One of the most creative tricks to organizing a home is to find
unique ways to use existing furniture and storage. It is not always
the way the manufacturer intended, but allowing for flexibility of
use and thinking “outside the nightstand” can save money, reduce
waste and neatly put the last piece of the project into place, much
like a jigsaw puzzle.

A bookcase does not always have to be a bookcase. At a recent
job, we reduced a client’s book collection and ended up with an
empty book shelf. Earlier in the session we had talked about
storage for her shoes. The narrow bookshelf fit neatly into the end
of her closet and all of her shoes found a new home up off the
floor. Bookshelves can also be used for towel storage in a
bathroom, extra kitchen item storage, folded T-shirt and sweater

Nightstands with cupboards and drawers are one of my favorite
items to repurpose. They are ideal in an office, for all kinds of
paper and other office supplies. They are low enough to set a
printer on top. Nightstands tend to be common in thrift shops and
can be repainted or otherwise refurbished for very little

Armoires and buffets make wonderful, attractive office storage.
If you are lucky enough to have one of these pieces of furniture
stashed in the garage, barn or basement, consider dusting it off
and using it in an office. It’s especially nice for those of us
without much built-in closet and cupboard space.

Recently I had a client in Santa Barbara who had used her
bedroom armoire for clothing storage. The clothing in it belonged
to her deceased husband. When she was ready to let the clothing go,
we repurposed the armoire for memorabilia. We even lined the inside
of the doors with cork so that she could pin up her favorite
photographs. Every time she opens the armoire, she gets to see some
of her favorite things. Being able to close the doors gives her a
clutter-free environment.

A rolling chefs cart or bar cart can also be repurposed for the
office. Last week in San Miguel de Allende, a client found a dozen
plastic mini-laundry baskets for a dollar each. We lined them up on
a chefs cart and labeled them to store various office supplies. She
can roll the cart over to her desk when she is working and store it
in a corner at the end of the day. The colored baskets make it fun
as well as tidy and the look is muy Mexicana, which suits her

Chef and bar carts can also be attractive in a bathroom that is
low on cupboard space. You can put your make-up and other
necessities into containers on the cart, roll it into the bathroom
when you’re getting ready, and roll it into a corner or hall closet
when you’re finished. Bar carts can be found at furniture
consignment stores and vintage furniture stores; they’re not as
easy to find or as cheap as a nightstand, but they’re handy and
usually attractive.

For a client who needed a large work surface, we turned
two-drawer file cabinets into “legs” and put a large hollow-core
door on top. It was a very inexpensive way for the client to have a
solid, large desk until she is able to afford a real work

While you are organizing, don’t be quick to donate or give away
pieces of storage furniture and miscellaneous storage containers
until the job is completely finished. Treat your space like a
puzzle to be solved and be open to using your old things in new
ways. It’s an immensely satisfying way to bring order to the