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Create mini-storage in your home with cardboard tubes

Updated on September 11, 2014
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Repurpose cardboard tubes to create mini storage solutions in your home

Because I live in a tiny apartment, it's important for me to make the most of every inch of space - even every centimeter.

I was always reluctant to throw away the cardboard cylinders from toilet paper and paper towels but I didn't know what to do with them, and they seem too useful to go into the recycling.

People who are excellent at crafts - which I'm not - have some marvelous ideas for using these but I wouldn't know one end of a glue gun from the other.

So I was delighted when I realized that I could use them to make instant storage for small items anywhere in my home.

Since I'm so bad at crafts, this needs no special equipment - in fact, no equipment at all. You don't even need to use a pair of scissors.

If you have colored paper, or leftover gift wrap, these can make your storage much more attractive than mine. I just used 8½" x 14" ordinary printer paper that we happen to have to make the cardboard less noticeable. If crafts are your thing, you could also decorate them with paints. These are quick and easy to create and solved quite a few storage problems in my tiny home.

All you need

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How simple - and cheap - is this? All you need is a bunch of leftover tubes and some printer paper. No glue, no Scotch tape, nothing but the above.

Here's what to do

  • Fold the paper in half to create a crease.
  • Tear each sheet of paper along the crease. If you want to be neat and tidy, you can use scissors, of course!
  • Place one of the tubes on the paper. There should be an overlap of a couple of inches on either side.
  • Roll the tube in the paper. You can add a little tape to hold it in place of you wish but it's not necessary.
  • Tuck the overlapping paper at each end into the tube.

Magic Cover Adhesive Vinyl Contact Paper for Shelf Liner, Drawer Liner and Arts and Crafts Projects - 18 inches by 9 feet per roll, Solid Red Pattern
Magic Cover Adhesive Vinyl Contact Paper for Shelf Liner, Drawer Liner and Arts and Crafts Projects - 18 inches by 9 feet per roll, Solid Red Pattern

If you are good with your hands, it's a great idea to use contact paper to cover your cardboard. Another advantage is that it will help to give the tubes a little more strength and will be easy to wipe clean.

This is great if you are going to use your mini storage in the kitchen. If you use this, remember that you'll also need a craft knife to tidy up the ends.

 
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In the bedroom

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In our bedroom I have a basket containing my t-shirts. It always irritated me that the basket didn't fully into the shelf; there was about an inch or so at the side. The answer was to use my new storage to contain underwear. This speeds up getting dressed in the morning. This would be ideal in children's rooms for small toys, socks and small garments. If I have to pack a bag in a hurry, I simply grab the tubes and throw them into a suitcase.

In the closet

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Another wasted area is the couple of inches above the rail and below the shelf in the clothes closet. Storage tubes can be attached there too. Oh, and note that I use the ring pulls from soda cans to create additional hanging space. In a tiny apartment, I need all the help I can get when it comes to smarter storage solutions.

For leads and wires

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I don't know about you but we had a box of electric wires and computer leads that will 'come in handy one day'. (At least, that's what he says when he tells me that I shouldn't throw them away). That's all well and good but they can get into the most horrendous tangle. It's as if they have a life of their own and get together in the middle of the night when no-one's watching. Keeping them in their own cardboard tubes keeps them apart and tangle-free. You can even go one further and label them saying which lead is for which computer.

Jewelry

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Necklaces can be equally annoying and get themselves tangled together in no time. I use the tubes to keep them in their own separate compartment.

In the kitchen

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The centers from paper towel rolls are the perfect size to fit inside kitchen wall cabinets. This cupboard is immediately to the left of by stove. I am left-handed so I keep utensils in them that I'm likely to grab when I'm cooking. They include the small pepper mill, a small balloon whisk, a sharp knife, a teaspoon for tasting sauces and so on. This saves me having to rummage in a drawer. Note that essentials for me include a corkscrew and a wine-stopper!

VELCRO Brand - Industrial Strength - 2" x 4' - Black
VELCRO Brand - Industrial Strength - 2" x 4' - Black

Look again at the image above. When I use the plates and bowls that are on the left, the storage tubes stay in place. Why? Because I have used small Velcro strips attach them to the wall of the cupboard.

 

Mini first aid kit

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Like most people, we have a first aid kit and because of shortage of space it lives in on a high shelf that isn't easily accessible. I find that if a Band Aid is needed, it's invariably for some small cut, scrape or burn that's been caused in the kitchen or in the garden. This cupboard is right opposite the back kitchen door. I keep a few Band Aids, some antiseptic wipes, a latex glove and other items where they can be easily grabbed. The booklet you see is the first aid book.

Used in containers

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I use these to separate items within other containers. Here you can see how I have one for spoons and one for forks. There are many other things you could use these for - pens and pencils, cosmetic brushes, knitting needles ... anything that needs to be split up by type.

In the bathroom

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I have several of these in a stack inside the bathroom cabinet. As you can see, they are perfect for holding items that I need every day such as lipstick, mascara, concealer and small tubes of lotions.

Further reading

If you too live in a small space or want storage ideas for your home, RV or boat these books offer fabulous information and ideas. I particularly recommend the Apartment Therapy book from the wonderful website of the same name.

Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces
Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces

My absolute favourite resource for small space living.

 

One day I'll become organized and use colored and patterned gift wrap instead of white paper. I'll be choosing from my favorites - these.

Amscan Classic Stripe Jumbo Gift Wrap, Blue, 16' x 30"
Amscan Classic Stripe Jumbo Gift Wrap, Blue, 16' x 30"

Plenty of other colours available. Stripes are so very elegant.

 

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    • Nithya Venkat profile image

      Nithya Venkat aka Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

      Great ideas, useful lens.

    • SilverLotus1 profile image

      SilverLotus1 3 years ago

      Just great!!!

    • sandracollins lm profile image

      sandracollins lm 3 years ago

      Great lens! Now I know what I should do with cardboard tubes! Never thought they can be helpful. Thanks for this lens.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @MariaMontgomery: Thank you so much!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @PromptWriter: You'd be amazed at how organised you'd feel!

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      These are some fabulous ideas. Love this lens.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 3 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      Brilliant idea! I have a draw I am always searching through cords for. I am going to have to put my tubes to use.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Susan Zutautas: And so easy - and free :)

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @NellyWerff: That's even better :)

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Lynn Klobuchar: I think we all have done that!

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Oh my goodness what great ideas you have! I especially like the pop can tops for creating extra space to hangers.

    • profile image

      Sundaycoffee 3 years ago

      What a cool idea. You could use these virtually anywhere in the house where there's a little space left.

    • NellyWerff profile image

      Nelly van der Werff 3 years ago from The Netherlands

      Thank you for these great ideas. Especially for all those cords. I could even write on eah rol what a particular cord is for!

    • NellyWerff profile image

      Nelly van der Werff 3 years ago from The Netherlands

      Thank you for these great ideas. Especially for all those cords. I could even write on eah rol what a particular cord is for!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @RoadMonkey: That is an excellent idea!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Merrci: Thanks for dropping by!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @favored: That's a great idea - socks too.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Rhonda Lytle: Thank you!

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      I swear you seen me trying to untangle the writhing snakes den of computer cords.Great idea.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 3 years ago

      Amazing! All those toilet roll and kitchen roll centres I have disposed of over the years! This is a great idea. Children would enjoy covering those too and maybe making a desk tidy for pencils. Occasionally I get large tubes through the post. I have used one to keep my feather duster in, but I taped the handle to the inside of the tube to lengthen it so I could reach my high ceilings.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      What a clever idea for recycling. I can think of so many ways to use them. Love the patterned paper idea too. Thanks for this!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      Loads of good ideas. This would work good for nylons too.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      This is the best space saving quick fix I ever saw. And you say you aren't crafty. Ha! Very cool ideas.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Sylvestermouse: They are indeed :)

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I've seen a lot of tips for re-purposing TP and other paper rolls, including one you've included here for storing excess appliance cords, but you have shared the best uses I've ever seen by far. Superb ideas! Thank you so much for sharing them.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny: Thank you so much!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 3 years ago from United States

      These are all really great ideas! I have always given our toilet paper rolls to our dogs to play with. Guess they are going to have to share now :)

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny: Thank you so much for visiting!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I've seen a lot of tips for re-purposing TP and other paper rolls, including one you've included here for storing excess appliance cords, but you have shared the best uses I've ever seen by far. Superb ideas! Thank you so much for sharing them.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @MarathonRunning: Thank you! Yes, we rarely use paper towels but like you, I have a stash - I hate to throw them away. Today, I use the ones from the bathroom :)

    • MarathonRunning profile image

      Martina 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      I got so excited when I sow your lens because I use cardboard tubes too :) Well, we give our best to avoid paper towels at my home, but I still have some stash from before. Nice and informative article, full of ideas.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Lynda Makara: Thank you. Tiny apartments encourage creative thinking :)

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 3 years ago from California

      Good way to make use of extra storage space. Nicely done.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @FrancesWrites: I'm so glad that the information is helpful - thank you!

    • FrancesWrites profile image

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      That's a really simple and clever idea. I've been looking at a plastic tub half full of miscellaneous electrical leads in my study and wondering where to put them so that they are out of the box and orderly. Britflorida, I think you have shown me the solution - and for different sized bandaids in the bathroom too!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ehomedesignidea1: It's really a great idea!

    • ehomedesignidea1 profile image

      ehomedesignidea1 4 years ago

      I never thought of using soda rings in the closet. Great idea!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Erin Mellor: Thank you - it's also a good excuse to have a beer or two :)

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 4 years ago from Europe

      @BritFlorida: Genius idea, although I saw them and thought, what a cool use of beer can rings.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: Great idea!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i use these too. i never thought of the first aid kit i just use a caboodle container. now the kitchen utensil one i have to try. straws are great for chain necklaces to avoid tangles. my 18 yr old son helped me with that when he was 11.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @WinWriter: The soda can rings are an amazing way of getting more storage space - we have such a tiny closet. Finding extra storage space is a challenge - but fun :)

    • profile image

      WinWriter 4 years ago

      I see why you received a purple star. These are great ideas! I especially loved the one about using the rings from soda cans in the closet. I'd never seen that idea before. :)

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @rattie lm: Thank you! Every centimeter counts in a tiny space.

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 4 years ago

      Brilliant! Excellent ideas and wonderful lens.

    • TCPrakash profile image

      Prakash TC 4 years ago from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

      Great ideas!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Painxxto: That's a very good idea indeed. Kids should be taught about repurposing.

    • Painxxto profile image

      Painxxto 4 years ago

      Excellent lens! This should be share to teachers who are in charge of kids. It's a great way to save environment and money.Thank you.

    • Painxxto profile image

      Painxxto 4 years ago

      Excellent lens! This should be share to teachers who are in charge of kids. It's a great way to save environment and money.Thank you.

    • denetraharris profile image

      denetraharris 4 years ago

      thanks for the ideas. I threw out several paper roll tubes this morning. I wish I would have read this lens first.Denetra

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Arod17: Thank you!

    • Arod17 profile image

      Arod17 4 years ago

      this is very creative

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @trying2Bhealthy: Thanks so much. It's amazing how you can manage to find tiny little bits of extra space - and they all add up!

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • trying2Bhealthy profile image

      trying2Bhealthy 4 years ago

      What a clever and useful idea. Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS!!!!