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Kitchen Cabinet Organization Makeover

on February 9, 2014

One thing I have learned about organization is that it is never really “done.”  You can spend some time figuring out what you think is a great system for organizing an area of your home or your life, and it works great for a period of time–until it doesn’t.  Or, maybe parts of your plan still work really well, but something is throwing a wrench in the works, and you need to re-evaluate.  Or, your kids get a little older and needs change.  Whatever the cause, I have learned that even when a project feels “done,” it may not stay that way forever.

This became very apparent when I took some time to think about why I was frustrated about the state of my kitchen cabinets.  I took a chunk of time over a year ago to go through and purge, rearrange, and organized my kitchen.  I set up an organization system in my pantry that is still working pretty well today, though I did make a little adjustment by moving some of my daughter’s things to a rolling cart in the kitchen.  But, my kitchen cupboards were giving me a bit of grief.  Specifically two cupboards in particular– one the bottom row and one on the top.

The bottom cabinet is a very oddly shaped and somewhat difficult to use cabinet.  It has a standard sized door, but the depth of cupboard actually reaches back a significant distance (my arm doesn’t reach the back wall-even if I stick my head inside).  This means that there is a ton of storage in here, but not all of it is easily accessible.  Our pots and pans are stored in the drawer under our stove, and this cabinet was home to some electric cooking appliances we used all the time like our crock pot and George Foreman grill and others we didn’t use frequently like our stand mixer and a waffle iron.  I also stored our glass bakeware in here among other things.  Giant pain in the neck and sometimes hands when trying to maneuver things out of and into this cabinet.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

The top cabinet houses mostly cooking related items like spices and mixing bowls, but it is also home to many of our medicines and first aid items (I read keeping them in a steamy bathroom can cause issues with potency, and it is very convenient for us to have them on this floor of our house).  But this cabinet didn’t really function the way it should either.  There were items in here that didn’t make sense, I had trouble getting to things I did use all of the time, and it looked like a big old mess.

Whole lot of randomness going on in here.

Whole lot of randomness going on in here.  Do you see the things toppling over?  Ugh!

What to do?  I followed most of my Top 7 Organizing Tips without even realizing it–which shows why they are my top 7!  I pulled everything out of the cabinets in question.  I purged a little more and evaluated what was left behind.  What did I use all of the time?  What needed to be easily accessible?  How can I make the most out of the space I have in front of me?  After some reflection, I realized I needed to throw another cabinet into the mix.  We had one cabinet on the lower level that I had decided to use as a kiddo cabinet.  I learned about this practice from Jen over at I Heart Organizing.  By making a dedicated space for my daughter’s items, she could get her own cups, plates, bowls, etc.  I didn’t want to lose that option for her, but I also knew the cabinet wasn’t living up to its potential.  So, I pulled everything out of that cabinet too.

The now former kiddo cabinet...

The now former kiddo cabinet…  And other random stuff.

I had a blank slate of 3 empty cabinets (and one very cluttered floor).  Now came the chance to put everything back in a very thoughtful way so that I didn’t end up with jumbles and frustration once again.  From what I have read and what I have personally experienced, what I needed to do was choose a specific “job” for each cabinet space.  For example, my upper cabinet was now only going to hold only cooking related items (and our two small medicine baskets).  I also wanted to make it easy to use the items in this cupboard–meaning I wanted to be able to pull out items I used all of the time without having everything else fall over.  Some of the more awkward items needed corralled with baskets.  We happened to make a Target run while I was working on this project, and I picked up a few items to help.  The white and teal baskets came from the home section of the store, and what looks like a shorter version of a magazine holder (these are my new favorite organizing tool!) and the chalkboard tags came from the Dollar Spot.  The baskets may not exactly match each other (which doesn’t really bother me, because every color has its own purpose), and I think the similar labels give everything a cohesiveness.

This is my favorite!  Love the baskets and labels!!

This is my favorite! Love the baskets and labels!!  I even moved some of my frequent cooking items like quick oats and bread crumbs from a bin in the pantry to here for easier access.

The kiddo cabinet items were moved over to a very deep drawer right next to the cabinet where her items used to live.  Everything fits in here nicely except two of her larger, segmented plates (which were moved to to the new large “storage cabinet”).  As she is now older and uses more of our regular “breakable” dishes, we didn’t need as many plastic ones as before and could downsize on the space dedicated to her things.  The former kiddo cabinet is now home to my “cooking essentials”–the things I use daily or weekly–crock pot, grill, and baking dishes.  This has worked so much easier.  I can reach all of them without fear of things falling or having to sort through other stuff to get to them.

The kiddo drawer...

The kiddo drawer…

Cooking essentials cabinet...

Cooking essentials cabinet…

Finally, the looooonnnngggg  cabinet has become a “storage” cabinet.  It houses things that we use semi-occasionally like the stand mixer, water kettle, vases, plastic pitchers, etc.  Items used a bit more frequently are at the front, the not so much but use them enough to not purge ones are at the back.  This is a much better use of this space–and I was actually able to fit more in here.  It still looks messy, but everything has a dedicated space, and being pretty isn’t really necessary here.


We have lived with the new cabinet arrangement for about a month now, and I am really happy with the way everything is working so far.  We’ve had a few times where kiddo and I go to her former cabinet looking for a cup, but that has been the only hiccup and it is getting less and less all the time.  I am so glad I took the time to make our kitchen work better.  It has definitely helped with frustration during meal time prep and when putting items away.  All in all a couple of hours over winter break well spent.

Are there areas of your house that just aren’t working for you?  What have you done to make them less frustrating?

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One response to “Kitchen Cabinet Organization Makeover

  1. […] if needed.  I am still trying to tackle one larger project each month.  In January I tackled some unruly kitchen cabinets, in February we added some new storage to our living room, and I’ll hopefully have more news […]

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