Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pantry Organization

Decluttering and reorganizing is definitely part of My Great Challenge! Our kitchen is relatively medium in size, it does have a bar/countertop (which we do not use) and lots of cabinets and cupboards. When we bought the house in late 2010, I was very excited about this kitchen since it had so much space...Or so I thought!

Our Kitchen - before we moved in. Last week I reorganized the cabinets above the
stove (this is a panoramic picture poorly stitched together hence the weird floor pattern).
 We do not use the bar because the dog crates are hidden behind it and they take all the room
where stools would go.How crazy is that? There are more cabinets on the left, above
and around the fridge.

In addition to these cupboards, we also have this pantry which is detached and separated by a sliding door...

Our detached pantry - before we moved in!

So on paper it looks pretty great and wow was I excited about this kitchen! Well, the reality is that cupboards? You never have enough! Pantry? It's never practical! And what about the shoes? Yes the shoes! Our detached pantry faces the back door entrance, so naturally, shoes land there!

So here is our mess (I like to say "our" because surely I can't just constantly put the blame on me - well, maybe I should) and yet another week end challenge for me!

When you enter the house from the deck, the first thing you see our the darn shoes!

Wait a minute? Is that an attempt at organizing right there
on the top? Yes it is, and the calendar looks suspiciously
 blank too! Great effort!

Do you know who else loves the shoe depository by the door? Our two dogs! How convenient is that? The shoes are right there available for grabbing on the way out to the deck! I cannot remember the number of pairs they have ruined.

Introducing 6 months old Beagle: Le Chiffre and 16 months old English Pointer
Labrador Mix: Elektra. (They are named after James Bond villains).

A solution was needed ASAP on matter of the shoes. For one thing, I am not sure how we all ended up using back doors rather than front doors, and why, since we leave shoes there, houses do not provide a standard shoe closet by the entrance, for those of us who do not have a mud room. See, if I was a developer/architect I would definitely include that in my plan!

 The pantry
 (don't judge - I said I needed help):

Top pantry cabinets

On the top, the two cupboards do not have the same depth, the right one is much deeper, I have to take that into account, but to be honest, they are so high, I really do not want to have to deal with a foldable stool. Naturally, there must have been some kind of thinking involved (not mine obviously, it was Mom's) since the rarely used plates and china are stashed here...

Found in the top cupboard:

A Vera Wang Service for three (Antibes pattern)

We 've had these Vera Wang plates for at least 8 years and used them only once! I don't care for the pattern, it's just too modern and I have hung on to these stupid plates for much too long. They're going on eBay! What? Yes, I said it, I am selling the stuff I don't want, use or care for...That's what purging is all about.

Patio/Summer BBQ set
Summer patio dishes: these I actually love, they are plastic, but I have the entire service including the bowls and serving dishes. Too bad the rest of it is in the BASEMENT where it's supposed to be, since we use it only in the summer...They're being moved to where they belong.

Lenox - Casual Christmas
Christmas dishes: technically, these Christmas plates should go to the basement as well, but they are very heavy and I would not want one to break, so they're staying in the cupboard.

Extra everyday plates
 I am keeping the extra plates and platters, I never know when I could need them.

Light bulb

A light bulb, because it really belongs to the pantry, right? There were other miscellanies -  they went straight to the trash, the light bulb returned to the basement.

Here is the pantry:

Yes, I did that!
As you can see, I make full use of my pantry!

I just need to add this thought: I know a lot of kitchen now offer these sliding drawers. I find them to be a great idea for pots and pans since they are heavy items and allow you to not break your back when you retrieve Grandma's skillet. But in my opinion (and experience) sliding drawers are useless when it comes to pantry organization! For one, look at the unused space they leave on the right side of my pantry! Plus, stuff that's standing will fall down when you slide the drawer and other items will fall behind them, straight to the bottom - it just is not practical at all. And even if you had everything neatly organized in containers, there is still too much wasted space above and under them.

So I have decided that I have no use for this right cabinet as a pantry and since it is separated on all sides from the others, no food items would go in there!

On the left, there is a mix of dog and cat food, a few cans of whatever, a pair of unused garden boots and a freezer bag.
I think it is safe to assume I rarely use this cupboard, hence the reason why it looks like this!

Some baking items

Rice, pasta and miscellanies.

And to review, all of the above are the reason why we no longer shop at wholesale
clubs! I do not need, will not need nor could ever possibly use 5lbs of
granulated sugar! I also found all these raisins, which by the way we do not eat!
(the one on the left expired in 2008). Just proving my point here.

Here is what I did:

Yes I did, I put the shoes in the sliding drawers, 4 drawers - we each have one!

Very obviously this involved a trip to the dollar store where I purchased all manners of plastic containers and baskets. I have placed those items I use the least, up high (baking) and those I use the most, at eye level: dog and cat food.
And yes, I have no shame, I put the shoes in the sliding drawers! Why? Because this cabinet is completely sealed so it's not like shoes are mixed with food, it keeps the dogs away from them in addition to keeping them away from sight! So as far as I am concerned, it's a win-win!

Top cupboards - heavy plates I don't want to move somewhere else and all baking
items (green baskets) as well as dried goods in sealed containers. Everything is labeled!

I found these containers at the dollar store - they have a neat handle to pull them
out to the front of the shelf. Now we can always tell when we're out of pet

More dried goods that can be combined.

Most of these came from huge bags from the wholesale club.

Baking stuff.

These are what they call deodorizing water pearls - they look
really cool and smell great! I am using this one for
the shoe cabinet.

I added drawer liner at the bottom to keep the
sliding drawer clean.

I labeled each drawer with the name of a family member.
We each have one.

Since William is the shortest (youngest) in
the house, he gets the bottom sliding drawer!

 So now, when I leave the house, I no longer see the mess on the left... I get to enjoy a clean and organized space!

On a side note, the purple bag is from Rampage and I can't stand it! So why am
I holding on to it? Who knows! This bag has no room inside, stuff gets all
mingled and messed up! Right about now I would give my left arm
 for a Vera Bradley purse!

And then, there is the issue of these pesky cleaning items that are constantly in the way:

Why has anyone not yet invented the retractable
broom handle?

I have this tall, again useless, cabinet on the side of the fridge...

Another useless cabinet wasting space
in my kitchen!

In it, we keep the kids' cereals and a few items that really have no home...Well, guess what?

Out of sight - hopefully not out of mind!

I have removed the shelves and am now using this cabinet to stash the broom, mop and dust pan. The cereals have been moved to the cabinet above them.

So in all, this was not a gruesome task and some lessons were learned:

1. I do not cook as often as I thought.
2. Never, never again (though we knew that already) buy items in bulk - they take huge amount of space and will become expired before you actually use them all.
3. The amount of stuff one accumulates over the years is astonishing and purging is necessary at least twice per year.

In this process, I was able to let go of some china I do not use, which is a huge milestone for me and tell you what? Whatever money I will get for the Vera Wang plates is going straight to a Vera Bradley purse - Swapping one Vera for the other!

Thanks for sharing my page!

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