Spend more time relaxing outdoors — and less time fumbling for your flip-flops or a grilling tool — with these simple organizing ideas.
Stock the car with these items and you’ll be prepared to stash anything from fresh clams to vintage jam jars.
Give a Shaker peg rail, typically used indoors for coats, a summertime purpose. The pegs can be used to hang and dry sandy items such as beach chairs and flippers.
PHOTOGRAPHY: KATE MATHIS
Fold your tablecloth in half a few times, and it can be easily stowed for a trip to your favorite picnic spot.
Banish prebeach pandemonium (Who took my towel? Where are my flip-flops?) with a designated station featuring boldly numbered hooks and corresponding cloth baskets for each family member or guest.
PHOTOGRAPHY: JOHNNY MILLER
A lattice panel is more than just a pretty backdrop. When hung near your grill, it provides square upon square from which to hang brushes, pot holders, and more. Use metal S hooks to hang anything with a built-in loop, as well as bins, racks, andgrill baskets. Corral small tools, such as basting brushes and meat thermometers, in stainless steel perforated bins and wire racks, which resist rust and won’t collect rainwater.
PHOTOGRAPHY: LUCAS ALLEN
Attach a letter tray to the underside of an outdoor counter with four cup hooks. Use it to hold dish towels so they’re perfectly in reach when grilling.
PHOTOGRAPHY: RAYMOND HOM
During the summer months your backyard becomes an extension of your dining room, and you’ll likely need extra surface space for drinks and dishes. Create a bar using a basic shelf and brackets. When it’s not in use, it can be folded down so it doesn’t get in the way.
PHOTOGRAPHY: SIMON WATSON
To keep a bucketful of long-handled tools from toppling over, sink it into a wooden countertop. To do so, choose a vessel that has a wider top than bottom, and then measure the pot’s circumference three inches below its rim. Mark it on the counter using a compass, and cut out an opening with a jigsaw.
PHOTOGRAPHY: RAYMOND HOM
Solve two outdoor problems — a lack of seating and of storage — at once. Transform wooden chests with paint and custom cushions made of waterproof foam and fabric.
PHOTOGRAPHY: SIMON WATSON
With a few straight seams, a piece of fabric becomes a portable case for picniccutlery. Unrolled, it doubles as a place mat.
The first step toward creating a clutter-free garage is getting as many items as possible off the floor. Wall-mounted track systems are a big asset. Choose a horizontal channel that screws to the wall and is fitted with accessories, including plastic hooks and metal shelves.
This handy three-pocket pouch can easily be fashioned from a carpenter’s canvas nail apron (available at hardware stores).
Keep silverware and napkins in one place for picnics and other meals on the go. Oilcloth is the ideal material for this pocket project; it won’t fray, plus it can be wiped clean easily.
Items kept in the car have a tendency to roll around and get lost beneath seats, so it helps to organize them in a handled vinyl catchall.
Keep track of beach essentials — sunscreen, novels, flip-flops — by sinking them in a corner pocket.
A thoughtful gift for someone with a green thumb, this linen apron keeps gardening tools close at hand.
When you’re making quick bread, can you swap a muffin tin for a loaf pan? How many tablespoons are in a cup? Our handy kitchen charts have all the answers. We designed three: baking pan substitutions, measuring equivalents, and candy-making temperatures.
In the car, keep toys tidy yet easy to reach by stashing them in a canvas shoe bag. This 16-pocket organizer was cut in half and hemmed at the bottom.
Don’t let yesterday’s rainstorm dampen your plans for a picnic. By adding a protective backing of water-resistant fabric to a cotton or wool blanket, you can safely lounge on damp grass.
PHOTOGRAPHY: WENDELL T. WEBBER
Are you tired of nagging your kids about chores — and hearing the same excuses? A magnetic job chart keeps track of who has done what.
Make visitors feel welcome — and help shield them from bites, burns, and other irritations — by offering them a supply of summer sprays and ointments.
Purchase bulk containers of assorted salves, including sunscreen, bug repellent, and aloe gel, and decant them into small plastic bottles, available at crafts stores and pharmacies. Label the bottles and stow them in a portable tray that will look good in a guest room and by the pool.
This easy-to-make portable windscreen will protect you from gusts and blowing sand while providing you with a little surfside privacy.
Unlabeled plastic bags and their mysterious contents are bound to get the cold shoulder in the freezer. With our convenient, easy-to-read labels, you’ll never wonder which batch of stock to use first or if those frozen peaches are still in their prime. Fill out these tags, and stick them on everything you freeze — fresh produce or prepackaged foods.
The garden is just a slightly tamed wilderness with hazards all its own: It harbors insects that bite, thorns that scratch, and other potential nuisances that may require simple first aid. Keep a basic kit handy that includes alcohol for cleaning wounds, first-aid ointment, cotton balls, bandages, tweezers for thorns and splinters, insectrepellent with sunscreen, and, finally, hand salve to soothe and soften your dry skin at the end of the day.
Store everything you need for the road in a small accordion-file folder. Include registration and insurance information, emergency contact numbers, maps, and directions (file them instead of having to rewrite them every time).
The front of a cloth-covered scrapbook can introduce the mementos concealed within — just add a custom-made label. We took inspiration from the stickers that decorated many a suitcase years ago.
First, design solid-color labels on your computer; making the text white will allow the color of the book cover to show through. Print labels in reverse on iron-on computer paper, available at office-supply stores. Iron labels in place, following the package instructions.
Keep priorities in sight when planning your next trip by tying a to-do list onto luggage. We printed our list on card stock and used a metal eyelet to reinforce the hole through which a ribbon is passed. To be able to reuse the card for future jaunts, simply laminate it and check the things you’ve done with a dry-erase marker. Wipe off check marks and remove the tag when you head out on vacation.
Rather than sort through vacation memorabilia after a trip, create a keepsake as you go. Pack a hole punch and a loose-leaf ring to string together maps, postcards, and other souvenirs you collect on the road. When you get home, make a cover by affixing a sticker to the front and rubber-stamping a title on top.