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New Uses for Old Things: Vintage Suitcases

vintage suitcases etsy photo

Easy spot to at second-hand stores and garage sales, vintage suiteases come with built-in charm (and, usually, a not-so-pleasant smell). Battered corners and silky linings tell tales of the suitcase’s travelled past, and you can instantly imagine the trips taken and memories made by previous owners.

vintage suitcases etsy photo

It’s just as easy to imagine taking one of those suitcases on a new trip, albeit one which tranforms it as creative storage, a cozy bed for Fifi, or a modern tech-savvy charging station.

Here are just a few of the most creative suitcase re-purposing projects we’ve spotted. (Look for links to full DIY in the Sourcing section below!)

It doesn’t matter if you’re a cat person or a dog lover, your furry family member will feel right at home with a stylish space of its own.

vintage suitcase pet bed diy

Of course, suitcases make lovely seats for your less furry family members too – just add legs, upholstery foam and pillows.

vintage suitcase chair diy

Did you see this colourful train case-cum-charging station on Design*Sponge last week? Most charging stations tend toward masculine styling, so we loved that the suitcase’s original girly colour was preserved, and the colourful feminine lining that was added.

diy suitcase charger device design sponge

Thinking outside the closet is the key to giving these suitcases a new lease on life. Create an organized and portable crafting station for kids (or mom!), or a picnic-party-in-a-box that will be ready to go when spring weather arrives.

vintage suitcase craft organizer diy

vintage suitcase picnic basket diy

Anyone who’s visited the home of a musician knows how instruments can take over the home. This guitar stand from the master Macgyver-ers at Readymade keeps things corralled, and folded up is easy to tote on stage or to band practice.

vintage suitcase guitar stand diy readymade

Of course, don’t overlook the suitcase’s original intent: storing clothes. Britsh artist James Plumb created custom chests and fitted suitcase fronts to the drawers for a one-of-a-kind look.

vintage suitcase chest of drawers james plumb

+ “Journey in Blue” Vintage Suitcase Print, Simply Hue Designs on Etsy, $25 USD
+ Cat Bed DIY by Camilla Styles
+ Doggy Day Bed DIY by Covet Garden
+ Vintage Suitcase Chair DIY by See Kate Sew
+ Charging Station DIY by Design*Sponge
+ Craft Suitcase by Inspire Co.
+ Picnic Basket Suitcase DIY by Funkytime
+ Guitar Stand DIY by Readymade
+ Suitcase Chest of Drawers by James Plumb via Bless This Stuff


New Uses for Old Things: Shutter Makeovers

old shutter diy pin board

Next time you pass by a stray shutter on the curb, at a garage sale or at an antique market, stop and consider giving it a new lease on life. Sure, they function perfectly well inside or outside of windows, but with a little creativity that shutter can also add functionality and organization in the corners of your home.

old shutter diy pin board

Shutter slats are perfectly suited for storage and organization. As shown on, a coat of paint unifies a trio of shutters to create an entryway catchall for shopping lists, invitations and mail. This easy idea can be put to use almost anywhere in your home – add one to a kitchen wall to clear clutter from the fridge, or a kid’s room to display their artwork . We also love the idea of using a weather-worn shutter to organize seed packets and other gardening gear in a garage or potting shed with the help of clothespins, S-hooks and other hardware.

shutter diy book magazine rack

Speaking of kid’s rooms, turning a shutter on its side creates a clever rack to keep their favourite books easy to grab (check out the full DIY by Jamie of Something To Do). Right-side up, with a few rungs removed, create a rack for magazines and tuck it near your favourite chair for an adult-friendly reading nook.

shutter diy furniture shelf table

Obvious organizers, shutters can also play a part in larger projects around the home. We love the country-charm of this coat rack and shelf combination – perfect for a cottage. For a more contemporary look, choose clean-lined brackets and hardware.

HGTV created a console table using a shutter as the tabletop, and it’s barely recognizable! We love the light and airy look, but for a more solid surface, add a piece of glass on top.

+ Entryway Pin Board DIY, Martha Stewar
+ Seed Packet Pin Board, Nest Full of Eggs
+ Entryway Coat Rack DIY, Better Homes and Gardens
+ Console Table DIY,
+ Magazine Rack, My Repurposed Life
+ Kid’s Bookshelf, Something To Do


Ribbon Holder: A DIY Project and Storage Tips

diy ribbon organizer shelf

diy ribbon organizer shelf

We’re always on the hunt for clever craft supply storage options. This simple DIY shared by Paula Biggs of Frog Prince Paperie on the Craft magazine blog points to one common culprit standing in the way of pretty, organized collection of ribbon: most ribbon organizers use a dowel or rod to keep spools in place.

As Paula points out, sometimes the dowel isn’t strong enough to hold the weight of the ribbon, spools can easily become unravelled, and it can be a pain removing all of the spools when you only need to replace one empty roll.

Her quick and easy skinny wall shelves solve all of these problems, yet still keep ribbon accessible for gift-wrapping or other projects. Plus, they use vertical space – rather than taking up valuable desk or table space you may need for projects – and can be made on the cheap with supplies found in any hardware or home improvement store.

For slighty smaller spools, or if you’re not interested in the DIY project, a similar option is this inexpensive shelf from Ikea, which is intended to be used as a spice rack. Be sure to take a spool with you to the store to ensure the dimensions will work for your collection.

Tell us: what solutions do you use to keep your ribbon organized?

+ DIY Ribbon Organizer on Craft
BEKVÄM Spice Rack, Ikea, $6.99


Get Organized: Jewelry Organizing Ideas and DIYs

jewelry diy cake stand tennis racket organization

jewelry shadow box rake organization

It’s funny how spending more time inside during winter months can fill you with the urge to purge, clean and organize. Of course, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by a growing list of projects and to-dos, and even easier to sweep that list under the rug (that so badly needs airing out).

Starting small is the key to tackling all the cluttered nooks and crannies of your home – like your gorgeous collection of baubles, sitting not-so-pretty in a tangled pile on your dresser, or scattered in bedroom and bathroom drawers.

We’ve rounded up a few DIY ideas to get your accessories organized – all artful displays designed to help you appreciate the little, sparkly things in life.

In A Shadow Box

Hanging your jewelry in a hinged shadow-box presents your pretties as a collection, but keeps them accessible. Choose a bold colour of solid fabric as a background so your favourite pieces really pop.

On A Rake

We love finding new uses for old things – and this rusty rake turned jewelry hanger is the perfect pairing of rustic and chic. Try this for other accessories too, like small handbags and hats.

Two Ways to Serve

jewelry diy cake stand tennis racket organization

Also in the new uses for old things category: two clever ways to serve up your jewelry collection. DIY cake stands can do double-duty as a catch-all for necklaces and bracelets. Hang earrings from the edge of the upper plate to keep them in pairs.

The strings on an out-of-use tennis racket are ideal to hang long necklaces (just thread the clasp through) and keep earrings in pairs. Mount the racket it on the wall for an one-of-a-kind and ever-evolving art piece.

Trays Tranformed

jewelry organizer typeset tray diy

Next time you wander past a sad-looking typeset tray that’s been kicked to the curb, take it home to transform it. The multi-sized compartments work wonders for various jewelry types, from cuffs to long earrings. Elbow grease, glue and a little painted Blogger and crafter Tonya Staab turned this tray around with a little elbow grease, glue and paint.

jewelry organizer diy cutlery tray

Standard wooden cutlery trays can also work wonders for jewelry. Dress one up with paint, pegs and pretty paper – as Jen from Homemade by Jen did – to make it work for your collection.

How do you store your accessories? Are they organized and on display, or a tangled web waiting to be sorted?

+ Jewelry Shadow Box, Better Homes & Gardens
+ Jewelry Hanger Made from an Old Rake, Country Living
+ Jewelry/Cake Stand DIY from Sarah Ortega
+ Tennis Racket Jewelry Holder via Craft Gossip
+ DIY Typeset Jewelry Tray from Tonya Staab
+ DIY Cutlery/Jewelry Tray from Homemade by Jen


Umbra’s Little Black Dress Jewelry Storage

umbra little black dress jewelry storage

umbra little black dress jewelry storage

The concept behind the jewelry organizer designed by Matt Carr for Umbra is cute. You will not lack space to store your earrings, necklaces and bracelets with 39 clear vinyl pockets plus 24 hook and loop closures. Hang this double-sided canvas jewelry storage on a hook attached to the back of your closet door or on a clothing rod.

I almost bought the Little Black Dress but I went instead for the icelet jewelry hanger and a mirror storage box because my closet rods are pretty full. Time will tell if I made the right decision.

+ Umbra’s Little Black Dress Jewelry Storage $25 USD
+ Also available at The Container Store – currently backordered


Oxo Makes It Easy to Organize your Kitchen Drawers

oxo Drawer Organizers

oxo Drawer Organizers

It is not because you rent an apartment that you could not realize your dream of well-organized kitchen cabinets. You can reach that goal with versatile drawer organizers like the ones made by Oxo. Available in height of 4 and 5 inches, the expandable drawer dividers will separate your plastic ware lids from the bowls, keep your pan lids, cutting boards and cookie sheets upright or neatly stack your table linens.

The line includes interlocking deep drawer bins, a drawer tray with movable dividers, and an expandable utensil organizer.

+ Oxo Drawer Organizers from $8.99 to $24.99 USD


Ooboo Cat and Dog Haven

ooboo pet haven

ooboo pet haven

Cat toys, like kids toys, can invade your living room. This is why I like the handy cat storage on the roof of this stylish faux-leather cat and dog house. Since I have a baby, I put away the cat toys to limit the clutter. But I feel bad about it. The Pet Haven would solve that problem while providing a nice place for my cats to hide away during the day.

If you have a cottage, you won’t need two since the Pet Haven is easy to carry around in its own carrying case. The Pet Haven has a portable/collapsible design; it assembles without fasteners or tools. And I think that it looks good.

Have a chance to win one by participating in the Moderncat July 2011 giveaway. The x-small is for cats of all sizes.

+ Pet Haven by Ooboo on sale at $119.99 to $149.99
+ photos: Moderncat and Ooboo


New Uses for Old Things: Baking Sheet Magnet Board

Baking Sheet Magnet Board

Baking Sheet Magnet Board

Yesterday’s easy end-of-the-year teacher gift project got me thinking about everything else that comes with the end of the school year: piles of projects, artwork and report cards making their way from the classroom to every room in the house.

A little spray paint gives everyday kitchen baking sheets a new life as wranglers of colourful artwork and rainy day creative projects. Photos and display-worthy drawings are held to the baking sheet with magnets glued to the bottom of fluted metal tart cups, which are filled to the brim with pretty, stacked sewing notions.

This idea would look at home on the wall of a kitschy kitchen, in a kid’s bedroom or a craft room – whether you choose a colour that adds punch, or leave the sheets unpainted for a more modern look.

For full project instructions, check out the Crave Paper Blog.

+ DIY Baking Sheet Magnet Board from Crave Paper Blog


Ribbon Storage Solutions from the Kitchen

ribbon storage paper towel holder straw dispenser real simple

ribbon storage paper towel holder straw dispenser real simple

I never get tired of seeing kitchen tools re-purposed as creative storage solutions. These two counter-top clutter busters do just that without sacrificing any style.

Spools of ribbon stay wrangled inside the straw dispenser, and they’re easy accessible when stacked on a paper towel roll holder. Best of all, both options offer plenty of colourful eye candy for your crafty corner.

+ Ribbon-Filled Straw Dispenser, All People Quilt (via How About Orange)
+ Paper Towel Holder as Ribbon Organizer, Real Simple


New Recycled Canvas Baskets and Fabric Gift Bags by Chewing the Cud

spring 2011 collection :: recycled canvas baskets chewing the cud

spring 2011 collection :: recycled canvas baskets chewing the cud

I have a thing for lovely canvas baskets. Awesome fabrics make all the difference. I like the new collection of recycled canvas baskets that Chewing the Cud launched a couple weeks ago at the National Stationery Show in New York City. The baskets are made of 100% recycled, unbleached canvas that are hand-printed with soy-based inks.

fabric gift bags by chewing the cud

Another must-have addition are there Give Bags. They are made from their reusable gift wraps. Chewing the Cud turned their existing line of fabric gift wraps into gift bags of all sizes. As a bonus, the little gift bags come with matching stamp sets. I think that new patterns have been added to their gift wrap collection. If you are into fabric gift wraps, you may wish to revisit my post of furoshiki.

These new items are not yet available from their online catalogue. I hope they will add those items pretty soon. In the meantime, have a peak at their collection with a snapshot of their booth.

national stationery show booth of chewing the cud

+  Fabric gift wraps by Chewing the Cud $16 USD


New Uses for Old Things | Loaf Pan Organizers

bread pan loaf organizer kitchen

bread pan loaf organizer kitchen

A couple of weeks ago we shared a few creative container garden ideas – including one that made use of old muffin tins. Tin loaf pans would work well as makeshift garden planters too, but they look just as lovely hung in a row on a bright kitchen wall.

These rustic tins look fresh when filled with colourful kitchen linens, shiny silverware and cheap-and-chic citrus fruits, but they’re easy to imagine in other corners of your home too.

Try them in the office to organize paperwork and stationery supplies; in a garden shed to keep seed packs, twine and garden gloves within reach; or in a crafty corner filled with scissors, ribbon spools and a stack of fabric fat quarters. No matter where you find a place for this DIY, it adds a touch of upcycled, old-meets-new charm.

It’s easy to see why this simple, versatile project made ReadyMade Magazine’s list of 100 best projects of the year. (Check out the complete list for more clever, reader-submitted projects!)

+ DIY Loaf Pan Storage from ReadyMade
+ Photos: ReadyMade