Saturday, May 5, 2012

Kitchen cabinet organization

I cook a lot, so does my husband. Unfortunately this is what happened to us: we moved to our new home just about 18 months ago and when we moved, stuff was thrown into cabinets with the intention to later be organized (I think we have already established that later, in this household, oftentimes means never!) So stuff kept on piling on and finding Celery Salt or Baking Soda requires a degree in Archeology, really.

These are the cabinets above the stove.

From the picture, you can gather that we cook a lot and also drink a lot of tea.
We also do not have a clue as to what we are supposed to do
with the cabinets above the microwave.

On the left: the "cooking stuff" which basically consists of a vast collection of spices, half of them directly from France (brought over by Mom), a lot in duplicate, most expired. The bottle of Olive Oil which is used everyday, for some reason found its home on the top shelf, because it makes sense to have to stretch to reach for it while the organic apple cider vinegar, a rarely used item, is on the bottom shelf.

On the right: Teas and aprons. Mom put the aprons there because I guess there was no other place to put them, sure enough, I never use them. Getting to my favorite tea requires a lot of catching falling boxes in mid air and putting things back inside the cabinet while quickly closing the door before another box falls out. I believe you can spot the handle of the emergency flashlight on the middle shelf, because that is really where it belongs, between Oolong and Lapsan souchong!

The middle shelf: completely useless, I am not sure what folks put in there other than stashing unsightly pots, though I suspect most people have their ventilation for the microwave going through those cabinets. Ours has the filter attached to the front (BTW, and on a side note, it is also useless as an odor remover). I will leave this cabinet alone (for today).

Here is the cabinet on left side of the sink:

Coffee/hot chocolate Nyquil station

Even more pathetic, this cabinet is used as a coffee shop/pharmacy. Because it is next to the sink and placed in front of the encasement for the 2nd floor pipes, it is shallow, meaning borderline useless as a cabinet. But we do manage to stash whatever we can and that includes vitamins and coffee beans we can no longer grind since the grinder broke 8 months ago!

So enough with this nonsense, I am building efficiency in my life and that means being organized and sticking with it. My great challenge today was to tackle these three cabinets. There are of course many more in our  kitchen, but I am saving those fun activities for a later time!

I went to Bed, Bath & beyond and purchased two each of these cabinet organization tools:

The first step was to purge those items that were either in duplicate or expired. I planed on using one tiered shelf for the spice and the other for the teas. As for the lazy Suzanne, I planned one for the cabinet for oil, vinegar etc. and the other for the sink (cleanser, soap etc.)
Here is the spice cabinet after my purging and reorganizing:

Once I had all the spices on the shelf I realized I could not read the labels on row 2 and row 3. I went on the computer and printed tiny labels to stick on to the lids. (I used regular Avery folder labels I cut to size once printed). Originally I wanted to have the spices organized by alphabetical order but quickly realized that most of them start with the letter C: Coriander, Celery Salt, Cinnamon, Curry, Chili Powder etc. So I organized them by type instead. Herbs are in the back (Thyme etc.), hot stuff in the middle (Curry, Cayenne etc.), and seeds are in the front (Caraway, Coriander etc.)

Oils, cooking spray and vinegars are on the lazy Suzanne, along with other items on shelf two that can be reached by the both of us. On the top shelf I have those items rarely used such as the Orange Blossom Water or Rose Petal Water (BTW, these are great to perfume a hot bath).

Here is the before and after side by side:


Moving on to the teas...Obviously, we own and drink a lot of tea in our home.

All together, there are only 4 categories of tea here: Black/Green tea, Herbal Tea, the night time teas (verbena, sleepy time etc.) and the Korean Ginseng tonics I buy at the Korean Supermarket.
So I decided to consolidate them into these categories, here is the result, side by side:

I used plastic food containers to sort the tea bags and printed labels to clearly sort the groups. The aprons have been moved to the same cabinet where I store the kitchen towels (keeping textile with textile) and the top shelf is reserved to those items we really use as well as the stash of candy the boys cannot reach (neither can I, and that is a good thing!).

On to the coffee/meds station:

I did not want to move the meds to another part of the house since we tend to dispense them in the kitchen. Luckily, though this cabinet is shallow, it is big enough for a shoe box, so I decided to sort all the meds and designate three shelves to them, sorting and storing them in shoe boxes. Here is the result, side by side:

Top box: Cold and Flu Station, middle box: Supplements,
 Bottom box: Allergy Station

I am aware that I could have matched the boxes and made the ensemble more "artistic". I may just cover them with matching scrapbooking paper at a later time, but right now the goals  were to

1. feel accomplished
2. clear the mess in the cabinets and begining to live more efficiently and effortlessly.

It took several hours to complete three cabinets. I can't say it was hard work, but it did require some thinking as to what made more sense in terms of positioning and usage.
I am really glad I managed to tackle this challenge today, it's been on my mind for quite some time and now, I don't have to think about it anymore!



  1. Good job. Makes me want to think about doing mine after Thanksgiving.

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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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