Want to see a fun project that creatively solved a problem for storing small, thin clutch purses? This is the kind of DIY project that you could do on a weekend.
This client had a lovely collection of small beaded and sequined clutch purses and evening bags, shown below. The problem was that they were all slumped together on the closet shelves. I knew that when one got pulled out, the rest of them would fall into a cluttered mess like a bunch of sparkly dominoes.
I wanted her to be able to use and enjoy all those purses! But it was too hard to see them all. If she tried to fetch the one she wanted, the rest would collapse. And we all know what that means. When it’s too difficult to access your belongings, those belongings never get used at all. They will sit there huddled on the shelf, forgotten and forlorn.
She needed a better storage system. The best way to store thin things like clutch purses or cookie sheets or folders, is to store them upright and separated from each other. That way, individual ones can be pulled out without messing up the others.
To skip to the exciting conclusion of the story, I used wooden dowel racks to store the purses separately and vertically. I painted the dowels to go with the style of the closet, and glued wide pieces of ribbon, stiffened with thin cardboard, around each row of dowels to allow the purses to slide in and out smoothly. You can see the Before and After here below.
Want to see the step-by-step instructions on how I made these purse racks? See below.
I love to solve storage problems like this. I used the same kind of vertical storage strategy here that I do for kitchen items with 4-Sorts, that you can read about here, Storing Cookie Sheets, Baking Pans, and Serving Trays
However, those 4-Sort dividers are great for kitchen cabinets, but they are made of white wire. Functional, but not glamorous enough for beautiful closets. These gorgeous clutch purses were in a very pretty closet, with built in cabinets, so I wanted an elegant and sophisticated solution to go with the surroundings.
The purses needed something similar to 4-Sorts, to hold them vertically, and keep them separated. These wooden dowel racks from the Container Store, shown below, were perfect. They are usually used for plates and pot lids. Three of them across were going to fit just right in the closet built-ins. I love it when unrelated things fit together perfectly!
These dowel racks are unfinished wood and are kind of plain and un-glamorous. I wanted them to look sophisticated and customized for that closet. Spray paint was the easiest and least fussy way to paint these.
First, I used white spray primer first to keep the paint from soaking into the raw wood. This is an extra, time-consuming step, but you will be very happy later that you took the time to do it right.
Then, after the white primer had dried, I spray painted them with dark brown paint to blend in with the dark wood cabinets in the closet. In a different closet, it would be fun to paint them a bright color. But in this particular closet, I wanted the infrastructure (the dowel racks) to blend into the background. That way, the sparkly purses would be the eye-catching element.
But I wasn’t done yet. I like to anticipate what is going to happen ahead of time. I knew that the purses might get tangled up in the multiple rows of dowels. I needed something to create a barrier between the rows. And, I also knew that those sparkly sequined and beaded purses would scratch the paint off of the dowels.
So then I had a creative Martha Stewart-like idea. If I wrapped each dowel row with wide pieces of ribbon, that would keep the purses individually separated. AND, that would protect the purses and the painted dowels from scratching each other. AND, AND, it would look very pretty.
But ribbon, of course, was going to be too floppy by itself. It wouldn’t stand up and stay in place easily enough without some firm persuasion. (I tested this, for Science.) If I tried to simply glue the ribbon directly to the wood dowels, the glue would soak through the ribbon fabric.
However, cardboard would make the ribbon stand up and behave. Posterboard, specifically, would be thin, flexible, and sturdy.
So I cut the thin posterboard into strips a bit narrower than the wide ribbon.
Then, I cut the ribbon into strips and laid them out so that I could spray them with adhesive to attach the posterboard strips.
When I attached the posterboard strips onto the ribbon strips, I also folded down the edges on each long side, just like hemming fabric.
Then, when the stiffened ribbon strips were dry, I wrapped them around the individual dowels, and glued them in place. The posterboard strips kept the glue from soaking through the ribbon fabric. This was actually kind of fussy and messy but my picture makes it look like it was a dream of an easy project, doesn’t it?
Finally, I used binder clips to hold the ribbon-and-cardboard pieces in place while the glue dried. Clever! Did you know that binder clips are the MacGyver of office supplies? There’s no end to their usefulness!
Here’s the finished product, below. Isn’t it pretty?
See how the purses will stay separated into their individual rows now, and not get tangled up in the dowels?
One more final step – I knew that the purse racks would slide around on the closet shelves, so I fastened them down with some adhesive strips. Here’s the closet shelf almost filled with purses.
Here it is all full and DONE! I left a space open on the upper right shelf for the larger purses that didn’t fit between the dowels.
I had so much fun with this, figuring out the ribbon problem! I think the solution worked well. I have been asked if I would make and sell customized versions of this, and I certainly could! If you would like me to make some for you, please contact me. You, of course, can make your own if you’d like, and keep your own clutch purses organized and accessible.
Can I solve a storage problem in your closet for you? Contact me!