Friday, July 24, 2009

Organizing Your Kitchen: Part 2

Organizing Your Kitchen: Part 2

To read about part one, head on over here.

In the past few days, since telling you about my idea for this kitchen organization series, I've been buzzing around my kitchen thinking of all the changes that I can make. As I've kicked around the topics I want to share, I've taken stock of my own kitchen and realized how much more effective my storage of "stuff" could be. I can't wait to share some of my changes with you in upcoming posts.

Before we get to any how-to's or cute pictures, I want share with you why I wanted to do this series. Here's the heart behind the how-to.

It is often said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It's a place where we connect over a meal. A meal that has had time and energy and hopefully a whole lotta love poured into it. A kitchen is where you dream up holiday feasts. Feasts that bring together loved ones far and near. Where memories are made and joy is shared. The kitchen is a place where activity happens. Hopefully, it's a place where families connect.

But, one doesn't want to spend their whole darn day rummaging through baking dishes and moving mixing bowls to get to what you need. We want this space to be efficient so that we can get back to the real business - enjoying time with our loved ones.

When did you first set up the organization of your kitchen? For most of us, it was the day that we moved into the house. Though we were tired and weary from unloading the mountains of boxes from the moving van, we found a system that we thought would work for us. For those of us who moved into our home after just getting know what I mean when I say that every single dish, bowl and utensil had to be washed and then put away. Maybe our organization process wasn't thought of clearly because you had been up to your nose in soap bubbles all day. You don't have to be stuck with that system though. So let's switch it up!

Don't be afraid! Don't be scared to take stuff out of entire cabinets! Don't worry about setting up new systems. Forget about being scared that your family won't be able to adjust. Kindly remind them that it is you who makes the dinner and unless they want that nightly job then you'll set up shop how you want it. Remind yourself not to get too attached to your Cool Whip storage bowls. That those holiday mugs can be packed away until the holidays. That it's okay to let go of a cookbook that you haven't used since 1993. Get ready for some new ideas on how to store your stuff!

So I think I'm going to break this whole thing down like this:

You may have heard it said that you should divide your kitchen up into "zones". So that's what I'm going to propose. Zones. This is what I'm thinking:

- Food Prep Zone
- Cooking Zone
- Storage Zone
- Cleaning Zone
- Eating Zone

Today we're gonna hit the Food Prep Zone.

Still with me? Good.

Food Prep covers your utensils, pots and pans, bakeware and appliances.

Pots and Pans
I made a post awhile ago about pot and pan storage. To this day it is the number one hit on this blog. I can see that people need some help in that area. Here is what I did. I also worked a system up similar to this in my sisters kitchen.

[The photos do no justice to the convenience this system brings me.]

First, nestle your pots. Getting them compact takes advantage of vertical space - something most of us have but don't always utilize. Nestle, nestle, nestle. I have a roaster that I rarely use but it needed a space to live. So he got put in the back of the cupboard but he had to serve a function. I put all of the pot lids in the roaster. It serves as a big metal basket. Say you don't have a roaster. How about adding an actual basket? If you have those lovely pull out shelves, this option would work great - a pretty basket to store lids. Keeping all of those lids together really allows you to nestle your pots and gives you back your shelf space.

In the photo you can see that I added a wire shelf over the roaster. [It came free from my mum-n-law.] On top of the shelf are my three nested colanders and my stock pot - lid on. Another thing I did to help myself out, is that I keep the handles of the colander and stock pot facing the cabinet door. That makes it easy for me to pull them out. It's the little things that save me a few seconds during the day. It really does make it easier for myself.

Here is a shot from my mom-n-law's cupboard. I helped her organize her kitchen last summer. As you can see, her storage solution takes advantage of the sides of the cupboard. Attached are small hooks that she can hang her fry pans on. Since her cupboard is narrow but tall, this is a great option. Take advantage of unused space.

How about these ideas from Martha Stewart?

She used dowel rods inserted into a board to make lid storage. She nestled!

Attach a towel bar to the door of the cupboard. Add lids. Take advantage of your door! Great option!

Another idea for a towel bar. Hang your pots off of one with some simple S-hooks.

Or try this idea. I suggest using a wire clip on basket (or two) to take advantage of space between shelves. I have one of these baskets that I picked up from the Dollar Store. It would hold pot lids well.
Small Appliances
Another thing that can be a nightmare in a kitchen is appliances. It seems that there is an appliance to pretty much do everything that we need. But are you really using all of them? As you go through your kitchen, try and remember when it was the last time you used your rice cooker. Or what about your smoothie maker? If you have a blender, you've already got a smoothie maker. My challenge to you, is to evaluate each appliance. Do you have some that do double duty? Be honest with yourself. Don't hang on to it just because it was a gift. Don't hang on to it because you may need it one day. If it's taking up space in your home, let it be something that you love and use. That pressure cooker could be taking up the space that a new Kitchen-Aid mixer could one day own but because you have to hang on to that cooker that you use twice a year, the Kitchen-Aid mixer stays at the store and not in your home.
How's that for a run-on sentence?

For my small appliances, here is what I have done. [Again, wow, bad photography on my part. Seriously, muuuch better in person.]

In the lower half of my pot cupboard, I have taken my appliances and made a home for them. In the back go the less frequently used things. Back there is a mini-chopper, my blender, the smoothie mug for my blender (keeping like things with like things), a sandwich maker and my deep frier. In front I keep our coffee pot (we use this maybe a few times a month...see how tiny it is?), toaster, and crock pot. These items are used more often than the things in the back. Everyone is lined up and has a spot. Keeping things in a row gives each item a home and doesn't force me to hunt through my cupboards looking for that elusive appliance. Can you use this tip in your home? Perhaps you can clear your counter by putting away your toaster. It really takes so little time to grab mine out of the cupboard. I think if I actually had it on my counter it would be more a nuisance than getting it out of the cupboard when I need it. Sell your unused appliances on Craigs List or Kijiji. Feeling generous? Donate them. How about to a struggling family or a college kid?


Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Next to my stove, I keep a large pitcher. In that pitcher houses my wooden spoons, spatulas, tongs, ladles and my whoozits and whatsits galore. In keeping it next to the stove, I'm at the ready when I need something to flip over, scoop up or smooth out. One day I dream of having a white pitcher with all wooden items and then in another pitcher all of my plastic items. But for now, everyone co-mingles. If you've got the space, why not put those frequently used items where you will need them most? If you generally mix up your cookie dough on your kitchen island, why not fill a container with some spoons and spatulas there? Or toss them - neatly - into a drawer closest to where you do your prep work. The point is to keep things where you need them most.

Here are some more utensil storage ideas from

Love the hanging utensils over the stove. The added shelf really pushes the storage to the max.

Add some decorate corbels from Home Depot. Attach a towel rod between the corbels. Hang S-hooks and then hang up your most frequently used utensils. Simple!

In my silverware drawer, to maximize space, I use a multi level sliding silverware tray similar to the one below. I have room for all of my silverware and a few knives.
Between the tray and the side of the drawer, I keep the rest of my rubber spatulas. In the space between the back of the tray and the back of the drawer, I store my measuring cups and various kitchen utensils like my ice-cream scoop and pizza cutter. I know where to find things when I need them. I can't say enough about a good, quality silverware organizer. If you are on the hunt for a new one, first measure your drawer space and then go looking for one. Try to figure out what items need stored in it and look for an organizer to meet your needs.

Below are some more silverware storage photos of storage solutions from

We'll save the bakeware storage solutions for another day. I think this post is long enough!! Hopefully this post has given you some ideas that you can put into use in your own home. Stay tuned for more storage solutions! Hope everyone has a great weekend!!


Ann's Page said...

Hey ,thanks for the comment...I loved Steel Magnolias...I alos just rented all of the Anne of Green Gables series...bLESSING'S

Lucy Marie said...

I'm definitely tackling my pot cupboard on Sunday!

The Busy Blaine's said...

Thanks so much for the comment. I love your blog and how perfect that I read yours today. I'm getting ready to "tackle" my kitchen as soon as the kiddos go back to school. wonderful info!!!

Michelle said...

Oh Mandi, what a great job on this post...thanks so much for doing this kitchen series! We moved last year from a place that had AWESOME kitchen storage and now...well, not so much! (I still haven't even unpacked several boxes of kitchen stuff due to lack of space in there.)

Enjoy your weekend, girl!

Tracey said...

Mandi, great post and can't wait for the rest. I plan on taking all into consideration and get into those dark area's of my kitchen and dig, dig, dig!! I will let you know how things go.. keep on going! We need HELP!!

Small House said...

Great post, and thanks for the ideas!!!!

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Courtney said...

Hey guys, try out chrome wire kitchen karts for added kitchen storage- i love mine. Just wanted to share!

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