Make a DIY Magazine Rack. Bonus: It’s NOT ugly.

Make a DIY magazine rack or, OR, you can use it as a tea towel rack, a Christmas ornament display rack, a photo rack or the always popular with minimalists – rack with nothing on it.

White room with wood floors, gold chain magazine rack hanging on wall.
I, like most sane people, hoard magazines as though they are the cure for cancer, rabies, pimples, the colour “hunter green” and wonky shopping cart wheels.  The well known fact that magazines also probably offer 100% protection against nuclear war is just an added bonus.

What the hell are we supposed to do with all these life saving magazines?

Chuck em.

For real.

Throw. Them. Away.

The last time I took a week off I went through all of the magazines I’d been hoarding and got rid of 98% of them.   I chose to bundle them up like little glossy babies (that I tied up very tightly with twine) and put them in my recycle bin.

And then, for reasons I cannot explain, I decided to make a magazine rack.

Using only this.


Swaged gold chain hanging from the air on white background with thin wood dowels on ground.

This, by the way, is already going down as one of my most favourite DIYs ever because it is EVERYTHING a DIY should be.  It’s easy, unique, useful, inexpensive, quick and cures canker sores.

DIY Magazine Rack

DIY Magazine Rack

Yield: DIY Magazine Rack

Grab some small dowels & a chain you're going to make a rack!


  • 2, 6′ lengths of chain* (if you use brass chain like I did, add $20 to the cost of the project.)
  • 2, 5/8″ dowels (4′ long each)
  • 12 eye screws (#12)


  1. Cut dowels to 13.5″ lengths.
  2. Stain the dowels if you want.  (I used some of my super-fantastic vinegar/steel wool stain)
  3. Drill holes into the ends of all your dowels to make screwing the eye screws in easier.
  4. Screw in your eye screws.
  5. Using a pair of pliers or a screwdriver, carefully pry open all the eye screw so you can later fit them onto the chain.
  6. Attach your dowels to your chain approximately 10″ apart.
  7. Squeeze the eye screw openings tight again.
  8. Hang it up!
I hung mine with brass picture hangers like the ones in this box of assorted picture hangers.  Side note.  Stuff like that is a GREAT housewarming present.  Boxes with assorted picture hangers, assorted anchors, screws and nails are the sort of thing everyone needs but definitely won’t own when they get their first apartment or house.    They’ll definitely already own magazines.

Floor to ceiling hanging magazine rack with gold chain sides and natural dowel bars.

Prefer to keep your bomb shelter magazines tucked away somewhere safe?  I don’t blame you.  Not to worry though.  This magazine rack is both flexible and adaptive.


With no arguing whatsoever it will become a tea towel rack for you.

Classic white kitchen with checkerboard floors and hanging gold chain and dowel rack on wall displaying tea towels.

I know.

Best DIY ever.  Seriously.

Guess what?  It’s about to get even better …

Ecclectic, cozy, white living room with gold chain and dowel magazine rack hanging from the ceiling.

Behold the mid-air, hanging magazine rack.


DIY magazine rack made of 2 gold chains with small wood dowels hanging in corner from ceiling.

This just turned into a love story.

WE always seem to have corners or sections of rooms that feel like they’re missing something. BINGO. Hang the rack there.

Magazine Rack made of gold chain and dowel hanging in corner of cozy living room.


I used to have an antique church pillar in that corner which you probably never noticed because no one ever noticed it.  I had no intentions of keeping this hanging magazine rack in my living room, but I wanted to show you how you didn’t have to hang it against a wall.  It has a lot of impact hanging mid-air.  It’s instant sculptural art.  So I was just going to stick it up in my living room for the pictures and put it back on my foyer wall when the photos were done.

But then, like I said, I fell in love with it in the corner here and it finished off my whole living room for a few reasons.  #1, it actually shows up (which the pillar didn’t) so it expands the room by drawing your eye to the furthest corner.  #2.  It really highlights the other brass in the room that was kind kind of disappearing before.  #3.  A magazine is much handier for smashing a centipede than that a massive church pillar is.  I mean for real, who wants to caber toss a centipede to death? It’s exhausting.

A couple of notes:

  1. The total cost for this exact magazine rack was $42.  ($27 for the chain, $8 for the brass eye screws and $7 for the dowels.
  2. If you want to make a more inexpensive rack use standard (not brass) chain.
  3. Using cheaper black chain will also make your magazine rack look more industrial/rustic/antique.
  4. Brass is very soft so be extra careful when you’re prying the eye hooks open and squeezing them shut.
  5. If you’re going to hang this from the ceiling make sure you use ceiling anchors.  The kind you use will depend on the type of ceiling you have (plaster versus drywall).
  6. In the event of nuclear disaster you cannot rely solely on being saved by your hoarded magazines.  You’ll need your plastic bags and elastic bands as well.
Make a DIY Magazine Rack. Bonus: It\'s NOT ugly.


  1. Patsy Lortie says:

    I was worried at first seeing you in the picture on the floor at the bottom of the stairs,…as if foul play had occurred until I saw the jammies… HILARIOUS!… I then believed that you had slowed down so much that you decided to nap. (ha, ha.)
    Love the idea and see it in my very small bathroom in a corner versus towel rack, ladder with towels, etc. Great Idea..tres’ chique!!

    • Karen says:

      omg, that would be a HILARIOUS napping picture, lol. ~ karen!

    • Laura says:

      A TOWEL RACK!!!! IN THE BATHROOM!! And if you hang it from the ceiling a few inches from the wall, the towels will have space to dry on both sides. My bathroom has chrome fixtures and a fallen down, too small towel bar. I can use a chrome finish chain, then spray paint the dowels with that chrome spray paint. It might not work, but then, again, it might…I’ve got an old closet rod in the garage I can cut down….maybe clear acrylic rods would work if the chrome spray paint doesn’t…I can’t believe I am just now seeing this post. (Hurries off, muttering to self.)

  2. Yeta Nother Karen says:

    I vote for hospital nursing stations! I’ve spent a lot of my time near them unfortunately so I know they love them during breaks at lunch or night shifts.As someone has already suggested, Lots of moms want them for their little kids art projects.

    Love the blog and love the smart(s)assyness of it!! Thanks!

  3. Rose says:

    Is that a huge white canvas hanging on the living room wall?

  4. Darla says:

    My neighbor and I have been wanting to build a chicken swing and this has given me ideas…since all my magazines would never fit on it.

  5. jainegayer says:

    I too horde my beloved magazines and I LOVE your DIY! Brilliant!!

  6. Kim C says:

    Love it! My mind is swirling with ways to put this clever DIY to use in my small home. Thanks again for doing stuff Karen! ?

  7. Miriam says:

    Brilliant, brilliant DIY.
    And the comments section is great for added info.

  8. Stephbo says:

    I love the idea of a tea towel rack. I never know where to put the damn things.

    And fyi for anyone who, unlike Karen, does want to donate them, counseling centers, non profits in particular, would most likely welcome them if there are lots of great pictures in them. We use them all the time for art therapy projects, and since we’re a non profit, we’re always low on $$ for supplies.

  9. Marti says:

    If you singlehandedly turn around the magazine industry and subscription rates skyrocket, where shall they send the checks? ;)

    Got any great ideas for snacks during the Superbowl this weekend?

    • Karen says:

      Antojitos are always perfect. Last year I made a plate of nachos that were delicious but still gag a little bit when I think about them. I made enough nachos for a Superbowl party, but … I wasn’t having a Superbowl party. I et em all. ~ karen!

  10. Mary W says:

    I HAVEN’T EVEN READ THE COMMENTS YET! So excited about your DIY project that I had to let you know. I need this so much in my bathroom – tiny with no place for a hand towel bar. Now my eleven year old problem is solved. In fact, the toilet tissue could be hung similarly since the wall is a pocket door and no place to attach the tissue roll. I bought a stand but it takes up much needed foot room in my tiny bathroom. So, you solved 2 problems magnificently! Now I’m looking at my kitchen and realize this is exactly how I can accommodate paper towels and hand towel and dish towel. My art journals can receive similar storage in the craft room, pretty and handy. I believe the cats would have fun playing with a modified version. My grandson would enjoy one to play on. I will have to figure out how to make them slightly different so they are still artsy at the same time. THANK YOU!

    • Mary W says:

      Comments now read and enjoyed. I have to add one more terrific way to use your DIY. If I used corn cobs instead of rungs and attached them so they twirled, it would be a great thing to hang outside my window to watch the acrobatics of the squirrels as they tried to eat.

  11. Jane says:

    The kidlets are thrilled with the DIY rope ladder tutorial -grin-

  12. Kelli says:

    Years ago, I threw my back out 2 weeks before an impending move, and was literally down for the count. So a friend came over to help me pack. I had a couple boxes of my favorite magazine, the wonderful (but now defunct) Metropolitan Home. She yelled and hollered about “WHY DO YOU HAVE THESE STUPID THINGS?” and proceeded to chuck them all out. I couldn’t move, so I couldn’t stop her. But I’m still mad at her to this day. Harumph.

    But that truly is an amazingly simple and beautiful magazine/towel rack. So how many of those are you putting up in your home anyway? :)

  13. Cody says:


    (none of my friends understand what color I’m talking about until I point it out on some car driving by and then they’re like “ohhhhhhhh yeah”

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for recognizing what I thought was instantly recognizable as the funniest line ever written. Clearly only you and I have the sort of elevated sense of humour that gets off colour jokes. ~ karen!

  14. Sarah says:

    Hi Karen,

    Great post,and really like the flexibility of this project! The tea towels look great! I also REALLY liked the other ‘post’ in the corner. . once got a post from Hydro! Was going to use it as a plant stand. . .
    Thanks for the great ideas!

  15. Leeuna says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with it next Christmas. Oh, the possibilities are endless. I want to make one of these for my additional bathroom (when (if) husband gets it built). I love, love, love your blog. You are so artistic and such a fantastic humor writer. I’d like a 500 page book of your humor, so you need to write one post haste.

  16. Carla says:

    Definitely a winner! Even if I can’t quite bring myself to get rid of all of my old issues, this rack is a great idea for keeping the most current issue where I can find it.

  17. Sylvia says:

    You always come up with things that make me say “Why didn’t I think of that????” I LOVE THIS IDEA and I think I can even do it by myself. Thanks Karen.

  18. Paula says:

    Great idea, I will give this one a go. Incidentally, I had noticed and liked the column ?

  19. Ann Marie Clemmons says:

    Whenever I’m having a bad day (which lately is everyday) .. all I need to do is look at one of your posts. I am inspired to do something, anything to get me out of this rut I’ve been in. Thanks for the great ideas.

  20. Tessa Ryan-Lipp says:

    I am a magazine addict; I read at least ten, sometimes fifteen a month and subscribed to most of them. Like you, I was stuck with what to do with them after reading. For a time, I belonged to a magazine syndicate (a couple of friends who bought and traded magazines) which helped with what was becoming a very expensive habit (all those subscriptions!) but I was still stuck with a pile of magazines to dispose of. Again like you, I used to tie them up in bundles and leave them out with the blue box. But then technology solved my problem for me and I haven’t bought a magazine in yonks! I got an iPad and, at first, transferred all my magazine subscriptions online – still expensive, but no piles of magazines to haul to the kerb every month. Then I bought a sub to Texture, an online magazine bundling app and, voila, for less than $15 a month I have access to more magazines than even a rabid addict like myself can read. If I like a recipe or article, I can save it online or take a screenshot and print. All the convenience, no more piles of mags. Problem solved.

  21. Meredith says:

    Cool idea. I would love to display my vintage tea towels on that. And all my chicken and rooster themed towels! Not as a magazine holder though. Large quantities of magazines that I have not made my way through give me anxiety. Even if there were only one magazine on that rack, every time I saw it, I would feel the need to go through right that second so I knew there wasn’t anything life changing in it for me, and then get it out of the house. The magazine clutter battle is real.

    So glad you didn’t paint those doors. They truly are stunning. The warmth from them is what (I think anyway) strikes the perfect balance with all the white, keeping it from seeming stark. Plus the wood floors of course. And those beautiful glass knobs…

  22. Elaine says:

    What a great idea, Karen! thank you!

  23. Alena says:

    Not going to make these – I hate brass and I really don’t have any space for them. As part of my annual Apartment Therapy cure, I had pruned stacks and stacks of interior decor magazines and decided to keep only all the 2016 of Canadian House and Home. (Although there is that one issue of Style at Home with your garden, and I just can’t give it up [yet] so I move it like a hot potato from one spot to another].

    I always try to force the magazines onto some neighbours and friends but I simply can’t understand that there are people in this world who are not into interior decor – I mean women, actually. Including a coworker of mine who purchased a new apartment last year (the apartment was not new new, it was previously owned but it was new to her). When I saw pictures I thought there was ton of work to be done but she said she likes it just the way it is. Some folks just can’t be helped I guess. :-)

    I also don’t get why a thrift store will not accept all issues of a magazine (from last year, e.g.) tied into a nice bundle. Even if it sold for $1, it’s a dollar into their pocket(sses). Are they affraid that there may be an exposed nipple in a photo somewhere?

  24. Wendy says:

    I really like your house, Karen.
    I like your style.

  25. Marilyn says:

    I noticed the pillar and loved it. Great rack ..I should show my sister who has every copy of canadaian living since it’s inception ..had a nice Betty fix at the store the other day. She’s a card

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      I must be your sister . . . still have the first CL from when it was a giveaway at my grocery store! Also the LCBO Food & Drink from when they were English on one side and Francais on the other. I may have a problem. And I’m old.

    • Karen says:

      She told me! She said you said something about chickens but she didn’t really know what you were talking about. Either you like the chicken posts or you don’t like the chicken posts. One of the two. Either way … since I own chickens, there will continue to be the odd chicken post, lol. ~ karen!

  26. Laura Nazimiec says:

    I love it for tea towels or maybe to dry laundry?

  27. Susan C says:

    Every time I saw a photo with the church pillar in the background, I wondered why in the world (when the rest of your house is so beautiful) you didn’t do something about that cast iron sewage downpipe with the peeling white paint… LOL!!!! Last week I finally noticed that it didn’t extend all the way to the ceiling, so it couldn’t possibly be a sewage pipe. Then I was stumped. Thanks for enlightening me (-: I like the nifty hanging rack a lot better though – it indeed shows up better against the white wall. Have a great day (-:

  28. Audrey Ogilvie says:

    Karen, you are unquestionably the diva of DIY. The magazine holders are brilliant! Easy to see, change up, etc. Now for a non sequitorial question. What kind of lights did you use at the top of your bookcases. I am building some beside a fire place and I think those are exactly what I need. Keep doing what you do! We’re all waiting…

    • Karen says:

      The lights on top of my bookcases in the dining room are from Ikea, but I needed to adapt them to make them useable for this purpose. I went with them even though I had to saw parts of them off because a) they’re dimmable and b) they’re relatively inexpensive at $50 each. Depending on how your bookcases are installed you may not have to adapt yours. ~ karen!

  29. Eileen says:

    The magazine (+ everything else) rack is great. But knowing that my mag. stash (and the plastic bags and rubber bands) will keep me safe in the upcoming nuclear holocaust = priceless!

  30. Karen says:

    A. I noticed your pillar
    B. I hearted your pillar
    C. Please tell me you kept it…even under your bed – just somewhere!

  31. Cathy Reeves says:

    Holy crap! We have the same interior doors! We’re probably sisters

  32. Jenny W says:

    Luv It <3 Can be adapted so many ways! I will be using it in my teenage daughter's room when I reno it next month

  33. Ev Wilcox says:

    Perfectly “Karen”! I would never have thought of it, so, Thanks!

  34. Sarah says:

    My nine grandsons (all under the age of 13 years) would LOVE your beautiful magazine rack. So would my nine granddaughters (under 15 years). I would have to have at least racks for the Australian sewing magazines. You’re the the best. I like the towels on the rack.

  35. Rene Walkin says:

    Bloody fantastic! You are a superwoman! and by the way, I love your house.

  36. Marna says:

    Wow, so awesome! I love magazines and actually give them to my library for their annual sales and also for a few local schools for the kiddos to use in art class (I even get an art magazine they seem to love). I have so many ideas to use this idea, especially now I know how to display my grandma’s old linens! Thank you so much! You are brilliant! ;)

  37. Anne says:

    Donate the magazines to nursing homes. My mom has Alzheimers. We scrapbook photo’s that make her feel happy – its her happy book. Whenever she looks at it, she lights up with that gorgeous smile. So easy to do, and it brings so much happiness. A lot of people have never slowed down enough to figure out what truly makes them happy.

  38. Lisa says:

    Love this. Thinking of using it for some favourite photo frames as well as magazines. Brilliant idea – and that’s why we love you – you think of them for us. (I’ll hide it from the snakes though).

    • Karen says:

      Actually, if you put this in a really warm corner, you could probably use it as a lounge chair for your multitude of snakes. Very artistic. ~ karen!

  39. Lois Baron says:

    Perfect timing on your post because just tonight I found a pack of four dowel rods in my house. Possibly because a cleaning person came today and moved a few things around to better vacuum up all the animal hair accumulating everywhere.

  40. Tracie says:

    I absolutely love this diy!! I am so doing it too…I was just going to bed but made the mistake of checking my email first…I do have to admit that while I did not read through the entire post, I did stick around to let you know my opinion. :) I am very excited to read this tomorrow, thanks Karen!

  41. Ardith says:

    Standing ovation, ma’am. This is award worthy—complete with a gold statue to complement your other brass house jewels. Cheers, Ardith

  42. Kathy Dicken says:

    I absolutely love your living room, with the massive and beautiful furniture and the colors and textures of the fabrics. That being said, IMHO you should not be hanging magazines in the corner… again, just my opinion. This is either going to build up to be such a weight that it crashes or you’re now going to have to recycle those mags every month. Sorry, I lurk a lot and probably shouldn’t even comment… blame it on the flu & being housebound for a week.

  43. Dani H says:

    This looks great on the wall but truly stunning hanging from the ceiling! I’m thinking in the corner of any room or even the balcony with small planters hanging on the dowels with S-hooks.

    Love your ideas and your blog.

  44. Marsha says:

    So pretty, like jewelry for your house.

  45. Jennifer Lee says:

    This is a great idea, Karen! I see we like some of the same magazines. If you take the magazines and drop them off in laundramats or bus stations, bored people will worship you. I take newish ones to leave at the doctor’s and dentist’s waiting rooms, when I have to go there. As a suggestion: instead of eye hooks, one could use screws with big enough heads to not pull through the chain, or add a washer, if necessary. By the way, I tried to buy Cinema Paradiso- the DVD in your photo, according to Amazon, won’t be released until March! And the BluRays won’t play in North America. :( I put it on my wish list.

  46. Jani says:

    This is amazing and the ideas are jamming in my head! Towel rack in bathroom. Hang on the side of a kitchen cabinet for cookbooks. The back of doors for scarves, hats, gloves. Oh my….the uses are endless!! You are the best!

  47. Ingrid says:

    You have inspired me! I am going to use your design to hang all my scarves and pashminas.

  48. Jasmine says:

    Love it. I especially love #6 ‘Attack dowels…’. Because who doesn’t want to beat up defenceless wood d now and again?

  49. mel says:

    This is my favorite post in months! Probably because these days I’m just an apartment dweller with no real garden space and this is a thing I could totally do. I love it!

  50. Courtney says:

    Love ! Ps – don’t toss those old mags, your local library, free cycle or stash them in a little free library (I can so see one in your little yard)

    • Karen says:

      Lolol. I laugh because I knew the first comment would be about not throwing out magazines. Trust me. I have tried to give away magazines (books too) and people don’t want them. Not libraries, not used bookstores. They aren’t going in the garbage they’re being recycled, turned into compost or other products. I feel good about that choice, but if other people would like to find homes for them that’s A-okay. ~ karen!

      • Rosie Walsh says:

        ALL of the thrift stores here love getting magazines. Please consider donating them.

        Love the hanging thingie being used for kitchen towels.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Rosie! Nope I won’t be donating them. 1. the stores around here do not want them, as I stated. 2. I cannot be bothered to drive around the world trying to find someone willing to take them. If I did that I wouldn’t have time to come up with great DIYs 3. I feel it’s a more responsible choice for me to put them directly into a recycling bin where I know they’ll get recycled as opposed to giving them to a thrift store where they may in the end just end up in the regular garbage. ~ karen!

        • Rosie Walsh says:

          OK, you. For other readers, consider taking magazines to hospital waiting rooms. I took a stack to a nursing station when one of my kids was having a kid. The nurses were thrilled.

        • Tessa Ryan-Lipp says:

          Many hospital and doctor waiting rooms won’t take them any more for fear of passing on germs. Stupid, I know, but it is what it is.

      • Autumn Britt says:

        I’m an Art teacher and we love magazine donations at my school.

    • durandconnie says:

      Schools use them for Art & Home Ec. Group 3-5 together and sell them. Yes, I too have a problem. ;)

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