When big changes occur, it’s necessary to take stock, and sometimes make amendments which affect the running of an organisation. In politics… and in my home.
Some new lodgers came to live with us recently, and we needed to free up some room for them in the kitchen. So, I have been doing some tidying.
Those who know me well will find that a surprising comment, witness my working space:
Kitchen re-ordering, on the other hand, is quite satisfying — it’s all about recognising how the room flows and the best way to maximise the (reduced) space. We do have quite a lot of storage built into this kitchen, so the streamlining process wasn’t too much of a trial, but I remembered how important it is that everything has its place. I have even written a strapline about it (see above for details).
When I am helping clients design their kitchen, I always recommend that they do an ‘audit’ of the items they have, how accessible they would like them to be, and which ones they use the most. Although that seems rather specific, it’s actually quite a quick process, because generally they already have pots, pans and plates in some sort of storage. So, it just means going through, cupboard by cupboard, and listing the items. Then, defining problem points — ie, our pans are all stacked in a dark cupboard, and the one I want is ALWAYS at the back — and finding a solution — let’s put your pans in deep drawers instead.
Even if you are not designing a new kitchen, it’s still possible to rearrange things to work better for you. So take a look around my kitchen storage, and I’ll suggest some helpful tips as we go:
Firstly, put the things you use the most in the easiest places to get to. I find deep drawers really easy to use because you can see the entire contents at a glance, and access everything with not too much fuss.
I don’t bother with drawer dividers (apart from those for cutlery) or plate stackers, as they tend to use up more space and make things less flexible. You may disagree!
The pans are just as easy to access: you can still stack them but the option to select from above, rather than crouching and grubbing around and removing others to get to the back, is infinitely preferable.
These items were already happily homed and worked well for me, but there was one amendment to be made. Whilst the drawers are amazing and accessible, it’s not possible to make use of all the kitchen space in this way. If you imagine any kitchen, there is a lot of potential storage space up the walls as well as that in the floor based cabinets. Any cupboard above eye-level can’t have drawers, for obvious reasons. So the shelves have to suffice. My recommendation is that you find the items you use less regularly to put in these places. Unwisely, I put all our enormous salad bowls and serving plates in one of these high cupboards when I first filled the kitchen, and have been teetering on the edge of dropping them all on my head ever since.
I decided to reposition them in a drawer for easier access.
I had used one of the deep drawers for the kids’ various plastic-ware, mainly so they could get to drinking cups and plates when needed. But we don’t use these baby bowls very much any more, and so I found a new home for them — in the corner cupboard.
Now the boys only really need to access the cups on a daily basis, so these are still easily reached by simply opening the cupboard door. These corner cupboards go very deep, but thanks to the pull-out trays, can hold a multitude of stuff.
There’s a picnic and lunchbox theme for the lower tray:
Opposite, I have a satisfyingly organised tray for tupperware (never underestimate the calm of a well-sorted tupperware collection):
And below, a tray for all the baking gadgets, jugs and other techie cookware:
The slim top drawers I use for cutlery and tools:
And I also have this useful drawer for flat things:
Under the sink I have put useful cleaning stuff (and the food bin):
And below that the cleaning cloths and towels:
We prefer to keep our worktops pretty clear, but I also know that if you put appliances away in cupboards, you’ll rarely use them. So we found a compromise with this sliding cupboard to keep the microwave, toaster and food mixer in:
The coffee machine gets to stay out. Priorities….
The high cupboards are great for smaller items or kits that only come out now and then.
The cupboard clearance meant that I had to redistribute food into different locations – I opted for the lower shelves in the tall cupboards, because they’re pretty much eye level:
You’ll see I’ve used little baskets in here. I find that if you have small items strewn over a shelf it’s very difficult to locate them. However it is very easy to lift down a box and rummage through that. I did the same with the crisp packets in the cupboard next door:
In the interests of keeping everything behind closed doors, we customised our wine rack to fit inside a cupboard:
The lower parts of the tall cabinets are larders. I have sectioned food groups in the following way:
Some people like to have a wall-hung spice rack for all the little jars, but I normally have quite a few outsize or quirky-shaped containers with interesting mixes. So a drawer like this seems to be the best option. To improve it further, I’m thinking of getting a battery operated cupboard light to stick onto the base of the drawer above. The only issue with these big pull-out cupboards is that they’re not very well lit.
Never underestimate the uncouth bulkiness of your cereal packets – they are tall and ripped and always dribble grains. In our house, we get through cereal like locusts, and a quantity such as you see displayed above can be decimated in the space of a week.
There are no rules to planning out your kitchen storage, but as you can see, it is possible to get things neatly stowed in places that work well for you. My recent shift around has caused a few wrong turns (in fact, I omitted to tell the smallest two members of the family, who purportedly went ‘without a drink’ for two days before being redirected to the plastic cups’ new home (don’t worry, they didn’t really, they’re just exaggerating)) but overall increased efficiency in our home environment.
It honestly didn’t take me very long, either, maybe an hour? So why not give it a try? And if you’re planning a new kitchen, definitely draw up that list. You’ll be grateful you did.