How to Maximize Your Closet Storage Space

February 02, 2016   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Closets, DIY, DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in April 2015.

Let’s talk bedroom closets.

They come in all shapes and sizes. Walk-in, reach-in, wide sliding doors or bifold doors, small doors, lofted storage, inset drawers – you name it, some closet out there is owning it. Our bedroom closets also dictate how much other storage we need in our bedroom too; armoires and drawers are common complements to one’s ordinary closet, but if you have a well-organized closed-off closet (or a super spectacular walk-in), maybe your stand-alone furniture needs aren’t as demanding.

We all have different amounts belongings, and varied organizational demands of our bedroom closets, but when it comes right down to it, don’t we all want to make the most of our space? Sometimes, what would appear to be a functional closet can be re-thought simply, and maximized to better serve one’s needs. This here isn’t my closet, but it’s a great point of inspiration. Mine is significantly less “OOH,” and lots of “ohh,” as you’ll see for yourself a few photos down page.

The master bedroom in my home has two separate closets, which I think is a really nice touch and not something you find all that often. I claimed the slightly larger one when we moved in (naturally) and inside, it measures 5′ wide x 2′ deep. It’s modest, but I think think that’s a great closet size, especially considering it’s not shared.

A simple closet, before being transformed into a functional, usable space.

The glitch is, the entryway to my closet is narrow, a doorway only 2′ wide, and with the hanging bar situated where it is, and a shelf running at eye-level the full 5′ length, accessing the depths of the closet to the left and the right of the doorway was basically impossible on a day-to-day basis. Those places I couldn’t reach went unused. My 5′ wide closet was essentially shrunken to a 2′ wide reach-in closet.

A closet that's deep and hard to access through a small doorway.

It didn’t take long to realize the potential of using the closet differently.

My goals with this closet makeover are pretty straight-forward:

  • I’m going to remove all of the existing inner structure, including the hanging bar, the raised shelf above it, and all of the wooden “brackets” that have been used to anchor it for the last 65 years.
  • I want to maximize easy-to-reach hanging space.
  • I need better shoe organization.
  • I need to maintain some open shelving – this may be the ex-retail employee in me, but I do love neatly folded stacks of clothes. I mean, hanging is a necessity for many items, but I prefer to keep the jeans and sweaters folded on shelves within reach. Some open shelving will also be good for small baskets and bins, in which I can store accessories like scarves and hats.
  • While I’m at it, paint. Gutting the closet is going to cause some paint damage. Wait and see.
  • A mirror. Because there are no full-length mirrors in our home! And it probably shows.
  • And a new light? I love that my closet has a ceiling light (there’s a door hinge light switch that makes the light come on when I open the door, like a refrigerator).

Now go see the closet transformation and get easy tips for making the most of a small closet.

Make This Modern, Upcycled Bird Feeder

February 02, 2016   //  Posted in: Backyard, DIY, DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in April 2015.

Enjoy this Earth Day upcycle for the birds!

Bird watching from your own home is a really special and educational experience. Create this DIY bird feeder using simple bowls, a threaded rod, and inexpensive hardware to make a custom piece. This bird feeder was designed to hang right outside our kitchen window, and promises draw quite a crowd every morning – bluebirds, robins, sparrows, you name it!

How to make a modern bird feeder using porcelain bowls.

Step 1:

Choose two bowls, and a third platter that is slightly wider than your larger bowl – for the platter, which will serve as a canopy to cover the bowls from weather and squirrels, wood, wicker (like I chose), or a coordinating plate are all options. This project is flexible enough that you can choose almost any materials that appeal to your style.

Porcelain, ceramic, glass or melamine will work equally well.

Materials to make a DIY bird feeder.

Step 2:

Gather the hardware and tools you need for the job:

1) 1/4″–20 threaded rod. A 3′ length cost only $2.25, and you will only need half of the length for this project.
Hack saw
(1) 3/8″ glass & tile drill bit. The packaging on my $10 bit specifically says that it’s good for ceramic and glass but not porcelain or stone, but I bore through porcelain bowls with it successfully (just pointing this out). Even though your threaded rod is 1/4″-diameter, the 1/4″ glass & tile bit won’t create a hole wide enough for the threads on the rod, which is why I went up a bit size to 3/8″.
A 1/4″ standard bit (used for drilling through my wicker platter, or if your canopy is made of wood)
Corded drill (powerful, and more consistently powerful than cordless tools)
(6) washers – $1
(6) 1/4″ hex nuts – $1
(1) 1/4″ coupling nut – $3
(1) 1/4″ x 4″ J-Bolt – $1

Materials to make a DIY bird feeder.

Step 3:

Use the 3/8 glass & tile bit to bore through the bottom center of both bowls. To help prevent it from shattering, activate the drill slowly to avoid chatter, and line the inside of the bowl with a “X” of tape (whether it did a lot for me, I’m not sure, I’m just following logic to help prevent glass from shattering).

I can’t reiterate enough that this drilling process may take you hours or days – your hands will be cramped and may reverberate for hours. I’m sure it depends entirely on your material and tools, but my bit was brand new (sharp) and it still bore in an astonishingly slow way. In my experience, drilling through glass is considerably quicker.

Allow the weight of the drill to contribute to the pressure on the bit – don’t force it too hard with your own muscles, or you’ll risk shattering the bowl. It’s not quick, but keep with it and you will see gradual progress as the bit gets deeper through the material.

Drill through porcelain.

Step 4:

What I’m getting at is, when you bore through the bowl, you’re going to want to throw yourself a party.

The hole will eventually poke through the other side of the bowl, at which time it would be a good idea to remove the tape on the inside of the bowl, and continue to widen the opening by drilling through the opposite side.

Drill through porcelain.

Step 5:

The hole will need to be wide enough to fit your 1/4 threaded rod.

Before you secure the bowl, take a minute with the hack saw to cut the 3′ rod in half. Note that the manufactured product has two “machined” ends which make threading a nut easy; when you saw through the center, you will find that it may be harder to twist a nut on the cut ends because the thread has been disrupted by the sawing. For this reason, you will want to fasten all components of this bird feeder so that the cut end rests at the bottom of the bird feeder (all nuts will have to be rotated slowly down the length of the rod).

One good thing to be said about this project is that the entire product is hand-tightened, therefore is easy to be hand-loosened if necessary.

Drill through porcelain.

Step 6:

Assemble the bird feeder by anchoring the larger bowl with a washer and a nut.

Assemble an upcycled bird feeder.

Step 7:

Add a washer and nut to the inside of the bowl as well; sandwiching the bowl between the nuts will help keep it tightly in place (not wobbly).

Assemble an upcycled bird feeder.

Step 8:

Thread on another nut and washer, twisting the nut to a spot on the rod where you want the second bowl to rest. Add the second, smaller bowl on top of that and anchor it in place.

Assemble an upcycled bird feeder.

Step 9:

Use the 1/4 drill bit to create a hole in the center of your bird feeder canopy. The canopy serves two purposes – it helps to keep squirrels out, and it shelters the feeder to some degree from rain. I like the wicker tray because it’s really lightweight, but a wooden platter or simple upside down plate would be a great idea too.

Natural canopy for a modern bird feeder.

Step 10:

Use washers and nuts on either side of the canopy to lock it in place on the threaded rod.

Natural canopy for a modern bird feeder.

Step 11:

You should have a few inches available at the top of the rod. Thread the coupling halfway on to the tip, and then thread the J-Hook into the coupling until the connection is tight.

Assembling a hook for the modern bird feeder.

Step 12:

Hang your finished bird feeder outside to enjoy!

How to make a modern bird feeder using porcelain bowls.

(Note: It photographed easier at eye-level, but for our own pleasure and to help keep squirrels from paying it special attention, this will actually be hung on the house eave outside our kitchen window. The joy!)

The Art Room Organization Challenge

January 27, 2016   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Organized, The Art Room   //  By: Emily   //  7 responses


I’ve been invited again to participate in a challenge with other bloggers, tasked with the broad assignment of building something organizational. The art room I gave you a peek of earlier this week fell right in tune, and today I’m ready to show you its current state. At the end of the post you’ll find links to the other participating blogs – enjoy!

Transformations like this remain my favorite type of projects, but it’s not often that we have the opportunity to completely rethink a space with a dramatic effect. Last month, what was just a corner of the basement is now a 16’x24′ art room studio for our whole family to use. We built walls. We painted. We reconfigured lighting, furniture, and now? We organize.

Our basement art room makeover and transformation.

What did that same vantage point look like on January 2nd, when we spontaneously framed out a few walls? Dark and basement-y.

Building walls in a basement art room.

The result of this project really surprised us; we have a vision of what the basement itself could become with drop ceilings and carpeting or floating hardwoods and an extra bedroom and maybe even a finished laundry room, but a spontaneous art room? Had you asked me around Christmas if that was on my mind… nope.

The mission of our art room ended up being two-fold:

  1. To give our kids and their friends a space that can be a mess with paint and glue and games;
  2. To relocate the bins and drawers full of crafts that were occupying valuable space on the main level of our house.

#2 literally forced us into an entire household reorganization, which was unintended but super wonderful. We have so much new closet space upstairs now!

In the art room, open storage is our friend. There will be no out-of-sight, out-of-mind, there will be no crafts left behind, games will be easy to access, and the bigger toys, like our chalkboard, have a dedicated space where they can be enjoyed. (Psst. The support beam running behind the chalkboard? It’s waiting for a coat of paint. It’ll be our height measurement post for the next few decades.)

Organizing the art room.

There are open containers of colored pencils and chalk within reach, and plenty of storage on our IKEA shelving along one wall. More shelving is definitely in our future, but it’s nice to be able to use what we have now. We’re going to hook up a TV on the stand towards the corner, but mostly envision the space being bright, open, and simple.

Organizing a new art room.

Making use of old furnishings has been the most efficient part of this whole process – it gave many items that were staged for sale or donation an unexpected lease on life. Our old couch, decor too dark and rustic for our current white/light wood palette, old lamps, and miscellaneous art will find a home here over time as we continue to optimize the space for our family.

One thing that might surprise you is that when we removed the carpeting to install hardwoods upstairs, we saved several large remnants. The rug was clean and in fair condition, and one of the larger remnants ended up being a perfect fit in this new space.

Recycled carpeting for the floor in our new art room.

Our newest acquisition is a large 3’x4′ flat file that for now, and maybe permanently with the right finished top, suffices as a coffee table in the center of the space. It’s now home to our many, many prints, maps, and large scale pieces that were slowly being wrinkled to death in various other places around the house. This is the most organized our art has ever been.

Pete tuning his guitar in the art room.

Other pieces of art are slowly finding a new home on all of the new available wall space. A barn wood frame that dates back to when I sold via Etsy now hangs with a very aptly timed Star Wars Lego poster that Pete received last year as part of a sweet collaboration with Lucasfilm. Just out of sight is one of Julia’s kitty posters, “Just hangin’ around.” You know the one.

Offering more storage potential, I attached a shoe organizer on the backside of the curtain rod that extends over the doorway. I’m leaving it up to the kids to sort that thing with paint brushes and pipe cleaners in a way that works for them.

Art Room Star Wars Lego Poster

The best part of this for me is that I know it’s a space that will be ever-evolving and adapting to meet the needs of our kids. There will always be a rotation of crafts in progress, and now we’ve given them a permanent space in which they can create and learn… without the expectation of having it cleared off the dining room table before setting it for dinner.

Check out what the other bloggers in this Organization challenge are doing – the range in creativity is pretty awesome.