Smart Solutions: Creative ideas for practical storage

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Pieces from the past can be repurposed to suit today’s storage needs.

In the month of January when many of us feel the need to get organized, it helps to have some creative storage for a sense of order. Here are some ideas from a few of the professional organizers and interior designers that will be doing seminars at the Novi Home Show, which runs from Jan. 25 - 27.

Dwane Adle, FASID AIA, a licensed architect, interior designer and owner of Royal Oak-based Comprehensive Design Group who will also be at the ASID Michigan booth during the show says recycled and upcycled pieces are in fashion. He likes new furniture made from a combination of old locker drawers as well as vintage styles for that eclectic feel in a space. These unique pieces work well in a mudroom, rec room or kid’s bedroom, he says.

Since Leigh MacCready, owner of Re-Nest, LLC in Jackson helps older adults downsize, she enjoys storage that is practical and attractive. The fact that her mom was an antiques dealer and MacCready continues to dabble in antiques means she likes to repurpose pieces from the past.

Metal and glass boxes can help to organize your personal items.


Vintage boxes are among her favorite finds. It can be anything from an old metal tackle box to a toolbox to store collections. Old metal spice boxes hold remotes in her living room and spare towels in a powder room. 

She also likes the idea of glass boxes to keep family history, such as old photos and letters. Vintage crates can be secured to the wall to store books and other items, says MacCready who relies on a dry sink to store her exercise gear.   

Debra Christy, an interior designer and owner of Wake up your Space based in Troy recommends everyday plates be housed in a pullout kitchen drawer, preferably at waist height.

She also suggests pullout shelves for kitchen appliances and other bulky items. In addition, Christy prefers stackable glass containers instead of carryout and plastic containers for everyday use.

Wicker baskets with liners (the same depth as your shelf) can hold accessories in your closet while Lucite containers corral cosmetics, etc. in a bathroom drawer. Two-tier sliding trays help to maximize your drawer space. 

According to Mindy Fairbanks, CPO-CD®, a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization and productivity consultant with Fairbanks Solutions LLC in Milan, a cutlery caddy can hold more than utensils. She sees it as a multi-purpose storage container for just about anywhere in the home. 

Keeping one stocked with crafting supplies like scissors and tape makes it easy to organize these items and carry them to your workspace. Because the caddies are affordable and kid-friendly, you can have more than one.  

A caddy for the guest bathroom lets you offer soap, towels and other essentials to overnight visitors to use during their stay. They can easily be displayed on your bathroom counter.

Cutlery caddies can hold a variety of categories, such as crafts, necessities for overnight guests and ingredients to make your favorite snacks.


Cutlery caddies can also hold your favorite ingredients for tasty treats. “We are a S’mores-loving family. Our S’mores Caddy is always stocked and ready to go,” says Fairbanks. Filled with marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate candy bars, plates and napkins, it’s easy to carry outside to the bonfire. “Just grab your sticks and go!” she adds.

Lastly, Fairbanks says you can find the caddies made in a variety of materials to suit any style, making them great, affordable and practical gifts.

Caddies can hold more than utensils. Add a few around your home to hold everyday objects.


For information, go to

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at