It all started with cookie sheets…
Specifically, my friend Rita’s cookie sheets, which were stacked side-by-side, standing in the narrow cabinet in her kitchen. My mind started to whirl. Hmm…if my cookie sheets were standing instead of stacked then I wouldn’t have to take everything out of the cabinet. Why have I never thought of this before? It’s revolutionary. I want standing cookie sheets!
Of course, in order for this revolution to occur, I had to find a new place for the cookie sheets. And in order for that to happen, I had to move everything out of a different cabinet. Which meant I had to find a new place for all that stuff. You can see where this is going. Pretty soon, my entire kitchen had been emptied out onto tables, floor and countertops.
I told my friends we were having a Kitchen Party and they were all invited, but oddly enough, no one showed up. In fact, what we had was a massive undertaking: a complete reorganization of the kitchen. David and I took everything out of every cabinet and drawer and started over.
It didn’t occur to me until we were halfway through this project that I should take photos for the blog, so there are no “before” photos of the cabinets. And it’s not so much that the contents of the cabinets were messy, they just were not set up in a way that flowed well in my kitchen. There were no divider shelves in many of the cabinets, and over time, things like long glass baking dishes had morphed into stacks of ten, with the one I needed usually on the bottom.
Before we added anything back into cabinets, I made a list of things I wanted:
- Stand up rack for cookie sheets
- Baking supplies in one location
- Area close to the sink for dishtowels instead of a drawer
- Spread out heavy baking dishes
- Spread out heavy pots and pans
- Get rid of lots of stuff
New refrigerator Redesign island New countertops
I was reminded this project was a reorganization, not a redesign. Bummer. Number 6 was actually David’s list because he is King of Throwing Stuff Away, which is fodder for a whole different blog post as well as grounds for doing bad, sneaky things to his toothbrush. Not that I would.
We made a trip to Lowe’s (ok, two trips) and one to Target. Once in Lowe’s, we got a little carried away by the kitchen organization bonanza — shelves for this, drawers for that, baskets for everything. We came away with a sliding trashcan, sliding racks for skillets and lids, an under-counter sponge holder, and a board to make a shelf for dishtowels. Target was the only place I could find a cutlery holder narrow enough for my drawer.
The sliding trashcan didn’t work because there isn’t enough room due to the sink paraphernalia, so David is building one from scratch. However, the sliding skillet and lid holder is awesome! Previously, my skillets were on a pull-out shelf in one cabinet and saucepans and lids were in a different cabinet stacked on top of each other — and everything was difficult to get to. Now, the saucepans have been moved to the pull-out shelf and the skillets and lids are all in one place and easy to access:
Having the saucepans and my large cast iron Dutch oven on these pull-out shelves makes my cooking life so much easier. The Dutch oven used to live in the back of a cabinet up on a small shelf, which turned out to be a dangerous location—my pinky toe was once the unfortunate recipient of the heavy lid when I tried to maneuver it sideways through the door opening.
Cake pans and muffin tins were previously in a single cabinet on slide-out shelves, all stacked on top of each other so that I had to take everything out to get to what I needed. We relocated these to a roomier cabinet, added some metal divider shelves (these things are $9 and awesome!) and cut a notch out of a shelf that was already there, creating a simple, ready-made rack for the cookie sheets:
Moving the baking supplies to one location meant relocating all my glass baking dishes and pulling flour, sugar and brown sugar out of the pantry. What I really wanted were the glass-front flour and sugar drawers like The Pioneer Woman has, but alas, I was again reminded that this was a reorganization and not a redesign. But I vow to have those drawers in my next kitchen! I also moved the stand mixer from the counter to inside the cabinet. No more running back and forth to the pantry to grab what I forgot…my own little piece of baker heaven!
My measuring cups, spoons and other cooking utensils used to take up two narrow drawers, but now fit nicely into one large drawer (that used to hold my silverware) right over the cabinet that’s filled with baking supplies. Everything is together now, living in harmony:
My dishtowels had all been jammed into a narrow drawer (for some reason, most of the drawers in my kitchen are very narrow and almost useless) so we added a shelf underneath the sink to hold dishtowels. Note: I am using the term “we” very loosely here. Second note: when your husband is building a shelf underneath the sink to hold dishtowels, you might want to refrain from asking if he intends to paint the shelf.
How great are these pull-down spice racks? We actually added these a few years ago, and I love them. They are so convenient and keep those various sizes and shapes of spice and herb containers nicely confined but easy to get to:
The plastic storage containers used to be haphazardly
thrown stacked in a double cabinet with a shelf, taking up lots of space that could be better used by something else. These were relocated to a pull-out shelf that David had installed a few years ago, and the double cabinet became the home for glass baking dishes.
We spent about $250 and ended up with three boxes for Goodwill and about three bags full of garbage. Through this two-day event, here’s what I’ve learned that might help if you wish to host your own Kitchen Party:
- If you are not a handyman yourself then you need to marry one. Fast. Or just kidnap one of your neighbors.
- Make a list of what you want to accomplish.
- Give yourself plenty of time.
- Be willing to change your thinking: “But this alway goes right there!”
- Don’t buy every organizational product that you find in the store even though they will whisper in your ear when you are sleeping.
- Understand and accept the limitations of your kitchen.
- Understand and accept the limitations of your handyman.
- Be thankful for the amazing abilities of your handyman.
All in all, for a relatively small expenditure and a good bit of time and planning, any kitchen can become better organized and flow better, creating a relaxing, fun atmosphere for cooking.