Every tool kit has a hammer. Every utility room a plunger. Every junk drawer a measuring tape. If you’ve ever wondered, however, how the experts get homes looking and working just right, it’s often because they have another set of tools that we don’t. We asked an organizer, designer, housecleaner, builder and plumber what tools we should add to our kits to level up to the pros.
“You want to store the same shape of item in the same size bin,” round with round, and square with square, says Alejandra Costello, an organizing coach based outside of Washington who teaches through videos. She often uses the OXOGood Grips Lazy Susan Turntable, in both 11-inch and 16-inch sizes ($12–$18 at amazon.com) for cans and other curved items. “You can use it in the office for office supplies or in the kitchen for spice bottles or in the bathroom for nail polish,” she says.
Alessandra Wood, vice president of style at interior design site Modsy, thinks rug pads are overlooked when decorating — they prevent rugs from shifting to off-kilter angles, reduce wear and protect wood floors from scratches — not to mention the extra layer of “coosh” they offer. “Rug pads are often an afterthought, and once your space is designed, who really wants to move all of their furniture to put down a rug pad?” says Wood, who is based in San Francisco. She recommends the Floor Lock Solid Rug Pad whenever you’re moving to new digs ($40–$378 at anniselkie.com).
Level and putty
For the junk drawer, make sure to have this duo: a pocket level and museum putty. Jasmine Roth, a California-based builder and designer for the HGTV show “Hidden Potential,” keeps them on hand to have pictures where she wants them: “There’s nothing worse than walking into an otherwise agreeable room only to be entirely distracted by an off-kilter picture frame.” She recommends Starrett’s Pocket Level ($35 at starrett.com) and Quakehold’s Museum Putty ($4 at amazon.com) at the bottom corners.
To get to hard-to-scrub areas, Sheri Meshell, owner of Magic Mops Professional Cleaning Services in Olympia, Washington, uses special brushes, such as the OXO Deep Clean Brush Set ($6 at amazon.com). “They have harder bristles for getting around toilets and faucets,” she says.
Though you’ll need to call a plumber for any sink-and-grease problems, spending money on a clogged toilet is the worst. Sam Down, plumbing manager for Michael & Son Services in Richmond, Virginia, says to have Milwaukee’s Trap Snake six-foot Toilet Auger Drain Cleaning Kit ($59 at homedepot.com) on hand. If the plunger doesn’t work, the toilet auger usually will, he says. “Most of the time whenever a toilet is stopped up, it’s within four or five feet of the toilet.”