November 4, 2011

Organizational Bliss Series: A Kitchen Cabinet Overhaul

Welcome to the first real post in the Organizational Bliss series. As I begin here, please understand that I'm inviting you into the middle of this madness.  I started this project months ago and didn't have the forethought then to take those gnarly "before" shots that look so nice juxtaposed with the "afters".  But there's still some eye candy and a helpful tip or two to be had here.  Above is one side of a re-organized kitchen cabinet.  I'll zoom in on it below and point out some of my prouder moments while I whipped this baby into shape.

Wait. Wait. You still want the before shot, don't you?  I honestly considered undoing all my hard work and putting the cabinets back to their original state of disorder.  And then my eye began to twitch at the thought.  I couldn't do it.  Let's compromise. I'll cartoon one.

That captures the general idea I think. Okay, now on with the show.

First stop, top level.  

Doesn't look like much, does it?  That's because you don't see what used to be there.  Three very useful stacked serving plates once took up residence on the top of this shelf.  I use those plates routinely and getting to them required not only moving out of the way babies scooting around on the floor, but also dragging a chair over as makeshift step ladder to get up to them.  Lesson #1 about kitchen organization: The most used items get first dibs on the most accessible places and vice versa. Now my mom's hand-me-down Wilton cake decorating manuals (well loved, but less used) have traded spaces with the plates.  The plates are in an easy to access location in another cabinet while the cake manuals do just fine up there.  Look at them. They like the view.  I think they're even smiling.

Next stop, Level 3.  This is a good one.

It's the dessert decor shelf.  I can't overemphasize what a wreck this was before.  Bags upon bags of marshmallows hidden underneath birthday cake candles, cupcake liners, food dye and sprinkles. Everything tumbling about.  This shelf failed in every way before three neat little bins came to its rescue.  Their 11 inch depth is perfect for this shelf, the sloped openings give me easy access, and the clear sides make it a breeze to see what's what.  Another perk about bins is that they make cleaning the shelf below a cinch. Just slide them out and wipe down the surface.  And they contain any spills or leaks from the items stashed inside. A simple ZipLoc bag now corals Marshmallow Mountain.  What was I thinking when I bought all those marshmallows?  Oh yeah. I was thinking, "I know I have marshmallows somewhere, but I can't find them in this mess so I'll have to buy more."  (Want to know where I scored those bins?  Read on for a link and a coupon code).

Next stop down, it's boxes and bottles on Level 2.

Sorry for the glare off that box of cornmeal.  And yes, we have a mild addiction to Magic Shell and chocolate chips.  But judge our eating habits later! Just admire the fourth bin that's nicely housing the dessert chips and shredded coconut. Now that they're not spilling about, the boxes and bottles can be stacked side by side and reached without having hold back the other stuff.  And that blue bag?  That's Powdered Sugar.  He's just gonna hang out there for now. 

Grand finale on the bottom floor.

Another kitchen organization tip: Group items together that will be used together.  For instance, our baking spices, mixer, and measuring cups and spoons are all located in close range to each other in the baking "nook", which is just a cute way of referring to the spot I set aside for them in the cabinets above and below the mixer.  During this overhaul, the baking spices got upgraded to stadium seating. But shhh, don't tell them that they're really sitting in the cheap seats because that tiered Mainstays spice rack was less than $5 at my local Walmart.  And it's worth every penny.  Its three tiers prop up each bottle enough for me to see them, but not so high that I can't fit items on the highest tier. Now the salt, shortening, and cornstarch can relax in peace on the right.  Baking soda is front and center. And it can be that way because the spice rack allows you to customize the depths of each tier, giving you exactly as much space as you want on each tier and the space before it.  Should I ever want to take the spice rack out and store it, all tiers collapse down into a nice, compact rectangle. Beautiful! 

I believe I promised a link and a coupon code to those bins.  Here they are:

The bins are made by Akro-Mils and can be found at ZoroTools.  These bins are quality stuff and well worth the original $14 a piece price tag, but I'm doing this Organizational Bliss project on a budget so that didn't cut it.   But this coupon code halves the price to a few cents over $7 a piece. 

Enter ZT35H at checkout and you'll get $35 off an order of $60 or more. You need to order five bins to pass the $60 threshold for this discount, which I was happy to do as there is much more organizing in my future.  And the site offers free shipping on orders of $50 or more (pre-coupon code) so shipping is free.  It's a great deal. 

If you can't buy that Mainstays spice rack, Amazon has four alternatives that I also considered.

One more look at this new space. 

Organizational bliss? Almost. One day I'll add some light colored paper on the back  wall to make the cabinet seem less dark and cave-like.  It's not quite done.  But it's 100% better.

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