If you've ever been a college student, or just an adult who doesn't stand on ceremony, you've probably dealt with a tension rod. These nifty little rods expand and collapse to fit irregular spaces as needed so you can quickly install curtains, but, as it turns out, they're good for more than that. We went on a quest to round up some of the best, the brightest, and the weirdest ideas for using tension rods around the house; so when you're ready to upgrade your drapes and you don't know what to do with the old rods, come here!
1. Under-sink organizer
You know how those spray bottles under the sink take up a ton of room, hide behind each other, and constantly fall down? Plus, there's all that vertical space under the sink you're not using because nothing you store under there is particularly tall? Pass a tension rod across the space and hook your spray bottles over it (you can also hang cleaning gloves and rags on it to dry), to free up valuable space and help you clearly see what you've got while still working around the kitchen plumbing.
2. Spice drawer
Got spices? Do they rattle around, slip to the back of the drawer, and generally invisibilize themselves when you need them? Consider using tension rods to create "lanes" inside your spice drawer to keep things organized and easy to find. This trick works in other drawers too.
Ever admired the formidable wrapping station at the department store? You can have one too, and tension rods are the secret. String your ribbons, tapes, and other wrapping supplies along one or more tension rods and expand them in a closet or nook to keep them in order and on display so you can choose the perfect paper, and the perfect ribbon, for your needs.
4. Quick shoe storage
Running out of room in your shoe cubbies? Drill a line of holes and run a tension rod through them to create a smaller rack up top for flats, lightweight heels, and slippers. For that matter, two tension rods can be set up just above the floor in the entry closet to create a quickie shoe rack for visitors.
5. Miraculous laundry rack
Laundry racks are usually a pain to store, even if they're designed to fold down so you can put them away. Solution: tension rods! Run them from wall to wall in the laundry room or in an airing closet for easy drying in conditions where you can't use the clothesline.
6. Closet organizing
Tension rods can be used to create more storage; combine them with s-hooks and other hardware to hang purses, shawls, accessories, and more.
7. Convenient decor rack
If you like to change up your decor frequently and you don't have a picture rail, consider tension rods. You can leave the rods in place and switch out decorations for Christmas, Valentine's Day, and more with ease, instead of having to spend half your time setting up before you even start pulling out the decorations.
8. Lid patrol
Keeping lids in kitchen drawers can help keep them out of the way, but they tend to make a huge mess. Install some tension rods to keep lids organized so you can grab the right one when you need it instead of fishing around for five minutes while something's burning on the stove or you're in a hurry to get your lunch together so you can get going in the morning. A little organization can also help you plan ahead for your Minneapolis kitchen remodel, to help you see what you'll want and need from your new cabinets.
9. Room divider
Yes, okay, it's using a tension rod to hold up a curtain, but still: room dividers can help you separate out a home office, kids' play area, or area of the house you don't want to heat full time. Tension rods allow you to make a quick divider without a great deal of work, and it should still look great.
10. Furniture privacy curtains
Use tension rods in modular shelving, under tables, and in other locales to hang curtains (yes, again, sorry), to conceal what's underneath. That way you can store things that look a little messy that you still want to access quickly -- maybe you don't want to ruin the clean, polished look of your living room with a stack of video games or DVDs, for example, but you want to be able to grab them easily when you want them. Creating a little privacy curtain gives you a secret storage nook.
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.