Friday, January 15, 2010

Mom's Kitchen Makeover - Storage and Organization

Painting walls and cabinets was all new territory for me, but organization? Now you are talking my language. Although, if you saw the current state of my storage closet in the guest bedroom you would beg to differ – but that’s a future project.

Let’s start with the drawer space in my parents' kitchen. We did an assessment of all kitchen gadgets and tools to determine if there was anything we could get rid of. There were doubles of some items so we looked at which one was used more/in better condition.

We lined the two silverware drawers with cork bought from The Container Store in the contact paper section. I thought we would have enough for all 6 of the drawers, but there was only enough for two! I should have read the dimensions closer, but it looks like so much material when it is all rolled up. The cork in the drawers made for a wonderfully clean appearance and helped to detract from the paint job: we skimped and only did 1 coat on the insides.

I bought a sliding silverware tray from The Container Store. The top level slides back and forth to provide additional storage but still easy access to the items below. Here is where taking measurements of the kitchen came in handy. This tray is just under 3” tall. If the drawer had been any smaller I would have found myself in the returns line the day after Christmas – not a good place to be.

Part of going home again includes falling into all of the same old routines: you might still have your room the way it was in high school, you are probably sitting on the same furniture you did when you were 10 and you might even feel compelled to keep your same curfew. However, the Tupperware your parents use should not be fodder for nostalgia. Who knows how many times these plastic containers have been microwaved, frozen, washed and filled with leftover meal after leftover meal.

Just say no to plastic and look into getting a glass set from Pyrex as my sister found for the kitchen makeover the day after Thanksgiving, majorly on sale. We purged some of our 20 year old friends and filled one drawer with these. Of course, they are still glass so be careful when handling, especially when they are coming out of the microwave and steaming hot. I learned my lesson when I carried one by the lid across the kitchen and it fell out, shattering on the floor. Glass and taco meat were everywhere – not a pretty combination.

We spent hours cleaning and painting the cabinet doors only to end up screwing holes into the poor little guys a day later. With good reason, however. Give your doors something to do by attaching a shelf or rack. I bought a 3 shelf spice rack from The Container Store for $12 and screwed it onto one of the pantry doors. When I was home for Thanksgiving I inventoried all of my Mom’s spices, convinced there were going to be doubles and triples of things that I could throw out to pare down the collection. I was surprised to find out that she really did have over 30 types of spices, extracts and herbs that needed to stay in the cupboard.

The spice rack could not contain all of them, so I also picked up a 3-tier Expand-A-Shelf for $10 for inside the cabinet. We stacked canned goods on the higher shelves and could line the rest of the spices in the front. This also came in handy for added storage because the attachment of the spice rack to the back of the door meant the inside shelves had to be placed at very specific heights so they didn’t block the door from closing.



In today’s world, plastic bags get a bad rap and I will admit I avoid them at the stores if I can help it. Long live reusable eco bags! However, our plastic friends do have uses like for cleaning the cat litter and lining small trashcans in the bathroom. Some people might think of a plastic bag holder and dispenser as a useless invention – I can’t help but think of a Mr. Show sketch for a product called Bag Hutch – but isn’t our “after” shot a lot more appealing than our “before?” While we have attached the Simple Human bag dispenser to the back of one of the under-the-sink doors, you can find similar items at IKEA, Target and more for a fraction of the cost.

Here's where plastic bags were kept before. Convenient, but not too pretty:

And after:

Along with a two-shelf attachment for the other under-the-sink door, I bought my mom a cleaning supplies package including dish soap, counter cleaner, all purpose cleaner and hand soap from Mrs. Meyers. You can find this brand at Target and World Market, to name a couple sources, and the eco-friendly company has gotten great reviews for their products. My sister also picked up a set of reusable biodegradable towels from Uncommon Goods. They say 1 is the equivalent of 15 rolls of paper towels. I will be checking back in to see how my mom likes them! I realized after I screwed in the holes that I put the shelf too high up on the door, preventing taller bottles from being housed on the top shelf. Was not worth drilling more holes, but I felt a bit silly!

Finally, we tackle the back room. I mentioned in the initial planning post how strange this little area of the house is. Convenient for being adjacent to the kitchen, but the outward swinging door throws you almost directly into an open stairwell leading to the lower garage. The room is also freezing cold because the lower garage is exposed and the room gets pretty drafty. I had 3 main goals with this room: set up a recycling center, add additional shelving and utilize the cabinets along the back wall which, to be honest, I had never even noticed before!

We started by simply laying two small rugs down (2 for $5 at Menards the day after Thanksgiving) to cover a pretty gross floor. The can crusher attached to the wall in this room is a nice feature. The garbage bag attached to a giant board leaning against the wall is not. I picked up two medium sized and one small sized recycling bins from The Container Store. They are stackable when their lids are on so I put one for the cans on top of one for paper and left the lid off so the cans have somewhere to fall after being crushed. The smaller bin will be used for glass bottles and is on the other side of the larger bins. The red circles in the "after" picture show that we still want to paint the wall and move the cookbooks out of the back room and into a display shelf.

The metal shelf in the above ‘before” picture was actually in my bedroom growing up. You can still see remnants of all of my stickers on the sides. Although it is a bit wobbly, we decided to keep it back here for additional storage. For $20 at Menards (also available at Home Depot and other home stores) I picked up a 4-tiered plastic shelving unit. I had one of these in college in my first apartment to hold my microwave and foodstuffs since my cupboard space was so limited. You can’t beat the price and the snap-together functionality makes assembly pretty darn easy. The items on this shelf intermittently used kitchen items like the cake stand, turkey roaster and coffee maker. One shelf holds bins that I picked up at Home Depot (set of 3 for $10). The larger one holds all Christmas items like platters, tins and décor while the smaller two hold extra serving bowls and misc items. I borrowed my sister’s label maker so that my mom can easily remember what is in each one.

The metal shelf was moved against the back wall and also contains rarely used kitchen items like a wok and the electric skillet. A small wire cart next to the shelf is for a future project involving removal of the dishwasher! The upper cabinets could still use some more organization, but came in handy for a few additional items. My mom had the idea of putting up hooks for larger items like the grates for the grill. We found an old board in the garage and painted it with the Sassafrass green accent color sample we bought. After screwing in some old hooks found in those same upper cabinets and attaching to the wall, voila!

Click to enlarge:

With everything back in its place, we were almost done with our marathon makeover. I will cover the Décor aspects next before closing things out with a Budget Breakdown, list of what had to wait until Phase 2 and a final wrap-up.


  1. The first step to an organized kitchen is to formulate a plan and assemble the proper items. One of the most challenging aspects of kitchen efficiency is organizing spices. Many recipes require an assortment of spices. Good thing the Spice rack is invented.

  2. Choosing the right space rack for kitchen is very important.Like, if you have a short counter space, but you need to have your spices right at arms length, then a carousel spice rack is a fantastic option for you.