Our Kitchen Organization

I’m always curious about houses and love seeing what’s lies behind the front doors of houses I admire.  Walking through open houses and estate sales is my idea of a fun day.  On a creepier side, I even enjoy getting glimpses of the interiors of homes while driving at night.  Come on, you know you do, too.  Don’t confuse that with stalking or walking up and peering in windows.


Part of the appeal is just seeing what the homes look like.  It’s also interesting to see how people live in the homes, as each person has a different style, set of needs, and way of using the home.

In that vein, I thought I’d show where and how things are stored in our kitchen.  Our pantry holds the bulk of our dry goods.  Baskets on the highest shelf (not shown) hold bulk spices that we use to refill our containers.  The next shelf down has a basket of chips/crackers, nuts, peanut butter, and dried fruit.  Below that is the microwave and canned goods.  Another basket holds oatmeal, snacks, and extra cereal.  The last shelf is dedicated to extra condiments, oils, vinegar, produce, mac and cheese and rice.  At the very bottom are the heaviest items like juices, protein powder, and the bin holds dry pasta.


Rotating just to the right are the double ovens with a drawer below and cabinet above.  The cabinet stores our vertical items like serving platters, cookie sheets, and cutting boards.


In the tall drawer below we store large baking dishes, muffin pans, our food processor, and the crock pot is normally in that open spot.


Our glass front upper cabinet stores our most often used dishes, keeping the daily use items closer to the bottom.


In the drawer stack below the glass cabinet is our junk drawer, as well as our overflow storage.  Glass baking dishes, pie and loaf pans, and coffee supplies aren’t used too often around the house, so they’re handy, but not in the central area.




The top drawer of the stack nearest the sink holds sponges, towels, foil, and storage bags.



Kids dishes and food storage containers are in the middle drawer, with extra foil, bags, straws, water bottles, and lunch containers below.


Typically, we do our prep work on the left side of the island, near the cooktop.  To keep everything as close to the work area, the knives and utensils are directly below.


Pans and a salad spinner tuck away in the middle drawer while larger pots and lids live below.



Directly below the left side of the cooktop, and just to the right of the work surface, is our trash drawer with a recycle bin and extra bags.


Lunch supplies and snacks are within arms reach of our lunch making spot.


Under that are the small appliances we use on a regular basis, including the toaster, waffle maker, and blender.


Baking usually happens on the right side of the island, near the pantry and ovens.  Again, to keep things handy, the top right drawer stocks our spice jars, labeled on the top for easy finding, but are easily refilled when low.  A few baking specific utensils are also in here along with oven mitts and a small recipe binder.


The middle drawer has mixing and serving bowls, a few cookbooks, and hand mixers.


Storing the baking staples in the bottom drawer has been so handy.  The red lid containers hold white and wheat flour, sugar, brown sugar, and chocolate chips.  A few round containers have powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda.  Containers with flip lids keep cereals fresh, but handy for the boys to pull out.


Across the kitchen, near the breakfast nook and dining room is this built-in hutch.


It’s stocked with liquor, drinking glasses, and extra serving pieces.


The left drawer keeps the boys’ art supplies close at hand, but not in the main area.


The other drawer is stocked with napkins, candles, bottle openers, and other randomly used items.


If you’re a nosy house lover, I hope this post satisfies that curiosity.

Laundry Room

Do you hear that?  No, I’m not crazy, the choir of angels is singing because we have one room in the basement without anything on the to do list.  As in, finished.  100% done.  Complete.  Granted it’s one of the smallest rooms, but it does boast nearly as much custom cabinetry as our kitchen, so it wasn’t as simple as throwing down flooring, slapping up trim, and tossing paint at the walls.  While the appliances have been functional nearly the entire duration of the remodel, the room as a whole has caught up.

To really feel accomplished, let’s take a look back four years ago to the beginning.   New-House-Laundry-Room-April-13-2012

I’m sorry for the orange overload seared into your brain, but that’s what we lived with until demo started.  Across the room sat the side by side washer and dryer with a utility sink oddly stuffed behind the door.  Oh yeah, and we had glue covered floors so I tucked a rug in the room to make it feel a little less gross under foot.

With a few minor tweaks like scooting the door frame over, adding a pocket door, and different cabinets, we’ve got a fully functional laundry room.


Bright white cabinets help lighten up the windowless space, while stainless counters provide a durable work surface with a touch of shine.


A tall cabinet in the corner holds a vacuum and ironing board, with bulky cleaning products above.

We decided to stack the washer and dryer, leaving space for our upright freezer on one side and a sink with a bit of countertop on the other.


After precariously balancing things on the edge of the old utility sink, I knew I wanted a little more space to set soaking clothes, soaps, and paint brushes.  Two shelves store the most used laundry and cleaning items, keeping it in reach.


In place of the plastic wash bin, we used a single bowl stainless steel kitchen sink and pull down faucet for easy spraying or rinse action.  Don’t worry about the standard looking outlet, it’s actually connected to a GFCI in the bathroom, on the other side of the wall.


Since we buy in bulk, I decant laundry staples into containers for easy handling.  Big boxes tuck in the cabinet below for a quick refill.


Just for fun, and because I wash nearly everything on a cold cycle, I added a sarcastic laundry chart to the room.  If you really want to know what all those crazy symbols mean, here’s a real chart option.


Back to the other side, custom drying rack drawers tuck neatly away behind slim fronts.  A six-foot long counter space makes folding and sorting a breeze, and the drying racks come in handy as extra surface space to drape hanging shirts and pants on.


On the counter, I added a Great Lakes cut out from Crafterall, along with a wooden sculpture to have something pretty to break up the gray and white.  A little cup holds chang, ear plugs, rocks, and other items I find in pockets.


This is the first time in my life having such a functional, fully finished, and if I do say so myself, beautiful and clean laundry room.  I know most people see it as strictly utilitarian, but choosing durable, hard-working elements doesn’t automatically equate to ugly.

My Good Friend

I’m not sure about your house, but we have hard water, which leaves hard water spots that are especially noticeable on our stainless steel.  If the water gets wiped up right away, we don’t have problems, but of course, we actually live in our house so that doesn’t always happen.  Unfortunately, it leaves our sink area looking like this:


I know, it’s not completely awful, but my OCD side disagrees and I needed something that would work.  After discovering how awesome these cleaning wipes worked on our appliances, I thought I’d rest easy.  Cue the sad sound effects, because the wipes did work, but only until we wiped the sink with a wet rag and the spots showed up again.  I headed back to the store to see what else I could find, and that’s when I met my good friend, Bon Ami.


It’s about two dollars and basically powdered rocks, so it gently polishes the surface.  A damp sponge with a little sprinkle, followed up by a wet cloth to remove the residue, then a drying session does the trick for small areas like faucets.



Always go with the grain of stainless to avoid scratching, but it’s amazing and thrilling how shiny the stainless looks after.


What I really needed this for is our stainless steel shower pan.  As much as we love it, the water does spot like crazy.


See what I mean?


Finally, I’ve figured out a way to fight back, without using harsh, smelly chemicals.  To get a good clean, I generously sprinkle the base with the powder, then scrub, scrub, and scrub some more before rinsing and drying.


This was after a light scrubbing, which removes the droplets, but a more intense scrub gets the drain lines sparkly, too.


Not only does it work well on stainless, porcelain and enamel can get spiffed up.  Our old cast iron tub had a rust streak from the faucet, which came off with a good scrub.  Just thought this might be useful if you’re an OCD crazy and are prepping for guests this holiday weekend.


Take a look at this picture of the guest room headboard and bookshelves:

Now look at the current version:


Despite having even more books, does it feel calmer, more natural?  I hope it does, because that was my goal.  I started by donating the few books I had read and didn’t like/wouldn’t recommend.  Followed up by brutally eliminating every accessory/knick knack/tchotchke I didn’t absolutely love.  I think only five things made the cut.  Then, one shelf at a time, I pulled everything off to dust.

Being OCD, I have always separated my books into fiction and non-fiction groups main groups.  Then sub categories for history, biographies, science, etc. and finally in rainbow order.  Red books marked the beginning of a new group, making quick work of finding different categories.  Even in my old office:


Through the years, my system hasn’t changed.  But recently while at the school, I saw filled library cart, spines all facing up.  Spines facing up.  Duh, why haven’t I added that element to my system?  Wanting a calmer color palette, it offers all the benefits of the controversial turning the spines to the wall trick, but, on lower shelves, books are still easy to find.  Only snag is our floor to ceiling shelving, leaving the upper two shelves out of view.  To keep these shelves as neutral as possible, I pulled out the white, black, gray, and tan books.  These got a home on the top shelves, spines facing out for easy finding.


Remaining lower shelves are all nestled in, spines up and easily seen from above.


Occasionally, I placed a stack of books to break things up and create a pedestal for decorative items.  Like this engraved silver cup turned fake succulent planter.


In addition to creating less visual clutter, flipping the books had another benefit.  I was able to add three more shelves to the mix due to the shorter height.  I have my fair share of books, so keeping everything together, tidy, and organized is my preference.


Bed height shelves also serve as built-in night stands, complete with an outlet on each side.


For best function, I tried to keep each of those relatively clear, without having an entirely empty shelf.


Over the past year, I’ve made a conscious effort to bring in and keep only accessories I love.  More and more, I’m drawn to natural elements and pieces.  A few really cool driftwood pieces are on simple display above the bed.


Maybe having two hunter/gatherer boys has affected me.  Collections of wood, rocks, feathers, antlers, shells, and even a few skulls have made their way inside.  Each one has a memory or a story, unlike trendy store-bought piece I’m almost guaranteed to grow tired of.  Mixing those nature finds in adds a lot of character without costing a dime.


Everything in nature is the perfect color, too.  Nothing insanely bright or neon, simply beautiful.  So I’ve happily been leaning on nature for the answers to my decoration conundrums.  Have you seen any noticeable shifts in your decor preferences?

Produce Cart

In addition to the new knife block, I’ve been working on organizing the rest of the kitchen.  It’s a great way to keep busy, while indulging my crazy.  Initially, I planned to have an under shelf mounted basket in the pantry, to store potatoes and extra fruit.  Because, well, Costco quantities.  Something similar to the baskets in the pantry below.

The problem with that is two-fold.  Finding the right mounting system is tricky.  Secondly, a secured basket would block the inside corner, making it useless.  Due to stubbornness, I didn’t let the issue go and searched for a better solution.  One night, as I couldn’t fall asleep, the perfect idea came to me.  Lightbulb-a wooden crate on casters!  I dug around our scrap bin, but didn’t see enough of any one thing.  Michael’s carries wooden crates, and the measurements were perfect.  Even easier than building a custom box.  For easier moving, I bought four fixed casters at Home Depot to attach to the base.

The base material is about 3/8 inch thick, so I used a combo of screws.  On the outer edge, along the 3/4 inch front piece, I used 1 inch screws.  Along the inside, shorter 1/2 inch screws to avoid going through the base.  Adding a quarter-inch thick block would also fix the problem, but I didn’t want to add height.


Swivel casters could work just as well, but fixed wheels made it easier to pull out and push in without hitting the sides.  Instead, the box smoothly slides straight in and out.


Inside, we store potatoes, oranges, and other room temperature produce.  Having gaps between strips allows adequate ventilation, keeping the contents fresh longer.


This system would work well for other heavy items, keeping contained, but easily accessible.  Not only in a pantry, but think of closets for shoes, toys, or sports gear.  Endless options, but super easy to get done.