This Christmas, we invited our extended family to lunch at our house - we were so excited to be able to host a big celebration in our new home. We asked everyone to bring something to eat to make the whole day a little easier. My sister-in-law Louise was on salads, and when she arrived, she went straight to the kitchen to finish putting them together. I sat back and noticed she was opening drawers and cabinets and finding things with ease, without having to ask. Everything seemed pretty intuitive. Which was awesome for me as the champagne had already been opened!
When I asked if she needed any help, she answered:
'Everything is so easy to find in here! You should have seen me this morning in my kitchen... To get to this big platter, I had to move a heap of crap out the way, things I don't even use anymore. I was getting so frustrated I didn't have enough space to prepare everything, I nearly didn't make it! Being in this kitchen is like **nirvana** compared to the nightmare I was in this morning!!'
I love my dramatic sister-in-law! We had a good laugh, but I knew she was only half-joking. She has told me many times before about how she hates being in her kitchen, and feels totally uninspired to cook in there.
Can you relate to this at all?
The true frustrations with your kitchen can come into play in situations like these when:
>> you're trying to prepare multiple dishes but have hardly any prep space
>> to get to the things you need in your cabinets, you have to move a heap of other [often heavy] stuff out the way first
>> your fridge and pantry are not organised enough to be able to fit lots in
>> other people are trying to use your kitchen but can't find anything
The disorganisation of a kitchen can become truly apparent at times like these. But these frustrations might also be what you're experiencing on a daily basis. Which is why it's my mission to help you get this area sorted once and for all!
My husband and I decided to gift Louise a full day of 'help' at her house, where I would help reorganise her kitchen, and hubby would do some handyman jobs. While she thought I was just going to move a few things around in her kitchen, my plans for this space were much bigger. Today's post shows the full makeover and the method behind my madness!
PSST: Interested in learning more about organising your kitchen? Clever Kitchens is the ultimate guide and video workshop that will show you how! Check it out here >>
Louise's main concern with her kitchen set-up was lack of storage and lack of prep space. There was no more space in her cabinets, so things were getting piled on top of any available surface (i.e microwave, fridge, benches), causing a lot of visual clutter. There was also the challenge of this zone being used as both a kitchen and laundry.
Although there is a decent amount of bench space in this kitchen, a lot of it was taken up by the things that couldn't fit in cabinets, which made it feel more cramped.
Not having any available cabinet space for pots and pans meant they were piled on top of the cook-top. This set-up meant that Louise felt totally uninspired to cook as it meant she always had to move things out the way to even get started!
There was also no decent-sized pantry, which meant that one small cabinet was jam-packed with food items. Because it was a lower cabinet, things were difficult to find and hard to access - Louise was constantly having to move things out the way to get to what she wanted.
The other kitchen cabinets really just needed a thorough declutter and re-organise to make things more easily accessible.
I always like to remove everything from a space before I start organising it so that I've got a completely blank slate to work with, in order to create effective kitchen zones. Having each kitchen category in a designated zone makes everything easy to find and creates a more efficient and productive space.
Also, having everything spread out in front of you forces you to be more brutal with your purging decisions. Although it can be a little overwhelming to have everything out of the cabinets, it is the BEST way to set up a really efficient kitchen.
As I removed everything from the cabinets, I placed them into the following categories - pantry items, spices, oils & sauces, mugs & glasses, cleaning supplies, large items...
And food storage containers.
Having completely clear cupboards also provides the opportunity for a good scrub-down!
** Learn the step-by-step process for creating your own organising kitchen in my Ultimate Guide & Video Workshop 'Clever Kitchens'! Learn more here >>
Because the biggest problem in this kitchen was not having a proper pantry, my husband's family decided to gift Louise one - the reveal of which was a pretty touching moment. Who knew a pantry could deliver so much happiness! ;) (#me) Luckily Damian was there to whip this together as we were decluttering.
We went through the pantry items, getting rid of anything past its use-by-date, then transferred it all to the new pantry shelves.
As I set up the pantry, I was thinking about which items were accessed most frequently - these were placed on the upper shelves - and which items were used less often, to be placed down the bottom.
Cans, jars and condiments went on the top shelf, and cereal and snacks on the second (the most accessible layer).
Louise already had lots of lovely glass jars for most of the pantry produce i.e. flour, sugar, grains etc, which made life easier as we weren't dealing with loads of open bags. The only problem with jars is that you can't easily stack them on top of each other to maximize pantry space. However, we managed to squeeze most of the jars on one shelf, with the 'sides' (i.e. rice, pasta, polenta etc) on the very bottom shelf as these are accessed the least.
I decided to turn the area on the far right of the kitchen into a tea and coffee station, as it's right next to the tap and the perfect holding spot for glasses and mugs.
The cabinet to the right of the range-hood was dedicated to spices and baking equipment. We did a huge purge of the spice collection, and this handy corner rack from Aldi was a great storage solution for the remaining labelled jars (I was reminiscing about those spice jars!).
Directly above the stove-top, I placed all the oils and sauces. Having both these categories close to the stove-top makes sense when you're cooking as everything is within easy reach.
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The final upper cabinet now holds all of the plastic storage containers (can't believe how much we decluttered from this category!). This area is referred to as 'the storage zone', and because it's situated directly between the stove-top and fridge, it makes preparing leftovers a breeze. Plastic containers are also lightweight, so they are much safer and easier to get down from the upper cabinet than large bulkier items. Lids are all corralled in one container, so Louise can remove the entire tub to quickly find the lid she's after.
The lower cabinet now houses all the crockery, and some of the bulkier items such as the slow cooker, food processor, sandwich press etc. These things are not used as often, so it's okay to have them on lower shelves. They're also safer to access here rather than having them above head-height.
The cabinet under the sink now holds cleaning supplies, spare jars and bowls, and this micro-steamer which was the only thing I couldn't find another spot for! #sacrifices. Louise did a great job of decluttering her platter collection, which now lives on the lower shelf.
This is the cabinet Louise was most excited about, which now actually gives her a holding spot for pots and pans, rather than having them piled on top of the stove-top. Winning! Situated directly in the cooking zone, they are easy to access and use. The lids are stored upright in a plastic tub at the back of the cabinet which means they're not going to slide around or topple out.
The microwave surface is now a lot less cluttered, and holds the cat food and the wok, with the rarely-used toaster to the left. Chopping boards and a knife rack are all within easy access in the preparation zone. The only spot I didn't get to tackle were the utensil drawers (which Louise went through that evening as she was so pumped about her new space!), but that empty green vase was placed there for her most-often used kitchen utensils.
How beautiful and clear does this kitchen look now!
The next day, Louise tweaked a few things to make it suit her needs better, which is an important part of the process, as it is her kitchen and she knows how it will work best!
It was such a pleasure for me to be able to help out my sis, as it is with all my clients - there is nothing better than helping others create more calm and beautiful home spaces. Louise sent me this message (after a lot of excited messages throughout the day!) after cooking her first meal in her new space:
A few before and afters if I may?