20 Unexpected Uses for Tension Rods


Who knew a simple tension rod, like the kind you can buy at any home improvement store, could be so versatile? This affordable item can be used for everything from decorating to organizing and more. And as if that weren't enough, tension rods don't require any drilling into walls or other surfaces. Here are just a few of the many clever ways to put this economical item to good use. (See also: 25 Organizing Changes You Can Make Today)

1. Outdoor Curtains

Curtains don't need to be confined to the indoors only. Outdoor tension rod curtains provide a great no-drill option to provide some privacy and also add a nice touch for outdoor entertaining. Try areas like a porch, pergola, or spot against the house or garage, which can house a sturdy tension rod and weatherproof curtains.

2. Table Skirt

If you have a hutch or table that needs some dressing up, add a tension rod table skirt. Simply hang a decorative piece of fabric or a small curtain from a rod and position it between the insides of the hutch or tops of two table legs underneath the table surface. This can jazz up any piece and keep clutter out of sight. The idea also works great in other areas, such as open-front desks to hide computer cords, skirts for bathroom vanities, end tables, and serving bars.

3. Laundry Drying Rack

Use a tension rod between two walls in a laundry room, bathroom, or closet to make a DIY indoor clothesline. You can also place a tension rod between cabinets or a cabinet and the wall. Sturdy rods can easily support hangers to hold clothes while they air-dry or wait their turn for ironing. (See also: Tips for Air Drying Clothes)

4. Closet Organization

Need an extra place to hang clothes or hold a handbag collection? Install a tension rod in a closet to add another level of hanging storage for lightweight items. Rods also work great for scarves and ties, which can be draped. Or, use S-shaped shower hooks and a rod to hold hats or purses that aren't too heavy. (See also: 14 Ways to Organize a Closet)

5. Dorm Decor

Add some flair and also conceal storage under a loft bed by installing a tension rod between the posts and hanging a fabric curtain. Or place one between furniture or in nooks to tidy up messy dorm room corners or to hide piles of laundry.

6. Kids' Play Forts

If your kids are obsessed with making indoor forts and tents around the house, then a tension rod fort may be your new go-to solution. During the next rainy day, put up a tension rod between a small piece of furniture and the wall or try other areas, like under a desk, in hallways, doorways, closets, or other nooks. Drape a sheet or lightweight blanket over it or hang a curtain for an easy, instant hideout.

7. Drawer Organizer

Corral an unruly junk drawer using mini tension rods as dividers in the drawer. Simply wedge small rods across the insides of the drawer to make lanes or compartments to keep things in place. Small tension rods also work great in shallow desk drawers to keep pens and pencils neatly lined up.

8. Closet Office

If you live in a small apartment, then you know how crucial every square foot can be. You can repurpose a small closet into a working office by removing closet doors and replacing them with a tension rod and curtain. Add a skinny desk and rolling chair to make the space complete. When guests come over, you can simply pull the curtain closed to tuck away your private workstation.

9. Tub Toy Storage

Install another shower curtain tension rod on the far wall at the edge of the tub to function as a tub toy rack. You can hang mesh bags or baskets from shower rings to hold the toys. The rod also works great as a rail for propping up individual toys that need a place to dry out.

10. Wrapping Station

Turn a bookcase into an organized present wrapping station by installing tension rods to hold spools of ribbon and rolls of wrapping paper between the sides of the shelves. You can also add rods between cabinets or closet walls of a craft room.

11. Jewelry Storage

Place a tension rod in a narrow closet or nook, and use it to hold your bracelets or necklaces on a bedroom wall or in a closet. This helps free up counter space, makes a nice jewelry display, and allows you to more easily choose accessories when getting ready.

12. Bookshelf Shades

Like other tension rod uses, bookshelf shades are part decorative and part function. If you have a large bookcase, hutch, or entertainment console that has multiple cubbies or small compartments, then you can add some glamour with decorative pieces of fabric hung from small tension rods across some of the shelves. This also helps to hide things that aren't quite display worthy, but that you often access, such as DVDs or stacks of magazines.

13. DIY Bug Screen

If you don't have a screen door, but want to enjoy the fresh air without letting the bugs in, there are numerous products available that act as a hanging bug screens. You can DIY this idea by using a tension rod at the top of your door frame and hanging a curtain of inexpensive mosquito netting or fabric mesh in the doorway to keep most of the insects out.

14. Under Sink Towel Rack

Insert a tension rod in a cabinet under the kitchen sink to hold your loose dishtowels or microfiber cleaning cloths. It makes for an organized place to easily grab towels while doing the dishes or cloths for cleaning up, while keeping them out of sight when not in use.

15. Cabinet Dividers

You can easily create an organized and space-efficient kitchen using tension rods vertically placed in a cabinet to keep baking sheets, trays, cutting boards, and other flat items in place. Better Homes and Garden's tension rod solution shows you how it's done.

16. Additional Window Treatments

Already have a permanent curtain rod in place, but want to add a decorative valance or sheer? Try installing a second layer using a tension rod to hold a lightweight roman shade or sheer without drilling into the wall or having to deal with strange configurations due to the existing rod. Try the inside of the windowsill or between window moldings for good places to hold the additional rod.

17. Garage Organization

Instead of drilling or installing brackets, insert sturdy tension rods between shelving units or actual wall studs in the garage to make a great garage organizer for gardening tools and other lightweight items. You can use shower S-hooks to hang such items from the rod. Rods can also hold twine and string, which can then be easily dispensed. (See also: How to Organize Your Garage for Maximum Efficiency)

18. Hang Holiday Decor

Similar to installing a tension rod for a window curtain, you can also use a tension rod in this location to hang holiday decorations. Just string your decor and tie it around the rod to display in the window. This works great for hanging Halloween items, like witches and ghosts, a wreath at Christmas, hearts for Valentine's Day, or any other festive holiday decor you can dream up during the year.

19. Dry Artwork

If you have kids that like to paint, then you know how hard it can be to find space to dry wet artwork. Put up a temporary tension rod and use shower rings with clips to hang the artwork while it dries. Try installing a rod on one side of desk and the wall or any place you can temporarily mount each side that's out of the way.

20. Tension Rod Shower Storage

You can create vertical shower storage with a floor to ceiling tension rod pole in the shower. There are some very affordable tension rod shower caddy models for under $25 found at big box retailers and home stores. Or, build your own by installing a large tension rod in the corner of your shower that fits between the shower floor and stall ceiling. Tie inexpensive plastic containers along the rod to hold your shower items.

These are just some of the many creative uses for the everyday tension rod. What other clever places have you used tension rods around the home?

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Guest's picture

Recently saw somewhere that a tension rod hung horizontally in the kitchen sink cabinet can allow u to hang spray bottles (Fantastic, Windex, 401, etc) and save the valuable cabinet floor space.
Love the ideas here too!