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Kitchen organization help/advice

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hello All;
I am an avid home cook with a problem - I have a lots of chef's supplies and food to store in a small kitchen that I want to look neat and well-organized.

For those of you in a similar situation but have mastered the art of kitchen organization, I'd love to hear from you.

o Do you have another place in your house to store anything that just won't fit in your kitchen ? If so, where and what types of things (Such as Pots/pans, canned food, small appliances, elc ...) do you store there ?

o I am planning to get my kitchen remodeled in the not too distant future - Do you have any advice on remodeling ideas to squeeeze as much space as possible out of a small kitchen ?

Thanks for any advice ytou can provide.

Tim
post #2 of 14

Kitchen Storage

Hi, I'm Mark a somewhat retired chef.

you want to keep the food products and equipment you use most in the kitchen, One way to store the pots pans and utensils (when you do the remodeling) is to get a over head rack with t hooks on it to hang your tools and toys. Saves space and they are right at your reach when you need them, plus it looks cool if the equipment is clean and shiny.

try to find one that is oval shape, made of stainless steel and lags into the ceiling

I always liked them in my kitchens, the only draw back was when the dishwashers tried to reload it when we were getting hammered. someone usually got burned and it was not me.

Mark
post #3 of 14
Here's what works in my small kitchen. To the walls, my kitchen is 9x11. Once you add cabinets, appliances and counters it is very small. And is open on one wall, with access to the basement on another so it is high-traffic area. So I have very little space.

Keep ONLY WHAT YOU USE OFTEN in the kitchen.

Start daily. Everything you use daily must be in the kitchen. In my kitchen there are exceptions. My wife often pops corn with an air popper, almost daily. But the popper lives in the downstairs pantry. As I mentioned, the stairs down start directly outside my kitchen and I have my pantry under the stairs. It's close, but keeps my small kitchen less cluttered. But that popper only gets used once per day, not every meal and it's too bulky to live in the kitchen.

If you have space, think Weekly. In my case, most of my small appliances and specialty cookware live downstairs. The Kitchenaid, wok, pressure cooker, BIG stockpot. In a couple of storage tubs are things like cookie cutters and decorating sugars, piping bag etc. Another has ramekins of many sizes, Angel food cake pan, my roasting pan and rack, as well as other holiday ware. For weekday roasting of a chicken, a small rimmed sheet pan and small collapsible rack are perfect and useful for other things so they live in the kitchen.

If you use it even less, it shouldn't be in a small kitchen but store elsewhere.

Kitchen Design.

Put in cupboards to the ceiling. Yes it's not as pretty and stylish. But you need the space. There are nice looking step stools to help you reach high shelves and even designs that fold out from doors, from the kick space under shelves and crazier ideas than that.

Slide out drawers in cabinets are very handy and nicer than shelves in general. You can often slip some things under the bottom drawer/shelf. Silpats, precut parchment paper and so on.

If you microwave isn't in wall, don't put it on the counter. They're too big. Mine lives on a small cart in the dining room. Odd yes, but that's actually where we use it. For example, the family sits down to a dinner of leftovers which isn't magazine perfect but very real. You load up the kids plates, slip them into the micro. Talk, chat, drink while they re-heat, and serve at the ding. Repeat for the parents. You have a family meal, often the kids finish first, then mom and dad have a few dinner moments alone as they finish up. I can do it all from my chair at the table. No running around in and out with food during the meal. The rest of the cart serves as layered sideboard if necessary, holds extra napkins, utensils and so on. As my dining room is also small requiring a smallish table, the extra space is very useful.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #4 of 14
Hi Tim.

We just did a kitchen "update", so I'll give my advice (which is worth exactly what you paid for it...)

Our kitchen measures 8'X11', also open on one end ("U" shaped). I've got some pictures posted up on here in the kitchen layout area.

Pull out shelves/drawers in the lower cabinets are essential. Standard configuration lower cabinets give you one, half depth, shelf per cabinet, which is an absolute waste.

Also go for the full extension drawers that would hold your cutlery/gadgets/etc. (the ones just below the countertop surface). The full extension lets you actually use the last 4-6 inches of drawer space, rather than having to dig in the darkness.

Speaking of darkness, in your lower cabinets that form a right angle, go for the lazy susan corner cabs. Our previous configuration had at least 8 cubic feet of wasted space due to the 1/2 depth shelf, and a cabinet that went back into the depths of friggin' nowhere. With the lazy susans, you still have some dead space, but nowhere NEAR as much, AND you can wheel the stuff on the back reaches of the cabinet right out to the front with a flick of the wrist... Other wise, the standard corner cabs are great for storing dust bunnies and troublesome inlaws or pets...

There is also a cabinet available which offers what is called a "Toe Kick Drawer". This little beauty is about three inches high, anf the width and depth of the base cabinet that you order it with. It's great for flat items like cookie sheets, shallow baking pans,and any other "flat" stuff. This drawer gets that stuff out of the side cabinets by the oven, or the broiler or warming drawer of the oven itself.

For your upper cabinets, see if you can get ones that do not have a center slat support between the two doors on wider cabinets. This allows you a lot more flexibility in placing your "things (like plates, platters, etc.) in the cabinets them selves. No wrestling things around a useless obstruction.

Also, if you have a corner where two upper cabinets meet, try and work in a 45 degree cabinet. This will alleviate the same dead space issue that goes on with the convetional (cheapest way for a builder to get by) cabinet configuration.

Oh, and that useless over the fridge cabinet?? Go for a 15" high, 24" deep cabinet if you can swing it. Makes for a great beverage center, and gets the booze out of the cabinet over the stove...

I spent quite a bit of time trying to squeeze the most usability out of a kitchen update without really changing much in the way of wall placement or other major rehab.

PM me if you'd like further details or photos. (might cost you a beer though, if you find your way into Arizona...) ;)
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
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I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
Reply
post #5 of 14
One thing that was extremely useful to increase my space was to have many more shelves made for the cabinets than usually are provided. I have some with very short distance between shelves, like even 4 - 5 inches. I use them for small things, cans, chocolate, espresso cups, etc. They should be adjustable so you can put the shelves wherever you need them. If you do lots of jams then you need shelvs just a bit higher than your standard jar. Most kitchen cabinets have loads of wasted space above the objects. Measure the various piles of things (dishes, bowls, etc) and make the shelves accordingly.

I also agree on the hanging pots. I use a wood board with hooks screwed on it, but previously i had a masonite panel that i painted with shiny paint like the kitchen and put the hooks they sell for mechanics to hang tools on.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #6 of 14
wow you all seem to have small kitchens. that stinks.

I got 2 kitchens,

In my house. there is lack of counter space so i moved the microwave to a corner of the eating area becuase I dont use it but the wife does. she is out of my way im out of hers. Tool gadget and etc are in a nice deep draw. just got to becareful of poking myself. but most sharp objects are else where. knives and other daily/meal tools are handy and pretty much left in a block. daily pans and such on the stove top, others are neatly stacked in a littel cabinet.

Im going to start redoing the kitchen.

Im currently living back with the parents and sharing a kitchen with 4 other people. My parents, wife and bro have the culinary skill of luigi from ratioullie. they have ruined my non stick pans i used for my french omlettes, reg omlettes, crepes and such. they us my spices and herbs with no reguard to how hard they are to find or how expensive they are.

I have a draw in the fridge, I buy as I need and keep my shallots, garlic, and butter and such in there. Other baking goods are hidden and tucked away. my extracts, flours, powders and of coarse choc chips and other cookie stuff are in the top top top shelf and far away.

other good stuff like tooks and what not that they shouldnt touch or that I hardly use but need are kept in my room. I got a nice 7 foot wire rack and keep all my stuff on those shelfs.

basiclly. keep what you need often close and find places for other stuff else where. mostimportantly dont forget where you put it.
post #7 of 14
Really good ideas, but I disagree with the lazy Susan for corner cabinets. Putting a round tray in a square cabinet wastes a LOT of space. I ripped mine out and now have extra space in the back for storing Christmas cookie cutters, specialty cake pans, and all the other stuff I only use once or twice a year. I keep all the gadgets in plastic bins so I can fish them out more easily.
post #8 of 14
Well...having moved from a home with a very large kitchen and lots of storage space to a home built in 1864 with a much smaller kitchen space (even after a renovation, it's still lacking a lot of storage space), I feel your pain.

I didn't have enough money to really change the footprint of the existing kitchen, so I had to be creative in how to come up with the storage I needed. I have a slide-out spice rack right next to the stove where a filler space would be ordinarily (one downside -- only McCormick size bottles fit, not the fancier organic spices). Also, I installed a shelf above the stove (between the stove and the micro-wave) to hold things I use all the time (my favorite pasta, extra herbs/spices). I also used the corner space for a large lazy susan cabinet, so that the cabinet itself is huge, and the lazy susan adds accessibility. A corner cabinet above that keeps my large chafing dishes hidden in its depths while I keep my coffee beans and tea leaves in glass jars in front of them -- pretty and functional).

In my case, I wouldn't have been able to fit a large square cabinet when my corner cabinet is -- I have an opening of about 8 inches, but with the corner cabinet and lazy susan, it really opened up a lot of otherwise unused space (ordinarily, I'm not a fan of them either, but for my kitchen it works perfectly).

I use a large-mouthed canister on the stove top to hold my whisks, spoons, spatulas, and tongs. That way they're right where I need them, when I need them.

I also used a cabinet of drawers right next to the dishwasher (easy for putting away) -- one for silverware, with the divider built in, one designed for my Henkels and steakknives, an accessories drawer, and a deep accessories drawer to put my larger gadgets (potato ricer, hand blender, etc.) in.

In the two cabinets I have for everyday dishes and glasses, I use mini metal standing shelves to stack salad plates over plates, rather than having them on separate shelves. You can pick those up at Target for, like, $4/shelf.

I added a row of cabinets on one blank wall and in there I put two large, deep pots and pans drawers -- ideal for storing my pots with their lids and all the tupperware/storage stuff I have. Above, I used cabinets with glass doors to show off my glass, pitchers, and serving bowls. Above my refrigerator, I use a glass-fronted cabinet as my liquor cabinet -- a little bit of a pain to reach, but it keeps them out of the way, and looking pretty.

I also have a large cold-storage pantry attached to the kitchen. It's kind of a mess right now, but in a few weeks, I plan to demolish the old shelving in there (barely hanging on, and covered in what I'm sure is lead paint), and use chrome shelving units instead. That will give me the ability to store things higher and make the most of the space. In there, I keep my big stock pots, the enormous sautee pan I only use occasionally, and food that I don't need to have on hand immediately when cooking: pastas, baking supplies, kids' snacks, canned goods, cereals, etc. Also I keep my big Kitchen-Aid mixer in there, and the other gadgets I don't want cluttering up my limited counter space.

One thing I regret -- I have a huge laundry room backing up to the kitchen, and I wish I'd been in a little less of a hurry to renovate when I moved in, or I would have moved the shared wall to add to my kitchen space. Think carefully about your budget and what you might be able to do creatively to add space to what you have now. I love my kitchen, but it's still hard when I have people over that want to help with dinner, but there's only prep space for me and one other person. Even a small prep island would be worth it if you can spare the space.

Hope that helps some! (And try to prepare yourself for the pain of renovation -- even the "simple" renovation I did had us eating off of paper and plastic for 6 weeks, and the plumber and electrician became my new best friends as they were at my house every other day it seemed. :))
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hello All;
I want to thank everyone for all of the incredible and very helpful suggestions. It's going to take me a day or two to go through all of these. I may have questions for some of you as I digest your responses. I really like the suggestions you gave on strategies for remodeling the kitchen to make better use of limited space. I'm sure when my task gets underway (Soon), I'll use many (If not all) of your recommendations.

Tim
post #10 of 14
If you were to calculate the cubic area lost by using a large, well designed corner cab lazy susan, versus that lost by a single half width shelf in a standard base cabinet (set against either a sink base or other rectangular base cabinet), there is approximately 4 cubic feet "lost" with the lazy susan in comparison to approximately 8 cubic feet of unusable space in a standard configuration.

Coupled with better utilization of other spaces with roll out shelves and organizing "stuff" based upon usage, I firmly believe that the lazy susan lends itself to more productive use of cabinet space.

Even though there a few pieces that only get used every few months, they are close at hand should there arise a need to put them to work.

Rather than jamming seldom used items back in a hole that has to be excavated (take out the stuff you use frequently to get to the "treasures"), we elected to move the twice-a-year things to a nearby closet. I also hate to have to climb into a cabinet to retrieve things, or take a flashlight with me on such an expedition...

Large occasional use items (bread maker for instance, although I wish we'd use it weekely) were moved to a separate closet, clearing even more space.

That and all of our kitchen "things" were sorted through to weed out the "space takers" that just aren't necessary.

To each their own, and until I invested in a higher quality twirling shelf, I too thought that lazy susans were a waste of time. I found out diffferently with the Thomasville cabinets we purchased.
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
Reply
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
Reply
post #11 of 14
FWIW, I had a pantry cabinet that had plenty of room but I could never get at the stuff in the back. I had pull-out shelves installed. I lost 1" on each side and the back, but now I can use every inch of what's left. No more battling to see what's back there, or broken jars and bottles that fall out when I tried to reach way, way back. I already had them for pots and pans.
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post #12 of 14
FWIW, I had a pantry cabinet that had plenty of room but I could never get at the stuff in the back. I had pull-out shelves installed. I lost 1" on each side and the back, but now I can use every inch of what's left. No more battling to see what's back there, or broken jars and bottles that fall out when I tried to reach way, way back. I already had them for pots and pans.
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post #13 of 14
Nice...I have those for the cabinet next to my pots and pans drawer cabinet -- it makes putting away and finding my baking stones and casserole dishes so much easier. I wish I had done it in all my cabinets -- I have one floor cabinet next to the fridge that I'm constantly on my hands and knees in front of pulling stuff out to get to the extra large measuring bowls.

Oh, and small baskets to store your gadgets too big for the standard depth drawers and too small for the deep depth drawers, like hand cranked cheese graters, pastry tubes, etc., are good to use in those slide out shelves as well.
post #14 of 14
We did a take-it-out-to-the-studs remodel of the 8' x 13' kitchen in our condo four years ago; we hired an architect who specializes in kitchens and bath design to help with design and proportions. Her first recommendation was- make it a galley kitchen, with cabs/counters on both sides.

My son owned a cabinet shop at the time, so we had a leg up on the construction. All the drawers had full-extension, undermount slides made by Accuride so we could get to the whole drawer. So did the pull-out shelves in the under-counter cabinets.

The fridge - a three-door Maytag with a bottom freezer - needed a foot of clearance from the wall on its right so the door would open fully, so I made a pull-out pantry, one foot wide, 26" deep (the depth of the fridge cabinet) and 7-1/2 feet tall. It has two sets of Accuride's heaviest slides, each rated for 100 pounds. It has seven shelves and gives me about 17 square feet of shelf space for one foot of wall space. It is, though, a pain to find stuff at the back, since the heavy-duty slides are not full-extension. We have to keep a flashlight to help in the back of the shelves.

The KitchenAid mixer is in a lower cabinet on a swing-up mount that comes up to counter height. Knape and Voigt made the mount, though I'm not sure they still offer it. There's a swing-out compartment in front of the sink which stores several cleaning brushes and small stuff. There's a 2-inch high drawer under the cooktop (with a standard 6" front to match the other drawers) where we keep all the stove utensils - tongs, spatulas, whisks, cooking spoons, wooden stirrers, and the like - which we think is the neatest feature of the whole kitchen.

The cabinets go to the ceiling, and stuff is stored according to frequency of use - the less often, the higher. The cabinets over the fridge and the wall oven have vertical dowels to store cutting boards, cookie sheets, platters, and such standing on edge.

Under the cooktop are two pull-out racks with hooks to hang pots and pans. K & V used to make these, but apparently doesn't any more, so I had to make them with a drawer slide and a board with screw-in hooks along both sides for the pots. At the bottom of that cabinet is a full-pullout shelf for skillets and short pans. We took care of the rest of the pans with a ceiling-mounted rack in the center of the aisle; my wife and I clear them by about a quarter-inch. We have kind of a problem when someone taller than we are comes into the kitchen!

The professional advice was well worth it, and we really like our small kitchen.

Mike ;)
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