Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Motivation: Organizing The Kitchen

Wow, my kitchen really had a work-out this weekend.  We had a large family lunch on Saturday to celebrate our son's birthday and a visit from our oldest daughter and her family from Boston. 

I cooked all day on Friday to make it easier on Saturday when I had a whole house full of company.  We had homemade pork BBQ with homemade BBQ sauce and Carolina vinegar, homemade coleslaw (with homemade mayo), homemade potato salad, and a wonderful homemade chocolate turtle cheese cake for dessert.  The only thing I didn't make from scratch was the sandwich buns.

We enjoyed the leftovers after church yesterday and today I'm faced with a disorderly kitchen.  I just didn't have the energy yesterday to put all of our "party" supplies away.  Thankfully, mornings are usually a good time for me physically, so I thought I'd photograph how I whip my kitchen back into shape in a short amount of time.  

So, this is what I woke up to this morning.  It's not really too, too bad, but it needs work.

Dishes in the sink, clean dishes in the dish drainer, flowers that need fresh water, extra crock pot sitting on the stove, good times.

Here's another view. Hubs didn't know what to do with the empty flower vase or iced tea pitcher, so he left them next to the sink. 

Here's what I did to clear off the surfaces. 

1.  Knowing I had several items that needed to be returned to the Party Pantry, I designated a spot to gather all of those items together.
2.  I loaded dirty dishes into the dishwasher.
3.  I emptied the dish drainer and put the clean dishes away.
4.  I washed (and dried) the breakfast dishes and other items left on the counter.
5.  I put the unneeded vase into the donation bag sitting near the front door.  (I'll probably drop that bag off today when I'm out running errands)
6.  I wiped the counters and appliances down.
7.  I packed up the leftover muffins (in Tupperware on top of toaster) and put them into the freezer.
8.  I ate the banana for my morning snack - a girl's gotta get her vitamins, you know.
9.  I put the flowers on the dining room table.  I want to make a different arrangement out of them later.  If I do it now, I will most certainly get distracted and not get my kitchen work finished.

This took a total of 12 minutes and here's what I had when I was finished.

I filled the sink with clean, hot water and added some dish detergent.

Now that the exterior is in order, I want to spend some time going through the inside.  I always start at one end of the kitchen and work my way around the room.  I usually do the upper cabinets first and then the lower cabinets.  There's no magic method, this is just what works for me. 

This is the cabinet over my stove.  I keep extra supplies here that I don't use very often because I have to use a step stool to reach it (I'm only 5 feet tall).
I had a few extra dishes, some canning supplies, and a small box my daughter made for me in 1998 to hold my tea bags.

I took everything out of the cabinet, wiped down the interior of the cabinet and only put back the items I wanted to keep.  The canning supplies need to go with my other canning items and the special box is going in the pantry with the other tea containers.  *By the way, when we moved into this house, the range hood was almond colored.  I painted it black to match the other appliances.

Next up, the spice cabinet.  I always like to keep items near where they are used most.  Since I stand at this counter when I cook, I placed all of my herbs and spices here.  I've used a combination of turntables and graduated shelves to keep them accessible. 

I took everything out, one shelf at a time, wiped down the shelves and the turntables and graduated shelves.  I was able to consolidate some spices (I don't know how I end up with two sometimes), throw out one bottle that was past it's prime, and jot on my grocery list a few that are getting low.  I used to keep my spices alphabetized, but now I keep them categorized by how often I use them.  The most frequently used spices are on the lower shelves.  Refills are on the top shelf.

Next to the sink and close to the fridge is the cabinet where I keep the glasses and coffee cups.  Most of my blue glasses are in the dishwasher, so this is a good time to wipe every thing down.  The top shelf contains my collection of amber glassware.  Some of it was my grandmothers, but I've been collecting pieces of it whenever I find some. 

I followed the same directions as before, removing items shelf by shelf and wiping everything down.  I found two coffee mugs we haven't used in a long time and I'll be donating them today to the Salvation Army.  I also repaired some shelf liner that had come loose.  You may notice that these cabinets are in pretty bad shape.  The cabinets were handmade 30 years ago by the man who owned our house before us.  Although I appreciate his effort and talent, the cabinets are warped, splintering, and too small.  Some of the doors don't even shut completely.  I'm just making do with what I have until we can remodel the kitchen one day. 

There's not much change in the before and after picture of the cabinet under my sink.  It is what it is.  I keep my cleaning supplies under there, an extra roll of paper towels, and a few cleaning rags.  I did remove an overflowing pile of rags from the top shelf and I'll be taking them to the garage.  I have no need to keep a dozen cleaning rags here.

This is another lower cabinet. I keep small appliances and large Tupperware and cake carriers here. 

This cabinet is right next to the stove/oven.  I keep my baking pans, cutting boards, and glass measuring containers here.  The extra shelf really helps with storage.  I also use a vertical stand to hold my cutting boards and 9x13 pans upright to save space.  I forgot to take an after picture, but the only thing I changed was moving the 9x13 lids to the Tupperware drawer.  I only use them when I freeze casseroles, not for everyday baking (keep what you use closest to you and store the extra elsewhere).

This cabinet is next to the fridge.  It's very deep but it does hold a lot.  Within easy view and reach, I keep mixing bowls, Pyrex storage containers, Tupperware, and sippy cups for the grandchildren.

One of my friends gave me this basket many years ago (thanks, Cathy).  It makes a great drawer for my Tupperware.  We do tend to "throw" stuff in there and it needs to be weeded out.

I took everything out, matching lids with containers.  I threw away a few things and reorganized what was left by size.  I have a small basket within the basket that hold lids and itty bitty containers.  We are slowly moving over to only using glass containers, but in the meantime I'll have to use the plastic.

I wiped down the shelves, repaired some more shelf covering (I use clear packing tape), and labeled a couple of the baskets. I love these sturdy plastic baskets/bins.  They're only a few bucks at Walmart and they are great for shelf storage.  I keep glass Pyrex storage containers with their lids in the top one and I just slide it out like a drawer whenever I need to access one

So, with an hour and a half of work and a few tools. . .

                            (labeler, clear packing tape, cleaning rag, and a sink full of hot, soapy water)

. . .  I have an almost clean kitchen (I'll have to finish the island tomorrow when I have more strength) and I was able to remove this much stuff that was just getting in my way.  Some goes elsewhere and some gets donated.  Good Times!

So, did I scare you off?  I hope not.  I hope you'll spend a few hours going through your kitchen.   Let me know how much stuff you were able to get rid of!  We can have a "show & tell". 


  1. You should see my kitchen when it's a mess....soooo much worse LOL

    I went through my cabinets the other day, it's fun to dump stuff! I can't handle doing all of them in one sitting though, I get impatient. So normally whatever cabinet I open that's driving me nuts is the one that gets cleaned out. I only have a couple to go!

  2. Great tutorial! I really need to get motivated to attack my kitchen like this now.

  3. Your before pictures are cleaner than my kitchen on a daily basis! :)

    Great job. I really need to go through my cabinets. Good motivation to do so.


I'd love to know what you're thinking. Please feel free to leave ideas and comments.