A Pro Organizer Says This $5 Item Will Solve Your Storage Problems

You'll be surprised how versatile it is

using a tension rod to display photos

Joyce McCown / Unsplash

When it comes to home organization, we all know the best tips are the ones that are so easy to apply that you basically have zero excuses not to use them. But the very best require minimal time, effort, and funds. That’s why our ears perked right up when Shira Gill, home organizing expert and author of Minimalista, told us about the many ways one little item can revolutionize any nook, cranny, or cabinet in need of some re-organization—the tension rod.

In case you’re unfamiliar, a tension rod is a metal or plastic rod that uses a spring mechanism to hold itself in place, as long as it’s positioned between two smooth, level surfaces. Tension rods are traditionally used to hang curtains, but they’ve become an ideal storage solution for renters and fickle-minded decorators alike because they require zero hardware to install. Plus, they typically only cost about $5, depending on the size and style you need.

Their versatility is so wide-ranging, Shira suggested a variety of uses that cover almost any room—from the kitchen to the closet, and everywhere in between.

  • 01 of 07

    Create a Boundary Within Drawers

    using tension rods as drawer dividers

    The Krazy Coupon Lady

    Rather than using those very specific drawer organizers that always seem to have at least one section that fits nothing useful, use a small tension rod! You can do this in the kitchen to separate food storage containers from their lids, in your desk to divide office supplies, or in your dresser to organize your clothes by item.

  • 02 of 07

    Display Kid Art and Mementos

    displaying kids' artwork using tension rods

    Life Love Larson

    Thread curtain clips onto the tension rod, and you can easily attach your little one’s masterpieces instead of fabric. It’s especially ideal because as long as you choose easy-to-manage clips, your kids can likely swap out the art themselves, creating the perfect mini (and moveable) art gallery.

  • 03 of 07

    Organize Your Accessories

    Using a tension rod to hang accessories

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    This one works well in your bathroom or closet. Affix the tension rod in any alcove or nook, and use it to drape your smaller items that can tangle up easily in drawers. Think jewelry, belts, bags, hats, or scarves.

  • 04 of 07

    Store High Heeled Shoes

    Using tension rods to store high heeled shoes

    A Loyal Love

    This doesn’t work for all shoes, but it’s one of the most popular hacks for high-heel storage. Maximize your closet floor space by hanging your pumps and stilettoes over the tension rod by the heel. Depending on the depth of your closet, you could even do a few rows of storage or create a vertical display if space allows.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Perfect For Smaller Kitchens

    DIY pot rack using a tension rod

    Sincerely Marie Designs

    Along with shower clips or s-hooks, a tension rod can be the perfect storage solution in a small kitchen that lacks drawer or counter space. Once the rod is in place, hang your large and light kitchen utensils from the hooks or drape your dish towels for easy access.

  • 06 of 07

    Increase Your Pantry Storage

    Using vertical tension rods as pantry organizers

    Martha Stewart

    Tension rods don't just have to sit horizontally. They work well vertically, too—a perfect solution for those awkwardly shaped dishes and pans that don't quite fit on your shelves. Simply hang a few short tension rods vertically along your pantry shelves, creating instant storage for serving platters, baking sheets, and cutting boards.

  • 07 of 07

    Hang Curtains in Spaces Other Than Windows

    Curtain covering laundry area

    Megan (Markham) Bucknall / Unsplash

    As we already know, tension rods are a quick fix when you need a curtain rod. But you don't only have to hang curtains in a window. Use a tension rod and curtains or custom-sized fabric to cover unsightly open shelving or storage nooks—perfect in a laundry or utility room.

If you noticed that most of the hacks above are for hidden storage solutions, there’s a reason for that. “Tension rods are typically not so easy on the eyes,” explained Shira. “They are best utilized in concealed storage areas or with a curtain or fabric covering the rod itself.” But if you have a situation that is out in the open and a tension rod seems like the cure, then Shira simply suggests purchasing “a tension rod in a color that will blend into the area where you're using it in—i.e. a white rod in a white pantry.”

For more great storage hacks and tips, check out Shira on Instagram