Homeowner Hacks

By: Danny Lipford
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.

Watch Full Episode

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.
  • 874-Homeowner-Hacks-Family-Handyman-05

  • 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

894-ss-bungee-cords-workshop-tools-150x125

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Using Bungee Cords for Storing and Organizing Tools

Bungee cords have endless uses around the home, garage and even the car. Here’s a tip for using bungee cords to store and organize hand tools in the workshop. Watch the video.

894-bnp-sika-fence-post-mix-150x125

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Sika Fence Post Mix

Setting fence posts can be backbreaking work. Save your back with Sika Fence Post Mix, which mixes right in the bag and expands in the hole. It is available at The Home Depot. Watch the video.

Print

Comments

Please Leave a Comment

We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at todayshomeowner.com.

Homeowner Hacks