Sneaky Ideas to Maximize Kitchen for Home Improvement

September 11th, 2012
Furniture Design
Corner Cabinet Lazy Susan 3

Depending on your lifestyle, the kitchen is either the second most used room in your house – or one of the least! Home cooked meals are the norm in some homes, but rare in others, but we all use our kitchen to a certain extent. The most obvious common use of the kitchen is to store food products, and because of this it is an area that can often be frequented by bugs and other pests. It is essential to guard against such invasions, and this is made more straightforward by thinking about potential unwanted visitors before you start storing things willy-nilly! It’s easy to throw almost anything in the kitchen, but like the living room and dining room, there are specific ways to increase the storage capacity and efficiency of your kitchen and resist storing items that should never be found within its confines!

Kitchen Storage Accessories

Unlike the other rooms, there aren’t too many furniture additions for better storage use of your kitchen. This is because most kitchens are created to be optimized for storage when a house is first being built, or when the kitchen has been remodeled. Drawers, cabinets, pantries – once you add in a refrigerator, chances are you won’t have a great deal of free space to throw any other sizable furniture into the mix. There are, however, storage accessories that you can add to your kitchen to help manage the clutter.

Let’s start with a storage kitchen accessory you’ve probably seen before but perhaps not on a kitchen worktop or counter. The Lazy Susan is a circular disk/ tray that is commonly placed on tables to display and serve food items by making them easily accessible from any side by spinning the disk. Originally used during large get-togethers to make accessing copious amounts of food easier for everyone. Want something on the other side of the tray? Simply spin it and grab what you wanted. Nowadays, the Lazy Susan has been implemented a bit differently, to enable you to store more items and giving an unparalleled ease of access to everything. It is fairly easy to replace corner cabinets with Lazy Susans that are held in place by a bar in the middle of the disks. You can store as much as you want on the disks and won’t have to go through the hassle of venturing into deep, dark, depths of the cabinet to grab something in the back.

To make better use of empty corner spaces, modern kitchens now have the option of corner drawers. These drawers are made with these otherwise dead spaces in mind, which is plainly obvious by their shape. They have one edge that makes a ninety-degree corner in the back of the drawer, the remainder is curved to utilize as much space as possible and allow you to optimize storage space.This type of drawer has the potential to be used anywhere in your house, but often comes in most handy in the kitchen, due to the limited space for additional furniture.

A utensil holder is a great little device that can be used to free up an entire drawer of clutter, and make your life much more convenient when cooking. It can hold all of your larger utensil items such as spatulas, ladles, stirrers etc. in plain sight on the kitchen counter, instead of throwing them into a drawer. You could use any old box or opt to store these items on your countertop, but a utensil holder will make your kitchen look a lot more clutter free and stylish than if you were to use a cardboard box! For those of you who cook, using a utensil holder will keep your most used items readily can make or break a dish, should a time sensitive need arise.

You should of course be already using the regular popular every day kitchen storage item – plastic lunch and freezer bags, spice organizers, silverware organizers and the like should be used to store items as neatly and compactly as possible. The more you can fit in one drawer means the less you have to fit into the next. I don’t know of anyone who thinks they have too much storage space in their kitchen – even if you are one of the lucky few, chances are you’ll fill the room faster than you intend to.

Under the Sink – and the Dreaded Pantry…

Let’s go over the two main secondary storage areas your kitchen may have; the area under the sink and the pantry. Most people have cabinets or some kind of storage area under their sink, although pantries vary quite a bit. One person’s pantry may be nothing more than a closet, while another’s could be a walk-in area better stocked than many restaurants! Both areas are unique in what they hold and how they should be organized.

Part One: Under the Sink

The items you should store under your kitchen sink are very specific. Since it is possible for this area to see the most moisture and has the highest chance of receiving water damage should the sink leak, you shouldn’t store any food items or anything that can be destroyed by water damage. Instead, you want to place items that can either soak up spilled water or be otherwise unaffected. Most people already know this to be the ideal place to store cleaning supplies, not just because where you spend most of your time cleaning. Unless you’re a college bachelor living with three other guys who all use paper plates and plastic eating utensils, and whose idea of cooking is a drive-thru window and/ or a microwave, you’ll probably be washing dishes and cleaning your sink and stove at least once a week. Having your cleaning supply items underneath your sink makes the job much easier, and also safer – simply fitting a childproof catch to this cupboard means all your potentially hazardous bottles, powders and creams can be secure from little fingers and pet paws too!

You don’t have to limit your under sink storage to kitchen specific cleaning supplies. Any cleaning supplies you use around the house can be stored under the sink as well. Any chemicals you use to clean the bathroom, the dog, or any other item within your house can potentially fit comfortably in this area too.

This is also a good place for you to store garbage bags, plastic store bags, or eco-friendly canvas shopping bags. The trash can in the kitchen is usually the first to fill up as it is the most convenient in your house. This, in turn, makes the area under the sink a perfect location for any items pertaining to trash organization and consumption. If you cook regularly, then the majority of the shopping you do will take place in a grocery store, making the area under the sink, one again, the ideal place for you to store your major shopping bags.

The biggest problem most people have with the area under the sink, is organizing it. Most people start off well, but quickly end up with a messy area where things are laying and/ or thrown all over the place, making finding necessary cleaning supplies or storage items a nightmare. This often happens because cleaning supply bottles are often carelessly left on their own amongst everything else under the sink, and then we wonder why they get knocked over when we go to grab something else.

Many of the cleaning supply items you store under the sink will not have a very even weight distribution, and the tiniest tip will send the cleaning solution inside to one area of the bottle or the other and tip it over. That bottle can then hit another bottle and start a domino effect that can become very aggravating, very quickly. To prevent this from happening, use a storage bin/ container to store your cleaning supplies according to what area they are used for. For example, keep all your bathroom cleaning supplies in one plastic bin, your bedroom cleaning supplies in another, organize your doggy shampoo in its own separate corner – make sure your kitchen cleaning supplies are located near the front of the sink for easy everyday access. This will not only ensure the organization of this area, but also make it easier for you to transport your cleaning supplies around the house, and keep them organized – since you can grab the entire box instead of one bottle at a time.

Part Two: The Pantry

Keeping a pantry properly organized is an action that you must take seriously. It’s easy to see all that shelf space and throw things here or there, but an unorganized pantry can quickly turn into an unhealthy pantry. Ever heard that one rotten apple spoils the bunch? Same rule applies to everything in your pantry. Should you store something on a back shelf and then forget about it, allowing it to rot, and then you could end up ruining any other food that is nearby. A disorganized pantry is also a great way to waste money. Randomly throwing all your groceries into the pantry is a regular habit in some families. Throwing out forgotten food that is way past its expiration date is another pastime such families begrudgingly go through as well. Keeping your pantry organized and properly stored will make a positive impact in both your health and your wallet.

To properly store items in your pantry, you have to have a game plan. Take a look at the space you have and reserve each shelf for a certain type of item. Perishables should go on a shelf around eye level so that you are readily made aware of what you do/ don’t have and what is close to expiring and what isn’t. Canned goods should go on a lower shelf since they often last the longest, and used the least, and are the heaviest items in your pantry. Spices, if stored in your pantry, are often best placed above your perishable items. Chips, cookies, boxed items, and such that make up the majority of the items you will be storing in your pantry should be stored in-between your canned goods and perishable items. You don’t necessarily have to follow this layout, but if you repeatedly find yourself discovering lost food items that are well past their expiration date, then you may want to try it out.

Make full use of all the storage and organization accessories you can. Closet organizers are extremely helpful no matter how large or small your pantry is. They can provide extra shelf space, a search system to help you locate items quickly, and even provide support to flimsy shelves. Sealed containers often work much better when storing perishable items than the original packaging the item came in. They also allow you to consolidate various packages of the same item into one area. You never know when you may need to make extra space. The larger your pantry is, the more helpful labels can be. Keep a sheet of labels with a marker on a lesser used shelf, or hang them from a hook in a drawstring or old shopping bag. Lastly, if you’re going to make labels, then read and pay attention to them! What good is an organization system if you don’t use it?

The Painstaking Chore of Refrigerator Storage Optimization

The refrigerator is often a woeful topic when discussing home storage and organization techniques. Most people tend to throw everything bought from the chilled section of the grocery store into their refrigerator haphazardly. Sure, you may have been careful and organized at first, but all it takes is for life to catch up and your refrigerator organization plans go to pieces. As you have bought this book, chances are that you may indeed have a disorganized mess for a refrigerator! So now we are going to go over the entire process of cleaning out and organizing your fridge for maximum storage and optimal use.

The first thing you have to do is take everything out of your refrigerator and clean it. To do this properly, clear out your sink and place anything prone to condensation into your sink and if possible lower the temperature of your house to a comfortable, yet chilly, setting (to ensure your food items don’t spoil during the cleaning process). Start with the main area of your refrigerator first and the freezer second, otherwise you’ll have your items out in the open for too long! You certainly don’t want to waste food during this exercise,

Next you need to do an inventory check of all the items you have in your refrigerator and throw out anything you don’t need, want, or that is expired. Now are ready for the third and final stage.

Now that you have your accumulation of items that you definitely want to hold onto, it’s time to put it all back into the refrigerator. Don’t panic! You just took everything out of the fridge so obviously it can all fit back, and with greater ease once you’ve removed the surplus. Create a game plan, similar to organizing the pantry, as you put your items back into the refrigerator. Vegetables and fruit should be in the bottom in the salad drawers. Uncooked meats above these, sealed in plastic wrap and on plates too, if there is a possibility of any blood or other liquids dripping from them. Your drinks should be placed in the largest area you have available, and lastly create separate sections for your cheeses and condiments. If you have other items, such as Jello packs, make sure you create a separate section for them as well. You don’t need, and shouldn’t use, labels inside your fridge; just make a mental note of your layout. Laying your items out in sections will create more storage space than you could have ever thought possible.

Now that you have everything organized, all you have to do is keep it that way. It may sound easy, but with most people’s busy lifestyles it can be a hard job to maintain. If you don’t have time to organize new groceries appropriately after you get back from the store, place the items into their respective storage areas but leave them in their bags, to remind yourself that they need to be organized. It’s harder not to notice the out-of-place plastic bag in your refrigerator than the specific items that are in the wrong section. The big thing here is to make sure you don’t confuse yourself, and stick with it!

Some Final Thoughts for the Kitchen

The kitchen is where you will be storing the largest number of individual items inside your home. The only area that may even come close to rivaling it is the garage, which is another beast we will be getting to later on. In an attempt to cover as many bases as possible, we’ll end this part of the tour with these extra tips:

  • Using square or oblong straight sided containers to store flour, pasta, and other dried goods. This is a much better alternative to leaving the items in their respective boxes or bags, because the sealed container will allow you to consolidate and compact all of the items. Straight sided containers work better than round containers, because they make it easier to stand items like dried spaghetti on end and they make the most use of the shelf area they occupy.
  • If your herbs and spices come in envelopes or packets, then placing them into separate containers and labeling them, makes life much easier than leaving them in their original individual packages or containers. These labels allow a uniform look, that makes spotting a particular spice out of the crowd much easier than looking through a variety of fonts on the production packets. At the same time the uniformed containers tend to take up less space and give the stored spices a more organized look.
  • Place items that you will use less frequently on the higher areas of the pantry and in cabinets that are located closest to the ceiling. Getting items down from these high perches is an added chore you don’t want to go through on a daily basis.
  • While drawer inserts may take up a tad more space, they allow for improved organization, which consequently makes the drawer space easier to manage, allowing increased effective storage space.
  • Racks and hooks on the inside of doors allow more items to be stored and organized inside each cabinet. Just make sure you have enough room to still close the cabinet completely without knocking anything over with the newly fitted rack!
  • Don’t be afraid to leave flat items such as cutting boards out in the open on your kitchen counter. That’s where you’re going to be using such items anyway, why not leave them there?
  • Install bins and shelves under your kitchen sink as needed.
  • Make sure you install a towel rack on the back of your pantry door, the back of a cabinet door, or inside the area under the sink. Towels are rags should always be close at hand in the kitchen just in case of emergencies.
  • Make use of all the space you can above and around appliances, such as the top of the microwave or the area above your stove’s timer/ dials – however always make sure you are not obstructing the required air flow or any vents or outlets. If you are unsure, check the appliance user manuals for any warnings.

Article From : Leigh, Colette (2012-04-17). Store This! Simple Home Storage Systems & House Organization Solutions (Gleam Guru).


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