10 Cool Uses for Tension Rods

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How many times have you wanted a quick and easy way to create a decor cover-up or put together a fast, easy and inexpensive organizer? The answer may be hanging in a very unlikely spot -- your bathroom. It turns out that the tension rod holding up your shower curtain is good for lots of household tasks.

Here's how it works

A tension rod is actually a multi-piece assembly in which two nesting rods are supported by a spring mechanism. You adjust the rod to lengthen the interior spring until the rod fits snugly between two parallel, supporting surfaces.

Tension Curtain Rods

If you've ever tried to hang standard curtain rods on drywall or stucco, you know how frustrating it can be. The layout you want never seems to line up with the studs, and after you do install those huge, self-supporting screws, the screw holes invariably begin to enlarge and deteriorate. Tension curtain rods are an inspired choice for areas where drilling holes isn't possible or desirable, like in metal (think doors), stone or hardwood. If the window frame or vertical inset along your window can support a tension rod, you can install a set of curtains in minutes -- without a hammer, nails or permission from anyone. The rubber bumpers on the ends of the rods protect against wall damage, and all you have to do is choose a rod that will fit the opening you have in mind.

Shower Curtain Valance

Think about adding a valance to your shower curtain with a second rod installed a little higher than the first. If you have an older bathroom with a high ceiling, it'll give it a cozy, custom look.

Create Concealed Storage

You can use tension rods to do a disappearing act on all that mess in your home, too. Add a tension rod and a simple canvas curtain to open shelves in the kitchen and around the house. You'll have an instant designer cover-up that creates a trim look for less. You can do the same thing to hide that pile of magazines on your bookshelf, the electrical cords visible under your entertainment center or the kitty litter box peeking out from under the bench in your mudroom.

Modesty Panel Rods

If your home office desk (or table) is functional but lacks a modesty panel, add one with a little fabric and a tension rod. This will work for your vanity, craft, sewing or scrapbooking table, too. All you need is a level, vertical opening that's deep and sturdy enough to hold a rod.

Closet and Cabinet Organizers

  • You know how your stored cutting boards, cookie sheets, pizza stones and serving trays tend to fall over every time you open the cabinet to look for something? Install a vertical tension rod next to tall items in your cupboard. It will prop them up and keep them corralled.
  • Hang spray bottles by their nozzle on a tension rod in the cupboard.
  • Install a low tension rod a few inches from the back of your cupboard to hold pot lids in place.
  • On shallow shelves, keep small items like spice jars (and those spice packets) organized with a tension rod acting as a bumper guard.
  • Add two rods low in your clothes closet to create a DIY shoe rack.

Ribbon and Wrapping Dispensers

Here's another fast and easy way to use tension rods. Add multiple lightweight rods to your craft or storage room shelves and then use them to store wrapping paper. Just slide a paper roll over a rod for an instant dispenser. This works for ribbon and just about anything else that comes on a roll. You'll never have to rummage around for the birthday (anniversary or new baby) wrap again.

Last Updated: January 14, 2013
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About Sara Elliot Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter and dedicated blogger. Her popular gardening, cooking and crafting blog, The Herb Gardener, was cited by The Wall Street Journal for its fun and frugal tips. Sara has a degree in English, and you can find her health, crafting, and lifestyle pieces on sites like DiscoveryHealth.com, HowStuffWorks.com, Savvi.com and TLC.com.

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