What Is a Lazy Susan? Plus 4 Ways to Use One for Storage

Learn more about this organization staple, plus how to use one to tidy your home.

I'll admit that I didn't always love lazy Susans. Prior to entering the professional organizing industry, I neglected to use them in my own home because I had the preconceived notion that they wasted space. However, once I started experimenting with them in clients' homes, I had a rather quick change of heart.

When used properly, a lazy Susan can be a game-changer in getting and keeping a home organized. Reaching for something on a deep or high shelf suddenly becomes effortless. Plus, a lazy Susan lets you do a quick scan to find what you need or know when it's time to replenish an item. The key is to use the correct size turntable for the area, as well as ensure that you're storing the right items.

Below, learn where and how to use a lazy Susan throughout your home to make life easier and keep your space tidier.

lazy susan kitchen shelf organization
Andreas Trauttmansdorff

A Brief History of the Lazy Susan

There are a few theories as to how the lazy Susan got its name, so it's difficult to know its exact history. What is known is that the round tray, which rotates via ball bearings, was originally called a dumbwaiter beginning in the 1700s as it essentially eliminated the need for staff in the dining room.

As far as where the secondary name came from, some believe it was devised by either Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Edison since both had daughters named Susan. Jefferson's daughter was said to complain about being the last to be served at the dinner table. Meanwhile, some think that Edison invented it to place his phonograph on. However, these theories remain uncredited.

The modern phrase "lazy Susan" appeared in a 1917 issue of Vanity Fair that advertised a 16-inch turntable for $8.50, though the term wasn't introduced into Webster's Dictionary until 1933. As the storage staple became popular in Chinese restaurants in the 1950s, the lazy Susan became a household name.

The Best Ways to Use a Lazy Susan

Now that you've had a history lesson, albeit a fuzzy one, here are a few places to use a lazy Susan, plus what to store on them.

1. Kitchen and Pantry

Being that the original use of lazy Susans was for mealtimes, it makes sense to keep a couple in your kitchen. The storage unit is perfect for round (or roundish) bottles, which make the most use of the space. Consider placing one in the fridge for condiments, or use one in a pantry to store cans of soup or vegetables. In my home, I have two turntables in a cabinet next to my stove for oils, vinegar, and nonrefrigerated sauces.

The best place to store a lazy Susan is in a corner kitchen cabinet. Placing one on a top shelf prevents items from getting lost in the abyss of a deep or wide cabinet.

2. Bathroom and Linen Closet

Another space to embrace using a lazy Susan is under the bathroom sink and inside a linen closet. Shower spray and toilet bowl cleaner fit comfortably on a small one inside a vanity cabinet. Plus, the storage item prevents damage to cabinetry should one of the bottles leak. Or store hair-care items in a nearby linen closet for easy reach when rushing to get out the door.

A lazy Susan also works in a bathroom closet to stack extra toilet paper. For clients, I've used lazy Susans for makeup and nail polish organization, and as a hub where all family members can find sunscreen, bug spray, or even first-aid items. And if you have a vanity that lacks storage, consider using a stylish two-tier turntable on the counter to corral skincare products along with daily toiletries, such as deodorant or toothpaste.

3. Laundry Room

While many laundry products are too large to fit on a lazy Susan, there is a surprising number of small, oddball items that can benefit from one. Invest in a divided turntable and sort laundry essentials, such as dryer balls or fabric sheets so that they all have a home but are conveniently accessible. I leave mine on top of my front-load dryer, but if you have a nearby shelf or cabinet, stash your least-used laundry accessories there.

4. Home Office and Craft Room

A divided turntable with compartments for pens, pencils, binder clips, and more works well for office supplies. However, be sure you have the space on your desk, or a nearby shelf, to store it. For kids, a lazy Susan makes it fun and easy to grab markers, paintbrushes, or coloring pencils when it's within arm's reach on a craft table.

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