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Transform 7 everyday objects into new tools

Use an old toast rack for mail-sorting? A lonely tea saucer as a soap dish? Lifestyle expert Elizabeth Mayhew shares creative tips on how to give old household items  new uses.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Don’t want to spend money to give your rooms a little lift? Well, chances are you don’t have to. Most of us have everyday objects stuck on our shelves or collecting dust in our cabinets that can easily be transformed in unexpected and attractive ways. All you will need in most cases is a pair of scissors, some tape and a little creativity.

Who doesn’t have a glass vase left over from a flower arrangement someone sent you on your birthday or Valentine’s Day? Rather than have it collect dust in a cupboard, why not ...

Turn it into a picture frameNot only is it pleasing to look at but you can also hide stuff behind the picture, like your television remote controls. First cut a band of colored paper the same height as the vase. Center the photo on the piece of paper and affix it with double-stick tape. Bend the paper to fit inside the vase.

Use it to corral a collectionFill it with shells, rocks, spools of thread or anything of a consistent type. Then pop it on your bookshelf — it makes a weighty bookend.

Make a candleholderTape a band of hole-punched paper around the outside of the vase. Insert a pillar candle and light.

Flip it over for dessertUse mounting tape (only if it’s wobbly) to secure a glass plate to the top of the vase.  Place cake or other dessert on top.

Use it at your next dinner party to hold foodLow cylinder vases make great serving pieces for side dishes or ice cream. Line the inside of a low, round vase with paper and then slip a pint of ice cream into it; it will look much better than having the Ben & Jerry’s container at the table.

Maps are great if you need to find your way from point A to B, but these days most of us rely on GPS. Rather than have your maps sit unused in a drawer, why not …

Make it a picture mat
Copy a map in black and white, then highlight a recent family trip in yellow. Mount photographs from your trip on top. Frame and hang.

Cover empty, cleaned soup cans Clean and remove paper label from cans. Cut maps into bands to fit around the can. Affix with double-stick tape. Use cans to store pens and pencils on your desk.

Transform plain shoeboxes Cut the map to cover the shoebox as if you were wrapping it as a gift, but wrap the bottom and the lid separately. Reinforce the edges and corners of the box and lid with clear tape. Use boxes to organize papers and odds and ends.

Use as place mats for your kids Choose maps of where you live, favorite destinations or somewhere that you are about to go on vacation. Cut to size and laminate to reuse or use once and dispose of.

Have you ever thought of using …
A toothbrush holder as a vase?A toothbrush holder makes an ideal vase because it has holes that keep the flowers in place. Fill cup with water, place lid on top and fill with flowers. Just make sure that you cut the flower stems short so that the vase doesn’t topple over.

A wine cork as a place-card holder? Rather than throw out corks from finished bottles of wine, save them. The next time you have a dinner party, make a slit on one side of each cork and insert a place card in each.

A leftover bathroom tile as a coaster? Don’t get rid of unused tiles that are left over from your bathroom renovation. Instead, use adhesive felt tabs on the bottom corners of the tiles. Stack them and keep them handy to prevent your drinking glasses from making rings on your good wooden tables.

A lonely tea saucer as a soap dish? Put a pretty orphan tea saucer to use in your powder room or bathroom as a soap dish.

An old-fashioned toast rack as a mail sorter? Store new mail in the slots of a toast rack; when it gets full, go though the mail, pay bills, respond to invites and shred or toss anything else.