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posted: 2/8/2013 4:25 AM

Resolve to organize your home this year

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Organizing and decluttering are in the top 10 New Year's resolutions almost every year. It seems to be very popular with our followers, too. One way to get some of your gear under control is to make the most out of your existing closet space.

There are complete kits available that can turn a plain closet into an organized storage system. Most are easy to install in just a weekend. Here are some tips to get you started:

• Measure your closet first, wall to wall and floor to ceiling. If you have a large closet, you may want to install more than one of these kits. You may even want to design your own system from components sold at your home center. But you will need these measurements to get started.

• The next step is to remove everything from the closet. This is your chance to edit it down to a manageable level. If you don't need the stuff, donate it to charity and help someone less fortunate. Storing like items together will also help you determine what type of storage you need for specific things.

• Most of these storage systems are made to be installed into wall studs. Use a stud finder to locate the studs and mark them with pencil on the wall.

• You'll also need a good level. When you get ready to install hardware, this will allow you to get things installed in just the right spot. If all you have is a small level and you need a longer one, you can attach the level to a longer, straight piece of material.

• If you need to trim or cut some of the pieces in the kit to fit your closet, use a hacksaw. This will cut through the metal pieces. Wear safety glasses and leather gloves to prevent injuries.

Most kits fit together easily after the main components are installed. You can add specialty items like drawers, bins, racks, baskets, bags and dividers.

Once you have the closet set up, you can put stuff back into it. Keep it clean. You might consider doing the rest of your closets, too.

Hanger clips are handy

We use a lot of clips in our home and shop. They come in handy all the time. Metal clips, paper clips and clothespins all are good choices. One source that you might not have thought of are hangers with clips. We end up with these when clothes are purchased, and most are plastic. You can use a hacksaw to cut them from the rest of the hanger. They work just as well as other clips and are free. Use them to hold papers together, receipts, packages or hardware. Close up bags of cement, grout, cat litter and stuff like this. Mount them to your pegboard wall to hold even more stuff.

DIY headboard

Upholstered headboards are really nice-looking, yet costly. You can make your own, though, and save a bundle. You can use a scrap of plywood or any other stiff material as your backer. Place a layer of foam rubber over that, cutting it to fit the same shape. Then drape fabric over that and wrap it around the edges. Staple or glue it onto the back of the board. Attach it to the wall, and amaze people with your creative skills!

Super hints

• Inexpensive metal shelf brackets make hanging shelves anywhere in your garage or workshop very easy to do. Most are designed with 90-degree reinforcements that can be used to hold additional materials. Add "S" hooks for even more storage of items.

• "Shop" for workshop storage in your recycling bin. Most are full of empty plastic containers, tin cans and glass jars that can be cleaned out and used to store all sorts of hardware, shop compounds and small tools.

• I have a sunroom that I keep most of my patio plants in during the winter. It's also our workout room, so I try to keep the floor clean and neat. The best way I have found to do this is to make sure all plants have trays under them to catch the excess water. I also bought a package of a dozen, clear "processing caps" at the beauty supply store to put on the bottom of all of the hanging baskets to catch their overflows. These are cheap, practically invisible and work like a charm.

Q. We are replacing our bathroom sink, which is a pedestal model. The old pedestal is shaped differently and the tile was put in around it. So now we have a gap under the new pedestal. What do we do to fill in the gap?

A. You can cut a filler piece from plywood that is the same height as the tile. If the gap will show, then you may want to remove some of the tile and install replacement pieces to patch the floor before installing the new sink.

Q. One of my toilet seats is a little crooked. I've tried to push it into place, but I really need to loosen the bolts and move it. Unfortunately, they seem to be rusted into place. How can I dissolve the rust to loosen them?

A. Have you tried spraying the bolts with WD-40? It usually will dissolve the rust and lubricate the joint. Just let it sit for a little while to give the WD-40 time to work.

Q. We have problems with low humidity in the winter. It's always dry, and we are trying to find the best way to add humidity. What would you suggest?

A. Most folks will use a humidifier. They are available in small units for just one room, or larger units that will take care of the whole house. Do a little shopping around to see what you can find that will fit into your budget and lifestyle.

Reader tips

• I wanted a new countertop in my kitchen, but after pricing granite, decided to use laminate instead. The old top was in great shape, it was just an ugly color. I bought the laminate, cut it to fit and applied the contact adhesive to the old counter and the back of the new laminate. The instructions said to use dowels, laid on top of the old counter between it and the new top to keep the adhesives from touching until you are ready. You remove them as you work along the surface. I used a nylon rope, wound back and forth along the way, so I could just pull it out as I went along. It was super easy to do and cost a lot less than dowels. The counter looks super, and I did it myself!

• Thank goodness for computers and software. I used to have to save so many documents for work. I ended up with a hole punch from the office, and am using it to organize my shop. I punch holes in things so I can hang them on my pegboard wall. I put a piece of duct tape on some things before using the hole punch; this reinforces the hole. It's a great way to store more things on one wall.

• I've been doing more and more work around our house. I don't have a toolbelt of my own yet, so I still use my husband's. It's really heavy and way too large to wear, so I carry it on my shoulder. I hang it over the top of the ladder when I'm working. It can hold the weight better than I can, and I still can get to the tools when I need to.

• We keep some of our clothes stored in a closet under the stairs. It's not a cedar-lined closet but has the cedar blocks and other cedar scents in it, so we feel like it helps deter moths and other bugs. We installed a PVC pipe, with holes drilled all along the side as our closet rod. Before putting it into the brackets, we filled it with cedar shavings. The scent stays a long time, but we do switch out the shavings when they start to diminish.

• We took your advice and bought a new thermostat to install in our house. It's been great and has helped save money on our heating costs this winter. I can't wait for next summer, because our bill really skyrockets then. I have a tip for you. When we were about to disconnect the wiring from the old thermostat, the wires tried to slip into the hole in the wall. We grabbed them and put a clothes pin around them to keep them from disappearing. After we hooked the new wires up, we pulled off the clothes pin and finished the installation. I'm not sure what we would have done if we lost the wires in the wall.


• Most DIY homeowners need to have a good shop vacuum that picks up both wet and dry messes. Workshop brand vacs are a good choice because they have some super design features as well as a whole line of vacs to choose from. The company has been around for more than 40 years, and some of their patents -- like the Qwik Lock filter fastening system, the Dual-Flex hose system and the Roll Tight locking sleeve for accessories -- are just a few of the innovations we like. They have everything from a compact, portable unit to a wall-mounted vacuum for a workshop. You can find out more at

• If you are tired of trying to keep up with the kitchen dish towel or the hand towels in your bathroom, check out the Retractable Towel Ring from Moen. It's fairly simple to install and holds a towel attached to a retractable cord, which can extend up to 11 inches from the base, attached to the wall. It's perfect for kids' bathrooms, your kitchen and even your laundry room. It is available in several popular finishes to go with your existing decor. You can find information online at and purchase one for yourself at retail home centers around the country. This is one of those wish-we-had-thought-of-it products. You'll love it.

• Write to Al and Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit the Carrells' website at

2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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