Homeowner Hacks

Danny Lipford and Allen Lyle join Carlsen and Larsen in The Family Handyman studio.

Danny Lipford and Allen Lyle join Travis Larsen and Spike Carlsen in The Family Handyman studio.

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If you’ve owned a home for very long, you learn to solve problems. We’ve made helping you solve those problems efficiently and inexpensively one of our goals here at Today’s Homeowner.

It’s a goal we have in common with our friends at The Family Handyman magazine, a publication that has been helping do-it-yourself homeowners since 1951. On our show we call them “Simple Solutions.” At The Family Handyman, they call them “Handy Hints.” But you may know them by the popular buzz word “hacks.”

The Today’s Homeowner crew travelled to snowy Eagan, Minn., home of The Family Handyman studio, to test out some of our favorite homeowner hacks with the magazine’s senior editor, Travis Larson, and contributing editor, Spike Carlsen.

Kitchen Hacks

Adding a tray to a kitchen drawer allows for twice the storage space.

Adding a tray to a kitchen drawer allows for twice the storage space.

The kitchen is a popular place for hacks, so that’s where we get started.

  • A “drawer in a drawer” is a great way to use all the available space in a deep kitchen drawer. Adding a removable tray doubles the storage capacity for low-profile items like cooking utensils. The tray is created using simple butt joints that are glued and pinned together. Shelf pins are used to support the tray and allow it to glide easily on top of the drawer.
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  • Add a tension rod under the kitchen sink to hang spray bottles of cleaner.
  • The counter-weights on faucet sprayer hoses are often not heavy enough to return the sprayer to its original position. Add a padlock to the hose under the sink to make it heavier.
  • Utilize the inside of kitchen cabinet doors to create a hidden message board. Glue dry-erase and metal sheets to the cabinet door, giving your family an out-of-sight space to post messages and reminders.
Use the inside of a kitchen cabinet door as a message board.

Use the inside of a kitchen cabinet door as a message board.

Bathroom Hacks

A magazine holder makes a great storage solution for hair dryers and curling irons.

A magazine holder makes a great storage solution for hair dryers and curling irons.

Many of the storage hacks used in the kitchen can also be used in the bathroom.

  • Tip-out trays, for example, are common in the kitchen for storing sponges and scrubbers. With an inexpensive tip-out drawer kit, you can turn a false-front drawer on the bathroom vanity into a space to store items like toothpaste and dental floss.
  • Screw a magazine organizer to the inside of the bathroom cabinet door. It’s perfect for holding hair dryers and curling irons when not in use. Bonus tip: Use a piece of painters tape to mark how deep you should drill the holes.

Storage Hacks

Old book covers disguise a wireless router.

Old book covers disguise a wireless router.

Storage hacks often use ordinary items in ways they weren’t originally intended.

  • Hide a wireless router behind a stack of books. Cut the spine off several books and leave the covers on two books. Glue a box to the back and cut a hole for the wires.
  • Cut pre-drilled shelving units to fit your closet for a customized organizing solution.
  • Use crown molding to hang shoes on the wall of the closet.
  • Use wire shelving in a non-traditional way. In the “dead space” behind the closet door, mount the shelf vertically rather than horizontally to hold rolls of wrapping paper.

Garage Hacks

Open stud spaces in the garage provide lots of opportunities for storage.

Open stud spaces in the garage provide lots of opportunities for storage.

A lot of garages have open stud spaces, which provide numerous options for storage.

  • Attach a box at the base of the wall and the other about 5 feet up inside the same stud bay. Hook bungee cords into the holes that were drilled into the faces of the boxes and pull them tight. This creates a flexible “cage” that will contain a lot of balls in a variety of sizes.
  • Nail a 1×4 over the studs to store long items like canoe paddles and fishing rods.

Painting Hacks

Soak brushes in mineral spirits to clean oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes.

Soak brushes in mineral spirits to clean oil-based paints, stains, and varnishes.

Painting hacks help you keep the paint where you want it and away from where you don’t.

  • Mineral spirits cleans brushes that have been used for oil-based paints, stains and varnishes. Cut slits in the lid of an old plastic container and fill it with mineral spirits. Store the brushes upright in the container, allowing the brushes to be cleaned easily and keeping them pliable for the next use.
  • Wrap a rubber band around a gallon can of paint to wipe the excess paint off the brush. This keeps the lid from getting caked with paint, so you can reseal the can completely.
  • Save the lid from an old paint can and drill a hole in it. Use a drill and mixing paddle to stir the paint. This tip can also be used on 5-gallon buckets of products that need to be mixed.
  • To prevent fuzz from getting on the wall, use a lint roller on a heavy-nap paint roller to remove fuzz and prevent it from getting on the wall. A piece of duct tape would also work.

Other Tips from This Episode


Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Tip for Cleaning Blind Slats Easily

Clean blinds easily using kitchen tongs and a sponge. Cut the sponge in half and attach it to the tongs using rubber bands. Dip tongs in warm water and clean both sides of the slat at once. Watch the video.


Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Danco Tub/Shower Trim Kit

Update the look of the tub or shower without replacing the valve. This Danco trim kit includes two handles in your choice of finish. It is available at The Home Depot. Watch the video.


Ask Danny Lipford:
How to Make and Use a Jig

A jig is a tool used in conjunction with other tools to simplify their placement and use. Some jigs can be purchased from tool manufacturers, but often the best ones are created at home using scraps of lumber you already have. Watch the video.


Please Leave a Comment

4 Comments on “Homeowner Hacks”

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  • Christy Says:
    July 12th, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    What a group of studs. Thanks for sharing, great upgrades.

  • Official Comment:

    Lindsay Hughes Says:
    May 3rd, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Peter, glad you enjoyed them. Click on the mail icon at the top or bottom of the article to email it to yourself or to share it with others. If you’d like to receive our Tips for Today’s Homeowner newsletter in your inbox, you can sign up here: http://www.todayshomeowner.com/newsletter/

    May 1st, 2016 at 5:41 am


  • Rodger Popplewell Says:
    April 30th, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Love the Show! I have a well built yard building (10 x 14) I am going to remove and have another built in it’s place by a local builder. I am looking for some advice as far as the layout of the interior of the new 20 x 24 yard building. I have started to purchase what products I feel I will need to aid in storage solutions. (Metal Peg Board and Pro Slat accessories) For now I need room for a riding mower (52″ deck) along with a standard Golf Cart.
    The build is flexible on dates but I hope to start being able to “move in” in 30 days or so. I am going to insulate it as well as having it supplied with power. Any and all recommendations are welcomed. I’m struggling over what type of lighting would be best. All I know is, I would like some LED lighting. I would offer the building for any upcoming show you would like to shoot. Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Rodger Popplewell
    Bluffton, Indiana

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Homeowner Hacks