How to Turn Boring Store-Bought Storage Containers Into Stylish Catchalls
The Pre-Prettified Pieces
With a little paint and glue, and a distinct point of view, these store-bought (and staunchly boring) pieces can transform. No, the ladder isn't for a bunk bed -- it'll become a handy-dandy freestanding closet. And the stacked cubbies can be mounted on the wall for impressive vertical coordinating. With a little imagination, some clever stacking, and a lot of decoupage, organizing your home will be (almost) as satisfying as ordering Chinese.
Elevate the workspace to a work of art by channeling your inner artiste -- but first throw out the old rules of composition. Like Picasso, you don't need to be afraid to change perspective or play with color: Hang horizontal shelving vertically, and pepper a neutral area with bright accents. And honestly, an unexpected arrangement has more soul than a laminated pre-fab home-office monstrosity. Even functional pieces can be decorative, like the wastebasket with its gorgeous wood grain. To build a gallery-worthy storage wall, we suggest assembling it like a collage: Put up one piece, step back (you may want to ask a trusted friend to weigh in), and add another. Voila!
Illusions of Grandeur
Mask run-of-the-mill storage with a little trompe l'oeil magic. We transformed a boxy, unfinished dresser into a dressier rococo masterpiece by painting it and decoupaging the front with blown-up clip art. Any image will do, but we loved the cheeky surrealism that comes from superimposing a picture of a bureau onto the real thing. This piece could go anywhere -- in the living room, filled with silverware and linens, or in the hall to store hats and scarves. Apply the same concept to magazine files and boxes, and stately urns and first-edition books can line your shelves for less than the price of the glossies concealed within.
A TV cabinet -- in all its bachelor-pad, "Monday Night Football" glory -- is often the scariest thing in a living room. Making a smarter media unit is about as easy as playing Tetris: Combine inexpensive, unfinished cubes to create a larger structure, then treat it to a dose of style. Here, circular knobs, curvy feet, and two tones of sage-green paint evoke cool elegance. The open-and-closed construction showcases knickknacks and books while concealing electronics.
Dressing on the Side
Don't have the space that a walk-in closet demands? Try building a walk-by. An old ladder bridges the gap between two basic shelving unit and creates a homey space to hang clothes -- a far cry from the typical sterile stainless-steel rod. When it comes to the shelves, display your neatest, prettiest things out in the open, but keep your dirty laundry to yourself: We added easy-to-make wool felt panels to hide slightly unsightly piles, and stashed T-shirts, socks, and scarves in woven baskets.