Resolution Action: Kitchen, The Re-install

Our kitchens have been a hot mess long enough. Monday, we started pulling and sorting all non-food items.  Tuesday we addressed the area underneath the kitchen sink. Yesterday was all things food.  Now...we put everything back! When thinking about where to put everything back, think about how you cook the easiest. Place items that you'll use often - pots/pans, serving items, and dry goods/spices closest to the stove. The less you use something, the further away it can be. Use high, awkward places for things you don't use often but still belong in the kitchen.

On your counters, keep out only what you use daily or almost daily. Put other small appliances away and only bring them out for use. This keeps counters clean and available for food prep. Not to mention how much neater it looks!

A couple of common problems I see and solutions:

  • Shelves that are long and narrow - use baskets to hold the goods. That way you can pull them out to see everything in a shelf. You can also install pull-out systems that accomplish the same purpose.
  • Shelves that are too tall - Add in wire shelves to bridge the gap and take use of the otherwise dead space.
  • Lazy Susans are fantastic to see everything in a small cabinet or pantry.
  • Spice options - I love the little stair-step shelves to place spices on. It makes them easier to see. If you do this, get solid plastic over wire. The little bottles tend to lose their balance on wire. Another idea that I absolutely adore came from a chef friend of mine. She velcros the spices to the inside of a cabinet door. This makes everything neat, organized and super-easy to see everything you've got. You can also use magnetic strips and small, round canisters. This is particularly handy because you can pop out the spices you're going to use for a particular meal and stick them to the fridge.  
  • Don't have a lot of room for your pots, pans, small appliances? Use the pantry. Pantries don't have to be food only. If you create a weekly meal plan, you don't need a huge reserve of food in your pantry.  I often see homes with just one or two people living there, but the pantry would lead you to believe they're feeding a small army. This is how food ends up wasted. Another great option if you've got the ceiling height and room for it is to use a hanging rack. Taking advantage of height is one of my favorite ways to give small spaces more storage. Just be careful with this option - make sure it's hung strong enough to bear the weight and high enough to not hit your head.
  • If you're lacking in cabinet space for dry goods, you can always store food in canisters on the countertop. Personally, I hate them but I also had to resign myself to using them to make the best use of my teeny kitchen. I use clear so it's a little less "visible."  

In my line of work, I see two major problems - big kitchens that are awkwardly laid out and small kitchens with two much stuff. There isn't a lot that can be done to mitigate poor lay-outs. I always just make the best of what is given us and make it work.  Now if you have a small kitchen, you HAVE to have less stuff. There are just no two ways around it. Less room means less stuff. Meal planning helps tremendously because you just purchase what you need for the week and it doesn't have to take up a lot of room.

I'm going to give you a little hint - I hear people lament all the time about a kitchen that is too small, but I personally think you have the advantage. Everything you need is just at arms length.  Nobody built in a beautiful spice rack 15 feet away from where it'd actually be used. (I turned that spice rack into wine glass storage and put the spices in a teeny cabinet next to the stove.) If you forgot to pull something out while you were preparing for a recipe, you barely have to move to find/grab what's missing. Small, organized kitchens are fabulous.

Once you're done, leave a comment below to tell me what you did!