Summer Challenge

By Jennifer Bertrand

Get organized this season by thinking outside the box for unconventional storage solutions.

Hellooo everyone!

It’s summertime, and just in case you’re in need of some sanity in the midst of summer madness, let’s dream up some unconventional storage.

1. Back away from Pinterest and look around your home! 

Because of the Internet, the world is at our fingertips, and there is no reason our lives should not be in order. But do you ever think there is just too much info out there? I know I do, and sometimes rather than scouring the Internet, the solutions may literally be right in front of you. Sometimes it’s helpful look at items we already have with fresh eyes. Try walking into your storage area, looking at the extra items and asking yourself, “In what weird way could I use this?” For example, you will see people using old pianos as bookshelves and bars, retro TVs as a bar (obviously I am needing a cocktail) … but imagine an old TV or even TV armoire turned into a jewelry armoire/closet. What do you have that you could mount differently, take apart and transform, or just learn to love again with a fresh coat of paint?

2. MacGyver had it right all along …

It’s amazing how some eye hooks and cooking twine can turn a blank wall into an instant art display. I love creating wall installations. Recently I even took a frame I found in the West Bottoms and ran gold wire in a spider web through the middle. Now I clip to-do lists, etc., on it in my office.

3. Think high and low

Under your bed, under your stairs, wherever there is empty space, you need to think about utilizing it without making it feel visually busy. In custom design we get to build up, install hidden doors, and so on. For real life design, make spaces feel less busy by unifying elements, harmonizing through color or texture. That’s designer talk for, if you have a wall of something, paint them all the same color or group them by colors.

Also, clear out the dust bunnies and utilize the space under your beds. Think about it … you could use old dresser drawers to slide under a bed for extra storage.

4. Kitchen items can be best friend

A cake stand, a lazy susan, these are some of my favorite elements in design! I just used a cake stand in a teenage girl’s bathroom to raise her hair products and de-clutter her counter. I even use them on bookshelves! The other day, I was perusing the Internet and even saw a cheese grater turned into an earring holder, and a wine rack turned into a wrapping paper holder.

5. Utilitarian art

It used to just be cool for hipster New Yorkers to hang a bike or dining room chairs on the wall as functional art and storage. But anyone can do it! It’s basically embracing a bit of “pop art” and realizing that designers create the world around us and some of those objects are actually beautiful as is.

6. Make storage a game

This is a game you can play against yourself or you can bring kids in on the mix because they are actually less stuck to the “rules” of how an item is supposed to be used. Challenge yourself to see how many uses you can come up with for an object. For me, nothing ever sounds too silly or too bizarre—so when in doubt play, “What would Jen do with this?”

The key to finding unique storage solutions is to be willing to go down the rabbit hole—and being willing to be a bit silly to dream up new uses for objects. Just because the world tells you certain parameters doesn’t mean it is so. Have fun and be sure to share with me some of your unique storage solutions!

Have fun!

xoxo Jen

Jennifer Bertrand is the winner of HGTV’s show “Design Star” season three and cohost of  “Real Life Design” on She resides in Weatherby Lake, MO, with her lovely English husband, Chris, and her happy son, Winston. She has big plans in life to conquer the design world … again.

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