Find out how to tackle these three storage solution projects for your home:
Closet Makeover: Increase access to your closet by converting sliding doors to hinged closet doors. Add additional shelving and double hanging rods to increase storage space.
Attic Flooring: Build an elevated floor in an attic to increase the storage area while allowing for adequate insulation between the attic floor and house.
Storage Shed Addition: Add an addition to the side of a storage shed to allow for storage of ladders and other tools.
Read episode article to find out more.
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- Simple Garage Storage Solutions (video)
- Garage Organization (article)
- How to Build a Storage Area Under a Deck (video)
Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re tackling America’s favorite topic, storage. There’s some great ideas to improve your home and cut the clutter right here.
Gayle Alexander: I’m almost scared…
Danny Lipford: Are you scared for me to open it? Oh, yeah!
Gayle Alexander: Be kind.
Danny Lipford: You know, I hear homeowner’s say all the time, “I wish I had more closet space.” Well, it might be that the closet space you have is not being utilized as well as it could be. That’s exactly what we are about to prove to homeowner Gayle Alexander.
Gayle Alexander: All right, Danny, this was the closet that we’re trying to do something. I’m almost scared for you to open it.
Danny Lipford: Are you scared for me to open it? Oh, yeah!
Gayle Alexander: Be kind.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, I would say you’re using almost every bit of it there.
Gayle Alexander: As much as I can. That’s the problem with these houses in this neighborhood. This is such a great neighborhood. But the closets are so small.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, we can figure a few things out here that I know we can improve a lot. We have done a lot of closets like this. Of course, it depends a lot on how you use it. Whether it’s more long hanging things or short things and whether or not you need cubicles, that kind of stuff. But I’ll tell you, let’s go ahead and get… I’ll do some measuring. And I’ll let you do some writing.
Gayle Alexander: Oh good, all right.
Danny Lipford: Draw you a little picture there. And then we’ll see what we have here. You know what, another thing. These bypass doors are so frustrating ’cause they’re always problematic as far as actually working. And also you can only see half the closet.
Gayle Alexander: And they come loose.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, yeah. And they’re always hanging like that. So, I think we’ll measure it. But most of these we can trim down a little bit and actually put hinges on each side to where they open up.
Gayle Alexander: That would help. Thank you. That’s great.
Danny Lipford: All right, let’s see what we can do here. All right, let’s see. We’re eight-foot tall. And we’re about 65 inches long. So that’s going to be a little tricky. We have to cut just a little off of each one. If we get a quarter off here, here and the other one, that’s a full inch. That’s just what we need.
Gayle Alexander: Great.
Danny Lipford: All right, let me get rid of this.
Gayle Alexander: Okay.
Danny Lipford: Then the hard part. Pulling all of this stuff out of here.
Gayle Alexander: Oh, no! Well…
Danny Lipford: Tight! Actually has a little shoe rack down there already.
Gayle Alexander: Right.
Danny Lipford: You know, that’s really not a bad idea ’cause that’s the kind of space that, you know, you can tuck shoes along there. You can see them. You know, if you have this shaped right, where you can see everything. So, we’ll be able to utilize that. I think we’ll be able to save that. But the color, you know, it could be a much lighter color and certainly give you a lot more light in there.
Gayle Alexander: Well, there’s nothing like airing your laundry in front of everybody, is there?
Danny Lipford: That’s okay. Everybody has a closet like this. Once the clothes are cleared we can remove the old shelves, hardware and the track for that bypass door. The new material for the closet is outside. So that’s where we map out our plan for the new design to maximize all the space available. I’ll tell you what. There isn’t a whole lot of carpentry work to do. I’ll go ahead and take care of that. If you don’t mind doing a little painting, you can start priming that dark color inside.
Gayle Alexander: Okay. That sounds great.
Danny Lipford: That sound good? You do that, I’ll take care of this.
Gayle Alexander: All right.
Danny Lipford: Okay. You know, all these alterations on the closet are going to help a lot. But there’s so many clothes in there. Might be time for a yard sale. These pre-primed shelf boards should lighten things up. And once Gayle finishes priming and painting the closet, it’ll really be bright. For the shelf boards, medium density fiber board or MDF works really well. But for the wall cleats you’ll want to use just regular lumber, like one by fours and one by twos for the strength that it has. Now, while the paint in the closet dries, Gayle helps me cut down the existing doors so that we can mount them on hinges. We’re removing about five-eighths of an inch from each one so that they’ll fit side by side in the opening.
Gayle Alexander: Now, when you take it off though, will the innards of the door be exposed?
Danny Lipford: Yeah, look right here. But with hollow-core doors like this you have to be sure you don’t compromise the solid wood perimeter. A good closet layout starts with a level line on the inside wall for the first cleat, then you build from there. Whether you use a nail gun, an old-fashion hammer or screws be sure you hit the studs. While we’re adding some vertical cleats to support the hanging rods I discovered that Gayle may be a finish carpenter in the making. This is where you get to make your nail gun debut.
Gayle Alexander: Oh, all right.
Danny Lipford: She’s really starting to get into this as we put in the sweater shelves on the side of the closet. And soon we’re ready for caulk, putty and a little more paint. To complete the conversion of the closet doors I start by scribing the edge of them with a butt marker. This makes it easier to mortise out the shape of a door hinge with a chisel. To get the measurement for the casing side of the hinges you simply add one-eighth of an inch to the distance you measured down from the top of the door and repeat the mortising process. On the top edge of each door opposite the hinges, we add a roller ball catch to hold the door in place when it’s closed.
Now, we are ready to hang the doors. Make a few adjustments, perfect right there, and add door stops to the casing. On the front of the doors, we’re adding dummy knobs to make opening them a lot easier. Inside the closet, the hardware can finally go in to complete the project. The hanging rods, assorted hooks and hangers and a full-length mirror for the door. All totaled, we’ve only spent $150 to completely transform this closet. All right, Gayle, looks like we’re pretty well wiped down and ready for you to stock back up your closet. Don’t you think you’ll get a lot more use out of this?
Gayle Alexander: I know I will. It looks great, too. I’m so excited about getting stuff in. So you’re ready to help me with that?
Danny Lipford: Well, I don’t know about that. You know, that might take a little while and a little finesse to do that. But, you know, couple of good ideas. You know, you have the shelving here. You have the double rods, now you have the mirror. You have the hooks and everything. But we have another idea. I know you probably wondered what we were doing with these earlier. Well, you know traditionally you would use something like this in a kitchen to kind of utilize this space. So we thought utilizing these here would be something that you could put, you know, wallets or anything small. And then the florist foam that we have here, you could put like brooches or pins and things like that. And then you’ll be able to access that and still have room on the shelf. But just thought it’d be a little something extra.
Gayle Alexander: Wait a minute. I’ve got one thing I got to initiate the closet. So hang on, just going to get something.
Danny Lipford: Aw. Oh, now how long have you had Davy Jones clothes hanger?
Gayle Alexander: Davy’s been with me… I think I was 10 years old. And I bought it at a yard sale. And he’s been in every closet, so…
Danny Lipford: There we go. It’s official.
Gayle Alexander: It’s official. It’s my closet. And it’s beautiful. Thank you, Danny.
Danny Lipford: Sure.
Joe Truini: When working on a ladder, it’s nice to have some place to store your cordless drill to keep it from falling and crashing to the floor. Here’s one idea. Make a little holster from a piece of vinyl downspout or in this case, I actually cut it from an elbow.
I didn’t have any downspout, so I went and bought this elbow for just a couple of dollars and I cut it with a hacksaw. And the nice thing about that is you can just screw it right to the ladder. This is a couple of two and five-eighth inch long screws with washers on it. You don’t want them too long. So they don’t go through the ladder, of course. And you want to make sure you pre-drill a pilot hole so that you don’t split the wooden rail.
And the other important thing is you have to keep this high enough so that the metal braces, when the ladder is folded shut, the braces will clear this. Okay, so once you have that screwed in place, it’s just a nice place to store your drill. It’s also important to lock the trigger, so that if it rests on the trigger you don’t drain the battery. Now you can work safely on the ladder and if you’re going up and down, shaking the ladder the drill won’t fall out.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re digging into storage solutions. And I have been helping homeowner Gayle Alexander convert a dysfunctional ’60s closet into a space she could really use. With some elbow grease and a little paint, lumber and hardware, we’ve made a pretty big difference. And now she’s moving her stuff back in. Hey, let’s see what she thinks.
Gayle Alexander: Danny, I’m really excited to show you what I’ve done.
Danny Lipford: Oh, how did everything turn out in here?
Gayle Alexander: It’s great. I’ve got so much room for my shirts and my pants and then, you know, I’ve got this room here to work. And I still got some more stuff to load in.
Danny Lipford: Do you think you had enough space for the long hanging things? I know you had some question as to whether or not that would be enough.
Gayle Alexander: It is. Because most of the stuff I wear is separates and not dresses. So, this is… This is great.
Danny Lipford: Okay. And I know you still have a little bit of space left here. What do you think about the lazy Susan idea? You think it’ll work?
Gayle Alexander: I think it’s going to be great. It’s going to help me keep a little more organized. And you can even see the shoe rack now. Before, you couldn’t see the shoes.
Gayle Alexander: It’ll be a lot easier to get dressed in the mornings.
Danny Lipford: Well, you mentioned to me a while back about you’d love to develop some space in your attic. Allen’s dropping by in a little bit. We’re going to get up in that hot attic and see what we can do there. Any idea how old you think this house is?
Allen Lyle: Judging by the tile in the bathroom, I’d say it was built in the early to mid ’60s.
Danny Lipford: See I got a light on right here. Pretty typical… Whoa! Look at this right here. Come on up. I don’t know if you want to be on those stairs. Check this out. Looks like they had it tied off somewhere and now they got it tied off with just a piece of chain like that
Allen Lyle: Oh, gee whiz!
Danny Lipford: And you know what, there’s no lag bolts in this thing. There’s always supposed to be lags tying it in to the framing. And not one of them here.
Allen Lyle: Oh, did you see this? Look, the duct over here is crushed.
Danny Lipford: You always see that. I guess where they had stored some stuff there from time to time. But there’s still a fair amount of space over here. I can probably, might be able to remove this and transfer that weight elsewhere.
Allen Lyle: Oh, wow! Danny, look right here. Look at the duct work.
Danny Lipford: Oh, man! And that’s an active piece of ductwork too. Man, they’ll be glad we came up here and found that out. We’ll have to definitely fix that for ’em. But maybe we can wait till after we finish the work in the attic.
Allen Lyle: I’m okay with that.
Danny Lipford: Keep a little of that cool air… Cold air right in there. Well, let me just measure this out. We’ll leave all the duct work in place. Definitely fix that duct work. And see what we can develop right in this space here. Rather than decking right on top of the ceiling joist in the attic, we’re going to build a frame above it with these two by fours so we don’t compress the insulation. I guess when you was a kid they didn’t have electricity and you had to use a handsaw, is that right? Must’ve been rough back then.
A whole sheet of plywood almost never fits into an attic opening. So we’re cutting them down a bit, into two-foot strips, so that we can get ’em up into the space. Before we can start the new attic floor, we have to remove some of the old improvised decking left by a previous owner so that we can build our new framework right on top of the ceiling joist. My conscience won’t let me leave that leaky duct alone for long though. Even though it’s keeping us kind of cool here in the attic, it’s costing Gayle money every single minute it’s open.
Then, once we finish the framing for the new deck we add some extra insulation where the old stuff has already been packed down. So this attic will be more efficient in terms of space and energy use. Now we can add those two-foot wide pieces of half inch plywood, tack them down with a few screws to create some very useful floor space up here. We’re also fixing the safety issues with the attic access door before we call Gayle to check out the changes. Hey, Gayle, you need to come on up and take a look at this and see what you think.
Gayle Alexander: This is great. Look at all the space that we’ve got now.
Danny Lipford: It’s just about five-foot by seven-foot or so. And what we did is we put two by fours on top of the ceiling joists, put insulation inside there so that you’re not, you know, sacrificing any insulation. And then if you decide later you need more space, you can continue the same idea that way, that way, that way, any other way.
Gayle Alexander: Well, we needed this extra space. You saw that closet.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, yeah. You had a little extra stuff there that needed to go somewhere.
Gayle Alexander: You ready to go down and help me get some Christmas decorations?
Danny Lipford: I’ll be glad to help you with a few boxes.
Gayle Alexander: Okay, that’ll be great.
Jodi Marks: One of the things I love about spring is getting my spring planting done. And if you’ve got that on your agenda for your spring, take a look at this. Now, this is the Big Wheel Cart by Rubbermaid. And as the name would imply, it’s got some pretty big wheels here. And that’s what I like best about it, because it’s going to make maneuverability around the yard very easy to do. And also, look at this large capacity.
Now, unlike typical wheelbarrows, you know, you’ve got just a small area. Look at this. You can hold up to seven-and-a-half cubic feet of material. And if you mound it, you can get over eight cubic feet of material. Plus, the thing is it is very sturdy, so it can hold a lot of weight, up to 300 pounds.
So not only are you able to put putting soil in there and your plants, but you can also put mulch, you can put stone if you’re going to be doing some of that in your landscaping. Again, the construction’s very sturdy, so it’s going to hold up over time. And if you just need to store it outside, it’s not going to rust or break down. This is just a great thing to have on hand if you are like me and you like to do a lot of gardening.
Danny Lipford: Well, we certainly helped Gayle with two key areas of her home to maximize all of the storage space she had in her bedroom closet as well as creating a little bit of extra space for storage in the attic. Now, the attic’s a little limited on what you can put there with a lack of hanging space. And you got to be careful what you move up and down a set of stairs like that. Which brings about another challenge that many homeowners have. When you have larger items to store, like bicycles, lawn mowers, and other lawn and garden equipment, where does it go? Well, it’s time to start thinking about an outdoor storage building.
These structures come in all shapes and sizes. Some are made from durable plastics and just snap together in your backyard. While others are constructed from standard building materials, packaging kits that you can buy at the Home Center. You can even buy a larger custom building which is pre-fabricated in a factory and delivered to your home in large sections so that it goes up in just a few hours. Several years ago our own Joe Truini wrote a how-to book about constructing these out buildings, so he is our resident expert on this subject.
Joe Truini: The big advantage of building a custom one is you can build any size you want. And you can pick and choose the finish and the material.
Danny Lipford: Recently Joe talked with a homeowner who had to improvise when the building he already had ran out of room.
Scott Gardner: This was here when we bought the house. Which was… Yeah, I was excited about this. ‘Cause as you can see, it’s…
Joe Truini: Nice size.
Scott Gardner: It’s about 12 by 16. And the thing I was excited about was having… I had always used my garage as a workshop, you know. I got put stuff away at the end of the day so the kids don’t get into it. Here, if I’m in the middle of something, I could quit, walk out the door, close the door.
Joe Truini: And I love the fact this is wide open. Very seldom do you see a shed that is not packed full of stuff, right?
Scott Gardner: Well, it wasn’t that way too long ago. Because what we figured out too was, “Oh, there’s this open space.” So the lawn mower gets parked in here. The pressure washer. The wheel barrow. And so what I found was anytime I wanted to come in here and work I had to move all this stuff out into the yard before I could ever start working.
Joe Truini: So, where did it all go?
Scott Gardner: Well, it went in the yard for awhile. And then I came up with this idea to build an addition basically to the shed.
Joe Truini: Oh, that’s nice.
Scott Gardner: So we kind of refer to this as the lawn and garden shed attached to the workshop.
Joe Truini: All right, that’s great.
Danny Lipford: Because the original structure was built on a treated two by six floor system, Scott and his sons built the floor for their addition from the same material. Since it was only four feet by ten feet, they built it on the ground before attaching it to the existing shed with long lag bolts.
After they attached the treated plywood decking to the floor, Scott laid out and built the walls for the addition before he set them in place. Then they leveled and secured them to the floor and to the shed walls. All the rafters were also attached to a ledger board before they went up over the addition. The new roof matched the slope of the shed roof but it tied in slightly lower on the wall to simplify the building process. Flashing was added along that wall to keep the water out.
Next, the sheet siding for the addition was nailed directly to the studs to quickly enclose the space. So after some shingles and a few trim boards were added the structure was complete. To create the odd sized door Scott used some plywood with one by fours attached to the face to add extra strength and match the existing shed doors. The final touch was a ramp to allow easy access to the inside of the addition.
Joe Truini: It’s only about four feet wide, but you can see it’s plenty of space here for a power washer and a lawn mower. I love that elevated shelf. That would be dead space otherwise, way back there.
Scott Gardner: Well, and there’s just tons of little small stuff that you use around the lawn and garden all the time. And so, the great thing is it’s out of the weather.
Joe Truini: Right.
Scott Gardner: It’s safe. You can lock it up.
Joe Truini: Love that idea you put in. I like the idea that you put vents there to keep that area a little cooler.
Scott Gardner: Exactly. Well, when you store gasoline in there and that kind of thing, you don’t want all that stuff to… All those vapors to accumulate in there. And we wanted it to look good, so we set it back from the front so you couldn’t necessarily see it.
Joe Truini: Yeah. And that’s plenty deep enough. You don’t need to be any deeper than that. That gives you room for the ramp, otherwise the ramp would stick out. So it’s nice to set it back.
Scott Gardner: Exactly. And then we put a coat of paint on the thing after we got done to make it look a little better. And we still have to finish the ramp. We are going to build a ramp here…
Joe Truini: Your next project?
Scott Gardner: Yeah. To match that one that’ll be in a little bit better shape.
Joe Truini: You have a project ready to go now?
Scott Gardner: You know, I have a long list of projects I just don’t ever have the time to get to them it seems like.
Joe Truini: Yeah, I understand that.
Jason asks: Is there any advantage to painting a garage floor?
Danny Lipford: One advantage in painting a garage floor is it looks a heck of a lot better. And it’s easier to keep clean. But you have to prepare any surface you’re painting, particularly a garage floor that has oil spots all over it and probably has never really been cleaned very well. So, you need to take care of oil spots by using a de-greaser and then a masonry cleaner for the rest of the surface. You probably want to do it one day and allow let it dry over night before you apply your paint or your coating.
There’s a lot of different types of garage paints out there. Not that expensive. Fairly easy project to complete. But what I would recommend you use is an epoxy coating. And you can create a very nice non-skid surface by adding either sand or some of the decorative sprinkles so that you end up with an awesome-looking floor and one that’s a lot safer to walk on.
Danny Lipford: Storage is an important issue to almost every homeowner I’ve ever met. Whether you need to de-clutter a closet and make it more useful and attractive, add a little off-season storage up in the attic or create a place out back to park the lawn mower and other garden tools.
Hey, I hope you enjoyed this week’s show. You know the list of storage ideas and tips is endless. And we have more to share with you on our website at todayshomeowner.com. Now, I’m sure you have a few you can share with us. We’d love to get an email from you or join us on Facebook. I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you next week right here on Today’s Homeowner.