitchen into the 21st century.

What I’m building here is a cabinet to store cell phones and cell phone chargers. In this case, I’m using oak so I can stain it to match the paneling in the kitchen.

Since a two by four is actually three and a half inches wide, we know what the depth of our cabinet will be. And most wall studs are spaced on sixteen-inch centers, so we have about fourteen and a half inches to work with in between. So the only dimension to decide on is the height.

The back, sides and shelves will be made from plywood while the solid oak I’m ripping will be used to trim out the front. Putting the body of the cabinet together goes pretty easy if you’ve measured and cut accurately and this solid trim will create a lip around the front to cover the raw edge where we cut into the wall. And when the finished work is done, that’s exactly what I’m ready to do.

If this were drywall instead of paneling, we wouldn’t even need the jigsaw, but even so, it’s easy enough to rough out the opening. Since I’ll need power for my chargers, I’m fishing a piece of wire down to an electrical box below to make my connections, with the breaker turned off of course. Then I can connect it to the box that I’ve mounted on the underside of the cabinet, and wire up the new outlet.

When I’m sure it all fits and the whole thing is level, a few nails along the side, secure the cabinet. And the final touch is to screw in these little cup hooks so you’ve got a place to hang your keys.

Now, one final thought. Even when you aren’t charging your phones, if your charger is plugged in, it’s still drawing power. So, install a surge protector instead and just turn it off when you’re not charging those phones. It’s a simple way to think green. Speaking of, let’s do a little green thinking with Danny.

Danny Lipford: Paper or plastic? My answer is to get rid of all of these plastic bags. The EPA determined that between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are used and discarded every year but less than one percent of them are recycled. The other 99% end up in landfills or get dumped in the ocean.

Plastic bags are made from polyethylene. That means if we reduce the production of plastic bags, we reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Now, cloth bags like these are available everywhere. And if just one person in five would start using a cloth bag for groceries, over 1.3 trillion bags would be saved.

Many countries have already banned the use of these bags and hopefully we’ll follow suit soon. So on your next trip to the store, remember the rule of BYOB. Bring your own bag.

In case you haven’t been counting, we’ve covered all nine storage solutions for all over the house. A closet makeover is always a hit, whether you hire a pro or you do it yourself. Adding cubbies to a laundry room makes storing and organizing hampers a snap, while using that space under the bed makes for quick, out of site storage.

Our attic shelving will organize some of the chaos upstairs, and Joe’s tricks for the kitchen should smooth out some of those cooking chores. Allen’s in-wall organizer is a great solution, and for far more secure storage, that locking medicine cabinet is the ticket. Or maybe you need some built-ins to show off the stuff you store.

Okay, we’ve taken away all of your excuses not to get organized around your house. You know it never ceases to amaze me all the different ideas there are to maximize all the different space you have around your house to store all the stuff we seem to accumulate. But if you have an idea that you’d like to share with our viewers, we’d love to hear about it, go to our website at dannylipford.com.

Hey, thanks for being with us. Hope to see you next week here on Today’s Homeowner.

If money is tight, and it usually is, join us next week for some great ways to make it go farther while improving your home.

If you would like to purchase a DVD copy of this week’s show, visit dannylipford.com, or call us at 251-478-3345.


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