When I first moved in with my now-husband almost 11 years ago (where did that time go?!), it was into a single-fronted terrace house in an inner-city suburb. The house was in need of some updating and refreshing, but was perfect for us at the time. We poured a lot of time and energy into doing it up as best we could, and as much as we could, but because it was a rental, we were limited in many respects to what we could do.
Although we were happy enough to be in a smaller property due to the great location, the one room of the house I always struggled with was the kitchen. A small, dated, and very uninspiring space, I always felt limited with what I could actually do to improve the organisation situation, and how to create a space that I was happy to spend time in.
Not only did this kitchen have yellow laminate bench-tops, an ancient oven, and drawers that never shut properly, the cabinet storage space was minimal, and I was always shifting things from one spot to another to try and create more space.
Yet over the last 9 years, and in my role as a professional organiser helping others get their own homes sorted no matter their layout or storage situation, I've since discovered and created some fantastic organising solutions. Especially in the kitchen. These strategies could turn even the shabbiest of kitchens into one that is more efficient and functional, and that saves time, effort, energy and money on a daily basis. I only wish I'd have thought of, or known about, these strategies all those years ago in our yellow kitchen!
I wanted to share my own story and the strategies I've learnt, in order to save you from possibly making the same mistakes in your own kitchen. Here are 3 mistakes that could be costing you time and money in your kitchen - it's time to change things before you waste any more!
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Mistake #1 | Not using every inch of storage space
While many of us complain about the lack of storage in our kitchens, sometimes it just takes a bit of thinking 'outside the box' in order to find that extra space. It's a mistake to think that you're limited to just the cabinets and drawers, and underestimate the 'hidden' kitchen storage you actually have available to you.
A well-placed hook, peg or floating shelf can make a world of difference when it comes to saving extra time in the kitchen, making things easier to access, use and put back.
Here are some storage spots that you may not have considered for your own kitchen:
- The back of the cabinet door
If you've got cabinets in your kitchen [as opposed to drawers], then consider yourself lucky as they are the perfect place for extra storage!
The back of the pantry could be used to install some hooks, magnetic metal sheeting, cork or peg-board to mount the basics such as your shopping list, meal planner, calendar, measurement conversions, new recipes to try, and invitations.
There are also many back-of-the-door racks designed specifically for creating extra storage - they are great in the pantry, or for organising your spice collection.
The back of cabinet doors can also be used to pop some simple hooks to hang measuring spoons and cups, or dishwashing gloves, or oven mitts... the possibilities are endless!
- Above your fridge
If you have a cabinet above your fridge, it's a useful spot to place a vertical divided stand to store bakeware or recipe books.
- Empty wall space
Any empty wall space in your kitchen should be taken advantage of, especially if you've got a small kitchen. Install some simple open shelves, hooks, or even peg board to hang pans or extra kitchen equipment. Those awkward corners of the kitchen can be the perfect space for some open shelves for display items or entertainment supplies.
In our previous kitchen, we installed some open floating shelves on an empty wall to store our breakfast and baking supplies. These were some of our most-used items , and as there wasn't quite enough space in our pantry, the floating shelves were an ideal spot near the dining table and baking prep space.
- Underneath open shelves
The space underneath those open shelves can also be the perfect hidden storage spot - attach small hooks to the underside of the shelf to hang mugs, kitchen utensils or pans.
- Your backsplash
Open shelves could be installed directly onto your backsplash if there is enough available space between the counter-top and upper cabinets. If your backsplash is made of tiles, you'll need to get a specific tool for drilling into the tiles.
- The island bench
The space on the lower cabinet of the island bench is a great spot for those kitchen 'extras'. We installed a small open shelf beneath the island bench overhang, and use it to store our recipe books. You could also attach some magazine files, vertical file organisers or even wire baskets directly to the walls to add storage.
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Mistake #2 | Underestimating the importance of a kitchen declutter
In my video on strategies to restore calm to your kitchen, I talked about the importance of decluttering, in order to create extra storage space, and make your kitchen more functional and efficient.
It might sound strange to think a decluttered kitchen could actually save you time, let alone money. But let me put forward some situations that you may be able to relate to:
- Your kitchen has so much random 'stuff' in it that it's not a space you really enjoy spending time in
- You'd like to be more adventurous with meals, but every time you go to make a meal, you it takes too long to lug out the equipment you need, or find the exact item you're after
- You're not sure exactly what is lurking in the back of your pantry/fridge/freezer so you just end up cooking the same thing, or going to the shops most night to buy more
- You'd like to shop less often, but if you did manage a big fortnightly or even monthly shop, where on earth would you store all that extra produce?
- You'd like to get into the habit of clearing the bench-tops, but not everything in your kitchen has it's own home, so you find this habit too hard to even start
- You'd like to have friends over for dinner, but it would take so much time to clear and clean your kitchen to make it more presentable, you just can't bear the thought...
Can you relate to any of these? Undeniably, a decluttered kitchen can solve a lot of these issues, which in turn will save you a huge amount of time and money. Although it's going to take you time to declutter your kitchen effectively, never underestimate the huge amount of time that you'll actually gain once it's done, not to mention the money you'll save. I guarantee it!
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Mistake #3 | Not investigating different storage solutions
If only I'd known back in my 'yellow kitchen days' of all the amazing storage solutions that are available that don't have to cost the earth! While it's definitely worthwhile investing in good-quality, long-lasting products, there are many others that are inexpensive but completely life-changing.
These include drawer dividers for small items...
Plastic tubs and baskets....
Those more worthwhile investing in would include food storage containers, to extend the life of your produce and save you money...
And carousels for those awkward corner cabinets to save you time and effort.
Not only will these storage options make your kitchen more functional, efficient and organised, they'll also save you time and money because you'll always be able to find what you need. Which ones would work best in your own kitchen?